The Goodyear 400 at Darlington Raceway is set for this Sunday, May 9th at 3:30 PM ET. Tune in on Fox Sports 1, MRN radio, or SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 to catch all of Sunday’s late afternoon action.
Welcome to Darlington Raceway in South Carolina!
Darlington Raceway, also known as “The Track Too Tough to Tame” or “Lady in Black,” is a unique track and one of the older tracks on the schedule, hosting its first race in 1950. The shape of the track is what’s very neat as well - while most tracks are tri-ovals or quad-ovals, Darlington is more of an egg shape. The track's distance is 1.3 miles, turns 1/2 are 79 ft. wide with 25-degree banking and turns 3/4 are slightly narrower, 62 ft. wide and 23-degree banking. The fact that the corners at each end have a different radius makes it tough to set up a car's suspension so that it handles well all around the track, and newer drivers who misjudge a turn and scrape the wall are said to have earned their "Darlington stripe" accordingly.
Drivers must simply "race the race track" and not the competition here, in order to keep their car clean during this 293-lap race. Enjoy throwback on Sunday afternoon as well, as drivers will use paint schemes of past drivers (or their own old paint schemes) to acknowledge those drivers who came before them.
Career fastest laps at Darlington
Harvick - 388 (18 races)
Truex - 377 (17 races)
Kyle Busch - 335 (17 races)
Hamlin - 335 (17 races)
Kurt Busch - 255 (18 races)
Kyle Larson - 212 (*6 races)
Best Bets Recap
Kurt Busch (-112 FanDuel) vs Austin Dillon: Kurth Busch looked like he had a great car in stage 1, but in stage 2/3 he tailed off and finished 15th overall. Busch has been trending in the wrong direction ever since NASCAR left Florida (February 28th) and he's since had an average finish of 21.6. Congratulations to Austin Dillon, who finished 10th overall and for the first time in his career has recorded three straight top 10’s.
Twitter H2H Matchup - William Byron (+100 BetOnline) vs Joey Logano: Byron totaled 17 fast laps compared to Lagano’s zero and had himself in position in most of the day for a solid top 10 finish. Byron really benefitted from some late stage 3 cautions to get fresh tires and make a good run late in the race as well. I was happy to get a winning pick with a Hendrick car here, especially at the +100 price tag for us.
Twitter H2H Matchup - Kyle Larson (+100 Scores and Odds) vs Martin Truex Jr: I’m not going to rehash what happened last Sunday because we're simply trying to move on here. If you don’t know what happened, then simply Google “Kansas NASCAR race late caution” and you will find plenty of articles. To say the least it was a very questionable call that drastically changed the outcome of the race. Larson DOMINATED last weekend while leading 49% of the race and turning 67 fast laps, the most out of any driver. He started 32nd and by lap 10 he was in 10th place. On the final restart, with two laps left, Larson was in 4th and was trying to push Ryan Blaney (who was in 2nd), but it was a push too hard. Blaney got sideways and Larson tapped the wall. Truex Jr. finished 6th and Larson finished 19th. Very tough loss.
Drivers to Look Out For
Kevin Harvick (+700 FanDuel): With a COVID-19 adapted season last year, NASCAR raced three times at Darlington, and Kevin Harvick won two of those three races. The one Darlington race that Harvick did not win? Well, he finished in third place overall there too. In 2018 and 2019, Harvick finished fourth in both races as well. The team should have a good feel for this track and get the correct setup here too. With a second place finish last week, it will be interesting to see if Crew Chief Rodney Childers can find the speed that the team has been lacking this season. A team known for their overall speed has only been averaging 6.6 fast laps per race with zero laps led in those fast lap segments (not counting superspeedways and Bristol Dirt). Something has to change soon, and this might be the week for the #4 Busch Light car.
Brad Keselowski (+900 FanDuel): He won two weeks ago and then followed that up with a third place finish at Kansas. Now moving onto Darlington - in the last five races, Brad Keslowski has an average finish of 6.8, including a win here in 2018. His worst finish in that span was in May 2020, the first race back from COVID-19, Keselowski finished 13th overall after leading 80 laps. He starts on the pole this week too, so expect Keselowski to lead a good bit in stage 1. If he can stay out in the top 10 for most of the race, then he should be in good contention to have a strong finish in South Carolina for at least one more time.
Martin Truex Jr (+1000 FanDuel): The last time NASCAR was at Darlington, South Carolina, Truex Jr. was very strong. He won stage 1 and 2, led the most laps, ran the most fast laps and took the lead from Chase Elliott with 15 laps to go. The problem was, however, when Truex Jr passed Elliott - they hit bumpers and touched the wall. A few laps later? Truex Jr had to pit with 12 to go because of a tire going down. One of the main reasons I believe that Truex Jr will be strong this week is the weather as well. It’s supposed to be a more-than-warm 86 degrees on Sunday afternoon, and that means a hot, slick track to boot. It’s harder to find a better driver on a hot, slick surface, however, than Truex Jr., so don't overlook him at +1000 here.
Best Value Bet
Kyle Larson Top 5 Finish (Yes -139 DraftKings): I am very hesitant to make a personal best bet when looking at this race. In previous years, NASCAR has run a 550 horsepower engine at this track and NASCAR runs 550’s at all of Texas, Kansas and Las Vegas to name a few. This year, however, they are changing to a 750 horsepower engine. These engines are what you would also see at Dover, Phoenix, and Martinsville, and it totally changes the complexity of this race. I’m going with a guy here who has been fast all year, and outside of Richmond, Larson has indeed run very well this season. He should have had the race this past week too, but it just didn’t work out in his favor. If you are wondering about his Darlington history, consider this: 2016- 3rd, 2017- 14th, 2018- 3rd, 2019- 2nd, and that's while running Ganassi equipment. Larson has led more laps in his last two starts than anyone else has in their last five starts. He currently sits on the leaderboard of current drivers who run the most fast laps here. And if you play DFS NASCAR, he’s a lock.