The rankings below are based on a mixture of expected output and DraftKings’ NASCAR salaries for that day. The ordering is not based on the highest projected fantasy totals, but rather by the value of each driver.
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1. John Hunter Nemechek ($11,000) - The boss is taking a week off, so NASCAR might as well hand the Darlington trophy over to Nemechek. This has been the best truck every week. His only disappointing races were because he ran out of fuel at the Daytona Road Course and he wrecked in the dirt race.
2. Zane Smith ($9,600) - Last season, the Darlington race was dominated by the usual suspects, Sheldon Creed and Brett Moffit. Creed is struggling this season and Moffitt is not racing this weekend. If Nemechek does not lead every lap, then the next in line should be a GMS truck, presumably Zane Smith’s truck.
3. Grant Enfinger ($10,700) - Other than Nemechek, the competition isn’t that great this weekend. Enfinger doesn’t have to lead every lap, just the last lap. That’s how his ThorSport teammate won this race last season.
4. Ryan Reed (6,200) - This isn’t an egregious pricing error, but the price tag on Reed is too low for a GMS truck. Reed isn’t just some guy off of the street that bought a GMS ride for the weekend — he is a former Roush Xfinity driver with plenty of experience.
5. Corey Heim ($6,900) - Who is Corey Heim? He’s the kid in the KBM No. 51 truck and that’s all that matters at this price. Heim is a Toyota Racing Development driver and a two-time ARCA plate winner, but more importantly, he has a win at a legit track. Heim won at Kansas and led 82 laps in 2020.
6. Parker Kligerman ($10,400) - DraftKings marked Kligerman’s price up because of his starting position, but they didn’t go high enough. Kligerman doesn’t have the best truck, but Darlington is a skill race. His talent outweighs his slight equipment disadvantage.
7. Austin Hill ($9,800) - From Hill’s perspective, Darlington is not an intermediate track. At a typical 1.5-mile oval, Hill is a favorite in Kyle Busch-less races. Darlington is not a cookie-cutter oval. It’s oblong, shorter than 1.5 miles and the racing surface is worn out. This isn’t a short track, but it’s certainly an old-school track.
8. Chandler Smith ($7,900) - The KBM trucks have all of the speed this season. Nemechek has been better than Smith in every category, but Smith is close. What hurts Smith every week is that the No. 18 team keeps missing the setup. Last week the setup was off until the final run of the race.
9. Sheldon Creed ($10,100) - Cinderella’s carriage has turned back into a pumpkin. The elite Sheldon Creed in the second half of 2020 is a distant memory. The Sheldon Creed that tries to knock down the wall at every track is back. The only thing worse than an unsponsored truck is a wrecked unsponsored truck.
10. Stewart Friesen ($8,800) - Friesen was in fifth place during the first overtime restart last week, but then he spun out. Friesen has a top 10 driver rating in five of the seven races this season. The poor runs were Daytona and Richmond. Daytona is excusable, but at Richmond, his truck had a terrible setup.
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11. Tyler Ankrum ($8,200) - At Richmond, he got lucky. Everywhere else, Ankrum’s luck has been terrible. However, he was unlucky last season, too. At a certain point, DFS players have to ask the question: Is Ankrum unlucky or is he a bad driver that puts himself in bad positions?
12. Matt Crafton ($9,400) - At his price, Crafton needs to win or lead laps. He never does either anymore. When Crafton won the championship in 2019, he didn’t win a single race all season. His price is just a little too high and his starting position is just a little too close to the front.
13. David Gilliland ($8,400) - He’s a team owner, so he doesn’t drive with reckless abandon, but he’s still a driver at heart and wants the best finish possible. A top-10 finish at a cookie-cutter is a stretch, but at Darlington, a crafty veteran can sneak away with a top 10.
14. Ben Rhodes ($9,200) - He won the 2020 Darlington race, but it was about as lucky as a driver can get. Rhodes and the field were not even in the same area code as the leaders at the time of the last caution. The leaders chose to pit, and the field stayed out, and that’s how Rhodes won.
15. Carson Hocevar ($5,500) - For the most part, Hocevar has been disappointing in his Niece equipment. The tracks where Hocevar has raced well have been the challenging tracks (Atlanta and Richmond). Darlington is another tough track that demands more from a driver.
16. Spencer Boyd ($5,300) - This is almost a punt. Boyd is cheap and his Young Motorsports truck is decent. If Boyd goes out and turns laps while other trucks wreck and fail, he could sneak into the optimal lineup or at the least, allow DFS players to fit in another stud.
17. Chase Purdy ($6,400) - This is deja vu. It’s a cheap GMS truck starting in the 20s. It’s a cheap GMS truck starting in the 20s because Purdy finishes in the 20s every single week. He’s burning a hole through DFS accounts, but as soon as DFS players stop playing him, he’ll figure everything out.
18. Timmy Hill ($7,200) - Small teams have to be patient and wise. Timmy Hill knows that he can’t win and he knows that he doesn’t have a top 20 truck. He takes what he’s got and never pushes, but every once in a while, the cautions fall in his favor. He hasn’t caught a break this season, but a Darlington race without practice should provide the cautions that he needs.
19. Derek Kraus ($9,000) - He isn’t a $9,000 driver, but his starting position requires a price bump. This price would be fine if he were performing at the same level as he did in 2020. This season, he had a mechanical failure at Las Vegas and he wrecked in five other races.
20. Erik Darnell ($5,000) - Back in the 2000s, Darnell ran a couple of full-time seasons for Roush and earned a couple of wins. Better drivers with more experience and better trucks have struggled with the no practice format.
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