After a wild finish to the season opening Daytona 500, NASCAR returns to the speedway for another weekend of action. However, this time the Cup Series is racing on the 14-turn road course layout.

The 70-lap contest will be the first of seven races that features right-hand turns in addition to the left-only ovals that have long made up the bulk of the Cup Series schedule.

These road course races require a unique set of skills as a driver, as well as a unique set of skills as a DFS player. Let’s talk about how to approach today’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 253.

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Daytona Road Course DraftKings DFS Strategy

With only 70 laps scheduled, there won’t be more than 50 dominator points allocated total. That means we don’t need to worry much about drivers that will lead the bulk of the race. However, we should still care because the drivers that do lead the bulk of the race are also more likely to finish the race up front.

In other words, we should mostly worry about finishing position. The lineup that puts together the best total finishing position, while still fitting under the salary cap will easily cash, and have a good shot at winning a tournament outright. The only other consideration is starting position, because of the place differential points awarded on daily fantasy sites like DraftKings.

So, how do we begin to construct lineups for today’s race? Let’s move to the FantasyLabs optimizer while using my projections for today’s race.

Daytona Road Course DraftKings DFS Roster Construction

The FantasyLabs optimizer is fantastic because we can optimize not only for projected points, but also projected ceiling relative to salary. Let’s look at the top five drivers in this metric.

Driver Start Sal DK_Ceiling Ceil/$
Ty Dillon 38 5600 48.6 8.7
Erik Jones 37 7800 63.2 8.1
Alex Bowman 36 9000 67.2 7.5
Matt DiBenedetto 32 8100 60.4 7.5
Daniel Suarez 35 5700 40.2 7.1

The common theme between these drivers is they all start 32nd or worse. That’s not to say all five will be in the winning lineup. Heck, using my model’s Perfect% calculation, which is a simulation of this race 50,000 times, it’s most likely that one or two drivers from this group end up in the perfect DraftKings lineup.

In fact, we can set a rule in the FantasyLabs optimizer to use at least one of these drivers and no more than three.

This will ensure we have at least one of these drivers that has the highest ceiling relative to his salary, while avoiding the use of too many of these drivers and becoming too chalky in our roster construction for tournaments.

Daytona Road Course DraftKings DFS Driver Picks

Aside from the five drivers above, who are great in all formats, here’s one driver I like to fade, as well as a driver for tournaments and cash games.

Cash Games: Ryan Blaney ($10,400)  My model gives Blaney a top-five median points projection per dollar for today’s race. With the other drivers all coming from the table above, that leaves plenty of room for a top-dollar driver like Blaney. In addition, you’re getting a driver that has placed in the top eight in five of his last six road course races. That includes a win at the Charlotte Roval, and four top-five finishes overall in those races. Blaney nearly won the Busch Clash at Daytona to kick off the year, coming within a turn of the victory until his friend Chase Elliott spun him out on the final corner.

Fades: Ross Chastain ($6,500)  I could easily pick drivers like Corey Lajoie or several of the bottom-tier drivers to fade, but those are the most obvious choices. Chastain at least provides at little bit of food for thought. He’s a driver ascending into the best equipment of his career, who has a reputation for punching above his weight. Unfortunately, he’s just not very good at road courses. His career best finish in the Cup Series is 22nd. Meanwhile, he only has one top five at road courses in several years of racing in NASCAR’s two other national series — XFINITY and Trucks.