The NASCAR Cup Series drivers will try and tame the track that’s Too Tough To Tame as it’s called. Darlington Raceway is one of the best tracks on the on the schedule and now

Darlington Race Trends

With Darlington being technically an intermediate, yet a unique, track, how are we looking at race trends for the Goodyear 400? A peek below at the table that shows key stats for the last five races shows some of what we’d expect and some more interesting stats. This track is known for two things mainly, being tough on cars and needing late run speed. That is borne out in the laps led stats and the top-10 finishers. The drivers who are good at preserving tires are the ones who tend to lead chunks of laps including the one driver in each of the last four that’s topped 100 circuits in front. The top-10 finishers here tend to come from further back than a lot of places as 50-percent, on average, of the top-10 starts outside the first six rows. So the cars that can withstand the long runs pick up spots late here. The double-edged sword of that is that the cars that aren’t good on the long runs get lapped here and so roughly half the field is likely to finish a lap down. That also means that drivers too far back might have their PD upside capped a bit. This is also a track where there tend to be a lot of cautions. On average over the last 10 races, there’s been an average of 8.6 cautions a race, whether they be incident or stage related, which should mean the field switches up with frequently and pit stops will be a key part of the race.

Positive Place Differential172018202019
Six+ Place Differential Spots101312131412.4
Double-Digit Place Differential686977.2
Double-Digit Fast Laps10791088.8
20+ Laps Led435634.2
50+ Laps Led323122.2
100+ Laps Led111121.2
Lead Lap Finishers222218201519.4
Top-10 Finishers Start>P126537450%
Laps Led From Top-1030828627324735387%

Darlington Practice And Qualifying Results

The following table shows the practice and qualifying results from Saturday for the Cup Series. It's designed to show the difference between where drivers qualified versus where they ran over the short and long run at practice. You can use this to find potential position differential plays or drivers who may hold their spot well throughout the race.

DriverAvg. Prac to QualQual1-Lap5-Lap10-Lap15-Lap20-Lap25-Lap
Tyler Reddick-101185131498
Brad Keselowski-122223018934
Chris Buescher-23312489
Ty Gibbs-13421722251918
William Byron-6552929  
Kyle Larson-26151231  
Denny Hamlin-1079617312017
Bubba Wallace-1281127261817 
Ross Chastain-39241611877
Martin Truex Jr-10101221212126 
Kyle Busch-31120141011  
Christopher Bell-131243633302323
Chase Briscoe013292212645
Joey Logano2146814161513
Todd Gilliland91516104311
Michael McDowell91613671116
Ryan Blaney-41719934   
Alex Bowman-101830292924  
Daniel Suarez-119322524171211
Ricky Stenhouse Jr92010118131314
Carson Hocevar-521261835   
John H. Nemechek722142016151412
Austin Dillon-72335342723  
Corey Lajoie8248191919  
Austin Cindric20251741222
Ryan Preece626232323201615
Zane Smith027313530262119
Justin Haley528272425221821
Daniel Hemric-529343136   
Erik Jones193071315101010
Chase Elliott20312175   
Derek Kraus632252628272524
Josh Berry16332833201263
Kaz Grala634332832322422
Harrison Burton735363231282220
Noah Gragson283613157556

Goodyear 400 DraftKings Scoring History

The following graph shows the average points by starting spot in the last five races at Darlington. It’s not a hard and fast rule but just an illustration of how strategy has worked out previously. The drivers, cars, and how they started in those spots aren’t taken into account.

Goodyear 400 FanDuel Scoring History

The following graph shows the average points by starting spot in the last five races at Darlington. It’s not a hard and fast rule but just an illustration of how strategy has worked out previously. The drivers, cars, and how they started in those spots aren’t taken into account.

NASCAR DFS Lineup Strategy For Darlington

So knowing what we know from above, how are we building lineups for the Goodyear 400? Let’s break it down by site and contest type.

For DraftKings Cash:

The clear plays are for PD while going for one laps led dominator. For that dominator we’re looking inside the top-10 in all likelihood. Why? 86-percent of laps led have come from the top-10 in the last five races. Don’t focus too much on stacking the back as we’ve talked about some of the PD upside might be limited.

For DraftKings GPP:

Similar to the cash builds we’re hunting the laps led dominator, and perhaps two guys who can top 60 laps led each. However, unlike cash, we’re going more for guys who can lock down good finishing positions but not necessarily needing the chunks of PD. Guys starting inside the top-25 are prime for this, as well as guys who can hold spots in the 12-18 range. Getting as many top-10 finishers as possible is a priority for these builds.

For FanDuel Cash:

Even with the discounted points on FanDuel, PD is still going to be a big part of the builds for cash here. We don’t necessarily want guys as far back as we do on DK, though we can certainly have a few. The laps led aren’t huge here but still important enough as a differentiator that we should try and get at least one chunk laps led scorer.

