Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington NASCAR DFS Preview
First and foremost, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Mike, and if you are in the NASCAR DFS Slack Chat you already know me. I wanted to do some writing for you guys and kind of give you a heads up on track history and what to watch for each week. I’m a Co-Admin for Faves and Fades. We have a team of guys that do thorough research for NASCAR DFS each and every week to help out others. I will share the links to our twitter and Facebook page at the bottom of the article. We would love for you to come and give us a follow!
Secondly, I would like to say that I will be doing a track history on a lot of drivers each and every week. And that track history isn’t the biggest part of the research, but it can be very helpful in aspects. Current form, teams, etc. can be factors as well. So please, do not just read this article and build lineups off of it. We have not seen any practice data, nor qualifying. There can be tech issues, penalties, and more issues arise during the weekend. There are always things changing in NASCAR just like any other sport. Teams fire drivers, drivers retire, guys are moved up from Xfinity series to the Cup series, drivers go to different teams, tracks are resurfaced or changed. The first race this year at Phoenix was completely different than the next, as they are changing the start finish line to where the old back stretch was located. Please join the slack chat and we can further help you.
THE BIG 3!
Kevin Harvick #4 – What can I say, The Closer! He has 7 wins out of the 24 races thus far this season. He is a driver that you really need to keep an eye on. Over his career he has ran here at Darlington 21 times, with and average finish of 15.3 and an average start of 14.2. But wait… he has only been with Stewart-Haas the last 4 years. Before being named the driver of the #4 Stewart Haas car, he had 3 top 5’s in 17 starts, and a best start of 3rd back in 2001. He led a total of 63 laps in that 17-year span. Now, on to his last 4 start with Stewart Haas. In the last 4 years Harvick has an average starting position of 1.5 with 3 poles. And an average finishing position of 4.25. he has also led; remember what I said about the last 17 years previous, 518 laps. He led over 200 laps in 2 out of the last 4 races, both of which he sat on the pole. In the other 2 he led 44 and 22. He has not finished out the top 10 at Darlington while being at Stewart Haas Racing. I will definitely be watching him in practice and qualifying. He is part of the big 3, you can’t count him out.
Kyle Busch #18 – Rowdy has been Rowdy this year. He has 6 wins this year and leads the points. He has booted people and has been booted himself. KB18 has been decent here the last 6 races. He has a career average finish of 12.0 and a career average start of 13.8. he has 13 starts here and 10 of those with Joe Gibbs Racing. The last 4 races here he has only led 10 laps. He has an average start of 6.75 the last 4 races and an average finish of 6.5. he did finish 2nd here last year which is his only top 5 5 in the last 4 years. He has finished 11th or better the past 4 years as well. But not many laps led, and not a whole lot of place differential points from him. He will be really high priced in salary I’m guessing, so those are two things that you are going to need. He does have 1 win here back in 2008; which was his first year with JGR. And only has 3 top 5 finishes in 10 races with JGR here at Darlington. This is no ordinary season though with the Big 3. So I will be watching him closely.
Martin Truex Jr. – And now for MTJ. He has 4 wins this season. In his career here at Darlington he has 12 total starts with an average finish position of 11.3 and an average start of 17.0. he has 1 win here and that came 2 years ago. He started 8th and only led 28 laps in that race but it was him taking the trophy home. His best start came here came last year when he started on the outside pole, only to finish 8th. Now, his last 4 starts have been with Furniture Row Racing. He has 3 top 10’s in those 4 races along with the win. The only time he has finished in a higher starting position than he started was the year he got the win in 2016. Last year in his dominating season, he led 76 laps, which comes to 19 DraftKings points for laps led. I will be looking at him this weekend as he is part of the Big 3 and seems to just be in a stride here; however, we also need him to dominate at the price point that he will be at (I would guess).
