NASCAR Fantasy: Who's Hot and Who's Not (Daytona)

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IFebruary 14, 2009

Fantasy leagues are all but filling up these days. With less than two days to go until the NASCAR season kicks off (at least with its points paying events), it's time to join a league and begin Fantasizing.

Need some help setting your Fantasy roster for domination? Check out the weekly Who's Hot and Who's Not here on B/R.

(For information about our exclusive Bleacher Report members only league on, feel free to drop me a message.)

As we prepare for the high banks of Daytona, here is a look at which drivers are considered "Hot" while others are "Not."


Who's Hot

gordon.jpg1. Jeff Gordon — Winning a Duel race is a good way to start the season. However, only eight times has a winner of the qualifying race went on to win the Daytona 500. Gordon, however, has 32 career Cup starts at Daytona and six wins. He has recorded 11 top-fives (34 percent of the time) and 17 top-10 finishes (53 percent of the time).

Although his last two trips to Daytona (prior to the Budweiser Shootout and Duel race) show finishes of 30th and 39th, Gordon is poised to run well and will be near the front come Sunday.


busch.jpg2. Kyle Busch— Busch is another one trying to overcome the idea that a Duel winner can't go on to win the Daytona 500. He managed to block a charging Mark Martin and Brian Vickers to take home the checkered flag in the second Duel race on Thursday.

In nine career Cup starts at Daytona, Busch has two wins (including his Duel race), five top-fives and five top-10 finishes, in other words—not bad numbers.

Busch was the victor of the race back in July and has averaged a finish of 14th throughout his career there. In his last six starts, he has only finished outside of the top-five once (a 24th place showing in the 2007 Daytona 500.)


mark-martin.jpg3. Mark Martin— Several items use the slogan—things only get better win age. Well, 50-year-old Martin is hoping that is the case for his attempt to solidify a Daytona 500 win before he retires. The man has made 48 Cup starts at the 2.5-mile high banked oval, but has yet to take the checkered flag.

He came oh so close in the 2007 Daytona 500, being inched out by Kevin Harvick to the line. In his Duel race on Thursday, he led a majority of the laps before falling victim to the Joe Gibbs duo of Busch and Denny Hamlin in the final laps.

Martin has collected 10 top-fives and 18 top-10 finishes in his career at Daytona and is in his best equipment ever to try and win that elusive trophy.



4. Tony Stewart— In 20 Cup starts at Daytona, Stewart has "Smoked" the competition twice—both of which came in the July race however. As he begins the next chapter of his career in a newly owned (by himself) team, Stewart looks towards Daytona to get that first 500 trophy. In a Joe Gibbs Racing car, Stewart compiled nine top-fives and 12 top-10 finishes.

In his first start on the high banks in his No. 14, Stewart brought home a third place showing in the Budweiser Shootout and a second place finish in his Duel race. Stewart (like Martin) may be in the best equipment he's ever had at Daytona.

With drafting buddy Dale Earnhardt Jr. and teammate Ryan Newman (last year's winner of the 500), Stewart will hang around the front of the pack all day.


kevin-harvick.jpg5. Kevin Harvick— Harvick has become known as the "comes from behind out of nowhere" winner at Daytona. He did so en route to his first Daytona victory in 2007 and again during the Budweiser Shootout last weekend. In his 16 Cup starts, he has two wins (including his Budweiser Shootout victory), three top-fives and five top-10 finishes.

While the numbers may not be amazing, he has proven in recent trips to restrictor plate tracks that he knows how to work the draft and be there when it counts—at the end.


earnhardt.jpgExtra Lap: Dale Earnhardt Jr. — Let's face it, he could have contended for the win in his Duel race on Thursday if it had not been for his flat tire. Earnhardt is always there on restrictor plate tracks and Sunday will be no different. Although he hasn't won a points paying race at either Daytona or Talladega since 2004, Earnhardt did win the Shootout and his Duel race in 2008.

Earnhardt knows how to work the draft. It's been said that he can "see the motion of the air" and just gets into a pocket and moves forward.


Who's Not (These guys should throw up a red flag!)

248.jpg1. Casey Mears— Now with his third team of his career, Mears has got to prove he's worthy of a ride at NASCAR's premier level. Unfortunately for you Mears' fans out there, Daytona is not the place to pick him up for you Fantasy league.

Mears has 12 career starts at Daytona with zero wins, one top-five (2006 Daytona 500), and two top-10 finishes (both in 2006). His average finish of 21st isn't horrible, but last year's two finishes of 34th and 35th in Hendrick equipment is just not acceptable.


matt-kenseth.jpg2. Any Ford Driver— In the last 17 trips to Daytona, Ford has only visited Victory Lane twice (with Jamie McMurray in the July 2007 race and Greg Biffle in July 2003).

A Roush Fenway Ford (by far the most dominant Ford team) has never visited Victory Lane in the Daytona 500 and a Ford hasn't done so since Dale Jarrett won the 2000 Daytona 500.

Though the Roushkateers did look competive in the Duels (well not Matt Kenseth or Biffle), it could be a bit of a gamble to use them in a Fantasy League.


logano.jpg3. Joey Logano — I almost listed Logano as my weekly Dark Horse driver after a competitive showing in his Duel race on Thursday. Then I remembered the Budweiser Shootout (which wasn't really his fault) and saw practice on Friday in which he was taken out of the car and replaced with Kyle Busch in an attempt to "fix" the car.

Logano was bouncing off everything and really showed his rookie stripe. It's going to be a long day on Sunday for this rookie and an even longer season.


jamie-mac.jpgDark Horse: Jamie McMurray — I know what you are thinking, above I said to stay clear of any Ford drivers, but if there is one that can win tomorrow, it's the guy who visited Victory Lane in 2007 at Daytona.

McMurray has shown that he can be competitive at the restrictor plate tracks. He nearly won the Shootout and was up front in his Duel race for the majority of the laps.

It may be a long shot to see McMurray hoisting the trophy on Sunday, but if he and the Roushkateers can partner up, they'd have a five-car train heading wherever they want.

There's your Fantasy picks for the Daytona 500. As was said above, contact me if you'd like to joine our Fantasy League. The teams lock at 4:15 p.m. on Sunday, so you better get in and get your picks selected. Let's go Fantasy Racing!