NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Cook Out Southern 500
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, he also discussed this weekend's race on the latest NASCAR episode of The Heat Check Daily Fantasy Podcast.
Following a predictably wild Daytona regular-season finale, NASCAR's playoffs are set. Sixteen drivers will take aim at the Cup Series title, and it begins in earnest with this weekend's race at Darlington Raceway. This egg-shaped, unique track has historically played host to the Labor Day weekend event in NASCAR, and even with no official throwback week because of the playoffs, there is a classic feel to the candy-striped walls of this tricky oval.
There will be at least 367 laps in this weekend's race, so finding a driver to lead laps will be crucial for strategy, and those laps led are typically concentrated amongst just a few options, as only four drivers have led more than 100 laps in the last four races here. The series is running the 750-horsepower package used on small ovals and road courses.
With the repeat track on the schedule, there is no practice and qualifying. That means the starting lineup was set through NASCAR's qualifying formula based on last week's finish, the best lap times inside that race, and overall owner points. That formula put Ryan Blaney on the pole for Sunday night's race, and Denny Hamlin is on the outside of Row 1.
With all of this in mind, let's preview the Cook Out Southern 500 in Daytona on FanDuel.
Kyle Larson ($14,000): As crazy as this may sound, Larson might be slightly overlooked Sunday night despite his ridiculous breakout season. Denny Hamlin ($12,500) starts from the front row at one of his best tracks, and Martin Truex Jr. dominated here the spring. So Larson may slip through the cracks from his starting spot of sixth. However, Larson has finished third or better in four of his last five races at Darlington, and he led a combined 497 laps in that span. While Larson's 750-horsepower package has been noticeably behind his 550 package at larger ovals, he's at one of his best tracks, and with him recently dominating road courses using this package, there are plenty of reasons to roster the championship favorite.
Martin Truex Jr. ($13,500): Truex is the sentimental favorite this weekend despite Larson's standing as the NASCAR odds favorite (+310). Truex led 248 of 293 laps in the May event here, and he also led 196 laps in this race one year ago. Truex has three wins this year, and all have come at 750-horsepower ovals, which has him carrying some buzz about winning the championship all the way through to Phoenix, using this same package. The lone issue has been Truex's recent form, as without many 750-horsepower ovals on the schedule of late, Truex has faltered to just three top-five finishes in his last 13 races, notching a mere 86 laps led in that span. Still, he's well worth considering due to his track record at Darlington, which has him at the second-best odds (+550) to win.
Others to Consider: Denny Hamlin ($12,500), Kevin Harvick ($11,500)
William Byron ($11,000): With plenty of laps on tap and most of the contenders carrying high salaries, this mid-range is tougher to get to than normal, but it's still viable to look in this area when drivers carry potential lap-leading ability at a lower salary. Byron definitely fits that mold. He has had no issue running toward the front of 750-horsepower ovals. Byron has seven top-10 finishes in the eight races on that configuration, including top-five average running positions at Nashville and Dover. Byron also has back-to-back top-five finishes at Darlington, and while he may ultimately not find the front of the field Sunday night, he does have some place-differential juice from 14th.
Brad Keselowski ($10,200): It is not ideal that Keselowski is concerned about his own playoff chances, but Darlington is not a bad first step for the Penske driver. He won this race in 2018 and has led laps in three of the past four Labor Day races at Darlington, which do take place at night. Keselowski's 750-horsepower performance would probably best be described as underwhelming, but there is reason for hope with two top-five showings, including a third-place run at Loudon last month in a race where all three Penske Racing cars were in the top-10 in median lap time, according to Motorsports Analytics. Penske has made this track type a priority, and historically, Keselowski has navigated this track just fine. He is an interesting option from 16th on the starting grid.
Others to Consider: Christopher Bell ($9,200), Austin Dillon ($8,500), Ross Chastain ($8,000)
Chris Buescher ($7,500): Dollar for dollar, Buescher is likely the top fantasy play on the slate. After a Daytona disqualification, he starts 34th behind cars he should blow by quickly, and this has quietly been an excellent track for Buescher. He opened his career with four top-20 finishes in poor equipment here, but after a stretch of bad luck kept him outside of the top 20 for three races, he popped with a 9th-place effort (and top-15 average running position) earlier this May. Buescher has four top-15 finishes in the seven non-dirt 750-horsepower oval races this season, and that finish again in this spot would almost certainly vault him into the perfect lineup.
Chase Briscoe ($5,500): There is far more to recommending Briscoe than his 11th-place effort earlier this year at Darlington. Stewart-Haas Racing has turned a corner with their 750-horsepower package, as evidenced by Kevin Harvick leading the most laps and Aric Almirola winning the last 750-horsepower oval race at Loudon. Yhat means it is possible to start buying back in on SHR's competitiveness on this track type. In the value range, we can check out Briscoe and Cole Custer ($6,300). Briscoe starts 24th and Custer 31st. While they are two of the top value options on the slate and both have Xfinity Series wins at this track, Briscoe gets the slight nod at the lower salary.
Others to Consider: Matt DiBenedetto ($7,800), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,500), Cole Custer ($6,300), Erik Jones ($5,800)
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.