And the rest of the field…
Landon Cassill #00 – Over Landon’s career he has an average starting position of 29.3 and an average finishing position of 25.9. He has only raced here 7 times, and the last 2 years he has been with Bob Jenkins. Landon is considered a punt play to us. He is going to have some decent finishes and he is going to have some bad ones as well. He is not in the greatest equipment, but strategy, wrecks, and keeping the car clean could result in a decent finish.
Jamie McMurray #1 – Over his career Jamie has made 17 starts here at Darlington. He has an average finish of 15.5 and an average start of 13.9. he has 1 career pole here (back in 2010 with a different team), and he only has 3 top 5 finishes. On that note, he also only has 5 top 10 finishes. In the last 4 years, he has been with Chip Ganassi Racing and has only finished higher than his starting spot 1 time. Not good for DFS. We need place differential points from guys like J Mac. In the last 4 years, he has an average start of 11, and an average finish of 13.75. he has finishes of (from most recent), 10th, 15th, 14th, and 16th. We most likely need Jamie to qualify worse than 20th on the grid to be considered.
Brad Kesolowski #2 – BK has been up and down here at The Lady in Black. He has an average finishing position of 12.4 and an average starting position of 11.7. He has led laps here in the last 3 years. He led 3 laps last year, 47 laps in 2016 and 196 in 2015. In 2015 he started on the pole and finished in 2nd place. His only other top 5 finish came back in 2011! Now he has finished the lap on the Lead Lap every year except for one, and that was in 2013. In the last 4 years he has 1 top 5 finish, 2 top 10 finishes, 3 top 15 finishes and 4 top 20 finishes. He also hasn’t had a lot of speed this year. I honestly can’t believe that he hasn’t won so far this season.
Austin Dillon #3 – Austin has been pretty decent here from a Start/Finish aspect. Over the 4 previous years, he has an average improved position of 6.25 spots. His average finishing position is 12.2 and he has an average starting position of 18.5. both of which can be weighted by his 2015 numbers with a start of 29th and a finish of 22nd. In other years he has started (most recent first) 13th, 12th, and then 20th in 2014, and also finished 4th, 12th, and 11th in 2014. He also won the Daytona 500 this year and has had some decent speed lately. I will be keeping my eye on him this week.
Matt Kenseth #6 – Matt is a guy that you absolutely cannot pay attention to track history. He is in this #6 car just to help out Roush and fellow driver of the car Trevor Bayne. He is in nowhere near the equipment that he used to be in before retiring. Yes, I know, he used to race for Roush for most of his career, but Roush is not the same team as it was years ago. You will have to watch his practice and qualifying runs to know if he will be a viable option for your player pool or not this week at Darlington. With all that being said, Matt does have a win here, but it came back in 2013 in his first year with JGR. He only has 3 top 5’s here in 24 career starts. This hasn’t been the best track for him career wise.
Chase Elliott #9 – Chase has only ran 3 previous seasons in the Cup series. He finally got that first taste of victory just a few weeks ago at Watkins Glen. He has had some decent speed in the past month or so. He has a 10th and 11th place finish here the last 2 years after being in an accident in his first career start here and posting a 41st finishing position. If you take out his first start here at Darlington, he has an average starting position of 15.5 and an average finishing position of 10.5. Both of which can be weighted with a 20th start and 11th place finish last year. He is definitely someone that I will be considering and watching through the weekend.
Aric Almirola #10 – You can take any history this guy has from previous years and toss it in the trash. He is in his first career season with Stewart Haas and looks like a completely different driver than he was with Richard Petty Motorsports. He has always been a good driver, just hasn’t been in the best equipment like he is in now. He has had some good speed this year with SHR. He is the only SHR driver to not get a victory yet this season. He will be on my watch just like he is every week in practice and qualifying.
