NASCAR DFS:  Goodyear 400

NASCAR DFS: Goodyear 400

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

Goodyear 400

Location: Darlington, S.C.
Course: Darlington Raceway
Format: 1.37-mile oval
Laps: 293

NASCAR Goodyear 400 Race Preview

Denny Hamlin forced his way past Kyle Larson on the final lap of last week's race at Kansas to become the ninth different winner this season, assuring himself of a spot among the playoff competitors. The victory was the second in a row for the Joe Gibbs Racing organization after Martin Truex Jr. got the job done at Dover the week prior. There are now 14 races remaining for the playoff field to be finalized, and this week's visit to Darlington Raceway is the last chance for drivers to score a win before the All-Star Race weekend makes its highly anticipated trip to North Wilkesboro Speedway. Erik Jones won the last time the NASCAR Cup Series stopped at Darlington, and Joey Logano is the defending winner of the spring race. It is NASCAR's Throwback Weekend at one of its most daunting and historic tracks.

Key Stats at Darlington Raceway

  • Number of races: 123
  • Winners from pole: 21
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 73
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 103
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 6
  • Fastest race: 141.383 mph

Previous 10 Darlington Winners

2022 fall - Erik Jones
2022 spring - Joey Logano
2021 fall - Denny Hamlin
2021 spring - Martin Truex Jr.
2020 fall - Kevin Harvick
2020 II - Denny Hamlin
2020 I - Kevin Harvick
2019 - Erik Jones
2018 - Brad Keselowski
2017 - Denny Hamlin

Darlington Raceway fittingly is the host of NASCAR's Throwback Weekend. The historic 1.37-mile speedway has appeared 123 prior times on the Cup Series calendar, developing a reputation as one of the toughest venues on the schedule. It features a unique layout with different radius turns at either end, staggered banking and a notoriously abrasive surface. The unique layout means a narrow racing line, making it challenging to make passes, and will force drivers right against the outside wall in order to get the fastest run down the front straight. The narrow track and staggered banking makes track position extremely important. While drivers and cars will generally prefer the higher line in turns 3 and 4, they will be forced to change grooves occasionally as they navigate slower traffic. The track's rough surface means nearly every trip to pit road will be for four new tires to get the maximum grip possible. That grip will enable the fastest lap times, and will have to monitor how much time they stand to lose by delaying tire changes. Drivers who can manage tire wear most effectively, saving grip for the final miles, will put themselves in the best position possible. Fantasy players should take the weekend's practice and qualifying times into consideration when finalizing their lineups for Sunday's race.

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DraftKings Value Picks for the Goodyear 400 (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Kyle Larson - $10,900
Denny Hamlin - $10,700
Martin Truex Jr. - $10,500
William Byron - $10,300

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Tyler Reddick - $9,900
Chase Elliott - $9,600
Ross Chastain - $9,400
Joey Logano - $9,000

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Kevin Harvick - $8,800
Ryan Blaney - $8,400
Brad Keselowski - $8,200
Josh Berry - $8,000

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Chris Buescher - $7,600
Erik Jones - $7,100
Ryan Newman - $5,800
Noah Gragson - $5,700

NASCAR DFS Picks for the Goodyear 400

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $10,100
Chase Elliott - $9,600
Kevin Harvick - $8,800
Josh Berry - $8,000
Chris Buescher - $7,600
Austin Cindric - $5,900

If Kyle Busch (DK $10,100, FD $11,000) can overcome his persistent mistakes on pit road he could be one of the top choices at Darlington this week. The former champion has one prior Darlington win, but boasts 13 top-10s from his 22 starts. Three of his worst finishes at the track have come the last three visits, all of which ended with DNFs, but he led 155 laps last fall before an engine failure and has led more than 100 laps four times there. Chase Elliott (DK $9,600, FD $10,000) does not yet have a Darlington win, but he led 114 laps from pole in 2020 and finished an impressive fifth in this race last year despite stating 34th. Any driver able to finish that much higher than where he started at Darlington knows how to find Darlington success. Kevin Harvick (DK $8,800, FD $9,000) is also someone that knows success at this track. He has three wins there and was on a run of 13 consecutive top-10 finishes at the track before an exhaust issue forced him out of the Southern 500 last season. 

Super-sub Josh Berry (DK $8,000, FD $7,500) may also be a nice selection this week. He continues to fill in for injured Alex Bowman and has two top-10 Darlington finishes from four starts including a runner-up finish last spring. He already has three top-10s from seven series starts this season, too. Chris Buescher (DK $7,600, FD $6,800) should be a reliable selection this week. He finished in the top 20 in seven of his 11 Darlington starts, and finished ninth in both races at the track in 2021. He finished 16th in this race last season. Team Penske's Austin Cindric (DK $5,900, FD $6,000) finishes this lineup. Cindric has had his share of issues, including a wheel coming off last week at Kansas. Despite his troubles, Cindric remains a good challenger for top-20 finishes. He has an average finish of 17.0 from his two series races at the track last season and is capable of repeating that this week.

Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Larson - $10,900
Ross Chastain - $9,400
Ryan Blaney - $8,400
Brad Keselowski - $8,200
Erik Jones - $7,100
Ryan Newman - $5,800

Despite not yet having a Darlington win on his resume, Kyle Larson (DK $10,900, FD $14,000) is one of the top choices this week. With 686 total laps led at the track is seems as though a victory should be in his future. He has five top-fives and seven top-10s from 10 starts at the track. A driver on the cusp of victory in 2023 is Ross Chastain (DK $9,400, FD $11,500). While Chastain's speed has been unquestionable, fantasy players may see him as a risky play given his growing number of on-track enemies. Chastain's finished third in 2021's Southern 500 and has led at least one lap in the last four Darlington races. Ryan Blaney (DK $8,400, FD $8,500) offers upside potential for fantasy rosters this week, but he will have to outrun his luck to deliver on it. Blaney hasn't been bad at Darlington either. Despite just one top-10, he finished 17th or better in seven of his 12 starts. 

Brad Keselowski (DK $8,200, FD $8,000) and Erik Jones (DK $7,100, FD $7,800) are both former Darlington victors with a combined 16 top-10 finishes from 28 total starts. These veterans typically rise to the occasion at this track, and its unique nature suits their driving styles, too. Jones has led 123 total laps at this track and scored his second Darlington win last fall. Keselowski won his Darlington race back in 2018, but he also led 11 laps in his run to seventh place last fall. Lastly, veteran Ryan Newman (DK $5,800, FD $2,500) will make an unexpected return to Cup Series racing this week with Rick Ware Racing. This will be the first time he has driven the current generation of car, and this team's equipment isn't the best in the garage. It will be an uphill battle, but Newman should be capable of extracting more out of this car than its usual occupants.

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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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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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