The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for that Sunday’s race. The ordering is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by value of each driver.
(fppk = average fantasy points per $1,000 of salary.)
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NASCAR Price Check
1. Alex Bowman ($9,000) – Who will unload a fast car off of the hauler? At Las Vegas, Bowman was fast in practice, and he was in second place charging toward the lead until the last caution brought on a chaotic restart. At Fontana, Bowman swept both of the practices and won the race. (4.9 fppk)
2. Kurt Busch ($8,500) – Track history and current form are the key data points this week. Last year, Busch scored the most hog points at Darlington (32.5 fast lap points and 23.5 laps led points). This year at Fontana, Busch overcame a pit road mistake and drove through dirty air to earn a third-place finish. (2.8 fppk)
3. Chase Elliott ($9,800) – Two things are necessary to win this weekend at Darlington: A fast pit crew (it’s very difficult to pass on this track) and a car that is fast right off of the hauler (no practice means no setup adjustments). Elliott has the pit crew, but every race this season his car’s setup was way off when they unloaded. (5.7 fppk)
4. Ryan Blaney ($9,500) – How could Blaney’s luck get any worse? He nearly killed Ryan Newman. A bad pit stop took a win away at Las Vegas. A corded tire forced Blaney to pit from the lead at the end of Fontana. He was the first car to wreck at Phoenix. And to top it off, there was a pandemic. It’s all smooth sailing from here. (3.9 fppk)
5. Kyle Busch ($11,800) – Las Vegas is not the best track for Kyle Busch, but he overcame bad track position and ran with the top tier cars. Again, he overcame poor track position at Fontana and finished second. Track position will be a huge factor at Darlington. Passing does not simply happen with high downforce and one racing groove next to the wall. (2.9 fppk)
6. Martin Truex Jr. ($10,800) – The stats won’t show it, but Truex was in position to win at Las Vegas and score the most points. At the beginning of stage 3, Truex had the lead but he had to pit twice due to a loose lug nut. His pit crew betrayed him again at Fontana. If his pit crew keeps it together, Truex can win at Darlington. (1.7 fppk)
7. Joey Logano ($10,100) – Everything has broken Logano’s way this season, but Logano has been fast enough to be in position to catch the breaks. The only track where Logano lacked speed was Fontana and, unfortunately for him, Darlington races more like Fontana than any of the other race tracks this season. (4.2 fppk)
8. Kevin Harvick ($11,500) – Driver rating factors in lap speed, laps led, average running position and finishing position. In two of the three non-plate races this season, Harvick had the best driver rating. (5.2 fppk)
9. Denny Hamlin ($11,100) – In the last race in this package, Hamlin drove from the back of the field to the front at Fontana. The issue is that Hamlin never felt comfortable in his car in practice. Without practice at Darlington, stage one could be a challenge for Hamlin. (4.4 fppk)
10. Brad Keselowski ($10,400) – The schedule does not set up well for Keselowski. Growing pains between Keselowski and his new crew chief were expected, but now they are no longer afforded the luxury of time. With four low horsepower races in two weeks, this team must evolve rapidly. (3.8 fppk)
11. Ryan Newman ($6,500) – His price tag is too low, even for a driver returning from a near-fatal wreck. Newman is routinely a 15th place or better driver, worthy of an $8,000 price tag. It’s his first race back, but during his rehab he tested at Darlington. (n/a fppk)
12. Erik Jones ($9,200) – Last year’s Darlington winner was not the fastest car on the track. Jones had the fastest pit crew and they vaulted him from the teens to the front row. It might not be his day on pit road again, but it will be for someone. (2.9 fppk)
13. Chris Buescher ($7,000) – This is a very fair price for Buescher. If he ends up starting close to 12th then it’s not fair enough, but if he’s close to 20th, then he’ll be very popular. Buescher has been a standout underdog since this package debuted last season. (5.6 fppk)
14. Aric Almirola ($7,700) – The knock against Almirola has been that his cars have been trimmed out for qualifying and do not race well. Qualifying isn’t happening at Darlington. There is no excuse to not have enough downforce built into his car. (2.9 fppk)
15. Tyler Reddick ($7,200) – Due to owner points, Reddick cannot start any better than 25th. If he doesn’t have very many owner points, doesn’t that mean he’s not very good? He wrecked at Daytona and at Phoenix while running inside the top 10 in stage 3. This is a wall riding track and Reddick is the premier wall rider in the series. (4.3 fppk)
16. Clint Bowyer ($8,100) – The high downforce, low horsepower package has not been great for Bowyer’s career. His struggles have continued this year, but there is a bright spot. Bowyer finished sixth last year at Darlington in this package. (4.4 fppk)
17. Jimmie Johnson ($8,300) – There were a couple races last year where Johnson looked a little like his old self. He ran well at Darlington last year, but got caught up in a massive pile up in stage 3. Johnson looked really good a couple months ago at Fontana in a racing setup that he did not practice. He doesn’t get any practice this week either. (3.4 fppk)
18. William Byron ($8,700) – This isn’t eNASCAR, but it’s hard to imagine that his success on iRacing will not affect his ownership. His name is hot right now, and if he ends up starting around 20th his ownership will be very high. Byron won the pole at Darlington last year, and while he was not a contender, he did have a top 10 car. (2.2 fppk)
19. Christopher Bell ($6,600) – It’s risky. Bell has only one lead lap finish and that was a 24th place finish at Phoenix. Still, this is basically a JGR Toyota starting deep in the field. Bell is talented and has a solid team. He doesn’t have to win for this play to work. A patient and safe top 20 will be just fine for DFS players. (1.0 fppk)
20. Matt DiBenedetto ($7,500) – This is the same old No. 21 car with a slightly better driver with a little more motivation. DiBenedetto’s stats are inflated at the moment because of a lucky finish at Las Vegas, but he’s good enough to finish anywhere between 10th and 15th. (4.7 fppk)
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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.