Fantasy NASCAR Sleepers and Busts: Coke Zero 400

by Eric McClung on July 2, 2014 @ 06:54:30 PDT

 


There are a total of four restrictor-plate races held each season between two tracks: Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. This Independence Day weekend event is the only one held at night under the lights for a better view of the fireworks, both on and off the track. The teams have already competed in the season-opening Great American Race and once at 'Dega. They will return there for one final plate race during the Sprint Cup Chase. The trends that develop through these races are important to follow, but the nature of plate racing leads to wrecks and a fair degree of unpredictability.

Practice sessions: Thursday, July 3 at 4 p.m. EDT, 6:35 p.m. EDT
Qualifying:
Friday, July 4 at 5:10 p.m. EDT
Race:
Saturday, July 5 at 7:30 p.m. EDT
Location:
Daytona Beach, Fla.
Shape:
Tri-oval
Length:
2.50 miles
Laps:
160
Turns 1-4:
31 degrees
Frontstretch: 18 degrees
Backstretch:
3 degrees

Sleepers

Austin Dillon | No. 3 Bass Pro/NRA Museum Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

Austin Dillon, NASCAR

In the two restrictor plate races held this season, Dillon earned the pole for the Daytona 500 and qualified 15th at Talladega. He only led one lap in the season opener but managed to finish ninth while placing 15th at Dega. Dillon has yet to have a DNF this season and has scored seven top-20s in the last eight races.

Casey Mears | No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet SS | Germain Racing

Dating back to 2010, Mears has only recorded two top-10s in 145 starts. Both of those results came in the last two Daytona races: ninth in last year's Coke Zero 400 and 10th in the 500 this season. Back in May, Mears finished 14th at Talladega after starting on the second row.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. | No. 17 Cargill/Winn-Dixie Ford Fusion | Roush Fenway Racing

In his last four Daytona starts, Stenhouse has seen his finish improve from 20th in the 2012 Daytona 500 to 12th and 11th last year. This year's 500 saw Stenhouse crack the top 10 with a seventh-place result despite starting back in 34th. In three career Talladega starts, he's yet to finish worse than 13th.

Landon Cassill | No. 40 Newtown Building Supplies Chevrolet | Circle Sport

Cassill has been a surprise performer in restrictor plate races this season. Despite his status as a lower-tier driver in the series, Cassill finished 12th in the Daytona 500 and rallied from starting 41st to place 11th at Talladega. Cassill has made a dozen starts between the two sites and has only suffered one DNF.

Busts

Kasey Kahne | No. 5 Farmers Insurance/GI Jobs Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports

Despite qualifying sixth or better in the last three Daytona races, Kahne was unable to score a top-30 finish. While he landed a top-10 earlier this season at Talladega, his average finish of 21.5 in 21 chances is a career-worst mark. While he comes in with three consecutive finishes inside the top 10, Kahne appears hard pressed to keep it going.

Michael Waltrip | No. 66 RoyalTeakCollection.com Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing

The semi-retired Waltrip limits his schedule to Daytona and Talladega. He can be a trendy sleeper pick in these races, but Waltrip carries a lot of risk. Over the last five plate races he's scored one top-five at each site but also finished 25th or worse on four occasions.

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About Eric McClung

Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a three-time award finalist. Over the years, he's made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts. He's also captured the fantasy football championship in the KFFL staff league twice.

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