For FanDuel GPP:

Unlike on DK, we can sell out for top-10 finishers as the drivers who finish highly are the ones who score the best on FD. That’s because without fastest laps and getting equal points from laps completed as laps led, finish position is the dominant percentage of points. So if we pick the right five drivers who all nab top-10 finishes, plus some PD, we’re set to do well in the FD tournaments.

Top Tier Salary Drivers To Play

Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson are basically always in play at this point so we’re not giving them a full write up this week but they are in the player pools below.

William Byron

Byron has been arguably the second-best driver at Darlington in the last six races here with the third-best average finish (10.7), tied for the most top-fives, -10s, and -15s as well. He is starting P5 on Sunday and had a top-nine car in speed for most metrics in practice. There is no reason to think that Byron can’t hang in the top-five and lead laps throughout the day. The only thing that’s concerning is that over the last five races here, P5 is one of the ones that goes backward after leading a bunch of laps, but if he can avoid the tire issues that befell others, this is a good day in waiting.

Tyler Reddick

The pole-sitter at Darlington sounds intriguing but in the last five races here, the pole-sitter has led under 100 laps thrice, in fact it’s less than 65 laps thrice. He had so-so speed in practice over the short and long run but leading the pack is still an advantage for the start of the race. Just be aware that he may not lead a ton of laps and then drop back as the average finish of pole-sitters here is 16.2 in the last five races. That being said, it’s still possible that Reddick goes out in his Tim Richmond throwback and dominates, that’s why they run the races.

Christopher Bell

People who are just looking at practice data and see Bell toward or at the bottom in the long run speeds may not play him. However, he brushed the wall in practice and that pretty well tanked his speeds. The qualifying speed was good and prior to hitting the wall, he was one of the fastest cars on track. This style of racing has benefitted Bell in the past as his dirt track background kicks in, much like Larson, and he gets faster when cars are looser. The price is nice for a guy who could still be a dominator in the race.

Mid-Tier Salary Drivers To Play

Ross Chastain

Chastain has fond memories at this track that includes winning in the lower divisions. He’s seemingly always a threat on tracks where tire wear is an issue and cars get loose to get fast. That was the case practice as he got faster the longer he ran. Starting P9 is still a great spot for him to lead some laps and threaten for a top-five finish by race’s end. That makes him a very interesting play in each format.

Joey Logano

This has been a track for Logano where he can find speed and good finishes even if things haven’t gone well for him coming into the race. We’re in that spot with him, and Fords in general, this week. Logano seemingly found speed in practice over the long run and qualified it in a sneaky good spot for the race. Logano leads the field in average finish over the last six races here, being one of only two drivers averaging a finish better than 10th. Logano could be a slate breaker in a GPP build.

Chris Buescher

Fresh off the toughest beat in the history of NASCAR, Buescher is bringing speed once more. He ran inside the top-seven much of practice before qualifying P3. So why Buescher and not Keselowski? Price tag. Buescher is significantly cheaper than Keselowski and has similar speed and a better history, recently, of finishing top-five, or at least capitalizing on the speed. That being said, Kes could lead laps from the front row but you’ll need that to happen rather than with Buescher just hoping for it with a solid finish.

Erik Jones

Jones is a multi-time Darlington winner and he looked like he didn’t miss a beat being out of the car for a few races. The long run speed in the 43-car is top-10 despite the rough qualifying run he had. That is likely to make him a popular play in the mid-tier as it’s no secret that this is arguably his best track.

Noah Gragson

Starting dead last he literally can’t cost you points. He also had a quick practice session over the short and long runs. He will be popular thanks to the copious amounts of PD upside that he has and little downside, especially in cash. Not a ton of history here with just one race run, he finished P26, but the 10-car has been racy in similar races this season so we’ll trust the speed and recent success.

Value Tier Salary Drivers To Play

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Stenhouse has been solid here in the past and he’s generally been solidly fast in this package this year. If we remove the P35 wreck out he had here a few races ago, he’s posted an average finish just under 15.0 That’s impressive for a guy in this range of salary while still giving him a few spots of PD potential based on his starting spot.

Austin Cindric

Holy crap it’s a Cindric sighting in the playbook. Maybe it’s the migraine I’m currently battling but he looked quite fast over the long run at practice on Saturday. The starting spot doesn’t hurt either as it’s P25. Cindric can’t possibly be worse than he’s been (at least that’s hope). In three of his four races here, he’s finished P19 or better which indicates a bit of PD upside. As does the speed he showed at practice, though he was out early which could’ve helped with that.

Todd Gilliland

To be fair he qualified a tad farther forward than I’d have liked but oh well. He still has value if he can hold around this spot in the grid. The last two spring races at Darlington he’s finished P15 and P11 which indicates maybe he has the ability finish there again despite starting closer to the front. This starting spot may also keep him from being quite as played as he would’ve been had he started further back.

Justin Haley

As we stated on the podcast, he simply moves up too well to be ignored. In his prior four runs at Darlington he’s nabbed three top-20s including two top-10s. The speed is in the car again for him to move up well and at this price we don’t need him to even move up that far. He’ll likely be popular at this price for people wanting one more high-priced driver in their builds.

Player Pool

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