The Checkered Flag – Darlington Optimal Drivers – FanDuel NASCAR


After a week off, The NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series heads to Darlington for the Bojangles Southern 500. The track dubbed “Too Tough To Tame” will offer the drivers a challenge like no other track. Someone other than the big 3 finally won a race two weeks ago as Kurt Busch took his Ford to Victory Lane. The older Busch has had a lot of good runs at Darlington, but has never been able to bring home the checkers. Let’s dive right in and see what DPA Racing has in store for us this week!

Blue Chip Studs

Denny Hamlin | #11 | $11,600

Hamlin and the #11 FedEx Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota have had a year to forget so far. In practice and in qualifying this year, Hamlin has been pretty good, but that performance has not transferred to the track on race day. Darlington may be just the answer Hamlin has been looking for. Hamlin won here last year, and will start from the poll again this week.  Hamlin had the best 10 lap average in the first practice session and was 5th fastest in Happy Hour. Hamlin could be ready to finally break out this week and it couldn’t come at a better time as the Chase is right around the corner.

Kyle Busch | #18 | $14,000

Busch and the #18 Skittles 1998 Retro Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will start from the 5th starting position on Sunday. Last time out, Busch had one heck of a race in Bristol that I’m sure he’s ready to put behind him. Busch had the best 10 lap average during Happy Hour and he had the 4th fastest lap overall. Busch finished 2nd here last year and will be looking to get back to his winning ways.

Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Harvick | 4 | $13,400

Harvick and the #4 Busch Beer Throwback Stewart-Haas Racing Ford will start from the 22nd starting position. Harvick had the 3rd fastest 10 lap average speed during Happy Hour and had the 13th fastest overall lap. Harvick will have his work cut out for him with his lackluster qualifying effort, but it should give him the chance to gain valuable points as he makes his way to the front. Harvick knows how to win at Darlington and should be a factor when the checkered flag falls.

Steady Eddies

Jimmy Johnson | #48 | $10,100

Johnson and the #48 Lowe’s Throwback Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet will start from the 20th starting position on Sunday. Johnson had the 10th fastest 10 lap average speed and the 3rd fastest lap overall during Happy Hour. Johnson has won 3 times in previous years at Darlington, although he hasn’t had a lot of success lately, he knows what it takes to conquer the track “too tough to tame”.

Ryan Blaney | #12 | $9,500

Blaney and the #12 Menards/Duracell Team Penske Ford will roll off from the 21st starting position on Sunday. Blaney had the 4th fastest 10 lap average and 9th fastest overall lap during Happy Hour. Blaney was not good last year at Darlington, and will be looking to improve upon his 31st place finish – thus, he could draw less ownership to make for a great GPP play.

Ryan Blaney: Tournament Viable

Aric Almirola | #10 | $9,000

Almirola will start from the 12th starting position on Sunday. The driver of the #10 Smithfield Helping Hungry Homes Stewart-Haas Racing Ford had the 13th fastest 10 lap average during Happy Hour and had the 11th fastest lap overall. Almirola has not had a lot of success at Darlington in the past, but he has been getting more and more consistent and should put his Ford solidly inside the top 15 this weekend.

Bargain Bin

David Ragan | #38 | $5,300

Ragan and the #38 Citgard 700 Front Row Motorsports Ford will start from the 23rd starting position. At $5,300 on FanDuel, Ragan is a must start for me. He will start from the 23rd starting position and will be right behind Harvick and Blaney. If Ragan can stay out of trouble, he should be in line for a finish inside the top 15 and would deliver extreme ROI on his generous price tag.

Austin Dillon | #3 | $8,700

Dillon and the #3 American Ethanol E15 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet will start from the 18th starting position on Sunday. Dillon’s year has been quite a learning experience.  He started off the year by winning the Daytona 500, but has not been able to capture the title at any other racetrack. That being said, the young driver has become more consistent with his finishes and he seems to run well at Darlington.

Dillon is the DPA Play of the Day!

Matt Kenseth | #6 | $8,100

Kenseth and the #6 Oscar Mayer Roush Fenway Racing Ford will start from the 15th starting position. As stated earlier, Darlington is not an easy track to maneuver, and Kenseth has plenty of experience here. Kenseth had the 6th fastest lap in Happy Hour and if you combine that with his past success at Darlington, it all adds up to a good day for the #6 team.

Bryan Holland is a senior NASCAR writer for Daily Play Action with many years of success in both GPPs and Cash Games on FanDuel. He reserves the right to change his plays at any time without notice and without discretion.