It’s going to be a great weekend for racing as all three series are in action at Darlington Raceway! It’s a special part of the schedule as this serves as NASCAR’s throwback weekend with some great looking, vibrant paint schemes. It’s also a back-to-back weekend for the Craftsman Truck Series. Corey Heim looked impressive last week at Kansas and collected another win, further building his resume ahead of the playoffs. Surprisingly, we are already halfway through the Craftsman Truck Series regular season, and May is a busy month for this series. Next week is All-Star weekend, but the Truck Series still runs a regular season race at North Wilkesboro. So there’s plenty at stake for Friday night’s race with eight races to go in the regular season. And on top of that, it’s a Kyle Busch truck race. So let’s take a look at the drivers and lineup strategies on DraftKings for Friday night’s Buckle Up South Carolina 200!


Buckle Up South Carolina 200 NASCAR DFS Lineup Picks

Darlington Raceway is a crown jewel track for NASCAR. It is littered with history and great finishes overall. But as mentioned at the top, they pay tribute to a lot of drivers at this track with the classic paint schemes. It is 1.366 miles in length and it’s shaped like an egg. Yes, the turn radius is different in turns 1 and 2 than turns 3 and 4. You can run plenty of clean laps and then collect your Darlington Stripe by tagging the wall when you least expect it. But running along the wall is still a viable strategy and I expect we see the more experienced drivers take that risk to generate more speed off the corner.

Friday night’s race is scheduled for 147 laps broken into stages of 45-45-57. Over the last three years, we’ve seen about 10 cautions per race for about 45-50 laps. Yes, on the surface that is a lot and it’s never fun to see a caution every 15 laps. But as we’ll discuss plenty in this article, it’s a difficult track. It’s the Lady in Black, the Track Too Tough to Tame. It has more nicknames than most tracks on the NASCAR schedule.

Two dominator builds have really been the way to go in recent memory. Last year’s race saw Christian Eckes and Corey heim combine to lead 148 of 158 laps (that race went to overtime). 2022 saw John Hunter Nemechek and Ross Chastain combine to lead 115 of 149 laps. In 2021, it was Nemechek again, but paired with Ben Rhodes as they combined to lead 99 of 147 laps. No one else led over 20 laps in 2021. So we are looking for two dominators to go with four other drivers that can score well.

Moving up can be tricky. Darlington isn’t necessarily a track where you’re racing the field. Rather, you’re pretty much racing against the track. The high tire wear, the banking, and the different turns at each end of this track all make this track quite the challenge. So when considering your position differential plays after qualifying, lean a bit more towards drivers with experience and track history. I’ve highlighted some of my favorite plays below prior to practice and qualifying. As always, I’ll post updates in RED once we know the starting order and the remaining driver pool will be published at the bottom of the article.

Buckle Up South Carolina 200 Practice Notes

Top Price Core Plays

Kyle Busch ($15,000)

Might as well lean into it and go with the chalk to start off. And mind you, as is the case when Busch has a price tag like this, he has a limited and narrow path to victory. Busch has already run four races this year in the Truck Series. Any concerns about Spire’s equipment in this series were washed away pretty quickly. Busch has two wins (Atlanta and Texas), Rajah Caruth won at Vegas, and Nicholas Sanchez (Spire affiliated driver) won at Daytona. We also saw Busch lead over 100 laps in both the Texas and Bristol races so the truck can surely run up front.

I actually don’t see that he’s ever run Darlington in the Truck Series, but I’m not too concerned if that’s the case. He does have a win here from way back in 2006 in the Cup Series during his short stint with Hendrick Motorsports. But in his final race at Darlington with Joe Gibbs Racing, he had the best car with 155 laps led but unfortunately suffered engine failure. If he starts on the front row, he has a great shot to get out front and potentially score the win once again. Update: Qualified well and the truck looks a bit sporty which is always good. Remember, if paying this price tag you should build the lineups with him dominating a large majority of this race.

