NASCAR Daily Fantasy Helper: Goodyear 400
If you are looking for an action-packed way to consume sports on the weekend, 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, though!
numberFire is always your home for fantasy NASCAR advice. In addition to this helper, Jim Sannes takes a look at the best bets of the weekend in his betting guide.
With all of this in mind, let's preview the Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway on FanDuel.
|Practice||Saturday, May 13th
10:35 a.m. EST
|Qualifying||Saturday, May 13th
11:35 a.m. EST
It's NASCAR's annual weekend at Darlington Raceway, which is a true throwback beyond the old paint schemes we'll see.
This 1.37-mile, egg-shaped oval is a tough balance between two uneven turns, and this unique layout does lean toward those with positive track history and drivers who have learned the layout.
There is extreme tire wear here -- perhaps the most on NASCAR's circuit. Every single caution flag will be four new tires. That'll present some opportunity to pass in the pits, but mostly, it keeps the same group up front on strategy.
There's an above-average incident rate here with cars running so close to the wall to make speed, too.
General Lineup Strategy
With 293 laps on deck, we'll have 29.3 FanDuel points available for laps led.
We typically want laps led, but this track was pretty eventful in 2022. The highest total of laps led by a car that finished the race was 107. That was Joey Logano, the May winner. I still think, in due time, we'll see concentrated laps led with this next-gen car, too. Three different drivers led at least 140 of them in 2021.
Last year's chaos made it tough to define a trend on place-differential options. Of the top-10 finishers in May, six cars started 20th or worse. Only one car in the September race fit that description.
Overall, due to the high volume of pit stops, accidents, and part failures, I do think you can target options farther back. However, you'll really want to avoid rookies or those with poor Darlington history. It's definitely a track that suits some and leaves others behind.
Below are my pre-qualifying rankings for each driver based on equipment, track history, recent form, and overall talent level -- in that order. Only drivers with a win probability above 0% in Jim Sannes' win simulations or a top-20 finish this season were included.
MLT Rank is the driver's weighted average median lap time ranking at the relevant sample of similar race tracks to this weekend as a great indicator of overall speed. The prior races in the sample (with weight percentage) this week are:
2023 Darlington (Fall) - 30%
2023 Richmond (Spring) - 30%
2023 Las Vegas (Spring) - 20%
2023 Fontana (Spring) - 20%
For dominator viability, the driver is ranked 0-10 on a scale to potentially lead laps and win the race if they start upfront. A "10" is among the favorites to win the race, and a "0" has no realistic chance of leading the race at any point.
For flex play viability, the driver is ranked 0-10 on a scale of potentially finishing inside the top 15 spots. These drivers will be better daily fantasy plays the further back in the field they start for optimal place-differential points.
Median lap times aren't as useful this weekend without a direct comparison to this track with the current teams and drivers, but we still have a good idea of who will be quick.
Kyle Larson ($14,000) is typically the favorite every time we come here -- as he is in Jim's sims. Larson has four top-three finishes in his last six races here, and he's led over 120 laps here three times in his past seven starts. With Hendrick Motorsports dominating everywhere, you'd certainly have to think he'll be a factor.
Teammate William Byron ($12,000) hung around the front here last year with at least 20 laps led in each event. Of the Hendrick cars, I'd put both comfortably ahead of Chase Elliott ($10,000), who has just 4 top-10 finishes in his 11 races here.
The fastest median lap time blend this week belongs to Denny Hamlin ($13,500), who has five top-fives in his last seven Darlington starts. He's another contender by default. Hamlin is one of three drivers with a top-10 average finish here in the last seven races; the others are Joey Logano ($9.500) and Kevin Harvick ($9,000).
Martin Truex Jr. ($13,000) had two DNFs in 2022 here, but he had two top-five finishes in 2021. He's a two-time Darlington winner that shined on NASCAR's last track under 1.5 miles at Dover. He battled Ross Chastain ($11,500) for the win there, and Chastain led in both Darlington races last year, too.
It's incredibly encouraging for Brad Keselowski ($8,000) that he finished seventh here last September. Kes' speed has been significantly improved in 2023, and he was a winner here back in 2018. With a top-15 median blend, teammate Chris Buescher ($6,800) also scored a pair of top-10 finishes here before trouble in 2022.
Of course, I'd be remiss to not mention Erik Jones ($7,800), who scored the upset win here last fall. Jones and teammate Noah Gragson ($5,000) have excellent respective track histories, but they're down on speed significantly in 2023. Both had median lap times outside the top 30 in Richmond, which is about as close as we'll get to a semi-flat oval with significant tire wear thus far. Practice will be crucial for the viability of both.
Last but certainly not least, Jim's stuff is showing value on Corey Lajoie ($4,500). Lajoie's best average running position on a non-drafting oval came here in 2021, and at other tracks this year with significant tire wear at Fontana and Las Vegas, he scored two top-16 finishes.