Race Weekend Central

Daily Fantasy NASCAR DraftKings Forecast: 2024 Goodyear 400

Well, that was a rough week. Barely any points and no money makes this writer a very sad boy. It’s a new week though, and we’re headed to one of my favorite tracks.

The Track Too Tough to Tame and The Lady in Black are both very apt nicknames for Darlington Raceway, located in the hot and humid swamps of South Carolina. This place has been a part of NASCAR history since 1950. It is an old fashioned driver’s track where skill is an absolute necessity.

You can have the best team or the best car, but it will not matter unless you have the ability to run right up against the outside wall. Some of the very best to ever sit behind the wheel have been triumphant here, including Jeff Gordon, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and many, many more.

Its distinct egg-shape make the four turns difficult to navigate and set up for. It has long straightaways that carry a whole lot of speed. If your tires aren’t up to snuff, your car could very well end up sideways on exit or picking up an infamous Darlington Stripe.

See also
Friday Faceoff: Is Kaden Honeycutt the Next Breakout Star?

If you’re going to win here, you need to have the perfect balance of speed, skill, and handling. Whoever figures out that balance will be able to tame this place. There will be paint schemes from NASCAR’s yesteryear that will give this race an old school feel. When picking your lineup, go with experience and rely on the stats, not so much your gut. When filling out your bet slips, do the same. Rookies and guys in their second or third year in the NASCAR Cup Series typically don’t do well at Darlington.

Let’s do a quick rules breakdown before we get into it.

Points will be awarded on DraftKings for finishing position, position differential, fastest laps and laps led. The driver who wins the race scores 45 fantasy points, while second gets 42 points, third gets 41 points and so on, at least through the top 10. The 11th-place finisher scores 32 points, 21st gets 21 points and 31st gets 10 points.

However many spots they lose or gain on the track are added to or subtracted from their score. Then, if the driver leads a lap, they will earn 0.25 points for each lap led and 0.45 points for each fastest lap.

DraftKings NASCAR Scoring Rules

Fantasy Forecast

1. Kyle Larson ($11,300)

Stats that matter: Won the 2023 Southern 500, won last week at Kansas, career average finish of 9.4 at Darlington

After last week’s historic finish, something dawned on me: Larson is hitting a stretch of his best tracks.

We all know he is a generational talent, the closest thing to Gordon since the Rainbow Warrior himself dominated here in the 1990s and 2000s. If there is anyone in the field who has more skill than the 2021 champion, please point them out because I don’t know who could stand in his place.

Also, if you go back to this race a season ago, if not for another guy who is a throwback to a bygone era (more on him later), Larson could be going for three in a row this week at Darlington.

Look for Terry Labonte‘s familiar red and yellow paint scheme up front from the drop of the green flag, and bank on “Yung Money” to get you max points this week.

2. Ross Chastain ($9,600)

Stats that matter: Finished fifth in the 2023 Southern 500, led 93 laps in this race last year

Just like Larson is a throwback to some of the legends of the sport, so too is the “Melon Man.”

Chastain has had an odd year by his standards since joining Trackhouse Racing in 2022, but again, he’s not afraid to do whatever it takes to win. He ran well at both Kansas and Texas, but he didn’t have the finishes to show for it.

He’s calmed down a lot since this race last year, in which he ended his and Larson’s day late in the going by being too aggressive, but rest assured the old Chastain is still in there. If he finds himself with a dominant car Sunday like he did last season, all bets are off.

What’s more, the last time someone ran a paint scheme like the one he’s carrying this week, they went on to win that race. Of course, I’m talking about Kevin Harvick, who in my opinion is a great comparison to Chastain.

Bank on the aggressiveness of this driver to carry your team. At this price, you can afford it.

3. Joey Logano ($8,800)

Stats that matter: 1 career win at Darlington (Spring 2022), career average finish of 13.2 at Darlington, has finished in the top 10 in 50% of his career starts at Darlington

I am really starting to feel for Logano this season.

