With the exception of restrictor-plate, superspeedways, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has not been a good enough value to anchor a team most of the year. He has been moderately-priced, but inconsistent enough to scare players away. And while there are still no guarantees in this sport, drivers’ tracks like Darlington Raceway are courses that tend to reward streaks. Junior missed 2016, but he had a three-race, top-10 streak going before then and there is a strong possibility that he will keep that intact. For a price tag of $7,600, that makes him a good value.
In fact, there are several great options in this general price range. The king of consistency Ryan Newman can be signed for $8,100—below the average price per driver. To be a good value, Newman is going to need to qualify mid-pack and earn some positive place-differential points because he has four consecutive top-15s at Darlington to his credit. As recently as 2009 and 2011, he even earned top-fives.
Darlington is not kind to rookies, but Daniel Suarez is not your typical freshman. He is not prone to overdriving his car and his concentration level is such that he is unlikely to rub the wall because he gets distracted. In many ways, the same thing can be said of his rival Erik Jones, but Suarez can be signed for $7,800 while Jones is $1,000 more expensive.
Even with those mid-ranged options on the roster, we have not moved the average-per-driver mark considerably, so it’s time to look for a bargain.
This might be a good week to take a risk on Chris Buescher. He has only one Darlington start, but his 17th-place finish last year makes him well worth the price tag of $6,600. He also had some great runs at Bristol Motor Speedway in the past two years and that track rewards some of the same skills.
Now the slide bar can be moved near enough to top of the pricelist to take this week’s favorite. For some reason, Kevin Harvick is the fifth-most expensive driver in the Draft Kings game even though he is the only one with four consecutive top-fives at Darlington to his credit. Harvick won in 2014 and was second last year, which netted near maximum points. Even a result on the cusp of fifth-place is going to make him a good value and well worth his $9,700 price.
That leaves enough to take Denny Hamlin—another driver with back-to-back top-fives to his credit. He does not have the four-race streak of Harvick, but he does have four top-fives in the last five Darlington races. Two of these were runner-up finishes. Hamlin won on this track in 2010 and should earn a top-five with ease.