Christian Eckes ($10,200)

I’m skipping over Heim and Chastain for two reasons. Ahead of practice and qualifying, I don’t think Chastain’s truck has the dominator potential that Busch’s has. Moreover, I think Heim and Eckes (possibly a few others as well) will likely be faster than Chastain’s Niece Motorsports ride. I’ll update this if I feel differently about him after qualifying. But even Heim has gone backward and had his struggles here in three career Truck Series races. 

So I’m going to preview Eckes ahead of practice and qualifying. Eckes won this race last year with a 145.6 driver rating and 82 laps led. He’s had most of his success on the shorter tracks this year. However, the truck has had speed and he’s run up front at every race this season. Vegas was somewhat disappointing because he started on the front row, led seven laps, but finished sixth. Once Rajah Caruth found his groove, nobody could keep pace with him. But at Texas Eckes did finish third with 11 laps led. This is still a tricky track with the layout and tire wear, but Eckes proved last year that he can perform well on the intermediates. Update: Still fine rostering him. He starts P7 and works fine as a secondary dominator.

Nicholas Sanchez ($9,700)

I don’t have a ton of confidence here, and I probably prefer Corey Heim ($10,500) just a little bit more. But Sanchez does have that affiliation with Spire Motorsports and based on what we’ve seen this year, this should be a track where this Chevy partnership thrives.

Sanchez also comes in with momentum. Aside from the Daytona win to kick off the 2024 season, Sanchez finished fourth at Martinsville, third at Texas (with 15 dominator points), and he was sixth at Kansas last week. And that Kansas run came after he wasn’t allowed to post a qualifying lap so he had to work his way up through the field. I’ll trust the speed, but the one warning I may offer up is the lack of experience here. He’s raced here only once before and he’s a fairly aggressive driver. I wouldn’t be too surprised if he collected a Darlington Stripe later tonight. Update: Won the pole and should attract ownership. Wouldn't blame anybody if they paid up for Heim since he starts right next to Sanchez and might be able to manage his tires better. Ty Majeski ($9,200) works as a pivot in this range as he starts P16 but I don't love the dominator upside.

Mid-Price Core Plays

Rajah Caruth ($8,700)

Caruth has been pretty quiet the last few weeks following his first career win at Las Vegas. But there are still reasons to like him for this race. Does he have a ton of experience? No. He’s raced here only once before and it was last year. But he did start P13 and finish sixth.

Caruth is still flashing solid speed overall on the intermediates. I am wondering if they’re experimenting with setups because they’re locked into the playoffs (unless we get a slew of new winners over the second half of the season). Strangely enough, there are some good results on the high tire wear tracks baked into his resume. In the playoffs last year he did grab a top 10 at Homestead to go along with the good finish we mentioned at Darlington. If he rolls off the truck with speed then I’m more than happy to plug him into my builds. It feels as if the rest of the industry could be sleeping on him this week.

I am tempted to at least mention Taylor Gray ($9,000) because last week was his first poor performance of the season and I expect him to bounce back Friday night. There is a little win equity there. That truck has been fast everywhere, but the lack of experience at Darlington is cause for concern. Update: He sustained some damage in qualifying and starts P26 but will likely drop to the rear for unapproved adjustments/fixes. Either way, he's a good play for tonight based on the PD alone.

Tyler Ankrum ($8,500)

Ankrum is the only driver I'm adding to the written up portion. He's mostly a mid-range PD play. He got off to a hot start early in the year but cooled off considerably. He was a bit of a chalk “bust” at Texas a few weeks ago so I'm hoping we avoid another disaster Friday night.

Grant Enfinger ($8,000)

I haven’t written up Enfinger a ton this year. The move to CR7 Motorsports is a downgrade and he was priced up too much. This $8K flat tag is more fitting for what this truck is capable of. Enfinger grabbed a top 12 last week at Kansas, but he still is without a top five finish on the year. Can that come at Darlington? Maybe.

