Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks: Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington (Post Qualifying)

Monday is an American holiday, so your Sunday night should be spent celebrating America. Grill some meat on a fire, drink things that you are legally allowed to drink, and watch cars go really fast. It sounds like we’re celebrating a caveman holiday. It’s okay. Even Colin Kaepernick will cut loose this weekend. If all of that fails, remember, you’re playing DFS. If your cars don’t crash, you can make some money.

Dig into the statistics and find the best plays for this weekend’s NASCAR event with the Fantasy NASCAR Spreadsheet, find it here:

Top Tier Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks (plus $9,000)

We’re looking at 367 laps. That’s a lot of fast laps and laps get points. If you want to win the GPP, then you’ll need to pick the 2-3 drivers that hog these points. Qualifying position and practice speeds are solid numbers to follow when picking the top tier drivers at Darlington.

Kevin Harvick will start from the pole. The last time he started from pole position at Darlington (2014), Harvick won the race and scored 144 fantasy points. That was almost more than 2nd and 3rd place combined. Harvick is tied for the best average finish at intermediate tracks this season.

Martin Truex, Jr. is fast at intermediate tracks. He has raced well all year at the 1.5 mile tracks, but he took it to the next level at Texas. Since then, he’s crushed the Daily Fantasy NASCAR scoreboard. No Darlington fears here, Truex’s average position in the low downforce experiment at Darlington last season was 5th.

Jimmie Johnson is still Jimmie Johnson. The 48 team hasn’t had the best summer, but returning to an intermediate oval should breathe life back into the 48 team. Johnson won at Atlanta and ran the second most fast laps at Charlotte. Johnson was the fastest in practice #1. The team felt so good about the car that they experimented with running different lines in practice.

Middle Tier Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks ($7,000-$9,000)

Tony Stewart is racing well at intermediate tracks his season (12th, 24th, and 5th), and he’s raced well at Darlington recently (average running position of 14th). Smoke might go overlooked. His 17th starting position might not seem deep enough in the field for some at his price.

Greg Biffle has not struggled at Darlington. During the recent dark years at Roush, Biffle has been fine at Darlington. In his 15 career races at Darlington, Biffle has 12 top 20s and only one finish outside of the top 25 (average finish of 14th). He has two wins at this South Carolina race track, but a 10-15th finish is the expectation this weekend. He was the 12th fastest in practice #1.

Paul Menard is a product of qualifying getting rained out. The starting grid looks like the finishing grid. Great to good drivers didn’t get the chance to mess up qualifying. We’re stuck with Menard as the best place differential power pick. Menard has 4 top 20s in the 6 intermediate track races this season. He was the 9th fastest in practice #1.

Value Tier Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks ($6,000-$7,000)

We’re looking for place differential and finishing position. If we can get them both, then awesome. Sometimes it’s foolish to chase both. The starting order was set by the standings, so the $6,000 is a barren place differential desert.

A.J. Allmendinger wrecked at Kentucky. It happens. In the other intermediate track races, Allmendinger has finishes of 27th, 14th, 22nd, 8th, and 16th. In the $6,000 range, Bayne, Stenhouse, and Patrick have a better average finish at 1.5 mile tracks. Bayne qualified too high, Ricky is Ricky, and Danica has a low ceiling (dare we say, a glass ceiling). A.J. is having his best year with JTG Daugherty Racing. He’s safe, and with the starting order putting a headlock on place differential opportunities, safe may be the value pick to win the GPP this week.

Chris Buescher will start 29th. He’s in the Chase, but barely. This is a 30th place driver that sometimes has awful races and sometimes reaches 20th.This is his first Sprint Cup race at Darlington. In last year’s Xfinity race at Darlington, Buescher finished 5th. On paper this looks like a fool’s gold pick, but there is something here. Since making the Chase, the rookie of the year contender has been upgraded to a Roush car. The Roush cars have raced well in low downforce intermediate track races. Buescher was 18th in practice #1.
Punt Tier Daily Fantasy NASCAR Picks (sub $6,000)

Punts don’t work at intermediate tracks. This season 6 punts have finished with a top 20 fantasy score (that’s 1% rounding up). However, 3 punts had top 20 fantasy performances in the intermediate track race before Darlington (a wreck filled Kentucky race on a new racing surface). At Darlington, punts perform slightly better. In the last 6 Darlington races, punts have had top 20 fantasy days 2% of the time. The increase is likely due to the challenging nature of Darlington. Good cars will wreck and average cars can have good days based on attrition.

Regan Smith won here with a small team that we’re now realizing wasn’t like the other small teams (Furniture Row). He doesn’t have anywhere close to the car that he had back then, but he’s raced well at Darlington several times. He’s familiar with the track.

Matt Dibenedetto had a pretty good 2015 Darlington race. He started 25th and ran right there all race (average position of 26th). The fan favorite, DiBurrito, has had two strong races this season. Both were cluttered with wrecks. This allows the backend of the field to remain on or near the lead lap. It’s likely we will see plenty of wrecks at “The Track Too Tough to Tame.”

Track Cheat Sheet: Darlington

  • The Southern 500 is a part of the now defunct NASCAR Grand Slam. Although it’s only sentimental, this is considered one of the premier races of the season.
  • Darlington is 1.36 miles long. It’s the one of the original intermediate tracks, but it’s unique. The 2016 intermediate track data is useful for Darlington, but it’s a better tool when comparing 1.5 mile cookie-cutter tracks.
  • Why is Darlington weird? The track was built near a pond, so the dimensions of the track are not symmetrical. It looks like an egg. Turn entry and exit is different on each side. It is routine for cars to brush or slam into the wall exiting a turn (The Darlington Stripe refers to the marks left on the wall by cars hitting the wall). Making matters worse for the drivers is that the banking is different in each corner. Throw in the changes that happen to the car and the track during the race, and you’ll understand why this track is called “The Track Too Tough to Tame.” Finally, the diverse corners makes it impossible for a team to set the car up correctly. If the car turns well in turns 1 and 2, then there will be problems in turns 3 and 4, and vice versa.
  • This race will test driver skill, engine power, aerodynamics, and pit crews. Only the best drivers on the big teams have a chance.