NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Darlington 400
If you are looking for an action-packed way to get your sports fix, NASCAR may be a great avenue to explore. Far from just driving in circles, some of the world's best compete nearly every weekend from February to November on tracks across America. NASCAR drivers are scored ultimately based on how they finish in the race, how many spots they advance from their starting position, and how many laps they finish and lead. Avoiding drivers that crash out of the race is a must, of course!
Here at numberFire, we've always got you covered for everything NASCAR DFS. Every week, in addition to this helper, we have a betting guide to discuss the smartest places to lay money for this weekend's race, and our Heat Check Podcast with Jim Sannes gives you insight to how he is approaching this slate. We also have a track preview and driver preview to dive deeper into this weekend's action.
NASCAR's long-awaited return from the postponement of the schedule due to COVID-19 is finally here! The first race back will be at Darlington Raceway. This small-town track is beloved by NASCAR fans for its spot on Labor Day weekend, but when the schedule was changed due to COVID-19, Darlington picked up two spring races because of its proximity to Charlotte, where most teams keep their headquarters. This will regionalize travel to the area and keep the famed Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend.
There is no qualifying or practice under NASCAR's COVID-19 procedures. The starting spots are randomly drawn, and track personnel is limited. This will greatly change daily fantasy, where practice time data was incredibly valuable, but there will also be much more of an advance notice of starting spots for place differential. Best news of all is that there will be no inspection failures to watch for on Sunday, as they will not change the official starting order.
With that, it's time for a return to normalcy to break down The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington slate on FanDuel. Let's go.
Kevin Harvick ($14,500): On a slate with so much unknown, it's nice to welcome back an old friend. While Harvick doesn't have sparkling practice times or a pole position on his resume for this weekend, all signs still point to the most expensive player in the pool. Harvick has six top-fives in his last seven races at Darlington, leading 567 laps in those races. He has won only once, but given that these cars will likely undergo large mid-race adjustments with no practice, it also helps to have Rodney Childers on the box as one of the best regarded crew chiefs in the sport. This isn't iRacing anymore, and Harvick will be competitive with a shot to lead and win Sunday's race from his starting spot of sixth.
Brad Keselowski ($12,500): A guy definitely not down on his luck is Brad Keselowski, as he was gifted the pole position via a random draw for Sunday's race. Keselowski is not usually a particularly strong qualifier, so it could be bad news for the field that he will be at the front so quickly. Keselowski and Harvick are the only two active NASCAR drivers with top fives at Darlington in both 2018 and 2019, so he is definitely comfortable around the front at the track. Expect Keselowski to use the clean-air advantage early, especially since outside polesitter Alex Bowman, with a 23.50 average career finish at Darlington, has really struggled at this track and could fade quickly.
Erik Jones ($9,800): Last year's late-night winner was Erik Jones, who crossed the start/finish line with his second career win and actually punched his playoff ticket with that victory. Even for such a young driver, Jones has taken a liking to Darlington, with three top-10 finishes here, including that win last year, in just three tries. The nickname of the track is "Too Tough To Tame," but Jones has had little problem so far. He has plenty of pass-differential upside as well after drawing 20th.
Kurt Busch ($9,400): Both Busch brothers have had an averaging running position inside the top 10 the last three Darlington races, but unlike Kyle Busch ($14,000), Kurt comes at an affordable price tag and doesn't need to lead laps to justify his price. Busch led 94 laps and won Stage 1 in last year's event with the same team he drives for now, so it even further enhances his upside that he legitimately contended for a win in that one. It helps, as well, that Busch got 22nd on the draw, which raises both his floor and his pass-differential ceiling. He will do well from this price point if he just finishes inside the top 10 again, and there is upside for more.
Chris Buescher ($7,300): It may come as no surprise that 10 drivers finished inside the top 15 in both of the last two events at Darlington, as the best drivers in the sport typically tend to shine at this track. Nine of those made the 2019 playoffs, but the one outlier? That's right -- it's Chris Buescher. He's finished 12th and 13th at this track the last two years, and he got a very favorable draw -- for DFS -- to start 24th on the grid. It's worth noting that Buescher has changed teams, but he has finished well inside the top 20 in all four races with Roush Fenway Racing in 2020, so speed should be no drawback at a track Buescher knows well.
Tyler Reddick ($6,600): Reddick is receiving some buzz from some of the NASCAR betting community, as he currently sits at +11000 to win Sunday's 400 mile race, and while I would not be willing to go there, I feel like Reddick is the best value play on the board at this price tag, especially given the DFS-friendly starting spot of 29th. Reddick has delivered in his rookie campaign so far, posting two top-20 showings and running inside the top 10 at Phoenix before crashing late. He has shown speed and consistency that fellow rookie and former Xfinity Series contender Christopher Bell ($6,000) has yet to demonstrate consistently, which gives Reddick the nod between the two, but both will be justifiably popular Sunday as salary savers.
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.