Get your engines started for the Goodyear 400 DFS slate! Sean Engel provides top NASCAR Daily Fantasy Picks for Cup Series DraftKings & FanDuel lineups!
THIS WEEK’S RACE DETAILS
Time & Date of Race: Sunday, May 9th, 2021 at 3:00 PM EST
Track: Darlington Raceway
Track Details: 1.366 Mile Asphalt Oval
Banking of Turns 1 & 2: 25°
Banking of Turns 3 & 4: 23°
Banking of Front straightaway: 3°
Banking of Back straightaway: 2°
Race Length: 293 Laps/ 400 Miles
Last Race Details at Darlington
Date: September 6th, 2020
Race Winner: Kevin Harvick
Lap Leaders (6 Total Drivers): Martin Truex Jr. (196), Chase Elliott (114), Kevin Harvick (32), Denny Hamlin (19), Kurt Busch (5), Alex Bowman (1).
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr.
Drivers will accumulate points as follows below:
Place Differential (How many positions a driver finishes above or below their starting position):
+/- 1 Pt each
Fastest Laps (Awarded for the driver that sets the fastest lap time on each lap):
+ 0.45 Pts.
Laps Led (Awarded for each lap a driver leads the race):
+ 0.25 Pts.
Finishing Position (Awarded for where a driver finishes at the end of the race):
1st: +45 Pts.
2nd: +42 Pts.
3rd: + 41 Pts.
4th: + 40 Pts.
5th: + 39 Pts.
And the amount of points earned continues decreasing until the last finishing position in the field.
DK Scoring Notes to Keep in Mind:
- A driver’s starting position is based on his qualifying position. If a driver’s qualifying position is disallowed, his starting position will be his new spot at the back of the race. If a driver’s starting position changes between qualifying and the start of the race for any other reason (Example: going to a backup car) the original qualifying position will be used to calculate place differential.
- Finishing Position is defined as the driver’s standing order at the end of the race. Disqualifications related to same-day post-race inspection will not change a driver’s Finishing Position, Laps Led, or Fastest Laps stats.
Laps Completed (Awarded for all laps any driver completes): +0.1 Pts
Laps Led: +0.1 Pts.
Place Differential: +/- 0.5 Pts.
1st: +43 Pts.
2nd: +40 Pts.
3rd: +38 Pts.
4th: +37 Pts.
5th: +36 Pts.
And the amount of points earned continues decreasing until the last finishing position in the field.
If you’re new to Elite Sports’ DFS Picks articles, here is the rundown. Every week for each Cup race, this article will be published including driver outlooks based on a combination of track results, loop data, and performance from this season. If there are any pre-race events including qualifying and practices, this article will be updated based on their results upon completion. If a racer performs well or poorly throughout pre-race events, this will affect their outlook and be noted as such. Otherwise, all picks listed are final.
This article will feature four groups of driver recommendations: Top-priced picks, Mid-Tier picks, and Value Sleepers. Between each of these groups there will be 12 total drivers with their outlooks evaluated for this week’s race. These outlooks are here to help you make tough lineup calls that detail which drivers to start or park every week.
In case you want additional information to follow-up on this article, I encourage you to check out the cheat sheet for this race and the projections tab. Without further delay, I present to you the picks for this week’s race, the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway.
Darlington Raceway is one of the more unique tracks in the Cup Series as each pair of turns at the South Carolina track features different levels of banking. Considering how most oval courses keep similar banking between all turns, this makes Darlington a trickier place to get around than most. Regardless of the differences, the races at DR play out similarly to 1.5-Mile Intermediate tracks with a few dominators leading the majority of the race while other racers rack up plenty of Place Differential.
There are a few drivers this week that have favorable starting positions to score positive PD at Darlington, while there are several favorites to win that start closer to the front as well. Some racers with mid-tier prices for Sunday’s Cup race at Darlington also offer very little PD upside, but have favorable equipment and history that indicate a finish around their starting position.
This is important to note because while PD is important for Darlington, picking drivers that place well by the end of the race is especially important. It is rare for any driver to leave Darlington without a scratch on their car and just having your lineup finish without any DNFs will prove to be the difference between a lineup that wins out or loses. To conclude, picking drivers that finish decently is the number one point to take away here, especially if the Cup race ends up being a wreckfest like this week’s Truck Series race at Darlington.
As always, the more lineups DFS players create for any NASCAR race, the greater the probability that the winning lineup will be created. Creating multiple lineups with different driver combinations is a great idea for Darlington as drivers commonly hit the wall and crash out due to the tricky track layout. Keep all of these points in mind when making lineups this week while also making note of my recommendations for this week’s Goodyear 400.