Denny Hamlin #11 – Hamlin has had some pretty good success here through his career. While having 2 wins, he has also finished in the top 10; 10 out of 12 career races here. He has also racked up 8 top 5’s in that span. One of his career wins here came last year. He has led over 100 laps in both victories. He has also led laps in 8 out of 12 races. He has an average start of 9.4 and an average finish of 5.8 and has never had a DNF here in his career. I hope I didn’t just jinx that. Hamlin is definitely someone that I will be keeping my eye on this weekend through practice and qualifying. He hasn’t had the greatest speed this year, but his teammate Kyle Busch does have 6 wins this season. One of his other teammates Erik Jones also has a win this season. Although Jones’ win came from Daytona in July, which was a complete wreck fest.
Ryan Blaney #12 – The Lady in Black hasn’t been to kind to Ryan Blaney in his 3 previous career starts. He has only finished on the lead lap one time, and only has one finish higher than 30th. But…. Yea here is another one, that was with the Wood Brothers team. He is now with Penske and has been running really decent this year. He has led more laps this year than all the other years combined and has a career best top 5’s for a season already and there is still 12 races left. He hasn’t gotten a win this year, but he was dominating the first Bristol race and got caught up in an accident right in front of him. He is sitting 7th in the points for the year and doesn’t have a win… Yet. Can he get one? I think he will win a race before the season is over, just not sure when that win will come. He has been pretty consistent all year. He is the highest in points without a win, and there is a couple behind him that do have a win (Chase Elliot in 11th, Erik Jones (July Daytona) in 13th, and A. Dillon (Daytona 500) in 19th). Keep an eye on the 12 car this weekend.
Ty Dillon #13 – Ty is interesting I will say. He is considered a punt play because he is not in the best equipment at all and he doesn’t run really high a lot. However, he started 25th here last year and finished 13th. Ty has cost me money and won me money this year. Would be A LOT of winnings had he not ran over a battery sitting in the middle of the track. I will be watching his times. If he has decent speed in practice and has a bad qualifying run, then I’ll use him. If he has decent speed and qualifies around where his practice speeds are at then I won’t have as much.
Clint Bowyer #14 – Clint has had a hard time here. This is his second year with SHR and he finally broke that losing streak at Martinsville this year. And then got another win at Michigan. He has been running really well this year. Overall career stats don’t look good with an average start of 19.8 and an average finish of 21.7. SHR is the 4th team he has been with in his career. He has 3 DNF’s here over 12 races including last year where he had engine trouble on lap 18. Clint will always be on my radar for guys to watch.
Ross Chastain #15 – This guy is a trooper I will say that. He is a full time Xfinity driver that does not race for points in the Cup series, yet races in it every chance he gets. I can’t go over track history because he has never run a Cup car here at Darlington. I will say that we use Chastain a decent amount in our lineups. He is with Jay Robinson and it’s not a very big team by any means. Ross is good at doing the best with his equipment and keeping the car clean as much as possible to be there at the end of the race to get the best finish possible.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #17 – Ricky has been with Roush his whole career. He has an average start of 17.2 and an average finish of 24.6. He has finished every race running but has only finished on the lead lap twice out of 5 races here. Wrecky is not very good at most tracks. He needs a win to get into the playoffs, and I don’t see that happening here. He has never had a top 15 finish here, and only 3 times in the top 20. He has finished (from most recent) 29th, 18th, 38th, 20th, and 18th. He most likely won’t be making any of my lineups this weekend.
Daniel Suarez #19 – I honestly don’t know where to start here. I like Suarez as a driver and I think he has some potential. He only has one previous race here and that was last year. He started 19th and finished 38th where he crashed out. I will have to see the practice times and qualifying times to know if he will be in or out of my player pool this weekend.
Erik jones #20 – Erik has only raced here one other time and that was last year with FRR in the #77 car. He started 10th and finished 5th. Now he is in JGR equipment and hasn’t looked very good for the most part this year. He does have the win at Daytona, but after my article in the upcoming Talladega race, you’ll understand a little more if you don’t watch NASCAR every week. I could see Jones doing well this weekend, and then I can see him doing bad as well. Need to keep an eye on him throughout the weekend.
