It’s a date with the Lady in Black this Mother’s Day weekend, as NASCAR Cup Series teams bring their throwback (and non-throwback) liveries to Darlington Raceway. Let’s get your daily fantasy NASCAR DraftKings rosters ready for the Goodyear 400, airing Sunday, May 14 at 3 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.
There’s a lot of prestige and celebration of the sport’s history in this event, perhaps even more so as NASCAR commemorates its 75th anniversary this season. Many teams bring cars with paint schemes honoring drivers like Dale Earnhardt, Dale Jarrett and Kevin Harvick. Others have special designs specifically for their sponsors. You can look at all the throwback schemes here.
Above all the festivities is each driver’s desire to win at this racetrack, which is no easy feat. Darlington is 1.366 miles and has an egg shape, where turns 3 and 4 are much tighter than turns 1 and 2. This, plus its aging surface, really makes it the Track Too Tough to Tame.
Drivers tend to run up close to the wall there, and if they aren’t careful, they’ll earn what’s known as a Darlington stripe — a mark on the side of their car after brushing against the wall.
For DraftKings, you’ll want to play the drivers that have historically run well at Darlington, since it’s so tough of a track to master. Also, Homestead-Miami Speedway could be worth looking at, especially last year’s stats, since Homestead’s surface is rough as well. The same can be said for Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway, specifically this year’s races.
And, as usual, examine the practice and qualifying results from Saturday, as they can help you know which drivers look to be fast in Sunday’s race. Practice is set to air on May 13 at 10:35 a.m. ET on FOX Sports 1. Qualifying will start at about 11:20 a.m. ET, also on FS1.
Before I move on to my picks for Darlington, let’s look back at the results from Kansas Speedway:
|DraftKings Salary||Driver||DraftKings Score|
|$7,000||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||52|
Well, you win some, you lose some. Four of these drivers did well, including Bubba Wallace who drove from 17th to fourth. On the other hand, Wallace’s Toyota cohort Christopher Bell ended up retiring early after hitting the wall.
Remember what I said about checking to see who is fast in practice? Well, that came to be really important last week, as Denny Hamlin, who was atop the charts in five-lap average speeds in practice, ended up winning with a pass on Kyle Larson on the last lap. He led 34 laps, had 44 fastest laps and scored 80.3 fantasy points on DraftKings.
Here’s a closer look at the DraftKings scoring rules …
The winner on the racetrack tallies 45 points, while second place gets 42, third 41 and so on. 10th place scores 34, while 11th gets 32 and decreases by one from there through 20th. This pattern repeats for 21st through 30th and again from 31st through 40th.
Additionally, drivers can earn or lose a point depending on where they began the race. For example, if William Byron started third and won, he would gain two points in addition to his finishing position points, totaling 47 fantasy points.
Drivers also can earn .45 points for each fastest lap and .25 for each lap they lead.
Also, I will be hosting a free NASCAR DraftKings league that will run each week for the Cup Series only. It’s free to join, but as of now it’s just for bragging rights. You’ll get to compete against me and some of my colleagues here at Frontstretch.
Here is the link to the league:
Now, here are my picks for Darlington!
DraftKings Picks: Top Tier
Denny Hamlin ($10,700)
Career at Darlington: 21 starts, 4 wins, 12 top fives, 16 top 10s
Average finish at Darlington: 7.5
Last week’s Kansas winner, Hamlin, has a pretty good track record at Darlington, earning four victories. His last one came in the fall of 2021 when he led 146 laps. Last fall, he finished second to Erik Jones after two of his Joe Gibbs Racing cohorts dropped out due to engine issues. He also won in 2020 and earned another top five in the spring 2021 race.
Earlier this season, Hamlin’s finished in the top 10 at another older racetrack, Auto Club, where he placed sixth. He also was fifth at Dover Motor Speedway and fourth at Martinsville Speedway. At Richmond Raceway, however, he came home 20th after leading 71 laps.
Could he carry the momentum from his Kansas victory over to the Lady in Black? If you think so, lock him in your DraftKings lineup.
Tyler Reddick ($9,900)
Career at Darlington: 7 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 3 top 10s
Average finish at Darlington: 11.1
Tyler Reddick hasn’t tamed Darlington yet but he came close to it last season. While all eyes were on the Logano/Byron battle in the spring and Jones’ win for the then-Petty GMS Motorsports team, Reddick earned a couple of top fives. He was runner up to Logano in the Goodyear 400 and finished third in the Cook Out Southern 500.
