The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for Sunday. The order is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
The DraftKings NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400 at Darlington slate locks at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
1. Kyle Larson ($11,000) — Watch the final mile of the 2021 Southern 500. Forget the other 499 miles. In Larson’s words, he tried to “video game it.” He didn’t brake going into the final turn and nearly rode the wall to a victory.
2. Martin Truex Jr ($10,500) — A speeding penalty on the final pit stop cost Truex the win in the last Darlington race. In the spring race, he obliterated the field.
3. Denny Hamlin ($10,300) — On the final run in the fall Darlington race, Hamlin held off multiple charges by Kyle Larson including Larson’s YOLO move in the final turn. Hamlin did not have the best car, but he found a way to win at one of his best tracks.
4. Ross Chastain ($9,700) — He’s no longer Ross “Crash-stain,” nor is he the watermelon man — Vince McMahon couldn’t come up with a worse gimmick. He’s a fast, aggressive and unapologetic driver that should be a favorite this weekend. If he needs a gimmick to sell merch, then it should reflect his darker side not fruit.
5. Chase Elliott ($10,600) — The stat sheet does not tell the real story. Elliott should have won two Darlington races in 2020, but he wrecked on the final laps in both.
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6. William Byron ($10,100) — His night ended early last fall at Darlington when he blew a tire. In the two races before the 2021 Southern 500, Byron had earned back-to-back top-5 finishes at Darlington.
7. Kevin Harvick ($8,800) — In 2020, Harvick won at Darlington twice. Last season was a tough season for SHR, but Harvick was still strong at Darlington with finishes of fifth and sixth.
8. Kyle Busch ($9,900) — Austin Dillon unintentionally wrecked Kyle Busch in the Southern 500. Busch wasn’t concerned. He said his car was garbage before the wreck. Let’s hope crew chief Ben Beshore does a better job setting up the car this time.
9. Alex Bowman ($9,600) — In 2020, Bowman competed for the win in two of the three Darlington races. Last fall, he blew a tire and hit the wall early in the race. He was never able to recover.
10. Chris Buescher ($6,900) — In the fall race, Buescher ran long in stage 3 and caught a caution. It’s easy to dismiss his ninth-place finish, but he had to perform for 300 miles to be in a place to take that gamble.
11. Joey Logano ($9,200) — Team Penske started the season strong, but they have been passed by Hendrick and JGR. Darlington has not been a strong Penske track, so this does not seem to be the week that they will turn things around.
12. Corey Lajoie ($4,900) — This price is off. In terms of skill, Lajoie should be closer to $7,000. Ev3en based on his shoddy equipment, this price is too low — and his equipment might not be that bad. Lajoie finished 15th in the 500 mile Darlington race last fall, and he finished 18th last week — his third top-20 finish in a row.
13. Justin Haley ($5,900) — The Kaulig Racing driver has seven top-20 finishes and nine top-25 finishes in the 11 races this season. It is remarkable what this small team is achieving in the Xfinity and Cup Series. Haley has finished 14th or better in each of the last three races, highlighted by an 11th-place finish last week at Dover.
14. Tyler Reddick ($9,000) — Darlington is not one of Reddick’s best tracks. It has a fast groove near the wall but everyone runs that groove. Reddick rim rides at tracks where no one else dares to hug the wall, and no one else is in his way.
15. Ryan Blaney ($9,400) — In the last 10 Darlington races, Blaney has one top-10 finish (eighth in the 2021 spring race). He has failed to earn a top-20 finish in three of the last four Darlington races.
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