Paul Menard #21 – Menard is ion his first year with the Wood Brothers. He took over Blaney’s seat after he left for Penske. Menard has had 4 top 10’s this year and 10 top 10’s out of 24 races. On the other hand, he has also had 8 finishes 25th or worse. He has a starting position of 15.8 this year and finishing position of 19.3. now, at The Lady in Black he has an average start of 21.7 and an average finishing position of 24.1. Again, he is with a new team this year and has been doing very well compared to years past. You’ll have to check lap times in practice and qualifying for him.
Joey Logano #22 – Joey has 4 career top 10’s here through 9 starts with an average starting position of 11.7 and an average finishing position of 18.3. Since joining Penske he has only finished ahead of where he started in one race. That happens to be his first year with Penske when he qualified 30th. He finished 18th last year and the previous two years he qualified 4th and 5th which is exactly where he finished. Joey is sitting 6th in the point standings and has a win this year. That win came at Talladega this spring. So you can take that for what it is worth (not much). Joey is always a guy that can run up front and contend for a win. So be watching for him.
Joey Gase #23 – Gase has never run here in a Cup car. He does have 4 starts in the Xfinity series here at Darlington, so he does have laps here. In the Xfinity series he has finished 25th-30th in those starts. It is the Xfinity series, and not the cup series. Although once you get out of the top 30 spots, it can get very interesting. He is definitely a punt play this weekend if you want to take the risk.
William Byron #24 – Byron has never raced here before in a cup car and only has 1 start here in the Xfinity series. In the one Xfinity series start he did start 6th and finished 5th. Again, that is in the Xfinity series. I will say though that he was in good equipment then, and he is in good equipment now with HMS. They haven’t been the best this year, but HMS has been getting a little more speed lately. He has had spirts of speed this year. I will be interested to see how he progresses through the weekend while I watch him in practice and qualifying. He may be a viable play this weekend and then again, he may not.
Ryan Newman #31 – Newman has raced for several different teams in his career. Overall he has an average start of 10.2 and an average finish of 11.7. Since joining RCR he has an average start of 15.25 and an average finish of 9.50 in the previous 4 starts. Newman is Newman and will fight for every position he can. He will not let other drivers by easily, especially the leader trying to put him a lap down. He could definitely be a good Mid-Tier option this week.
Matt DiBenedetto #32 – You will hear me refer to Matt as DiBurrito or Burrito. We have used him quite a bit this year as a punt play. I almost always use him in a few lineups when max entering a contest. He has finished all 3 races here in his career. He hasn’t been on the lead lap but once, but finishing the race without a DNF is good. His average start here is 29.3 and his average finish here is 26.0. If he has a bad qualifying run around 32-35, I think he will definitely make my builds. But he is a punt play and things can happen.
Michael McDowell #34 – McDowell has 6 starts here, 3 of which he was out of the race within the first 60 laps. The last two years he was with LFR and had respectable finishes of 19th and 27th after starting 30th in both races. This year he is with Bob Jenkins and has been in a few winning lineups. We need him to start outside the top 30 for him to be in real consideration, but he is a punt play so anything can happen there.
Chris Buescher #37 – Buescher has 2 career starts here where he finished in the 17th position both races. He had starting positions of 31st and 27th in those races. I will definitely be keeping an eye on him this weekend. I think if he starts around 30th, he will be a must have if you are running multiple lineups.
David Ragan #38 – Oh Mr. Ragan, where do I start here? Punt play all the way. He has 11 Career starts here at Darlington and only has 2 top 20’s. And those top 20’s came years ago when he was with Roush. Last year he started 26th and finished 25th. Not a very good day for place differential for DFS. If he starts mid 30’s I think he could be in play, but if he starts around 25th again I don’t see myself going there. Just keep an eye on practice and qualifying.