LOOP DATA AND DRIVER STATS
Here are the Top 10 drivers in the field this Sunday at Darlington in Driver Rating since 2019:
1: Kyle Larson – 127.2
2: Kevin Harvick – 118.7
3: Erik Jones – 105.8
4: Martin Truex Jr. – 104.7
5: Alex Bowman – 102.2
6: Denny Hamlin – 99.7
7: Brad Keselowski – 99.2
8: Chase Elliott – 97.9
9: Kurt Busch – 97.1
10: Kyle Busch – 97.1
Here are the Top 10 drivers in the field this Sunday at Darlington in Average Running Position since 2019:
1: Kyle Larson – 4.3
2: Kevin Harvick – 7.0
3: Alex Bowman – 8.0
4: Denny Hamlin – 8.1
5: Chase Elliott – 8.8
6: Erik Jones – 9.0
7: Martin Truex Jr. – 9.9
8: Brad Keselowski – 10.0
9: Kurt Busch – 10.4
10: Kyle Busch – 11.2
Here are the Top 10 drivers in the field this Sunday in Average Finish at Darlington since 2018:
1: Kyle Larson – 2.5
2: Kevin Harvick – 2.6
3: Erik Jones – 5.2
4: Brad Keselowski – 6.8
5: Kurt Busch – 7.8
6: Joey Logano – 8.6
7: Kyle Busch – 9.0
8: Denny Hamlin – 11.6
9: Aric Almirola – 11.8
10: Austin Dillon – 11.8
Here are the Top 10 drivers in the field this Sunday in Laps Led at Darlington since 2018:
1: Kyle Larson – 328
2: Martin Truex Jr. – 242
3: Kevin Harvick – 201
4: Chase Elliott – 151
5: Brad Keselowski – 130
6: Kyle Busch – 118
7: Erik Jones – 106
8: Kurt Busch – 99
9: Alex Bowman – 42
10: Denny Hamlin – 42
Here are the winners of the last 10 Darlington races:
September 2020 – Kevin Harvick
May 20th, 2020 – Denny Hamlin
May 17th, 2020 – Kevin Harvick
September 2019 – Erik Jones
September 2018 – Brad Keselowski
September 2017 – Denny Hamlin
September 2016 – Martin Truex Jr.
September 2015 – Carl Edwards
April 2014 – Kevin Harvick
April 2013 – Matt Kenseth
GOODYEAR 400 DFS NASCAR PICKS FOR DRAFTKINGS AND FANDUEL
Kyle Larson #5 (DraftKings: $11,400 | FanDuel: $13,000) – Starting: 14th – One of the top favorites to win this week’s race at Darlington is Kyle Larson. In six starts at the site, the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet has five top-10 finishes including three podium finishes in his last four appearances there. Since 2019 at DR, Larson leads all drivers in Average Running Position (4.3) and Driver Rating (127.2). Larson has been one of the fastest drivers throughout 2021 and puts forward decent PD upside this week. History, equipment, and PD upside will make Larson a popular pick this week, but for good reason that he is a must-play for most lineups.
Denny Hamlin #11 (DraftKings: $10,600 | FanDuel: $14,000) – Starting: 7th – A driver who historically has been great at Darlington is Denny Hamlin. In 17 starts at the South Carolina track, the driver of the No. 11 Toyota has three wins, 13 top-10 finishes, and led multiple laps in 11 different Cup events there. Since 2019 out of active racers at Darlington, Hamlin ranks fourth in Laps in the Top 15 (1,073) and Average Running Position (8.1). Hamlin is one of the most consistent drivers this season regardless of track type, and with favorable history at Darlington, he will be a competitive favorite for the win Sunday.
Martin Truex Jr. #19 (DraftKings: $10,300 | FanDuel: $13,500) – Starting: 4th – Martin Truex Jr. must not be overlooked as a top-priced pick that can win this week. The driver of the No. 19 Toyota led the most laps in the last Darlington race (196) and is a former winner there (2016). At DR since 2019, Truex is first in Fastest Laps (139) and fourth in Driver Rating (104.7). Truex has seven top-10 finishes in 2021 and is a favorite to compete for the win due to strong equipment with Joe Gibbs Racing and favorable history at Darlington.
Alex Bowman #48 (DraftKings: $9,400 | FanDuel: $11,000) – Starting: 19th – Although his 2021 season has been mixed, Alex Bowman is a great pick for Sunday’s race at Darlington. The driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet led laps in two of his last three races at the site while scoring two finishes of sixth or better. Out of active drivers since 2019 at DR, Bowman ranks third in Laps in the Top 15 (1,076) and Average Running Position (8.0), fourth in Fastest Laps (85), and fifth in Driver Rating (102.2). Bowman provides a decent amount of PD upside and will be a factor for a top-10 finish this week at Darlington.
