Last Saturday night’s tumultuous end to the regular season has now ushered us into the round of 16. In keeping with recent tradition, Darlington will again host the first race in the Cup Series playoffs. Looking at the track specs for Darlington Raceway, it is a 1.3 mile, egg-shaped oval. Dubbed “The Lady in Black”, this track has one of the roughest race surfaces on the schedule. In addition, cars will be in constant contact with the wall. By the end of the 500-mile event, it will feel like a war of attrition. Martin Truex Jr won the May race here, becoming the first driver to sweep both stages at Darlington and still win the event.
The last pure dominator event was in May, so it has been a while. Considering this race requires 367 laps to complete, that works out to 256 dominator points on DraftKings. Build your roster so you have a couple of potential dominators and a dark horse who can mop up any remaining laps that go begging. In a race with 367 laps, expect there to be more than two drivers that control the laps led. Potential dominator salaries are sky-high this Sunday; it will be difficult to find any real bargains. There is no other way to get those heavy lap leaders this weekend than to break the bank.
This week, the Money Train delves into the DFS options for Sunday’s Cup Series event in Darlington, SC. I’ve broken down the selections between high salary, mid-range, and value play. Included are player salaries from both FanDuel (FD) and DraftKings (DK). Best of luck to everyone with lineups this weekend.
Kyle Busch (13,000 FD | 11,200 DK)
While visiting Darlington, you can usually count on Kyle Busch to deliver a top-notch performance. Four of Busch’s last seven Darlington races have seen him finish in the top three. At the May race, Busch finished on the podium and was one of only nine drivers to finish the race on the lead lap. It has been a couple of years since he dominated a race at Darlington, but let’s not discount his dominating potential. On several occasions, he’s been able to lead 100 laps or more here, so you know he can burst out at any time.
Starting 12th, Busch likely will need a number of laps to challenge for the lead position. Although, as previously mentioned, this race is long enough that multiple drivers could share lap-leading duties. It was here last September that Chase Elliott split the majority of laps with Martin Truex Jr. As there are plenty of dirt-cheap options on the board, it’s possible to stack Busch with a potential dominator such as Kyle Larson.
Kyle Larson (14,000 FD | 11,500 DK)
Despite all the negativity from last weekend, Larson still managed to secure the regular-season title and those extra 15 points for the postseason. Starting sixth on Sunday, he drips with dominator potential. He has finished as runner-up in the past two Darlington races, and is second in laps led here since 2018.
I anticipate he will make short work of the lead cars nearly right out of the gate. With his near-misses on this track, this weekend feels like a great opportunity for Larson to earn his first Darlington victory and advance early to the Round of 12.
Matt DiBenedetto (7,800 FD | 7,700 DK)
Despite his modest Cup history at Darlington, Matt DiBenedetto has managed to impress on occasion. That includes securing a ninth-place finish here just a year ago. Given the length of Sunday’s event, he should be able to make up a lot of ground from his 30th-place start. If he can establish himself among the top 15, he should hold his position. It is important to remember that while the season has progressed, so has his reliability. In the lead up to Daytona, he rattled off six straight top-11 finishes. While his playoff chances are over, there is still plenty left to fight for as DiBenedetto looks to extend his cup career into 2022.
Chris Buescher (7,500 FD | 7,800 DK)
In May, Chris Buescher’s visit here was undeniably his best, finishing ninth with an 85.5 driver rating, both personal track records. He starts 34th on Sunday, so even if he happens to falter there is minimal blowback. In the event that he finishes among the top-15, any additional points are gravy. With a cap hit of just 7,800 on DraftKings, you don’t have a whole lot to lose slotting him in a few rosters. You will have ample cap space for further adjustments if you choose him as your bookend starter, along with a bargain option like Anthony Alfredo.
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