Daily Fantasy NASCAR: Current Form, Track History, and Betting Odds for the Cook Out Southern 500
Even though Darlington is a one-of-a-kind track on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit, we should have a good idea of who will contend on Sunday night.
We've seen a big divide this year between which drivers have pushed for wins when running the 750-horsepower package versus the 550 package. Darlington is running the 750 package this year, meaning the group that runs best there should be at the front this week.
Additionally, we have really nice track history data. The Cup Series ran here three times last year -- albeit in the 550-horsepower package -- and they ran here in May in the current rules package. If drivers have run well broadly in the 750-horsepower package and across those four recent Darlington races, we should expect them to be spicy on Sunday. The data here will tell us exactly what to expect.
All of that information is below. The current-form section includes all races this year on ovals using the 750-horsepower package outside of Bristol. That one was run on dirt and is a bit of a unique beast.
As always, the numbers listed are each driver's average running position rather than where they finished. Last year's Southern 500 shows why that's preferable.
In that one, Martin Truex Jr. ($13,500 on FanDuel) and Chase Elliott ($12,000) were the dominant cars. They combined to lead 310 of 367 laps and were battling for the lead late. But that battled turned sour when both of them got into the wall.
Truex and Elliott both eventually had to pit, leading to finishes of 22nd and 20th, respectively. Their finishes undersell how good they were that day while their top-five average running positions tell a much more accurate tale.
The other data listed is each driver's starting position, FanDuel salary, and win odds at FanDuel Sportsbook. The win odds are in fractional form, so Truex being listed at 5.5 means he's +550 to win.
|Martin Truex Jr.||$13,500||5.5||10||1||3||7||14||20||19||13||4||4||6|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||$6,500||170||29||23||18||28||40||16||6||20||18||19||12|
When you blend this all together, it seems like the three drivers best positioned to lead laps this week are Truex, Kyle Larson ($14,000), and Denny Hamlin ($12,500).
Truex mopped up here in May, making his case obvious. Larson was runner-up there and has finished on the podium four of the past five Darlington races. Hamlin is a three-time winner here who has had a top-four average running position on all four 750-horsepower tracks with playoff representation (Darlington, Richmond, Martinsville, and Phoenix). Those are the three most likely winners in my simulations, and we should treat them as such when looking for lap-leaders for DFS.
As mentioned in this week's track preview, though, we want to jam in three playoff drivers in hopes of snagging a bunch of upside via laps led. This forces us to look for mid-range options who could push for a win. The three who stand out most are William Byron ($11,000), Joey Logano ($10,500), and Alex Bowman ($10,000).
Bowman is a driver we need to boost whenever the Cup Series is at a track with heavy tire wear. He won at Fontana last year and Richmond this year, two tracks with massive tire falloff. Darlington also falls into that bucket, and Bowman had a top-eight average running position in all three races here last year. He finished runner-up in one of them, as well. He didn't run well here in the spring, but this track should suit his strengths.
Logano and Byron rank first and third, respectively, in average finish on ovals using the 750-horsepower package. Both have seven top-10s in eight races and at least four top-fives. They also both had a sixth-place average running position in the first Darlington race. Peppering this mid-range allows us to jam in more drivers who could potentially win the race without forcing us to punt, making this a highly desirable trio for Sunday night.