Rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for that day. The ordering is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by value of each driver.
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NASCAR Price Check: Toyota 500 at Darlington
1. Kevin Harvick ($11,600) – As predicted, Sunday’s Darlington race was won on pit road. It always is, and Wednesday night’s race will play out the same. This one groove race track heavily favors the lead car. Harvick won on Sunday by the virtue of having the number one pit stall. He’ll have the number one pit stall again on Wednesday night.
2. Alex Bowman ($10,000) – This price tag is an insult. What does Alex Bowman have to do to prove that he is a top 3 driver in a top 3 car? It’s possible that Bowman struggles in dirty air. It’s also possible that he drives to the front just like has done in every race in this package.
3. William Byron ($8,900) – Similar to his Henrdrick teammate, Byron has a top 5 car and is starting in the back of the field. During stage one on Sunday, Byron sliced through the top 20 like a hot knife through butter. It stands to reason that he’ll do the same during stage one on Wednesday.
4. Jimmie Johnson ($9,100) – It’s been awhile since Johnson has dealt with lap traffic while leading. He was a little rusty and he understandably made a mistake. Now, Johnson’s top 5 car will start in the rear of the field, and 30 place differential points looks likely.
5. Kurt Busch ($8,700) – Most of the chalk came through on Sunday. Kurt was great at Darlington last year, and has been great this year, regardless of what the stat sheet says. Busch patiently climbed from 22nd into the top 5 during the first third of the race, and remained upfront for the final 200 laps.
6. Kyle Busch ($12,000) – Welcome to Kyle Busch chalk week. He’s starting 26th in the Xfinity race and the Cup race. Busch raced to 9th on Sunday, but dropped to the bottom of the field after pancaking the wall. He battled his way back to 5th, but then lost a lap because of a loose wheel.
7. Chase Elliott ($10,300) – Where did Elliott come from at the end? This is a normal question for DFS that are not familiar with NASCAR DFS content at DK Playbook. If you’re a regular, then you know that Elliott owes a lot of his success to his crew. Elliott gained 9 spots on pit road during the last four pit stops on Sunday.
8. Martin Truex, Jr. ($11,100) – The #19 JGR car was the best car on the long run Sunday. On Wednesday night, the track will be cooler and have more grip. There should be plenty of long runs and opportunities for Truex to lead laps.
9. Ryan Blaney ($8,300) – What happened to Blaney’s car on Sunday? He’s had the best race car every week during the first month of the season. Did Todd Gordon miss with the setup or is Darlington a tough track for Blaney? Will clean air fix all of his problems Wednesday night?
10. Denny Hamlin ($10,700) – Darlington was a big step forward for Hamlin. The #11 car struggled at Las Vegas in the high downforce package, but made progress at Fontana. On Sunday, Hamlin was the 4th highest rated driver. His early season struggles seem to be an aberration.
11. Brad Keselowski ($9,700) – The switch from crew chief Paul Wolfe to Jeremy Bullins has gone about how everyone expected it would. Keselowski and his car are still very good, but to win at this level, being very good is not enough. Throughout the course of a 400 mile race, the elite cars move to the top and the very good cars take a step backwards.
12. Joey Logano ($9,400) – He’ll bounce back, but everyone is moving forward. Every team learned something on Sunday and added to their notebooks. Logano’s team is basically adding to a blank composition notebook, while Bowman and Harvick’s team are building onto a solid compendium of Darlington notes.
13. Chris Buescher ($8,100) – Last year, Buescher was undeniably the best small team driver in the high downforce package. Nothing has changed. Buescher did not have a good car on Sunday. This happened to several drivers. Without practice, some teams were going to miss with the setup. Buescher gets a do over on Wednesday night with an appealing starting position.
14. Erik Jones ($8,500) – His 2019 Darlington win was the product of fast pit stops. Late in Sunday’s race, Jones slid into the top 5 by way of fast pit stops. Unfortunately, those stops were too fast. Post race inspection revealed that Jones was missing two lug nuts. This explains his drop at the end, but also, his crew chief will be suspended for the upcoming race.
15. Clint Bowyer ($7,300) – The first Darlington race was almost a top 5 finish for Bowyer, but near the end of the race, debris clung to Bowyer’s splitter and altered the balance of his race car. His average running position was 9th, but he finished 17th.
16. Ryan Newman ($6,400) – Nothing has changed. This is the same old Newman. He typically runs and finishes in 15th. With a starting position of 6th, it will be hard for DFS players to roster Newman, but that makes him an intriguing GPP play.
17. Aric Almirola ($7,400) – This time Almirola starts in a more playable position. It’s not crazy to roster Almirola starting 9th and his price tag is acceptable, but it will be difficult to fit Almirola in a lineup with the heavy hitters starting in the back.
18. Tyler Reddick ($7,700) – Darlington is a Tyler Reddick track. He’s not afraid to put his car up next to the wall to gain maximum speed. Poor track position was not much of a challenge for Reddick on Sunday. He drove from 29th to 10th in 70 laps, and Darlington is not an easy track for passing.
19. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. ($7,900) – In massive GPPs, DFS players have to take chances. On Sunday, one of those unconventional plays was Stenhouse and he lived up to his reputation by wrecking on the first lap. Now, everyone gets to join in on the madness. Stenhouse is an obvious place differential play, but he’s an equally obvious fade given his prolific crash rate.
20. Michael McDowell ($5,800) – Value plays do not exist. The prices have increased and the starting positions are terrifying. The punts are downright ugly. McDowell provides the best savings and security, but it’s not much. DFS players will roster McDowell and hope he doesn’t kill their lineups.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.