Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Current Form, Track History, and Betting Odds for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona

From 1958 through 2019, the NASCAR Cup Series didn't make a single (voluntary) right-hand turn in Daytona. Once they left the beach course, it was all about the superspeedway for six decades.

This Sunday, they'll go both directions for the third time in half a year and the second time in two weeks. It's a new era.

This time around, though, it's a full field, and there are points on the line for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona. And with that full field comes the opportunity to snag place-differential points.

As mentioned in this week's track preview, there are two kinds of drivers we want to target here:

1. Drivers starting further back who can get us a top-10 finish.

2. Drivers starting up front who can contend for a win and get a top-five.

With no upside to be had via leading laps, almost all the scoring will come via place-differential and finishing points. Those two archetypes allow us to account for this format without ignoring high-quality plays in any range.

The only problem is we have to decide who fits in each category. That's where we lean on what the data says.

The table below lays that out in hopes of helping you identify drivers who fit our optimal strategy. It's sorted by the starting order to hopefully make it more apparent who grades out well in each bucket. Also listed is each driver's FanDuel salary, win odds at FanDuel Sportsbook, and performance in relevant races. The win odds are in fractional form, so Chase Elliott ($14,000) being listed at 1.9 means he is +190 to win.

The performance data is divided into history on road courses (over the past two seasons) and the past six races using the 750-horsepower package. Although the road-course history matters, it's worth noting that the current-form-only segment of my model has out-performed the road-course-only segment in each of the past five road-course races. Road-course performance is important, but we shouldn't ignore overall speed.

The numbers you see in each of those segments is the driver's average running position in those races. There is some funkiness with average running position at road courses with how much strategy can vary from one driver to the next. But it also illustrates the truly dominant performances, like when Elliott's average running position was first in 2019 at Watkins Glen. You can utilize the Racing Reference fantasy tool to see each driver's finishing data on road courses over the past three seasons.

Chase Elliott$14,0001.9183711543473911
Michael McDowell$6,5008022011141523233320252523
Austin Dillon$5,000100322--21292418201461211
Denny Hamlin$12,00010419525510381712123
Kevin Harvick$11,3001251618381111213838
Ryan Preece$3,50020061520212327332419232423
Corey LaJoie$2,00050072526313229312029252627
Kyle Larson$9,300228----141314------------
Ross Chastain$6,6001009----362934------------
Bubba Wallace$6,200100101920262726192317242022
Joey Logano$10,7001811812152114257347
Christopher Bell$7,60050121115------181714182321
Cole Custer$7,20066131822------191421121014
Kyle Busch$12,500101411202215411759188
Brad Keselowski$10,000181591588184818386
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.$4,500150162218171819222139183712
Kurt Busch$9,0002517992111149613101239
Chase Briscoe$8,7003318----------------------
Martin Truex Jr.$13,50041911893313421674
Justin Haley$4,00015020--------32------------
Cody Ware$2,00050021------3334----------v
William Byron$9,60018228136181112142519620
Josh Bilicki$2,7005002331--3431--373439--3333
Tyler Reddick$7,00066241623------172310161614
Garrett Smithley$2,00050025--3331----353835--3636
Aric Almirola$7,8005026211612121715111091017
Ryan Blaney$12,700927121413126671419514
Scott Heckert$2,00050028----------------------
Quin Houff$2,000750293235------383531333435
Chris Buescher$6,00080302016171515253416241617
Anthony Alfredo$5,50015031----------------------
Matt DiBenedetto$8,3004032211514121091514181217
Ryan Newman$6,000125332624192412241526202219
A.J. Allmendinger$12,0001234----------------------
Daniel Suarez$4,500200352626112117312727292729
Alex Bowman$9,000223611232013131471381024
Erik Jones$8,0006637111336714171512202116
Ty Dillon$2,500250381922212626272022262521
James Davison$3,000250393031------34343436----
Timmy Hill$2,00075040343034----383134373535

You can see why Elliott's win odds are so short. He vehemently checks the "contend for the win" box among those starting near the front. We've also got some good options for place-differential.

The big ones among the studs are Martin Truex Jr. ($13,500), Ryan Blaney ($12,700), and A.J. Allmendinger ($12,000). Truex and Blaney are the only non-Elliott drivers to win on road courses the past three years, and Blaney might have won last week's Busch Clash had Elliott not wrecked him on the final lap. Truex and Blaney are two of the top plays in the field.

As you can see, we don't have recent data on Allmendinger because he hasn't been in the Cup Series since 2018. He did run well in the Xfinity Series, being the first to cross the finish line in 3 of 8 road-course races in 2019 and 2020 (though he was later disqualified in one of them). That makes Allmendinger an option as he starts 34th.

The reason he's not as big of a priority as Blaney and Truex is his salary. He's $12,000, which is a hefty toll to pay for someone whose team is running just its second ever Cup Series race. Kaulig Racing has had tremendous success in the Xfinity Series, and Kaz Grala was competitive in this car last week. It's just not going to be as high-upside as what Truex and Blaney have under the hood. Allmendinger is likely to be popular, but we should try to find the salary to get to Truex and Blaney when possible.

Two non-studs starting deeper in the pack are Alex Bowman ($9,000) and Chris Buescher ($6,000). Bowman has a pair of top-fives on road courses the past three years, and we know his equipment is good as he's teammates with Elliott. Buescher finished fifth in last year's race at this track. Buescher, specifically, is a good salary-saver as you try to find the ability to jam in Truex, Blaney, and Elliott. Matt DiBenedetto ($8,200) stands out, as well, in the mid-range.

One driver whose data looks grim but could be interesting is Daniel Suarez ($4,500). Suarez was in terrible equipment last year, so he finished 27th and 25th in the two road-course races. But his equipment this year could be better. Could is a key there because we don't have any non-superspeedway data on Trackhouse Racing yet. But Suarez did have speed in single-car qualifying, meaning he's at least not driving a dud. He's $4,500 and starting back in 35th.

It could blow up in our faces if the equipment does wind up being poor, and that's a risk. But if Trackhouse -- which has at least some funding with Pitbull being a co-owner -- does give him a competitive car, Suarez could give you a solid helping of place-differential points for a bargain salary. That's the kind of risk we should be willing to take early in the season.