DraftKings NASCAR: Bojangles’ Southern 500

DraftKings NASCAR: Bojangles’ Southern 500

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

Bojangles' Southern 500

Location: Darlington, S.C.
Course: Darlington Raceway
Format: 1.36-mile oval
Laps: 367

Race Preview

After a week off, it's back to action at one of the toughest tracks on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series schedule in Darlington Raceway. "The Track Too Tough to Tame" is a grinder that forces drivers to race the track just as much as they race the other cars on the circuit. The oval is a throwback to NASCAR's early years. It opened in 1950 and fielded 75 cars in its first Labor Day weekend 500-mile race. It is also one of the more unique ovals on the schedule with an egg-like shape that challenges car setup like no other venue. Denny Hamlin won at the circuit last season, but Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are expected to renew their seesaw battle this weekend. Despite the top three continuing to dominate, Kurt Busch, who has never won at Darlington, snapped his winless streak dating back to last year's Daytona 500 and added his name to the 2018 winner's list in Bristol. The victory did little to shake up the playoff standings, however. Just two races remain for a winless driver to win his way into the championship fight, but the four drivers hovering around the cut-off line in the standings will work to outdo one another to earn their spot in the run to Homestead.

Key Stats at Darlington Raceway

Number of previous races: 114
Winners from pole: 20
Winners from top-5 starters: 70
Winners from top-10 starters: 98
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 6
Fastest race: 141.383 mph

Last 10 Darlington Winners

2017 - Denny Hamlin
2016 - Martin Truex Jr.
2015 - Carl Edwards
2014 - Kevin Harvick
2013 - Matt Kenseth
2012 - Jimmie Johnson
2011 - Regan Smith
2010 - Denny Hamlin
2009 - Mark Martin
2008 - Kyle Busch

Toyota has won four of the last five Darlington races, while Ford hasn't made the breakthrough since Greg Biffle triumphed in 2006. Those statistics may end up not counting for much this weekend, but fantasy players should look out for Harvick's early weekend pace in practice and qualifying compared to rivals Busch and Truex. Busch is the only one of the three championship favorites who hasn't picked up a Darlington win in the past five seasons. His lone track victory came in 2008 while his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates went on to win four Darlington races since. Early weekend speed and qualifying will be important factors as fantasy owners decide their lineups for Sunday's race. Track position is very important at this circuit, and only one driver has won at the track starting from outside of the top 15 in the last 10 years. With 367 laps scheduled, fantasy owners will want to choose those drivers most likely to lead laps. Finish differential points may be difficult to come by for rosters this weekend given the challenges of racing through traffic. Tire strategy will play a big role in the outcome of stages and the race on Sunday, and unlike two weeks ago at Bristol, drivers will have to remain smooth and avoid mistakes all night if they hope to be in contention for the win.

(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Kyle Busch - $12,400
Kyle Larson - $12,100
Kevin Harvick - $11,400

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Martin Truex Jr. - $10,900
Chase Elliott - $10,200
Denny Hamlin - $9,900
Brad Keselowski - $9,300

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Erik Jones - $8,700
Kurt Busch - $8,500
Aric Almirola - $8,100
Jamie McMurray - $7,400

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Matt Kenseth - $6,800
Kasey Kahne - $6,300
Chris Buescher - $6,100
Bubba Wallace - $5,900


Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Kevin Harvick - $11,400
Brad Keselowski - $9,300
Kurt Busch - $8,500
Jamie McMurray - $7,400
Ryan Newman - $7,000
Chris Buescher - $6,100

With seven wins so far this season, it's difficult to ignore Harvick each week. The former champion won at Darlington in 2014 and has started from pole in three of the last four races there, but will have to do it from much deeper in the field this week. He won't lead laps early but should later in the race. Keselowski does not have the Darlington win on his resume yet, but he has led laps in each of his last four visits. He is still searching for his first 2018 victory, too. Stewart-Haas Racing's newest winner this season is Kurt Busch, and he has spoken regularly about how badly he wants a Darlington victory. He has been close a handful of times, including a third-place finish last season. The season hasn't been great for McMurray, and he now needs a win to get a spot in the playoffs. While that may not be realistic this weekend, he's usually a top-15 driver at the track. With a little luck he could be in contention, but a top-15 also represents a step forward in expectations for him this weekend. Rounding out this option is Buescher. Buescher has struggled this year like McMurray, but has similarly punched above his weight at this particular track. He finished 17th in both of his prior Darlington 500s despite an average starting position of 29th. Doing so again will score significant finish differential points.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Larson - $12,100
Denny Hamlin - $9,900
Jimmie Johnson - $8,300
Matt Kenseth - $6,800
Kasey Kahne - $6,300
Ty Dillon - $5,400

Not a single driver in the higher-risk lineup for Darlington has a win in 2018, but fantasy owners shouldn't be scared. Larson has been knocking on the door of victory all season and has recently returned to some of the best form we've seen from him all year. He is one to beat at Darlington having led 172 laps in his four visits. Hamlin is another driver who could snag his first victory this season. He is a two-time Darlington winner and only rarely fails to lead laps here. Johnson is more of a long shot than the prior two selections, but he has two top-10s in the last five races and three career Darlington wins. He hasn't led a lap at the track since 2012, which could make him a bit more risky than other drivers in this option. Kurt Busch or Erik Jones would be excellent replacements for owners who decide Johnson isn't the way to go. Kenseth and Kahne are both top drivers in less than desirable cars this weekend, but they should be capable of outperforming. Kenseth won here in 2009 and has back-to-back sixth-place results while Kahne has four poles and an average finish of 15.7. Finally, Dillon only has been able to pick up the odd top-20 this season but drove from 25th starting spot to 13th here last season.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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