DraftKings NASCAR:  The Real Heroes 400

DraftKings NASCAR: The Real Heroes 400

This article is part of our DFS NASCAR series.

The Real Heroes 400

Location: Darlington, S.C.
Course: Darlington Raceway
Format: 1.36-mile oval
Laps: 293

Race Preview

The NASCAR Cup series returns this week after suspending racing activity in March. Four races were completed before that stoppage with Joey Logano winning twice, including the latest race at Phoenix Raceway. Joining Logano and Penske Racing as 2020 race winners are Denny Hamlin at Daytona and Alex Bowman at Auto Club Speedway. 

Despite being the most recent victors they, and every other competitor, will have to adapt to new conditions this week at Darlington Raceway. To minimize time at the track there will be no practice or qualifying and teams will be limited to 13 individuals. The starting lineup will be set by random draws based on current owner's points standings in groups of 12. In other words, Kevin Harvick, whose team holds the lead in owner's points, will be entered into a random draw along with the other top 11 teams to determine starting positions 1-12, and so on. 

There will be a lot for fantasy owners to digest this week after a two-month pause in racing activity with an immediate jump into racing conditions with no practice.

Key Stats at Darlington Raceway

  • Number of races: 116
  • Winners from pole: 20
  • Winners from top-5 starters: 70
  • Winners from top-10 starters: 98
  • Winners from 21st or lower starters: 6
  • Fastest race: 141.383 mph

Previous 10 Darlington Winners

2019 - Erik Jones
2018 - Brad Keselowski
2017 - Denny Hamlin
2016 - Martin Truex Jr.
2015 - Carl Edwards
2014 - Kevin Harvick
2013 - Matt Kenseth
2012 - Jimmie Johnson
2011 - Regan Smith
2010 - Denny Hamlin

Asking teams to return to action immediately after what roughly equates to an entire offseason with no practice and just 13 team members at one of NASCAR's toughest tracks is no small task. The situation is likely to produce a number of surprises, but the team that will come out on top is likely to be the one who makes the most effective adjustments to its car throughout the race. 

This could be a race where the most experienced and successful Darlington racers from the past dominate, or one where a complete long-shot capitalizes on the unknown circumstances to score a victory. The situation at hand could produce one of the more exciting races we've seen, and that isn't even factoring in the weather as race weekend is expected to experience the highest temperatures yet this spring. In an ocean of uncertainty it is a good exercise for fantasy owners to reacquaint themselves with Darlington's past statistics when filling this week's lineups.

DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)

DraftKings Tier 1 Values  

Kyle Busch - $11,800
Kevin Harvick - $11,500
Denny Hamlin - $11,100
Joey Logano - $10,100

DraftKings Tier 2 Values  

Chase Elliott - $9,800
Ryan Blaney - $9,500
Erik Jones - $9,200
William Byron - $8,700

DraftKings Tier 3 Values

Kurt Busch - $8,500
Jimmie Johnson - $8,300
Aric Almirola - $7,700
Matt DiBenedetto - $7,500

DraftKings Long-Shot Values

Chris Buescher - $7,000
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - $6,800
Ryan Preece - $6,100
Ty Dillon - $5,600

MY PICKS THIS WEEK

Lower-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Kevin Harvick - $11,500
Ryan Blaney - $9,500
Kurt Busch - $8,500
Matt DiBenedetto - $7,500
Tyler Reddick - $7,200
Ty Dillon - $5,600

Kevin Harvick returns along with the rest of the drivers this week at Darlington, but he could have an edge on the competition. His experience, coupled with the pace and consistency he demonstrated in the first four races of the season, could make him the favorite Sunday. He won at the track in 2014 and will line up sixth this weekend. Ryan Blaney was also on song prior to the extended break. He could have won multiple races in the first four weeks of action but needed some better luck. His best finish at Darlington was 13th (twice) but fantasy owners could expect more from him this time around. Another driver with valuable upside based on his experience could be Kurt Busch. Busch has 23 Darlington starts and only finished worse than seventh once in the last five visits. Wood Bros. Racing's Matt DiBenedetto was also on an upward swing prior to the stoppage. DiBenedetto, 10th in the standings after the first four races, came home eighth at Darlington last season and is in better equipment this year. Tyler Reddick and Ty Dillon also could make good choices deeper in roster selection. Reddick finished third and second in his last two Darlington tries in the Xfinity series, while Dillon could have the potential to score a top-15 finish.

Higher-Risk Lineup ($50K Salary Cap)

Joey Logano - $10,100
Erik Jones - $9,200
William Byron - $8,700
Jimmie Johnson - $8,300
Chris Buescher - $7,000
Ryan Newman - $6,500

Joey Logano was the hottest driver on track before racing stopped. With two wins from the first four races he and the rest of the Penske Racing team could be tough to beat in these unknown conditions. He has three top-five finishes from the last five Darlington stops and could carry whatever remains of his early momentum into the restart. Erik Jones won last year's Darlington race but only has one top-10 finish this season. With three top-10s from three Darlington tries, this week's race could be the tonic he needs to get his season back on track. William Byron made good use of his time off, scoring three wins from the six iRacing events in which he participated. He was climbing the standings prior to the break and scored his first top-10 of the season in the last race at Phoenix. He started from pole here at Darlington last season and just needs to translate that speed to a top finish this week. Jimmie Johnson is another experienced driver fantasy owners may want to rely on this week. He was gaining momentum in his final season of full-time competition and is a three-time Darlington winner. Chris Buescher was a regular top-20 finisher in the first four races of 2020 and has been at Darlington, too. His average finish from four starts at the circuit is 14.8. The extended break was good for Ryan Newman, too. After a scary crash at Daytona he has been cleared to return to action and will be back behind the wheel this week. From 21 Darlington starts Newman has 13 top-10 finishes.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. C.J. Radune plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: cjradune, RaceDayScore: cjradune.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
C.J. Radune
Radune covers NASCAR, Formula 1 and soccer for RotoWire. He was named the Racing Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association in 2012 and 2015.
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