Driver Group Game Picks Darlington


The Cup Series will join the Xfinity Series and Truck Series at Darlington Raceway this weekend. Many of the cars and trucks will be wrapped in some historic paint schemes at Darlington. It is always cool to see the old designs on the cars and the racing at “The Track Too Tough to Tame” is usually really good too. The GoodYear 400 can be seen Sunday at 3 pm ET on FS1.



I want drivers with a lot of experience at Darlington and positive runs on the similar tracks for my picks this week. The drivers who check both boxes will make it into my lineups.

Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing have dominated Group A this season. The stats suggest Joey Logano will be one of the best plays, but I simply do not trust the No. 22 team right now. I want one driver from HMS and one from JGR. Denny Hamlin is the easy pick from the Toyotas. It was tough to decide between Kyle Larson and William Byron. I decided to go with the No. 24 over the No. 5 because Byron has been more consistent this year and I have a lot of tracks left where I want to use Larson.

Group B was not too tough to figure out this week. Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Tyler Reddick are all locks for my lineups. The last pick came down to Erik Jones and Kevin Harvick. Darlington is the best track for Jones and he won the Southern 500 last year. He needed a lot of drivers to have problems to get that win though. I will play it safe and use the more consistent Harvick this week.

Group C was also easy for me to decide. We only have a few more chances to use Josh Berry, so he gets a spot in the lineup. Ty Gibbs is the best driver to pair with Berry for qualifying points. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is a good sleeper pick, so he would be my option in leagues that have not added Berry to Group C.

Here are the picks for the GoodYear 400





DENNY HAMLIN (8): Hamlin said on his podcast (Actions Detrimental) after the Dirt race at Bristol, “My team is about to go on a hot streak. The next four tracks are some of my favorites.” Hamlin finished fourth at Martinsville, fifth at Dover and he won last week at Kansas. Now he gets to race at a track where he finished second last year and won at in 2021. Hamlin has a series-best four wins at Darlington. He should be a lock for all lineups in Group A this week.

WILLIAM BYRON (5): Kyle Larson and William Byron are both good at Darlington and they have both been good this season. Larson has more upside to win the race, while Byron is the safer pick to finish in the top-10. I will play it safe and use Byron. The No. 24 car won at Las Vegas, finished fourth at Dover and third last week at Kansas. Byron also scored 16 Stage Points, four qualifying points and finished eighth in the last race at Darlington. Byron nearly won this race last year. I will take a chance with the No. 24 car Sunday.

(CONTRARIAN PICK) JOEY LOGANO (8): Logano was the name that stood out when I ran the stats for this race. He won this race last year and he finished eighth in the Southern 500. Logano has the third-best driver ranking, the second-best average finishing position and led the fourth-most laps led at Darlington over the last three years. The No. 22 team has either been really good or really bad this year. I want drivers who have consistently finish up front, so I will fade Logano. He is a good pick though if you want to be different from the rest of your league.

GROUP A DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Denny Hamlin 2) William Byron 3) Kyle Larson 4) Joey Logano 5) Christopher Bell 6) Ross Chastain 7) Ryan Blaney 8) Chase Elliott



MARTIN TRUEX JR. (5): Truex is on a hot streak right now. He has finished the last four races in the top-eight, with a fourth-place average finishing position. The No. 19 car should have won the Southern 500 last year but Truex had engine problems in the final Stage. He has a series-best 111.9 Driver Rating over the last seven races at Darlington and Truex has scored Stage Points in 10 of the last 11 Stages at “The Track Too Tough to Tame”. I will play the hot hand this week and use the No. 19 car in my lineup.

TYLER REDDICK (6): Darlington is the type of track that fits Reddick’s driving style perfectly. He loves to ride up against the wall and few in the Cup Series can do it as well as Reddick. He finished second and third in the two races at Darlington last year. I would not be surprised if Reddick won the race Sunday.

KYLE BUSCH (6): Busch had the Southern 500 won last year. He was leading the race with less than 20-laps to go. The caution flag was waived and his No. 18 car blew up while riding around the track. Now Rowdy gets to see what he can do in the No. 8 car for Richard Childress Racing. Tyler Reddick finished both races at Darlington in the top-three in the No. 8 car last year. Busch won at Auto Club Speedway this year and that means a lot this week. Both tracks eat up tires quickly and the cars require similar setups. Busch should score well for our Driver Group Game lineups this weekend.

KEVIN HARVICK (5): I thought about playing Erik Jones in this spot, but I cannot do it. I mapped out my allocations with Harvcik for the season and I can use him this week and steel be OK. Harvick has finished 33rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 1st, 3rd, 1st, 4th, 4th, 9th, 2nd, 5th, 1st, and 5th at Darlington since he joined Stewart-Haas Racing. That is a lot of top-10 finishes. The only reason he finished 33rd in the Southern 500 last year is because hot rubber from the track got caught in the side panel of the car and set it on fire. NASCAR took care of that issue over the winter break, so Harvick should be back to finishing in the top-10 at Darlington Sunday.

(CONTRARIAN PICK) ERIK JONES (8): This is the race to play Jones if you want to use an allocation with the No. 43 car this year. Darlington is by far the best track for Jones. He won the Southern 500 twice. Once in 2019 and again last year. Jones has finished seven of his 10 races at Darlington in the top-eight. I will save Jones for my One & Done picks and I will bet some money on the No. 43 car this week. I will play it safe and use Kevin Harvick as a pivot to Jones in Group B. He is a good pick if you want to save an allocation with one of your top drivers Sunday.

GROUP B DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Martin Truex Jr. 2) Tyler Reddick 3) Kyle Busch 4) Kevin Harvick 5) Erik Jones 6) Daniel Suarez 7) Brad Keselowski 8) Bubba Wallace 9) Aric Almirola 10) Chris Buescher



JOSH BERRY (6): Berry will once again be behind the wheel of the No. 48 car Sunday. His race wasn’t that great last week, but at least we did not use Ty Gibbs and get a 34th-place finish. Berry finished second at Darlington in 2021 and eighth last year in the Xfinity Series. He knows his way around this tricky track. It will also help Berry that he will get some extra seat time this weekend since he is racing in the Xfinity Series race. I will play Berry and save my allocations with Ty Gibbs for the races when Berry is no longer an option.

TY GIBBS (8): Gibbs has run really well this year for a rookie. He was once again running in the top-five last week when he got spun out. Joe Gibbs Racing has their cars dialed in right now. Gibbs won the pole in the Xfinity Series race at Darlington last year, so he should have a good chance to qualify up front and score some bonus points. He is the best option if Josh Berry is not available in your league.

(OTHER CHOICE) RICKY STENHOUSE JR. (8): I have heard drivers say before, “Darlington races like a dirt track because the way the cars slide around on the worn-out surface and the way drivers have to ride up against the wall.” That type of driving style should play into the hands of Stenhouse. He finished eighth in this race last year and Stenhouse is having one of his best seasons. I will play the No. 47 car in my leagues where Josh Berry is not an option.

GROUP C DRIVER RANKINGS: 1) Ty Gibbs 2) Josh Berry 3) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 4) AJ Allmendinger 5) Corey LaJoie

* Be sure to check back Sunday morning for my starting lineup.




I want drivers with experience at Darlington, so I am going with some veterans.





Good Luck This Weekend!

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