NASCAR DFS: Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway DraftKings Lineup Plays

Brian Polking

From a fan’s perspective, I love the Darlington Raceway. The egg-shaped oval has a challenging layout, a rough surface and one of the richest histories in the sport. It gives Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 more of an aura, and you just know that this is a race that drivers circle on their calendars.

When it comes to NASCAR DFS at DraftKings, I have to admit that I am a not exactly looking forward to Sunday’s race. While we don���t know exactly how the 2019 rules package is going to impact the racing, a look back at the races at the high-speed, 1.5-mile ovals this year could give us the best indication of what to expect. If that’s the case, passing could be tough, and building a winning lineup could have a lot to do with simply picking drivers who hang near the front all night and don’t make mistakes.

Unfortunately, mistake-free races are often tough to come by at Darlington. The added tire where means we could easily see double-digit pit stops. There’s also the simple fact that running 500 miles at a narrow track where the groove is right up by the wall isn’t a walk in the park, and when you throw in the reputation of the Southern 500 and the pressure of the looming playoffs, you only raise the intensity.

Yes, you still need to build around a couple of dominator candidates. There are 367 laps on tap, and at least one driver is going to lead 100-plus, if not close to 200 laps. However, I would recommend a more balanced approach overall. I’ll be looking for drivers who can stay clean, gain at least a few spots and challenge for a Top 10.

Check out all of my top DFS options at DraftKings for both cash and GPP contests for the Bojangles’ Southern 500, and make sure to lock in your lineups before enjoying some Sunday night racing on the holiday weekend.

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Must-Own Drivers

Kyle Busch ($11,900)

Busch posted excellent practice times Friday, especially on long runs, but some type of engine issue in qualifying has him starting 33rd. When you give the best driver in the series 30-plus points to earn in the place differential category, you are starting with a high floor, and Busch is always a threat for dominator points.

Denny Hamlin ($11,400)

Hamlin was an obvious favorite heading into the weekend, and a Top 10 qualifying effort and strong practice times won't change that. As the hottest driver in the series and probably the best in the business at Darlington, you are going to want plenty of exposure, especially in cash games.

Kyle Larson ($10,600)

Larson has been great at Darlington throughout his career, and he has a 7.6 average finish in five starts at the track, recording fastest laps in all of them and leading laps in four of the five. He has been really strong the last two years, leading 124 laps and notching 52 fastest laps in 2017 and leading 284 and logging 75 fastest laps in last year's race. Starting third with a car that appeared to be the class of the field on long runs, he looks like a prime candidate to finish as the No. 1 scorer at DraftKings.

Brad Keselowski ($9,600)

Keselowski is the defending winner of the Southern 500, and he always seems to find his way to some dominator points at Darlington. He has led laps in five straight starts here, leading 20-plus three times. He has also recorded double-digit fastest laps in four straight races, topping 40 fastest laps twice. Starting on the front row, he should be able to provide some more dominator points and a strong finish Sunday.

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Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

Cash Plays

Martin Truex Jr. ($10,200)

Truex has been a steady force at Darlington, flirting with wins in each of the last three races here. He has led at least 28 laps in all three of those starts and recorded at least 20 fastest laps in all of them, notching 40-plus fastest laps twice. Starting back in 22nd with a car that ranked in the Top 10 in practice, Truex has a great combination of dominator and differential potential.

Erik Jones ($8,700)

His Top 5 upside has been on display a lot in recent weeks, and Jones showed plenty of speed in practice again this weekend before qualifying 15th. He has finished fifth and eighth in his two Cup starts at Darlington, and he even notched 40 fastest laps here last season. He's positioned to deliver a Top 10 and gain a handful of spots in the process.

Ryan Newman ($8,300)

Newman already projected to be one of the safest mid-priced plays this weekend. He has a 12.1 average finish in 20 starts at Darlington, logging 13 Top 10s and 17 Top 20s, and he has seven Top 10s in the last 10 races here alone. A 24th-place effort in qualifying further bolsters his floor by providing plenty of differential points.

Aric Almirola ($7,800)

He doesn't have a Top 5 ceiling, but he has been steady at the intermediate ovals. He has a 10.7 average finish in the seven races at mile-and-a-half tracks this year, and he hasn't finished worse than 16th in any of those starts. After qualifying 30th, he offers a safe floor and price tag that won't break the bank.

Ty Dillon ($6,300)

If you a looking for a safer source of cap relief, Dillon is probably the play. He has managed decent results in both of his Darlington starts, gaining 12 spots and finishing 13th in his track debut in 2017 and moving up seven spots and finishing 21st last year. Rolling off 29th, Dillon should finish with a positive place differential and around 20 fantasy points.

GPP Specials

Kevin Harvick ($9,900)

With Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski starting up front and Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. starting deep in the field, Harvick could fly under the radar a bit from the 11th starting spot. However, he has a 4.2 average finish in five starts at Darlington with Stewart-Haas Racing, leading 20-plus laps in four of those races and 200-plus laps twice. He has also recorded double-digit fastest laps in all five of those starts, delivering at least 20 fastest laps four times. I love him as a contrarian dominator.

Alex Bowman ($8,200)

Bowman has been searching for speed in recent weeks, but he has been one of the stronger drivers at the high-speed intermediate ovals this year, and he was strong in practice Friday. Bowman ranked third with 38 fastest laps in last year's Southern 500, and starting 16th, he has some differential points available, as well.

William Byron ($7,100)

The high-speed ovals have been good to him in 2019, and through the first seven races, Byron has a 13.4 average finish, notching three Top 10s and finishing in the Top 20 in all seven starts. Byron has also led laps in five of those seven starts, leading 31 from the pole at Charlotte. He will lead the field to the green again this weekend, and at this price, a solid finish and a few dominator points will make him well worth the investment. Just cross your fingers he stays clean for all 500 miles.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($6,700)

Trusting Stenhouse is always a risky decision, but he showed some serious speed in practice this weekend, and he has been successful at the intermediate ovals with the reduced-horsepower, high-downforce package being used in 2019. He has posted an 11.4 average finish in the seven races at 1.5-mile tracks, finishing no worse than 18th and 12th or better five times. Starting 21st, he's going to be a steal if he challenges for a Top 10.

Matt Tifft ($5,200)

If you are looking to free up a bunch of money with a punt play, I'd consider rolling the dice on Tifft. He starts back in 32nd, but he has finished 27th or better in the last seven races this year, logging five Top 25s in that stretch. Tifft could be a cheap source of 20-plus fantasy points this weekend.

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