There are some race on the schedule that are must see TV. The night race at Darlington is one of them. NASCAR will wrap the cars in throwback paint schemes to pay tribute to the cars that turned laps at the Lady in Black in the past. It is cool to see the iconic cars on the track and the race is pretty good too. The Southern 500 can be seen Sunday evening at 6 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
NASCAR will have two practices Friday and qualifying Friday evening. The first practice is at 11 a.m. ET (NBCSN) and the final practice is at 1 p.m. ET (NBCSN). Qualifying is at 5:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN).
NASCAR will have a traditional schedule this week. There will be 2 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.
The 2018 Southern 500 was dominated by Kyle Larson. He qualified 2nd, won Stage1 and Stage 2, led 284 laps and finished 3rd. The Joe Gibbs Racing cars also ran well. Denny Hamlin won the pole and led 11 laps. Erik Jones scored 13 Stage points and finished 8th. Kyle Busch spent most of the day running in the top 10 and finished 7th. In the end it was Team Penske up front. Brad Keselowski won his 25th career race in his Rusty Wallace throwback paint scheme.
Race Rewind at Darlington: Southern 500 (2018)
Here are my picks for Darlington…
DraftKings NASCAR Preview
Darlington is a 1.4-mile track but do not class it in the intermediate category. It is not like the typical 1.5-mile ovals. The banking is steep (25 degrees) and it is egg-shaped (not an oval). The weird shape of The Track Too to Tame should prevent drafting like we have seen at the intermediate tracks. Drivers will have to lift a lot more to keep their cars from getting the “Darlington Stripe.”
There are 367 laps in the race Sunday evening (100 more than a typical race on a 1.5-mile track). That means there is 91.75 points available for leading laps and 183.5 points available for fastest laps. That is a lot of dominator points this week. The trend at Darlington is for one driver to dominate the race. Kevin Harvick led 214 laps in 2016 and Kyle Larson led 284 laps last year. The fastest laps are also scored by the race leader. It will be hard to win money in your contest without the top dominator in your lineup Sunday night.
The drivers I expect to dominate the race Sunday night include: Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr.
Top 15 DraftKings Drivers in Last 3 Races at Darlington
|Avg. Finish Pos.||Laps Led||
|1. Kyle Larson||
|2. Kevin Harvick||
|3. Martin Truex Jr.||
|4. Denny Hamlin||
|5. Erik Jones||
|6. Brad Keselowski||
|7. Chase Elliott||
|8. Kyle Busch||
|9. Joey Logano||
|10. Chris Buescher||
|11. Austin Dillon||
|12. Ty Dillon||
|13. Ryan Newman||
|14. Paul Menard||
|15. Kurt Busch||
I will post my final DraftKings picks no later than Sunday morning.
Fantasy Live Preview
The Fantasy Live picks performed very well at Bristol. All of the drivers finished in the top 10 (Denny Hamlin #1, Kyle Busch #4, Chase Elliott #5, Kyle Larson #6 and Kurt Busch #9). The drivers scored 43 Stage points, 10 points for the race winner and 10 points for the winning manufacturer. The picks are now beating 99.5% of the competition. We have 2 races to get into the top 99.9% for the 3 straight seasons.
*Pick for the Pole*: Our pick for the pole needs to be in before qualifying at 2:30 ET Saturday. My pole pick will be posted after the final practice Friday (5 p.m. ET).
There are only two races in the Fantasy Live regular season. There is no need to save allocations. Do not be the guy in your league that ends the season with 2 or 3 allocations left with Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr. or Joey Logano. If any of the top drivers look fast in practice, get them into your lineups this week because there is no guarantee they will be as fast at Indianapolis.
Here are the drivers I have penciled in right now…
Starting Drivers for Fantasy Live
Kyle Busch (1): There are two races left on the Fantasy Live schedule and I am not ending the season with an allocation with Busch in my pocket. I will have him on my team this week and if he struggles in the race I will put him in the garage and save him for Indianapolis. I do not expect Busch to struggle though. His average finishing position at Darlington in the last decade is 6.7. He is almost a lock for a top 5. I will burn my last allocation with Busch Sunday night if I have to.
Martin Truex Jr. (1): I am in the same situation with Truex Jr. as I am in with Busch. I am not ending the season with an allocation with Truex in my pocket so he will be in the lineup this week. Truex ranks third in Driver Rating on the steep tracks this season (Las Vegas, Dover and Bristol) and he ranks No. 1 in Driver Rating in the 550 HP aero package. Truex won this race in 2016 and he swept the Stages in 2017. I expect the No. 19 car to run well again this week.
Brad Keselowski (2): Keselowski won the Southern 500 last year and he should be a threat to get back to Victory Lane again this week. He has finished 2 of the last 4 Southern 500s in the top 2. He also spends a lot of time running in the top 5 so that means Keselowski should score a lot of Stage points. I have 2 allocations left with Keselowski and 2 races left. I plan to use him in both races.
Joey Logano (2): Logano has been very good at Darlington over the last 4 seasons. He finished 2nd last year, 5th in 2016 and 4th in 2015. Logano has the 3rd best Driver Rating in the races on the tracks where the 550 HP aero package was used. Logano does not have a Southern 500 trophy and he said a win at this track is very important to him. I expect the No. 22 team to run well Sunday night.
Kyle Larson (3): Larson put on a clinic last year at Darlington. He 284 and won both Stages. Larson has averaged 204 laps led in the last 2 Southern 500s and he is averaging 17 Stage points per race. Larson nearly locked into a playoff spot but he needs points so he can finish the regular season in the top 10 (The top 10 regular season finishers earn playoff points). I expect Larson to run right up against the wall and dominate this race Sunday evening.
My Garage Driver this week will likely be Chase Elliott (2). I have 2 allocations left with Elliott and Indianapolis is his worst track so I better use one of them this week. It takes a smooth driver to turn fast laps at Darlington. If you overdrive the car you will get a “Darlington Stripe.” Elliott is one of the smoothest drivers in the sport. He seldom overdrives the car. That makes him a safe pick and a good driver to have in the Garage this week.
* Other drivers I really like (in order) are: 1. Denny Hamlin (Out of Allocations), Kevin Harvick (Out of Allocations, Kurt Busch (Out of Allocations), Erik Jones and Ryan Newman.
** I would use Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick over Chase Elliott and Joey Logano if I could.
My Bonus Picks will be updated after I see the cars on the track this weekend. Here are my thoughts right now…
Pick for the Pole: Kyle Larson
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Larson
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson
Race Winner: Kyle Larson
Winning Manufacture: Chevy
** Photos from NASCAR Media
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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