There’s no doubt that he is one of the most skilled and capable drivers in the sport, but he has absolutely struggled for most of 2024. However, much like Chastain, Logano is willing to do whatever it takes to win.

Who could forget when he shoved William Byron out of the way here two seasons ago and went on to win? The way his season is going, the driver of the No. 22 Ford Mustang is reaching the point where only a win will get him into the 2024 playoffs.

A desperate Logano could pay dividends for you this week, and he’s a steal at this price.

4. Erik Jones ($7,500)

Stats that matter: 2 career wins at Darlington, career average finish of 11.8 at Darlington, returning from injury

First of all, boy is it good to know that Jones will be back in the famous No. 43 after missing the last two weeks due to injury.

With that being said, he is extremely good here at Darlington. His average finish here is among the best in the sport, and he finished 10th here last fall and won the fall before that.

At first, it may seem like a great idea to pick Jones because it seems to take awhile for a driver to find his groove after missing time. But based on his record at Darlington, he’s a good fit for his price.

If you are going to pick him at all this season, this is the place to do it.

See also
Here Are the 2024 Throwback Paint Schemes

5. Noah Gragson ($7,200)

Stats that matter: 1 career Xfinity Series win at Darlington, 3 straight top-10 finishes in the last 3 races

Another week, another chance to pick arguably the hottest driver in the sport right now.

I know what I said about second-year drivers and rookies earlier in this column, but ignore that for a second. This guy’s average finish over the last three weeks is 6.0. I’m not sure that’ll continue this week, but there’s reason to believe Gragson will surprise again.

Gragson has a memorable Darlington win in the Xfinity Series as well back in 2022, in which he had to make a daring move around Larson and Sheldon Creed on the final lap. He certainly knows how to get it done here and could net you huge points if he does.

6. Harrison Burton ($5,400)

Stats that matter: Finished sixth in this race last season (one of only two top-10 finishes), career average finish of 7.0 in the Xfinity Series at Darlington, son of 2-time Darlington winner Jeff Burton

This might be the only time you see this kid on my list.

It is not disputable that Burton has struggled mightily in his first two seasons in the NASCAR Cup Series. There have been some bright spots though, and last season here at Darlington was one of those.

With his car wrapped like his legendary father’s, Burton showed a lot of talent and skill finishing well inside the top 10 and running in the top 15 for much of that race. He also has a really good Xfinity Series record here.

If there is any place that Burton could have another breakout performance, it’s here.

Prop Bets and Locks

  1. Martin Truex Jr. (+700) to win: People don’t realize just how close Truex has been to winning here so many times. He was part of that crazy finish last week and has been turning in really good results over the last two weeks. If there is anybody that can get you a good payout on Sunday, it’s Truex.
  2. Kyle Busch (+700) top finishing Chevrolet: Despite spinning out very late in last week’s race at Kansas, Busch put on one heck of a show driving from 21st to eighth in two laps. That was the first race in a few weeks that Busch was in contention from start to finish, and I think it’s a sign of good things to come.
  3. Chris Buescher (+1200) to win: Being on the wrong side of history is never fun, but that’s what happened to Buescher last week at Kansas. He doesn’t have the best overall record at Darlington by any means, but I like this money line pick simply because it would be a great story.

Coverage of the Goodyear 400 at Darlington begins Sunday (May 12) at 3 p.m. ET on FOX.

Well, that’s all for this week. Before I go, I want to say Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there, my wife Felicia in particular. Watching you be the amazing mom that you are is an inspiration to me every day.

Thank your mom this weekend dear readers. Buy her something nice if you’re able to hit on your slips this week. Good luck and happy betting!

About the author

Garrett joined Frontstretch as a news writer in 2023, and became a fantasy racing and betting writer in 2024. Hailing from the heart of coal country in southern West Virginia,  he's a married father of three and currently enrolled in the Physical Therapy Assistant Program at New River Community Technical College in Beaver, WV. He has been a racing fan since 1998, primarily watching NASCAR, but branching out to F1 and IndyCar as his love for motorsports has grown.

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