It’s time to get the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs started, and we begin with the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday night. This will be a 367 lap race, which means we’ll likely see at least two main dominators in this race. Darlington is a 1.366-mile race track and it’s extremely abrasive. Tires are going to be very important here this weekend. With that being said, the track did some repaving of turn 2 recently and many drivers think that that could make it even harder to pass (and obviously won’t be as hard on tires in that turn as before).

Ryan Blaney, thanks to his win at Daytona last weekend, is on the pole for Sunday’s Southern 500, and you can click here to see the full starting lineup for this second Darlington race. When it comes to who’s favored to win, Kyle Larson is the consensus favorite among sportsbooks, and my algorithm agrees with that. You can click here to see the Algorithm Predicted Finishing Order for Sunday night. Now let’s get to the FanDuel projections!

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Optimal Lineup According to Jordan’s Projections

The optimal FanDuel lineup for Darlington Sunday night according to my Projections is:

  • Martin Truex, Jr.
  • William Byron
  • Christopher Bell
  • Austin Dillon
  • Matt DiBenedetto

Confidence Rating = 6.6/10. This isn’t a bad build if this race ends up being a one dominator event on Sunday night, or if William Byron is a second dominator with Truex. Personally, I don’t see Byron being a dominator, and with there being 367 laps scheduled, it’s hard to see this one only having one dominator. Possible? Yes. Probable? Not really. Additionally, with the likely dominators also having a little bit of place differential, that lends to a 2- or 3-dominator build being the best route to go. For what it’s worth, the highest projected lineup with Truex and Larson in it is: Kyle Larson, Martin Truex, Jr., Austin Dillon, Chris Buescher, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

FanDuel “Safe” DFS Picks for Darlington 2 (Cash Lineups)

Chris Buescher arms crossed on pit road at Charlotte
Photo Credit: Chris Graythen | Getty Images

William Byron ($11,000) – Love the value here with William Byron at only $11,000. He’s starting back in 14th for Sunday night’s Cook Out Southern 500 but has legitimate top 5 finishing upside (and possibly even a little dominating potential). Byron had some rough starts here at Darlington in the beginning of his career but he has six top 10 Stage finishes in the last ten, and as far as full races goes, he currently has back-to-back top top 5s. On the high wear tracks this season, Willy B won at Homestead, finished 4th here at Darlington, and was 8th in the first Atlanta race. In the 750hp package this year, he ranks 3rd-best in both average finish and average running position.

Chris Buescher ($7,500) – My projections like Austin Dillon ($8,500) a little more than Chris Buescher this weekend, but as far as putting together a safe DFS lineup, Buescher gives you more place differential upside (since he starts 34th) and could easily finish right around the same position as Austin Dillon Sunday night. Back here in May at Darlington, Buescher came away with an awesome 9th-place finish, and on the high wear tracks this season he has an average running position of 11.8 and an average finish of 12.8. This #17 team struggled quite a bit here at Darlington in the three 2020 races, but if you take those out of the equation, Buescher’s worst career finish here is 17th.

FanDuel “Risky” DFS Picks for Darlington 2 (Tournament Lineups)

Chase Briscoe during practice on the Bristol Dirt Track 2021
Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Christopher Bell ($9,200) – Christopher Bell has zero top 10s in four career Cup Series starts at Darlington Raceway, but do you think that’s stopping me from picking him this weekend? Absolutely not. First, don’t forget what car he’s driving. From 2018 through 2020, Erik Jones drove this #20 Toyota to five straight finishes of 8th or better at Darlington, including a win in 2019. As far as Christopher Bell goes, he was strong here back in May and actually finished 6th in Stage 2, but ultimately ended up in 14th when the checkered flag flew thanks to a late pit stop for hitting the wall (he was running inside the top 5 with five laps to go). CBell is a strong NASCAR Fantasy play on Sunday evening.

Chase Briscoe ($5,500) – No, this isn’t an over-reaction from Chase Briscoe’s 11th-place finish here at Darlington in the first race this season. The fact of the matter is, Briscoe has been solid on the high wear race tracks this year (relatively speaking) with finishes of 18th, 11th, 23rd, and 15th. Add on the fact that now we’re hitting some tracks a second time, and he actually now has Cup experience at Darlington, plus. the fact that this #14 Ford has legitimately running better as of late, and Chase Briscoe could very easily end up in the optimal lineup on Sunday night with such a low salary on FanDuel.

FanDuel Driver Projections for the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway

The following chart takes into account the very basics: the starting position and the projected finish of each driver. The projected finishes are averaged from six different ranking systems. Also factored in are projected laps led for each driver. You can click the headers below to sort the chart by that attribute. By default it is sorted by average projected FPTS.

DriverFanDuel SalaryAvg Proj PtsStarting PositionCeiling Proj PtsDollar Per Pt
Kyle Larson$14,00084.82694.20$165
Martin Truex Jr.$13,50083.9210101.50$161
Kyle Busch$13,00080.121291.80$162
Denny Hamlin$12,50077.35288.90$162
William Byron$11,00076.601481.20$144
Chase Elliott$12,00076.25490.60$157
Kevin Harvick$11,50073.00978.70$158
Christopher Bell$9,20070.751377.90$130
Joey Logano$10,50070.321182.90$149
Austin Dillon$8,50069.952173.20$122
Alex Bowman$10,00068.25575.10$147
Ryan Blaney$9,80068.05174.70$144
Brad Keselowski$10,20067.001679.10$152
Matt DiBenedetto$7,80066.353073.20$118
Chris Buescher$7,50066.103481.20$113
Tyler Reddick$9,00063.70771.70$141
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.$6,50062.602969.70$104
Kurt Busch$9,50062.10368.80$153
Ross Chastain$8,00062.102366.70$129
Chase Briscoe$5,50059.852471.70$92
Cole Custer$6,30059.253166.20$106
Ryan Newman$5,00058.101969.20$86
Erik Jones$5,80056.352264.70$103
Bubba Wallace$7,00055.101763.70$127
Aric Almirola$8,20055.05865.40$149
Daniel Suarez$6,00055.002663.70$109
Corey LaJoie$4,00049.502557.20$81
Anthony Alfredo$3,50049.153256.20$71
Michael McDowell$5,00048.751556.70$103
Ryan Preece$4,50048.501853.70$93
Quin Houff$2,50044.103746.70$57
Cody Ware$2,00043.703349.20$46
B.J. McLeod$2,00042.202747.70$47
Justin Haley$3,00042.152048.70$71
James Davison$2,00041.253646.20$48
Joey Gase$2,00040.753544.20$49
Josh Bilicki$2,50040.352843.70$62
As someone who has always been obsessed with numbers, Fantasy NASCAR has been the perfect fit with me. I pride myself on the quality of my analysis for each race, and am glad that I have been able to help others along the way. I've been a serious Fantasy NASCAR player for over 10 years now, and I'm just getting started.