The Goodyear 400 is this weekend at Darlington Raceway, and even though “The Lady in Black” always throws in a couple of questionable variables when the Cup Series races here, there’s even more “unknowns” (loose term) here this weekend. First, NASCAR decided to go with the 750 hp package for Sunday’s race, which is typically for tracks one mile or less in length as well as road courses. And then the second variable is the time of day: usually the races at Darlington are run in the late afternoon and into night, but Sunday’s Goodyear 400 will likely end during the day. Will these variables have a huge change in what we expect to see this weekend? Probably not, but they’re definitely worth considering for NASCAR Fantasy players and bettors.

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How the algorithm works: There are quite a few statistics that go into the Power Index formula, including recent performance both overall and at this week’s track specifically, similar track performance, projected strength of the car, practice speeds (when applicable), starting position, and a few other variables.

Before We Get To The Algorithm Results…Thoughts On A Couple Drivers

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Kevin Harvick – In all likelihood, the algorithm has Kevin Harvick a bit over-valued this weekend. Yes, this #4 team is coming off of a great 2nd-place finish at Kansas last weekend, but Harvick was 8th in Green Flag Speed during that race and had just two fastest laps–definitely back to his “normal” self. That finish was more a product of the stars aligning there at the end, kind of like when Austin Dillon and Cole Custer stole wins at Texas and Kentucky last year. Anyway, the reason the algorithm likely has Harvick over-valued (in my opinion) is because we’re racing at Darlington and there are no great comparable tracks to Darlington, so the data from this track specifically plays a heavier influence than it would at others. And with two wins and no finish worse than 4th over the last five races here, you can see why the algorithm would have Harvick predicted to finish 2nd on Sunday.

Michael McDowell – People have kind of stopped talking about Michael McDowell after his blazing hot start to the season (three straight top 10s including his win at Daytona) came to an end, but this #34 team just finished 13th at Kansas and now has an average finish of 14.6 through the first 11 races of the 2021 season. At Darlington, McDowell finished 23rd, 17th, and 16th in the three races here last year and has five finishes of 23rd or better in five of his last six starts at this track. McDowell also finished 6th at Homestead this year, which used the same tire combination as what will be ran this weekend at Darlington. In many NASCAR Fantasy leagues, McDowell could be a great value pick on Sunday.

Darlington Goodyear 400 Algorithm Predicted Finishing Order

RankDriverPower
Index
1.Hamlin, Denny38.60
2.Harvick, Kevin34.94
3.Keselowski, Brad34.67
4.Larson, Kyle34.42
5.Truex, Jr., Martin33.00
6.Busch, Kyle32.87
7.Elliott, Chase31.74
8.Logano, Joey30.54
9.Byron, William29.07
10.Busch, Kurt28.86
11.Bowman, Alex25.51
12.Dillon, Austin23.20
13.Reddick, Tyler22.72
14.Bell, Christopher21.09
15.Blaney, Ryan18.71
16.DiBenedetto, Matt16.59
17.Almirola, Aric13.92
18.Jones, Erik11.72
19.Newman, Ryan11.45
20.Buescher, Chris04.55
21.Stenhouse, Jr., Ricky02.20
22.Custer, Cole-09.63
23.Wallace, Bubba-10.84
24.McDowell, Michael-14.25
25.Suarez, Daniel-17.46
26.Chastain, Ross-20.66
27.Preece, Ryan-23.14
28.Briscoe, Chase-25.09
29.Alfredo, Anthony-30.67
30.LaJoie, Corey-34.74
31.Haley, Justin-35.48
32.McLeod, BJ-42.10
33.Yeley, J.J.-43.83
34.Ware, Cody-45.46
35.Bilicki, Josh-45.52
36.Houff, Quin-48.66
37.Davison, James-49.02
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.