Drydene 400 DFS Gems

·7 min read

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Darlington Raceway was NASCAR’s first and is arguably still its most interesting speedway. From 1950 through 2005, this track hosted two races per year, and for some inconceivable reason, it lost its second date for 12 years. The data pool became severely shallow as a result until it was finally restored in 2020.

That year, Darlington hosted three races with a doubleheader marking NASCAR’s return to action after the COVID-19+ lockdown and the Southern 500 on Labor Day. There were two races last year as well and the data pool is getting a little deeper. The shortened races for the doubleheader provide far less meaningful data, however, than the 400- and 500-mile affairs.

Perhaps the most relevant comparative this week is the Drydene 400 from Dover International Speedway. If last week’s roster was successful, make only minor tweaks and use it as one of your lineups for the Goodyear 400. If not, scrap it and look to last week’s success stories to anchor your choices.

Group A: Most Expensive (>=$10,000)

Chase Elliott ($10,600)
Last week’s 81 points plus change moved the needle sharply on Elliott’s points-per-thousand ratio to make him one of the top performers overall, but it was not a flash in the pan. In his last eight races, he has earned top-five points five times. Two of the outliers were top-10s and only twice in that span did he earn fewer than 40 points. He’s expensive, but at the moment, is worth the price.

William Byron ($10,100)
This is a great part of the schedule for Byron. He’s become one of the strongest short track racers in the field and is almost as strong on rough-surfaced tracks. In the last seven races, he’s earned the most points three times, at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Richmond Raceway, and Martinsville Speedway. Last week, he was not as productive at Dover as we anticipated, but he was in a shared backup car and never really got to show his strength. He’s due another strong run.

Group B: (Between $9,900 and $8,000)

Ross Chastain ($9,700)
It’s only a matter of time before Chastain joins the list of drivers above the $10k mark, but while he is in Group B, he is a weekly threat to be one of the most productive drivers in the field. This is the most expensive Chastain has ever been in the game. He is still worthy of a spot in your lineup because he has earned the most points on three occasions in the past 45 days, including last week at Dover. Expand the parameters and he has top-five points in seven of the last nine races.

Alex Bowman ($9,600)
Bowman has been as consistently productive as Elliott with six top-15 points performances in the last 45 days. Five of those were top-10s, but he lags in terms of top-five finishes. Then again, he is $1 thousand cheaper than his teammate and that will have a ripple effect throughout the lineup. Whether it’s enough of an effect will rely on what you do in the next two levels.

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Group C: (Between $7,900 and $6,500)

Erik Jones ($7,700)
Jones has two things in his favor right now. First: He has been a top performer four times in the last six races, including earning the eighth-most points last week at Dover when he had the 22nd-highest salary cap. Secondly: he has an affinity for Darlington with top-10s in his first six starts. Last year he finished outside the top 15 in both, but one of these was occasioned by an accident. This team is stronger in 2022 and deserves attention.

Brad Keselowski ($7,900)
It takes a while to alter perception and the cap managers are slowly reducing Keselowski to an acceptable level. We would like to see him a little cheaper since his results have been erratic throughout the season, but he has been solid in the past 45 days, but only one of his top-10 points days came in a lottery when he earned the 10th-most at Atlanta. The other two were earned on short tracks, which makes them more relevant to this week.

Group D: (Less than or equal to $6,500)

Michael McDowell ($6,400)
In the past 45 days, McDowell has earned top-15 points four times. Three of these, at Circuit of the Americas (COTA), the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt track, and Talladega Superspeedway where among the top 10. Those are all wild card races, but they will contribute to a great frame of mind for this bargain basement driver. Equally important, he earned the 15th-most points last week with the 31st salary cap.

Corey LaJoie ($4,900)
There are never a lot of great values in Group D on rough-surfaced tracks, so anytime you take one of these drivers, there is risk involved. Primarily, you are looking for a driver who will not lose points and shows some consistency. LaJoie fits one of those criterion: he has negative points only once this season at Phoenix Raceway, he has not been overly consistent unless you limit the scope to the past three races. Since the Bristol dirt track, he has earned more than 25 points per race.

The top-10 points’ earners from the Southern 500 were: 1. Kyle Larson (123.7), 2. Denny Hamlin (101.85), 3. Ross Chastain (69.35), 4. Chris Buescher (60.9), 5. Martin Truex Jr. (57.95), 6. Kevin Harvick (54.3), 7. Cole Custer (52.45), 8. Kurt Busch (51.75), 9. Brad Keselowski (47.8), 10. Austin Dillon (45.45)

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Last 45 Days

Driver

Avg.
Rank

Total
Points
Earned

Avg.
Points

This
Week's
Cap

Points
Per K

Group A

William Byron

11.33

352.95

58.83

$10,100

34.95

Chase Elliott

5.67

362.70

60.45

$10,600

34.22

Martin Truex Jr.

9.83

278.50

46.42

$10,500

26.52

Kyle Larson

14.50

228.50

38.08

$11,000

20.77

Denny Hamlin

21.67

152.00

25.33

$10,300

14.76

Group B

Ross Chastain

10.00

317.75

52.96

$9,700

32.76

Alex Bowman

7.00

293.70

48.95

$9,600

30.59

Ryan Blaney

12.00

280.40

46.73

$9,400

29.83

Kyle Busch

9.83

283.05

47.18

$9,900

28.59

Austin Dillon

13.50

240.95

40.16

$8,500

28.35

Christopher Bell

13.83

222.25

37.04

$8,300

26.78

Kevin Harvick

15.50

209.15

34.86

$8,800

23.77

Tyler Reddick

18.17

171.05

28.51

$9,000

19.01

Chase Briscoe

20.33

132.00

22.00

$8,100

16.30

Joey Logano

22.83

120.20

20.03

$9,200

13.07

Group C

Erik Jones

14.67

214.20

35.70

$7,700

27.82

Aric Almirola

18.33

178.00

29.67

$7,500

23.73

Brad Keselowski

16.67

178.80

29.80

$7,900

22.63

Chris Buescher

20.67

141.35

23.56

$6,900

20.49

Austin Cindric

18.17

140.35

23.39

$7,100

19.77

Daniel Suarez

21.17

123.95

20.66

$7,800

15.89

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

25.00

102.35

17.06

$6,700

15.28

Bubba Wallace

24.50

95.50

15.92

$6,500

14.69

Kurt Busch

29.33

46.80

7.80

$7,300

6.41

Trevor Bayne

$7,000

-

Group D

Michael McDowell

15.17

206.00

34.33

$5,500

37.45

Ty Dillon

20.67

138.60

23.10

$5,100

27.18

Corey LaJoie

22.50

126.65

21.11

$4,900

25.85

Justin Haley

21.83

138.20

23.03

$5,900

23.42

Todd Gilliland

23.00

118.90

19.82

$5,300

22.43

Harrison Burton

21.33

127.70

21.28

$5,700

22.40

Cody Ware

27.17

81.90

13.65

$4,500

18.20

Cole Custer

25.00

97.50

16.25

$6,300

15.48

JJ Yeley

26.50

58.50

14.63

$4,700

12.45

Landon Cassill

24.00

45.80

22.90

$5,000

9.16

BJ McLeod

29.25

39.50

9.88

$4,600

8.59

Daniel Hemric

39.00

-28.00

-28.00

$6,100

(4.59)