Though he’s changed teams and manufacturers from last year and had some bad finishes to start the year, the No. 45 23XI Racing driver went on a stretch of four top fives in five races. Those were at some different track types, however — Phoenix Raceway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Circuit of the Americas and the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt track. Still, Reddick has earned back-to-back top-10 results. He should be able to keep up the momentum this week.
Plus, this track type seems to suit him; he loves riding up against the wall as close as he can. Watch for him to do just that, and if he can keep it from hitting the wall, he should contend for another top 10.
Joey Logano ($9,000)
Career at Darlington: 18 starts, 1 win, 6 top fives, 10 top 10s
Average finish at Darlington: 13.0
As I mentioned earlier, Logano took home the win in last year’s Goodyear 400 after getting by William Byron in the closing laps. But he led 107 of the 293 circuits in that race, so it wasn’t like he didn’t have a good car. The No. 22 then claimed fourth place in the fall event after leading 64 laps.
These two top fives are part of a recent upward trend for the Team Penske pilot; in the last six races at the 1.366-mile track, Logano has five top 10s, including a third place in fall 2020.
Although Ford as a whole has struggled to perform compared to its rivals, Logano still has a victory this year, albeit at Atlanta. He also has several top 10s: a 10th at Fontana, seventh at Richmond and a second-place at Martinsville. I know the latter two tracks are flatter than Darlington, but they’re shorter in length compared to the intermediates and superspeedways.
Logano just might earn his second win of 2023 this weekend.
Brad Keselowski ($8,200)
Career at Darlington: 18 starts, 1 win, 5 top fives, 9 top 10s
Average finish at Darlington: 12.1
There are not a whole lot of drivers I like in this range, but I decided to go with Brad Keselowski to start with. In the last two fall Darlington races, Keselowski gained several positions en route to seventh. Additionally, he led 11 laps in last fall’s race. His third top 10 in the last six events was a fourth place in the second of three races in 2020.
Back in February of this year at Auto Club, the No. 6 of RFK Racing earned a seventh. Also, at Richmond, Keselowski gained 14 spots to come home 10th. And in the fall, he earned a fifth place at Homestead, another track that wears down tires.
I would have rather taken Keselowski if he was in the $7,000 range on DraftKings, but it’s still not too high for me.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,400)
Career at Darlington: 14 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 1 top 10
Average finish at Darlington: 23.7
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hasn’t been great at Darlington, but he has earned several positions from where he started in four of the last five races. Most notable is his eighth-place result last spring after starting 26th. In each of the three events before that, he gained between eight and 12 spots; these helped to boost his DraftKings score since each position gained is another fantasy point.
The 2023 Daytona 500 winner is also having a good run this year, with two top fives and four top 10s in 12 races. In the past five events, Stenhouse has five top-15 finishes, including a fourth and an eighth at Bristol dirt and Martinsville. If he can keep up these strong results, he’ll be sure to score well on DraftKings.
Austin Dillon ($7,000)
Career at Darlington: 13 starts, 0 wins, 2 top fives, 5 top 10s
Average finish at Darlington: 12.3
I was a bit wary to choose Austin Dillon since he hasn’t really done great this year. However, he does have a few good results, one of which is a ninth place at Fontana after he began 28th. Another top 10 came just last week at Kansas in one of the best races of the year.
I picked Dillon for this week after looking at some of his finishes at Darlington: ninth last spring, 10th in fall 2021 and second in fall 2020.
One other reason why he’s among my initial options this weekend is because he drove from 32nd to fourth place at Homestead last fall.
If he can stay out of trouble and run up front, he may just earn his second straight top-10 finish of the year.
Michael McDowell ($6,100)
Career at Darlington: 15 starts, 0 wins, 0 top fives, 2 top 10s
Average finish at Darlington: 26.0
Michael McDowell isn’t only good on the superspeedways. In 2022 at both Darlington races, he finished seventh in the spring and sixth in the fall. Those were his best results at the Lady in Black by a mile. Was it just because the Next Gen car made things more equal between the top and lower teams?
Maybe; the No. 34 has also had a few good races this year. McDowell was 13th at Phoenix, 12th at COTA and sixth at Richmond. He also gained eighth spots at Fontana on the way to 18th.
Though he’s struggled as of late, McDowell should be able to at least score a top 20, if he can keep his nose clean.
About the author
Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor while continuing to write daily fantasy and news articles. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.
A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.