This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.
Bojangles' Southern 500
Location: Darlington, S.C.
Course: Darlington Raceway
Format: 1.36-mile oval
Denny Hamlin took the win two weeks ago at Bristol Motor Speedway to draw level with teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch on wins, but it was Matt DiBenedetto who stole the show with his impressive runner-up finish. DiBenedetto held onto the lead for 93 of the final 105 laps that night within a week of revealing he was without a ride for next season. It was an impressive display that could earn him an extended stay in the series. As it stands, there are just two races remaining for drivers to book a spot in the championship playoffs. Joe Gibbs Racing has distanced itself from the competition throughout the season with a trio of drivers hoarding 12 wins between them. The final spot in the cutoff is currently held by Daniel Suarez with Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson continuing their slide down the order. That spot will be hotly contested as just two points separate Suarez and Bowyer. Ryan Newman is eight points clear, but Johnson now stands 24 points adrift and looks likely to miss out on the playoffs for the first time since their introduction.
Key Stats at Darlington Raceway
• Number of previous races: 115
• 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
Darlington Raceway's Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend harkens back to NASCAR's roots. The oblong circuit is one of the classic venues on the calendar, and 500 miles on its unforgiving surface tests equipment and drivers alike. In its remarkable 115-race history the race has been won by someone starting inside the top 10 a whopping 85 percent of the time. That means fantasy owners have to closely pay attention to starting position. Track position is king on this unique circuit that forces teams and drivers to prepare for unique corners at either end and a surface that tears through tires. Four-tire pit stops will be the preference throughout the long race distance, but two-tire gambles to gain track position toward the end of stages could become a strategy for some. Brad Keselowski won last year's edition on a night when Kyle Larson led 284 of the race's 367 laps. Staying off Darlington's walls, avoiding damage — the infamous "Darlington stripe"— on this aerodynamically sensitive circuit will also be important as teams make adjustments to their cars to handle the difficult course and stay at the sharp end of the field.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
DraftKings Tier 1 Values
DraftKings Tier 2 Values
DraftKings Tier 3 Values
DraftKings Long-Shot Values
MY PICKS THIS WEEK
Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
By not choosing Kyle Busch or Denny Hamlin, fantasy players can spend extra money further down the lineup. Truex is no slouch at Darlington, either. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver won this race in 2016 and spent time in the lead in each of the last three and should grab extra points due to his lackluster qualifying effort. Getting Kevin Harvick at Darlington is a good thing as well. He's currently in a groove with two wins and four top-10s heading into this weekend and hasn't finished outside of the top 10 at Darlington since 2012. Kurt Busch came close to winning at Darlington in 2003 and has three top-10s from his last four visits to the circuit. The sentimental choice will be Matt DiBenedetto. While expecting him to repeat what he did at Bristol will be a stretch, he has scored three top-10 finishes in the last five races including his near victory two weeks ago. Daniel Suarez is fighting for his spot in the playoffs and has picked up his momentum in the two most recent races with fifth- and eighth-place finishes. He will want that form to continue this week with only two races remaining to separate himself from Clint Bowyer. Rounding out the lower-risk lineup would then be Bubba Wallace. He finished 26th from a 27th-place start here last year and could flirt with a top-20 this weekend if things go his way.
Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)
If Kyle Busch weren't starting from the rear he might have taken the top spot in this lineup, but instead we are going with Denny Hamlin who will roll off in the ninth position. He has two wins at this track and has been the hottest driver recently. Chase Elliott has two top-10s from four Darlington starts including last year's fifth-place finish from the 11th starting position. He was fifth in Bristol and ninth at Michigan in the two prior races, too. Ryan Newman is arguably the biggest value on the board. He is fighting for his spot in the playoffs and has only finished outside of the top 20 at Darlington four times in his 20 career starts. His average finish in the last five races at the track is 11.4. Chris Buescher has also put together a nice string of finishes, not coming home worse than 18th since the All-Star Race weekend. His average finish from three career Darlington tries is 15.7 with an average start of just 25.7. Paul Menard does not have a top-10 finish at this track but has been consistently in the top 20 at the same time. Only two of his last seven Darlington races have resulted in finishes outside of the top 20. Similarly, Ty Dillon is another confident top-20 play with a low price. He has raced in this series twice at this track with an average result of 17th.