Comments: NASCAR Picks for Daytona 500
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Comments: NASCAR Picks for Daytona 500

Additional article: NASCAR Daytona 500 Practice Recap: 5 Drivers to Watch

Everything about the Daytona 500 is backwards from other professional sports. Instead of building up to the biggest race during the course of the year, the Daytona 500 is the season opener and the most prestigious event all rolled into one. Sure, a championship can't be won at Daytona, but there isn't another race that a driver wants to win more. Heck, Tony Stewart said he would trade all of his other wins for one Daytona 500 victory. Plain and simple, the Daytona 500 is NASCAR's Super Bowl. It just so happens to also be the first race of the 2013 season.

The Daytona 500 is a bit of curveball for fantasy owners, as well. While starting off any fantasy season on a high note is preferred, pulling out all the big guns can actually backfire. The tight packs that come with restrictor-plate racing make Daytona one of the most unpredictable tracks on the schedule and an absolute headache for fantasy owners because big names and underdogs are both just as likely to get swept up in the multi-car wrecks that are practically a given. As a result, owners may want to lean toward sleeper options at the track rather than risk wasting a start from one of the elite drivers like Jimmie Johnson.

Let's face it. Nobody wants to start their 2013 season in an early hole in their league. That being said, there is nothing wrong with doing a little damage control and thinking about the big picture right off the gate. Save the big names for the tracks where they traditionally provide more bang for the buck, and take your chances with a few dark horses at Daytona. You will be in good shape for the long haul, and if you happen to have a great showing at Daytona, considering it icing on the cake.

Drivers listed in this article:
  1. Kevin Harvick, Budweiser/Jimmy Johns
  2. Matt Kenseth, Husky/Dollar General
  3. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew
  4. Tony Stewart, Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1
  5. Greg Biffle, 3M/Bondo
  6. Kasey Kahne, Farmers Insurance/Quaker State
  7. Kyle Busch, Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries
  8. Brad Keselowski, Miller Lite
  9. Paul Menard, Menards
  10. Jeff Burton, PEAK BlueDEF
  11. Joey Logano, Shell-Pennzoil
  12. Kurt Busch, Haas Automation
  13. Jeff Gordon, Drive to End Hunger/Axalta
  14. Clint Bowyer, 5-Hour Energy
  15. Carl Edwards, Fastenal/Aflac/UPS/Subway
  16. Denny Hamlin, FedEx
  17. Mark Martin, Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1
  18. Jimmie Johnson, Lowe's/Kobalt Tools
  19. Juan Montoya, Target
  20. Jamie McMurray, McDonald's/Cessna
  21. Martin Truex, Jr., Furniture Row
  22. Ryan Newman, Caterpillar
  23. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Best Buy/Valvoline/Zest
  24. Bobby Labonte, TBA
  25. David Ragan, CSX Transportation/Peanut Patch
  26. Austin Dillon, Dow Chemical/Cheerios
  27. Regan Smith, Guy Roofing
  28. Michael Waltrip, PEAK BlueDEF
  29. Marcos Ambrose, Stanley/Dewalt Power Tools
  30. Trevor Bayne, Motorcraft/Quick Lane
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