I’m not sold that he’s a lock, but I like that DraftKings woke up and adjusted his price. I’ve said this ad nausea and it won’t be the last time, but we need drivers in our lineups that can manage tires. Enfinger finished 14th here last year, but had an average running position inside the top 10 with a driver rating over 100. In his previous four races at Darlington, he didn’t finish worse than sixth. Enfinger also finished fourth last year at Homestead in the playoffs. We’ll see where he qualifies, but this is the first time in a while where I’m feeling bullish on Enfinger despite the downgrade in equipment this year.

Matt Crafton ($7,700)

Yes, it’s boring writing up Crafton again, but even last week when he started P14 he grabbed a top 10 finish. And that’s the thing with Crafton, the price is suppressed because he likely isn’t winning any races, but the top 10 upside is still there. When you couple that with his qualifying efforts then he makes for a decent DFS play.

Darlington is a track where we need to value experience a little bit. Crafton has raced here 22 times in his career. He won here back in 2015 but has a pair of runner-up finishes as well. Additionally, he has nine straight top 10 finishes at the Lady in Black and he’s gained at least a dozen spots of position differential in his last two races here. This is a brief write up but mostly because we don’t need to overthink it. If he has another underwhelming qualifying effort, he’s back in our player pool. Update: Another P20 qualifying effort for Crafton along with the top 10 potential.

Stewart Friesen ($7,300)

Friesen is a little bit like Matt Crafton, but just a little cheaper. He doesn’t have as much as experience as Crafton, but Friesen is sneakily very good on high tire wear tracks.

He finished as the runner-up in this race last year, was third in 2021, and eighth in 2019. He’s also had some stellar runs at Homestead with four finishes in the top seven in his last six races in South Florida. Gateway isn’t a direct comparison to Darlington. However, it’s similar in shape and does have some tire wear. What has Friesen done there? Five straight finishes in the top five. Update: He qualified P11 so he isn't a bad play. In this range you probably go with Crafton in Cash/GPP's but you can use Friesen as a pivot in Tournaments as well for some leverage. Don't go overboard with this play though.

Value Price Core Plays

Jake Garcia ($6,900) 

Thorsport made a shocking decision this week to swap the crew chiefs and engineering leads for the 13 and 99 trucks. So that means Rich Lushes, who was crew chief for Rhodes’ two Truck Series championship campaigns, is now going to help Garcia out, and Rhodes will get Garcia’s team. It’s been a sluggish start for the organization. The shift from Toyota to Ford hasn’t been quite as fruitful as they had hoped, and they have to shake some things up. Mind you, Rhodes has seen a mix-up in crew chiefs plenty of times over the years. This is nothing new to him. And if Rhodes is in the playoffs by the end of the season, I anticipate Lushes rejoins him.

But for the time being, this is an upgrade for Garcia. Garcia doesn’t have a single top 10 finish this year. The qualifying efforts have been fine, but the finishing results haven’t really been great and he’s been off our radar for DFS most of the year. Darlington wasn’t great for him last year, nor was Homestead. But I am optimistic he can simply get better from here on out with Lushes as his crew chief, even if this move didn’t work out for Hailie Deegan last year. Update: He's a bit of a gamble as he qualified P14. My concern is that he fails to move up and finishes between 15th and 18th. That's been the story with him all year.

Bayley Currey ($6,400)

It’s hard not to go with Colby Howard ($6,700) in the 1-truck for TRICON as a value play beneath Garcia. To my own fault, I tend to get too enamored with good equipment at a cheap price tag. That doesn’t always play out the way we think (looking at you, Conner Jones). Currey should be a top 20 driver each week. He probably has better finishing potential than the next two drivers we’ll talk about, but he doesn’t qualify as far back as they do on a routine basis.

