NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Goodyear 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 who crash out of the race is a must, of course!
numberFire is always your home for fantasy NASCAR advice. In addition to this helper, Jim Sannes has you covered with his current form and odds breakdown as well as his track preview to spotlight this week's venue. For driver picks and a full preview of the event, Jim also discussed the Daytona 500 on the latest NASCAR episode of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
A familiar theme of 2021 at 1.5-mile tracks is developing -- a Kyle Larson stomping that ends unpredictably. Larson led 132 laps in a dominant performance last week but was shuffled late with cars on fresh tires getting by, and that opened the door for Kyle Busch to score his first win of 2021. Larson, Busch, and several others will be strong again at NASCAR's "Throwback Weekend" at Darlington Raceway on Sunday. Darlington is a unique, 1.33-mile oval with entirely different sets of corners and excessive tire wear, which leads to plenty of driver control and passing for such a small track.
The starting lineup for this event was set through NASCAR's general qualifying format, which is a weighted average of the prior race's finishing position, prior race's fastest lap, and driver points. That formula put Brad Keselowski on the pole this weekend, and Kevin Harvick is on the outside of the front row. Pit stalls for the event were selected in the same order. There will be no PJ1 traction compound applied to the surface this weekend.
With that in mind, let's preview the Goodyear 400 at Darlington on FanDuel.
Martin Truex Jr. ($13,500): Truex has been the king of the 750 horsepower aero package in 2021 thus far. With wins at Martinsville and Phoenix, a fourth-place finish at Richmond, and a combined 317 laps led among the four races, the Joe Gibbs Racing star has been dominant. Track history is not an issue for Truex, either, as he led 196 laps and won both stages in last September's event at Darlington but crashed late racing for the lead with Chase Elliott. If any driver other than Kyle Larson is a strong candidate to lead a bulk of this race, Truex is the guy and he has easy access to the front starting fourth.
Kyle Larson ($13,000): This statement goes without much controversy at this point -- Larson is separating himself as the championship favorite as NASCAR enters its summer stretch. Larson was dominant again last week, leading 132 laps before strategy boxed the star into be at a disadvantage on tires late. Larson has now led the most laps in three events, and while he is doing most of his damage on the 550 horsepower tracks, he has a fifth-place finish at Martinsville and a seventh-place finish at Phoenix to his name, as well. Larson's Darlington history is strong despite missing all three 2020 events, as he has finished third or better in three of the past four starts he has made here, leading a combined 497 laps inside them. It would be a shock if Larson does not lead at some point Sunday from his starting spot of 14th.
Alex Bowman ($11,000): Bowman has dirt-track roots, which makes it no surprise that he has excelled historically on tracks with excessive tire wear. His three career wins (Chicagoland, Auto Club, and Richmond) all came on tracks with huge tire wear, and he has posted an average finish of 10.6 this season on tracks which would fall under that category. Starting 21st leaves Bowman in a position for some place-differential points given his 8.0 average finish in the three Darlington events last year, and it was far from an end-of-race rally, as Bowman earned stage points inside the top-10 spots at the end of all six 2020 Darlington stages.
Christopher Bell ($9,000): The potential of Bell at Darlington is more conceptual than tangible at this point, but it is still interesting nonetheless. Bell has finished inside the top-10 spots in every 550 horsepower event he has finished, which is no surprise given the strength of his teammates, Truex and Denny Hamlin, on this package. Bell's team car with Joe Gibbs has also had a tremendous track history, as Erik Jones piloted the Camry to an eighth-place finish or better in every start he made here. So even though Bell posted just a 23.0 average finish with a different team in three Darlington starts last year, his upside is still considerable from a starting place of 21st.
Aric Almirola ($7,500): Almirola just cannot get out of his own way in 2020, as pit-road issues left him multiple laps down in Kansas last weekend, resulting in a 29th-place finish. Because of his rough 2021 campaign, Almirola has started deep in the field each week, and this week is no different as he's rolling off 27th. Almirola has been able to score a top-15 finish in each race in which he has been incident-free, so the speed has been there -- although the qualifier of "incident-free" looms large for the Stewart-Haas entry. Almirola posted 12th or better in all three Darlington races in 2020, so his upside is very real once again, but fingers need to be crossed that he can navigate the 400 miles without a mistake.
Erik Jones ($7,300): The year-to-year comparisons for Jones are going to mostly be moot because of his considerable drop in equipment to Richard Petty Motorsports for 2021, but Darlington is at least interesting for him. His best efforts of 2021 thus far have all been at 550 horsepower tracks where equipment is not as important, and he has four top-20 finishes to show for it. As we touched on in the Bell blurb, Jones has a great track history at Darlington, where he has never finished worse than eighth across six starts. He sees a substantial salary increase this weekend (likely because of said track history), but starting 26th, Jones is absolutely a "horse for the course" worth using.
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.NA