It’s Throwback Weekend in NASCAR, which means there’s plenty of badass “old school” paint schemes on display at Darlington Raceway for the 70th annual Bojangles’ Southern 500. This is somewhat of a ‘throwback’ week in DraftKings, too, at least moving forward: it’s the last race weekend without regular season NFL games, which means DraftKings will more than likely be “throwing it back” to the old, shitty prize structures. To commemorate the last decent NASCAR contests–at least in my mind–we have a $500 Southern Sunset contest with $20,000 to 1st in addition to the big $11 First Gear GPP with $50,000 going to 1st.
Before we get to the DraftKings strategy, plays, and projections, here are some helpful links to the qualifying results and practice speeds from this weekend.
DraftKings Strategy Breakdown for the Bojangles’ Southern 500
This is a looong race we have on Sunday night. Scheduled for a total of approx. 500 miles, the Bojangles’ Southern 500 is 367 laps in length, which we will not only see plenty of comers and goers throughout the night, but we’ll also have plenty of dominator FPTS up for grabs in the form of laps led and fastest laps.
In previous years, a top-heavy DraftKings lineup approach has been what has been successful at Darlington. Last year, the optimal lineup ended up being Kyle Larson ($12,100), Brad Keselowski (9,300), Joey Logano ($9,100), Jamie McMurray ($7,400), Chris Buescher ($6,100), and Ty Dillon ($5,400). They finished 3rd, 1st, 2nd, 9th, 13th, and 21st (respectively).
Looking at 2017, the optimal lineup at Darlington was Martin Truex, Jr. ($10,700), Kyle Larson ($10,300), Denny Hamlin (9,900). Austin Dillon ($7,400), Michael McDowell ($6,100), and Landon Cassill ($5,400), with finishes of 8th, 14th, 1st, 4th, 19th, and 21st (respectively).
The optimal lineup for 2016’s Southern 500: Kevin Harvick ($10,600 — finished 2nd), Martin Truex, Jr. ($9,800 — 1st), Kyle Latosn ($9,100 — 3rd), Kasey Kahne ($7,500 — 7th), Chris Buescher ($6,600 — 17th), and Regan Smith ($5,300 — 20th).
For 2015, it was: Kurt Busch ($10,100 — 6th), Brad Keselowski ($10,000 — 2nd), Carl Edwards (9,700 — 1st), Denny Hamlin ($9,500 — 3rd), Landon Cassill ($5,300 — 20th), and Alex Bowman ($5,300 — 24th).
Notice a trend here? Over the last four Darlington races, all but one of the optimal lineups had two drivers priced at $6,100 or lower, and the exception was in 2016 when Buescher was on there at $6,600. It’s also worth noting that all four of those optimal lineups had at least one of the front row starts on it. This weekend, the front row is William Byron ($7,100) on the pole with Brad Keselowski ($9,600) starting 2nd.
GPP Drivers I Love For Darlington
Chris Buescher ($7,300) – This is a risky play, but that’s how you win GPPs. I really like Chris Buescher this weekend. Let’s just think about this from a macro level: this #37 Chevrolet has pretty much outperformed every single race this season, and now we’re at Darlington, a track where Buescher has constantly outperformed despite a lack of quality equipment (he’s finished 17th, 17th, and 13th in his three career starts here thus far). This weekend, Buescher qualified 12th for Sunday’s big race, and that’s why he’s so risky. However, I think this #37 Chevrolet might be the fastest it’s been all year–it was 6th-fastest in overall speed on Friday according to my calculations–and let’s not forget that Buescher finished 9th at Atlanta back in February–another old, worn-out track.
Bubba Wallace ($5,600) – When looking at momentum, I like to look at the last six races, and when you analyze those numbers heading into Darlington, Bubba Wallace actually looks decent with his average finish of 22.7 over that month-and-a-half (approximately) span. What’s even more impressive, though, is when you compare it to his overall season average finish, which is 25.0. That puts Bubba in the top 20% of the garage when you compare those two numbers. He finished 26th here at Darlington last year as a rookie, and in this weekend’s race he’s slated to start 28th. I had Bubba as the 22nd-fastest car overall on Friday, and a mid-20s finish would be great value for a guy priced at $5,600. By the way, I like pairing Wallace with Matt Tifft ($5,200) on Sunday night, with Ty Dillon ($6,300) a close second.
Darlington Bojangles’ Southern 500 DraftKings Projections
You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.
|Driver||Starting Position||DraftKings Salary||Avg Proj FPTS||Avg. Projected Finish||Proj Laps Led||Dollar Per FPT|
|Martin Truex Jr||22||$10,200||53.9||07.2||9||$189|
|Ricky Stenhouse Jr||21||$6,700||36.2||14.4||0||$185|