However, Currey had a great showing at Kansas. He started P21 and finished 11th for 42 fantasy points on DraftKings. Moreover, it marked the fifth straight race where he finished 17th or better. The Niece Motorsports equipment isn’t bad. They just tend to have some bad drivers at times. But Carson Hocevar had a few wins with this team last year. Even Ross Chastain has top five equity for this race. Currey might have a top 10 opportunity for Friday night’s race.

It’s not a huge sample size, and both his previous races at Darlington were in 2020 and 2021. But in 2020 he started P29 and finished 12th. Then in 2021 he started dead last (P38) and finished 21st. If we even get the slightest semblance of position differential out of him, I’ll hammer him into several of my lineups. Update: He rolls off P17 and I love the play for Tournaments. He had a little more PD last week, but he's still fine for tonight's race.

Timmy Hill ($5,700)

The weird thing about the top tier is that there aren’t slam dunk options with a ton of experience. Sure, Kyle Busch and Ross Chastain have raced here plenty. However, the top tier has a lot of young, and inexperienced drivers. They’re just priced up because of the equipment. Darlington is a very challenging track and you can find experience in the mid-range and value tier. So we go back to the well with Timmy Hill as an affordable piece that can once again yield 30+ fantasy points. He’s posted 30+ points on DraftKings in four straight races coming into Darlington and only twice all year has he failed to hit that mark. And yet, DraftKings does not budge on the price tag. Fine by me! 

Hill has actually done fairly well here. While other drivers will scrub the wall, fail to manage tires, take a pit road penalty, Hill will do his thing. He rides around back and gains track position as other fails to finish the race. This isn’t the best equipment, but he finishes the race. He surprisingly finished top 10 here in 2020 and 2021 while finishing 16th in 2022. He was the first driver a lap down at the end of last year’s race where he finished 24th. However, the truck did have an average running position of 16th for that race. It gets a little boring writing up the same drivers time and time again, but when they’re consistent like Hill, why ruin a good thing? Update: Another P27 qualifying effort from Timmy Hill. Take a bow!

Bret Holmes ($5,500)

We listed Hill and Holmes together last week, and I’m willing to make the same argument for both this week. I’m likely more comfortable with Hill in cash games, while Holmes is the preferred play in tournaments. That thought process was accurate for Kansas. Hill started P32 and finished 22nd for 30 DraftKings points. Holmes started P24 and finished 14th for 39 points. He does have a higher ceiling, but a lower floor than Hill. Hence, we have a clear outline of who to use in each contest and that’s great for us.

Holmes’ best results this year have been on the larger tracks and the intermediates. We just touched on Kansas, but even at Vegas he grabbed a top 12 and that track is starting to get older and older and take on more tire wear. He’s only run Darlington once and it came last year where he started P34 and finished 23rd, but he did finish on the lead lap after all. I’m weary of the play and have a little more trust in Hill because of his experience. But I’d still be fine going with Holmes in tournaments. Update: Great upside from P28. Both Holmes and Hill are in play in all formats.

Buckle Up South Carolina 200 Driver Pool

Pricing TierDrivers
Top TierKyle Busch ($15,000; Starting P4)
Corey Heim ($10,500; Starting P2)
Christian Eckes ($10,200; Starting P7)
Nicholas Sanchez ($9,700; Starting P1)
Ty Majeski ($9,200; Starting P16)
Mid-TierRajah Caruth ($8,700; Starting P26)
Tyler Ankrum ($8,500; Starting P24)
Grant Enfinger ($8,000; Starting P9) - GPP Only
Matt Crafton ($7,700; Starting P20)
Stewart Friesen ($7,300; Starting P11)
Value TierChase Purdy ($7,000; Starting P19)
Colby Howard ($6,700; Starting P18)
Bayley Currey ($6,400; Starting P17)
Timmy Hill ($5,700; Starting P27)
Bret Holmes ($5,500; Starting P28)
Mason Massey ($5,400; Starting P29)