Early Week Driver Rankings for Darlington

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It is throwback week for the NASCAR. The car will be wrapped in their throwback schemes to pay tribute to the drivers who paved the way for today’s stars. This is one of my favorite races of the season and it is one of the crown jewels on the NASCAR schedule. The Southern 500 can be seen Sunday evening (Sep. 1st) at 6 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

NASCAR will have a traditional schedule this week. There will be two practices Friday. The first is at 2 p.m. ET and final practice is at 4 p.m. ET (NBCSN). Qualifying will be Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN). NASCAR will inspect the cars before qualifying so we do not need to worry about any drivers losing their starting position and going to the back Sunday night.

The cars will have the 550 HP engines with the 2” splitter, 8” spoiler and aero ducts. The drivers will have to lift more at Darlington than at other intermediate tracks so I would not expect the draft to come into play so much this week.

My early week pick for the pole is Kyle Larson. He has been good at qualifying on the steep tracks this year and he consistently starts up front at Darlington. Larson qualified 3rd at Dover (steep track) and 2nd last at Bristol (steep track). Larson qualified 2nd in last year’s Southern 500. I think he qualifies one spot better this week.

Each week I use different stats in my model to create the best rankings possible to give you an edge on the completion. This week I used Driver Rating on the Darlington, Average Finishing Darlington, Driver Rating at Steep Tracks (Las Vegas, Bristol and Dover), Average Running Position at Steep Tracks and momentum over the last 4 oval races.

 

Here are the early week driver rankings for Darlington…

Driver

1. Kyle Larson
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Denny Hamlin
4. Martin Truex Jr.
5. Kyle Busch
6. Kurt Busch
7. Brad Keselowski
8. Erik Jones
9. Joey Logano
10. Chase Elliott
11. Aric Almirola
12. Ryan Newman
13. Austin Dillon
14. William Byron
15. Ryan Blaney
16. Alex Bowman
17. Chris Buescher
18. Clint Bowyer
19. Paul Menard
20. Matt Dibenedetto
21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
22. Daniel Suarez
23. Jimmie Johnson
24. Ty Dillon
25. Daniel Hemric
26. Darrell Wallace Jr.
27. Ryan Preece
28. Michael McDowell
29. David Ragan
30. Corey Lajoie
31. Matt Tifft
32. Ross Chastian
33. Landon Cassill
34. J.J. Yeley
35. Reed Sorenson
36. Quinn Houff
37. Cody Ware
38. Josh Bilicki
39. B.J. Mcleod

 

* I will post my final driver rankings Saturday night (Aug. 31st).

**Stats from Driveraverages.com and NASCAR Media. Career stats from Racing-Reference.Info

*** Photos from NASCAR Media

 

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