Fantasy Racing 2008 Starts at Daytona

Daytona. The international home of motorsports. Superspeedway. I love it. And you should love it too. It makes for some great racing on those high-banked historical turns.

But Daytona is not easy. Restrictor plates are mankind’s, and racers’, worst nightmares. So they make driving at Daytona and Talladega one dimensional. That one dimension is momentum.

All it takes is one wrong move and you are sent to the back of the pack. And recently we have learned it is all about the guys behind you, and whether or not they stick with you or dive to the top or bottom to pass you.

Also, all it takes is one big wreck to take out 10 or so drivers, and your whole team might be needing tow trucks to leave the track.

It comes down to momentum, and a little luck, at Daytona.

So what sorta strategies should you look at for fantasy racing this week? Well, pick winners. They have experience at Daytona, and they know how to drive to Victory Lane.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, and Jimmie Johnson. I would put a lot of money down saying one of those four will win the race this weekend. It is almost guaranteed. But we need to look at each list of drivers.

For A-List, you need to pick your own poison. They are all good, but Gordon, Stewart, and Johnson are the best.

With the B-List, you get a gift. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., has been undervalued and placed in the B-List. I would definitely pick Junior this week, given that he won the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday night and a Gatorade Duel on Thursday. Who else? Jamie McMurray won at Daytona in July, so I think he would be a good choice. Kahne, Blaney, and Sorenson have been racing well this week, especially in the Duels (and in the Shootout for Blaney and Sorenson). Biffle, Newman, and Labonte are always good choices as well.

For C-List, plan on getting few points. While most years, one C-List driver surprises everyone and finishes in the top-5 or top-10 at Daytona, most of them crash out, so prepare for disappointment here. Reutimann, Riggs, and Vickers all raced well in the Duels, but I think you have to pick Michael Waltrip from the C-List. He has winning potential at restrictor plate tracks, and you might just see his Toyota in Victory Lane. Another Toyota driver, Dale Jarrett, would like to win in his last Daytona 500 start.

But, be careful when picking from the Hendrick Motorsports stable of drivers. On Wednesday Hendrick engine builders discovered a faulty part and replaced the engines in the cars of Gordon, Johnson, Earnhardt Jr., and Mears along with the satellite CNC operation driven by Scott Riggs. Several Toyota teams suffered from engine problems as well, including the cars of Stewart, Jarrett, Allmendinger, and Yeley.

The lesson here is to spread out your choices. Don’t pick drivers from all one team or one manufacturer. Diversify your portfolio, so your team doesn’t tank when one team or manufacturer has a major problem.

You have to make your picks for active drivers this week by Sunday @ 3:35pm.

Good luck, and let the best survive. See you next week, where I’ll be looking at who to pick for the race in California.