Today’s Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET, FS1) is throwback weekend, where several teams are running throwback paint schemes to honor the great paint schemes used by past drivers.
NASCAR DFS players only need to throw back as far as last week, where the Cup Series ran 400 miles at Dover, another highly banked, fast, tire-chewing oval.
In addition to Darlington and Dover, NASCAR ran at Auto Club Speedway earlier this year, meaning DFS players have two past similar tracks to use when evaluating performance this weekend.
Along with practice, there’s plenty of data to aid us in our DFS selections for today’s Goodyear 400.
Before we jump into my picks, don’t forget all my NASCAR projections can be found in the NASCAR Models on FantasyLabs, complete with floor, ceiling, median, and ownership projections.
Let’s not skip the best part — my Perfect% metric — a metric that tells you how often certain racers appear in the optimal lineup when running 10,000 race simulations.
Let’s jump into today’s NASCAR DFS picks for the Goodyear 400 at Darlington.
Goodyear 400 DraftKings DFS Cash Game Picks
Multiple cars had issues in practice, leaving plenty of chalk out there to create cash game lineups.
Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick missed qualifying completely with practice incidents, relegating them to the 34th and 35th place starting positions. Of the two, I prefer Kevin Harvick ($8800) because of his steep salary discount and strong Darlington track history. Harvick has 12 straight top-nine finishes, including seven in a row in the top six.
That allows us to grab Kyle Larson ($11,000), who has averaged 49 dominator points over his last six visits to the track “Too Tough to Tame.” Larson is the race favorite, and his 31.8 point floor in my projections is the highest of any driver.
Dropping down in price, Corey LaJoie ($4900) was 21st of 29 cars to make a 10-lap run in practice. Darlington is a solid track for him. He’s 15.6% better at Darlington in a combination of predictive metrics than his average at all tracks. His 31st place starting position and cheap salary fit perfectly with all the higher-priced chalk out there.
Goodyear 400 DraftKings DFS Tournament Picks
Denny Hamlin ($10,300) is typically solid at Darlington, picking up top-10 finishes in 15 of 19 career starts at “The Lady in Black.” That includes four career wins and top-five finishes in seven of his last 10 Darlington starts.
However, Hamlin is in no-man’s land when it comes to his starting position. He’ll roll off 22nd, which means he’s not far enough back to garner the usage of Harvick and Elliott and not far enough forward to feel comfortable with him dominating the early laps like we can expect from one of Joey Logano, Martin Truex, Jr., or Larson.
However, he doesn’t need to dominate the early laps. He just needs another Denny Hamlin Darlington performance. A top-five finish with a chunk of fastest laps should get him in the optimal lineup.
Justin Haley ($5900) I debated saving Haley for my Paul Menard Pick of the Week, but I have a different driver I’m eyeing for that. Instead, I think Haley makes a great pivot play off of the chalk in the $6k range. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. has a ton of upside, but he also gets into trouble a lot, with plenty of spins and wrecks. So while I like betting his upside, I also like a natural hedge by going underweight on him in tournaments.
Cole Custer is also excellent at Darlington, but he practiced poorly yet will still wind up in plenty of lineups.
Enter Justin Haley. Haley actually projects to be in the optimal lineup more than Custer and Stenhouse, thanks to his cheaper price tag on a slate where there are many expensive options. Like Dover and Auto Club, expect Darlington to produce plenty of incidents. If Custer or Stenhouse get involved in an incident, it opens the door for someone like Haley, who has finished 17th or better in seven of his last nine races, to sneak into the winning lineup.
Goodyear 400 DraftKings DFS Paul Menard Pick of the Week
After nine straight races of going with middle or lower-priced drivers for the PMPOTW, I’m dipping my toes in the expensive driver well once again.
This week, I’m going with quite possibly the riskiest driver of the whole weekend. Kyle Busch ($9900) is on baby watch as the surrogate for he and his wife Samantha Busch, could go into labor at any time. If that happens before the race, then simply leave Busch out of your lineups.
There is a small chance, however, that it happens during the race, and Busch would then pull his car into pit lane during the next caution and have Trevor Bayne substitute in to finish the race.
In this case, points would still go to Kyle Busch since he started the race. However, Bayne is nowhere near the driver Busch is, and Darlington has been a terrible track for Bayne in his career.
That said, this is all pretty unlikely, but it was enough for DraftKings even slapped a big fat red “Q” next to Busch’s name to show his questionable status. That’s the first time I recall ever seeing that designation on a NASCAR driver since NASCAR DFS started on DraftKings in 2015. That could be enough to scare some casuals off of Busch
In addition, Busch’s Darlington history hasn’t been amazing. Since 2014, Busch has dominated only one race at Darlington in 11 starts. That was in 2019, where he led 118 laps. In the other 10 races, Busch has never led double-digit laps.
But now we’ve moved on to the Next Gen car, which may help the two-time series champion.
Busch ran well at Richmond and Dover, two high tire wear tracks. Yes, he was slow at Auto Club, but his car was having overheating issues during that race.
Busch said his Toyota Camry TRD is fast, which was reflected by the third-fastest five-lap average in practice.