Kurt Busch #1 (DraftKings: $8,400 | FanDuel: $8,500) – Starting: 17th – Veteran driver Kurt Busch is one to watch for this weekend’s race at Darlington. In 26 career starts at the track, the driver of the No. 1 Chevrolet has 11 top-10 finishes including five of the last six races there. Since 2019 at Darlington, Busch ranks third in Fastest Laps (97). As one of the more consistent finishers at DR and with adequate PD upside, Kurt Busch should be considered for all lineups this week.
Erik Jones #43 (DraftKings: $8,200 | FanDuel: $7,300) – Starting: 26th – Darlington is one of Erik Jones best tracks statistically in the Cup Series. In his Cup career at the site, the driver of the No. 43 Chevrolet has one win and placed in the Top 10 in every race there since 2017. Jones also ranks third of all drivers in Driver Rating (105.8) in DR since 2019. Although his 2021 season has been mixed with a new team (Richard Petty Motorsports), Jones provides plenty of PD upside this Sunday and is one of the safer options for a DFS pick.
Tyler Reddick #8 (DraftKings: $7,400 | FanDuel: $8,000) – Starting: 10th – If there is any driver with a bit of risk attached DFS players should greatly consider for GPPs at Darlington, it’s Tyler Reddick. In three starts at the South Carolina track, the driver of the No. 8 Chevrolet has two top-15 finishes and placed in the Top 10 in four of the last five races this season. Reddick also has two top-3 finishes and led 70 laps in his last start at DR in the Xfinity Series. With his recent performances this season and Darlington fitting well with his driving style, Reddick does not provide much PD upside, but has a strong chance of placing in the Top 10 this week.
Ryan Newman #6 (DraftKings: $7,200 | FanDuel: $6,000) – Starting: 20th – Ryan Newman is one of the best mid-tier options for this Sunday’s race at Darlington, especially for FanDuel lineups. Through 24 starts in the Cup Series at Darlington, the driver of the No. 6 Ford has 19 top-20 finishes while placing in the Top 15 in his last three races there. This season, Newman has eight top-20 finishes including five of the last six Cup events. Newman is one of the most experienced drivers in the field at Darlington and has a fair amount of PD upside. Look for him to challenge for a top-15 finish based on history and equipment capable of finishing there.
Daniel Suarez #99 (DraftKings: $6,700 | FanDuel: $6,700) – Starting: 15th – Darlington is not one of the better tracks statistically for Daniel Suarez, but is one of the better options as a value pick. At the site, the driver of the No. 99 Chevrolet’s best finish in six starts is 11th, however he did capture positive PD in each of his last three appearances there. Suarez is having one of his better seasons in recent years with six top-20 finishes in 2021 so far including three of the last five races. Despite the small amount of PD upside he provides, Suarez has equipment capable of placing in the Top 15, which he has done at other tracks like Darlington in 2021 where he was expected to run unfavorably based on past statistics.
Ross Chastain #42 (DraftKings: $6,300 | FanDuel: $5,200) – Starting: 18th – Another value sleeper that should be considered for all lineups is Ross Chastain. The driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet’s best finish at Darlington is 28th, but he also racked up positive PD in all of his Cup starts to date. In the Xfinity Series, Chastain placed in the Top 10 in his last two Darlington starts while also leading in his last three there. In 2021, Chastain placed in the Top 20 in six of the last seven races including each of the last four. This week, Chastain has a fair amount of PD upside with equipment capable of placing in the Top 15.
Ryan Preece #37 (DraftKings: $5,900 | FanDuel: $4,500) – Starting: 29th – As far as safer plays this week is concerned, Ryan Preece is one of the best overall bargain sleepers. In four starts at Darlington, Preece has two top-20 finishes including his last start at the site. The driver of the No. 37 Chevrolet also gained positive PD in two of his last three appearances at the track. Preece has good history at Darlington for the price and great PD upside this week, making him highly worth considering for all lineups.
Corey LaJoie #7 (DraftKings: $5,700 | FanDuel: $4,000) – Starting: 30th – DFS players looking to save on cap flexibility at Darlington should consider Corey LaJoie this week. In his Cup career at the South Carolina track, LaJoie has three finishes in the Top 30 with positive PD. LaJoie also placed in the Top 30 in each of the last three races this season while procuring positive PD twice. With only one DNF in his career at Darlington, LaJoie is a driver with superb PD upside in case others wreck, but expect him to finish around his starting position with a chance at a top-25 finish.
CORE 4 PICKS TO WIN
- Kyle Larson
- Denny Hamlin
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Brad Keselowski
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