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DraftKings NASCAR: Bojangles’ Southern 500

C.J. Radune

Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the 2015 Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

Bojangles’ Southern 500

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

Race Preview

Kyle Busch entered the 2017 season’s final week off by adding a second win to his 2017 tally. The wins have been on tap for the No. 18 team for a long time, but now with two in the last four races Busch seems to have finally gotten luck on his side. Every other driver will be hoping to get on the same track with just two races remaining until the championship playoffs commence. While there is still time for a spoiler, the field for the championship battle appears mostly set. There will be at least one spot in those playoffs for a non-winner, which is currently a very close battle between Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth, and Jamie McMurray. Of those three only Kenseth has won at his week’s circuit, Darlington Raceway. Elliott will not have wanted to enter the week off with his 18th-place finish at Bristol, especially while other potential spoilers like Erik Jones seem to have the wind firmly in their sails. Darlington and Richmond will be two very interesting races from a neutral’s perspective as gambles from those on the outside looking in could become bigger and bigger.

Key Stats at Darlington Raceway

Number of previous races: 113
Winners from pole: 20
Winners from top-5 starters: 70
Winners from top-10 starters: 97
Winners from 21st or lower starters: 6
Fastest race: 141.383 mph

Last 10 Darlington Winners

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
2007 - Jeff Gordon

Darlington Raceway’s history in the sport is extensive. The Southern 500 is one of the classic races on the calendar each season, and is one every driver would love to add to their accomplishments. The track is known as one of the toughest the teams visit, and it can be extremely tough on equipment and personnel. The surface, though not as rough as in the past, is abrasive and right-front tire failures are common as teams push the limits. Drivers have a narrow groove from which to get the most of their chassis, and setup will be a critical component of having a good night. Last year's race proved that the fastest car doesn’t always win, though. Pit stops and restarts will carry significant emphasis Sunday night. Kevin Harvick had the fastest car here in 2016, but failed to capitalize on pit road, while Martin Truex Jr.’s crew was able to deliver their driver the track position he needed to win. While some of the more dominant faces of 2017 are likely to be at the front again on Sunday, the winner could easily come from the pack with a few late caution periods. Fantasy owners must pay attention to practice pace and qualifying position, though.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
(Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values

Martin Truex Jr. - $10,700
Kyle BUsch - $10,600
Kyle Larson - $10,300

DraftKings Tier 2 Values

Denny Hamlin - $9,900
Kevin Harvick - $9,700
Matt Kenseth - $9,500
Jimmie Johnson - $9,100

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Jamie McMurray - $8,500
Clint Bowyer - $8,400
Kurt Busch - $8,200
Ryan Newman - $8,100

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Trevor Bayne - $7,100
Chris Buescher - $6,600
Aric Almirola - $6,400
David Ragan - $5,600

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Kyle Busch - $10,600
Denny Hamlin - $9,900
Kevin Harvick - $9,700
Kasey Kahne - $7,500
Chris Buescher - $6,600
David Ragan - $5,600

Kyle Busch heads the lower-risk lineup for Darlington after his most recent triumph in Bristol. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver won at this track in 2008 and hasn’t finished lower than 11th since 2009. Teammate Denny Hamlin has also been building momentum with three top-fives in the last five races. He won at Darlington in 2010, and scored five top-fives in his last seven visits to the track. Kevin Harvick finished eighth at Bristol two weeks ago, and has led 496 laps at Darlington in the last three races. It could be his time to shine Sunday night. Kasey Kahne continues his audition for a 2018 drive. His seventh-place Darlington finish last season might give him the boost he needs to have a top finish this week. Chris Buescher's lone Darlington start in the series ended with a top-20 and an excellent finish differential for fantasy owners. He has been scoring some top-10s recently, and should be capable of a top-15 on Sunday regardless of where he qualifies. Like Buescher, David Ragan is another driver that should offer fantasy owners upside potential. He finished 21st here last season, and if he is able to avoid trouble he could be in store for another finish around the top 20 again this week.

Higher-Risk Lineup
($50K Salary Cap)

Martin Truex Jr. - $10,700
Matt Kenseth - $9,500
Brad Keselowski - $9,200
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - $7,600
Trevor Bayne - $7,100
Matt DiBenedetto - $5,700

Martin Truex Jr. gives the higher-risk lineup for Darlington significant stability. He won last year's Southern 500 with top-notch pit work, and has been the man to beat throughout 2017. Darlington has always been a good place for Matt Kenseth to demonstrate his abilities. He is still seeking a win in 2017 and won here in 2013. Brad Keselowski is coming off of a disappointing few races, but the off week should give him the chance to right the ship. He has never won at Darlington, but has led more than 200 laps in the last two races here. Fantasy players know Dale Earnhardt Jr.s' struggles, and Darlington needs to go well for him. His average finish at the track from 21 career starts is 14th, and he has three consecutive top-10s here heading into this weekend. This should be the perfect opportunity to end his full-time career in the series on a high note. Trevor Bayne continues to turn in impressive performances. His seventh-place finish at Bristol was his second consecutive top-10 and his fourth of the season. He has two Darlington starts and should get his best-ever finish at the circuit this week. Rounding off the selections is Matt DiBenedetto. He has two Darlington starts on his resume, has finished both of those races, and brings an average finish of 25.5 to the table. His qualifying effort should give him the opportunity to give fantasy owners some points through finish differential.

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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