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Bojangles Southern 500 Cheat Sheet

Phillip Bennetzen



Listed below are my projections and analysis for today’s Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington. With 367 laps, this is generally a race where we see three Hogs consume the majority of laps led and fast lap points, however, Draftkings has priced up the top tier drivers so much that we’re legitimately considering whether we just play two Hogs instead of three. With Hamlin on the pole, it opens up things a little bit more so that you can play for example Hamlin, Larson, plus Harvick but you’re still double punting which never makes anyone feel easy. I don’t really think there will be a standard lineup construction this weekend as you can go down several different roads. If you foresee a greenish race then I think you run with two Hogs but if you think drivers get anxious, especially those who need a win to sneak into the playoffs, then you’re probably  looking at a three “dominator” lineup.

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DriverSalaryStartFinishFin points +/ - PDAnalysis
Denny Hamlin99001146Denny is typically never in our conversation for potential Hogs but when he's on the pole at a track he's had multiple wins at, including last year, then Denny enters the conversation. He tops the field with an average finish of 2.7 at Darlington since 2015 averaging 64.7 laps led per race. Coming in at a discount compared to our other options, Denny is preferred Hog #1
Kevin Harvick1140022262Due to a tire issue in practice 2, Happy rolls off the grid 22nd and may be the lock of the week thanks in part to his place differential upside as well as his recent success at Darlington with two top-five finishes since 2015, an average finish of 5.3, and 93 laps led per race on average. Kevin's short run speed wasn't impressive by any means but he was 3rd fastest on the 10 lap run which should mean a driver able to weave through the pack and get in the top-five by the end of the first segment.
Kyle Busch124005343
Kurt Busch85009445
Erik Jones87007541
Kyle Larson121002634Outside of the two-mile ovals in California and Michigan, and the Collisseum in Bristol, Darlington has been one of Larson's better venues and when you consider the high banked top groove you don't have to wonder why. Larson was fast in practice 1 on Friday but failed to carry that speed over later in the day, whether on the short or long run. If Larson can get a fast pit stop and take first over Hamlin or whoever was leading then sure Larson can rack up a bunch of Hog points but compared to everyone else around him, I don't think his car is that special to outright beat Denny at the beginning.
Jimmie Johnson830020750With salaries pushed up this week we should exploit every pricing anomaly we can get and Jimmie offers that sandwiched in between Erik Jones and Aric Almirola, plus we get JJ starting in the mid pack in 20th offering place differential as well as a driver who has trended well this season at high banked ovals with top ten finishes in all three races at Dover and Bristol.
Brad Keselowski930013841
Martin Truex Jr109003929If Martin were on the pole he would be hard to fade but without clean air benefiting him he becomes a driver you can probably go underweight on and be fine. Truex's team has had a penchant for nailing the set ups for these night time races and its not hard to forget how good he was at Richmond, Kansas, Charlotte, Kentucky... plus he won this same race just two years ago.
Joey Logano910081032
Ryan Blaney9600211143
Chase Elliott10200111231
Ryan Newman700061324
Aric Almirola8100121428
Jamie McMurray7400311545A probable cash game lock, McFlurry rolls of 31st at a track he's finished 10th and 15th at the past two seasons.
Alex Bowman760041616
Clint Bowyer8900171727
Matt Kenseth6800151823
Austin Dillon6600181924Continuing our earlier thoughts about under-priced drivers, one has to wonder just what went into Draftkings decision to price a driver with an average finish of 12th (since 2015) around the crowd Austin is hanging out with. His starting position may scare some people off but I think Dillon is more than capable of hanging around 15th all night and hopefully jumping beyond that if we have a late restart.
Paul Menard6400142018
Kasey Kahne6300292131After finishing in the 30's in the Spring Bristol race, Kasey has bounced back with finsihes of 17th and 15th at Dover and Bristol once more. With Kahne's future wrapped up, perhaps we see a more at ease Kahne and not a driver under unrealistic pressure to push into the top ten. While Kahne is still priced too high, he starts far enough back that he offers us place differential as well as experience.
William Byron7200102210
Daniel Suarez7900162314
Ricky Stenhouse Jr7700252421
Ty Dillon5400282522We know things are pretty different for Germain Racing in 2018 compared to last year but we shouldn't overlook just how good Ty was here last year in his lone career start, a 13th place finish after starting 25th. And... it wasn't like he did what he normally did in 2017, namely using cautions to advance his final position compared to where he was normally hanging out. His average running position last year was 17th.
Chris Buescher6100192611
Bubba Wallace5900272717
Michael McDowell5800262814
David Ragan570023299
AJ Allmendinger620024308
Matt DiBenedetto5500303112
Corey LaJoie5000343214
Ross Chastain5200333311
Landon Cassill5100353411
Jeffrey Earnhardt4600403514If you need the salary, Jeffrey appears to be the preffered play as he starts dead last, is just $100 more than Cope at the salary minimum, and owns an average finish of 34 in two career races at Darlington.
Timmy Hill470036368
JJ Yeley480032372
Derrike Cope450038386
Joey Gase530039395
BJ McLeod490037401

Phill Bennetzen is a father, husband, and Catholic as well as a self-professed annoying fitness guy. Phill heads up NASCAR content at You can contact Phill by emailing [email protected].

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