Kurt Busch #41 – Kurt has competed at Darlington 21 times in his career. He has 3 career poles and no wins here. This will be his 5th race here with Stewart Haas Racing. He has had 2 DNF’s here resulting from a crash in those 4 previous years with SHR. Last year he started 7th and finished in 3rd. He is coming off a win at Bristol. The SRH cars have been fast all year and he is sitting 4th in the point standings right behind the Big 3. He has quietly been putting together a really solid season. I will definitely be looking at him through the weekend as well as the other SHR cars.
Kyle Larson #42 – Larson has 4 starts here in the Cup series. He has finished in the top 14 in all 4 start, with 3 top 10’s and 1 top 5. The only race he has not finished above his starting position was last year where he started 4th and finished 14th. He led 124 laps here last year. Larson has been one of the fastest Chevrolet’s this year, so he is definitely someone I will be watching.
Bubba Wallace #43 – Bubba hasn’t raced here in a Cup car, but he does have 2 Xfinity series starts here. In his first start he started 15th and finished 14th. In his second start he started 14th and finished 17th. He did complete each race, although being 1 and 2 laps down both times. We have used Bubba this year as a punt play. Please come join us in the slack chat for information after practice and qualifying for plays like him.
A.J. Allmendinger #47 – I refer to him as Dinger for short. He has only had a DNF here one time in 10 starts and that came in 2010. He has been with JTG the last 5 years. The last 4 start here with JTG he has a starting position of 25.5 and a finishing position of 23.75. He hasn’t finished on the lead lap the last 2 years and has not finished above his starting position resulting in negative place differential points. We consider him a punt play and I don’t see this as a track that I really want to take a risk with him unless something happens. Things can always happen; such as, Wreck in practice or qualifying, if it’s a post tech qualifying race then his time would be disallowed and would start at the rea if he failed, etc.
Jimmie Johnson #48 – Jimmie has 19 start here and only 1 DNF. He has an average start of 13.1 and an average finish of 10.5 through that 19-race span. Hendrick has been struggling for the most part this season, but we are getting towards the playoffs and Jimmie could turn fire hot at any moment. His last win came back in 2012. In the last 3 races he has one top 15 finish and that came last year. Keep him on your radar this week. I think he needs to qualify 15th-20th to be a viable option, but this is DFS NASCAR and you never know what’s going to happen.
B.J. McLeod #51 – All I can say about him is that he is a true punt play. I will also say that he owns his own team and races for himself. He has never raced here in the Cup series and has 3 starts in the Xfinity series. In those 3 starts he has an average start of 30th and an average finish of 31.7. That’s the Xfinity series though. We need him to start 35th or worst this weekend. I mean plain and simple, punt play all the way.
JJ Yeley #52 – I don’t have much to say but just a true punt play here. I have maybe used him in a handful of lineups all year.
Timmy Hill #66 – Hill is 100% punt play for sure. He does have 1 start here and that was back in 2013 where he started 41st and finished 33rd. look for him to basically start last.
Corey Lajoie #72 – Corey has 1 start here and that was last year. He started 35th and finished 28th. He could be an option as long as he starts 35th or worse.
Alex Bowman #88 – Bowman the Showman, has an average start of 34.5 and an average finish of 26.5. But look for him to qualify and finish better this year barring a wreck or mechanical failure. He is driving for HMS this year and has been pretty darn good. He will definitely be in play depending on qualifying and practice speeds.
Kasey Kahne #95 – Kahne has 15 starts here with various teams. He is in his first and only year with LFR as he is retiring at the end of this season. He only has 1 DNF here through his career. We have been using Kahne this year and a lower salary play, and he can definitely be in play again this week. We just have to keep an eye on him through the weekend.
Jeffrey Earnhardt #96 – Jeffrey is just another punt play. He is not going to be very fast and finish very high. When you play hi you are hoping that he can make it to the finish and cars ahead of him have issues or wreck out so he can advance his position.
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I hope you guys enjoy the read and it can be helpful to you. Remember to join us in the Slack Chat for post practice and qualifying information. We are here to help everyone make better NASCAR DFS lineups.
Written by: Mike Tucker