Driver Group Game Picks Nashville

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The Cup Series returns after a week off with a race at Nashville Superspeedway. This will be the third race in Music City for the Cup Series. It will also be the first race of the season for NASCAR on NBC. The practices are on USA Network and the race is Sunday night is on NBC (NASCAR said they want more Sunday night races to keep the drivers out of the heat during the day). Be sure to have your remote ready this weekend.

 

STRATEGY FOR NASHVILLE

The more things change, the more they stay the same…. The Cup Series last competed on a road course at Sonoma. Now they will compete on the 1.33-mile track at Nashville. These tracks could not be more different, but the results could be the same. Joe Gibbs Racing dominated the race in Northern California and they should be the team to beat in Nashville Sunday night. Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch (Rowdy raced for JGR last year) combined to lead 250 of the 300 laps at Nashville last year. The Joe Gibbs Racing drivers should be good this week too, so I will have many of them in my lineup.

Hendrick Motorsports is not going to let Joe Gibbs Racing steal the show. Chase Elliott won the race at Nashville last year. William Byron and Kyle Larson have been very fast in the races using the intermediate track aero package (the package used this week). These three drivers should also be good picks for the race Sunday night, so I will have a combination of Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports drivers in my lineup. I will try to save allocations with the drivers from these two teams at the Chicago Street Race, Atlanta, Pocono, Watkins Glen, Indy Road Course and Daytona over the summer.

Here are the picks for the Ally 400

 

GROUP A DRIVERS

KYLE LARSON (7): Larson has been fast in every race this year. There is no reason to believe the No. 5 car will not be one of the cars to beat Sunday night. Larson completely destroyed the field at Nashville in 2021. He started fifth, led 264 of the 300 laps, scored 19 Stage Points and won the race. He will have more competition this year from the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, but it would not shock me if Larson dominated the race Sunday night.

DENNY HAMLIN (7): I wanted one driver from Hendrick Motorsports and one from Joe Gibbs Racing. Kyle Larson gets the spot from HMS and Hamlin gets the spot from JGR. Hamlin was awesome at Nashville last year. He won the pole, led 114 laps, scored 18 Stage Points and finished sixth. The most similar track to Nashville is Dover and Hamlin finished in the top-five at the Monster Mile earlier this year. The No. 11 car should be running up front and scoring a lot of points for your Driver Group Game lineup at Nashville.

(CONTRARIAN PICK) ROSS CHASTAIN (8): The driver to pair with Kyle Larson should be Ross Chastain, according to the stats. This is a home race for Trackhouse Racing. They have their shop in the Charlotte area, but their headquarters are in Nashville. Justin Marks has a lot of sponsors at this race, so he does his best to ensure his cars are fast. Chastain finished second and fifth in his two races at Nashville. He would be a good pick, if you want to save a start with Denny Hamlin or Kyle Larson. I probably would have used Chastain this week if he was not asked to calm his driving style by his team owner.

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

 

GROUP B DRIVERS

MARTIN TRUEX JR. (3): Could Truex win back-to-back races in the Cup Series? I think he can. Truex won the last race at Sonoma and he will have a great chance to win Sunday at Nashville. Dover is a concrete track that is similar in length to Nashville. Truex won at the Monster Mile earlier this season. He also led 82 laps and won both Stages at Nashville last year. I am running low with my allocations with the No. 19 car, but I at least need to have Truex on my team this week.

KEVIN HARVICK (5): Harvick is not running like a driver who is ready to retire. He is clearly the best driver from Stewart-Haas Racing and he may be the best driver from the Ford camp. Harvick finished fifth and 10th in his two races at Nashville. The No. 4 car should have a good chance to finish in the top-10 again Sunday.

KYLE BUSCH (4): Could this be the race when Rowdy Busch smashes the guitar trophy in Victory Lane? He has done it before at Nashville, but I think he has matured (a little bit) since his Xfinity Series win at Nashville in 2009. Busch is on a hot streak right now. He won the race at Gateway and finished second at Sonoma. I expect Rowdy to qualify and run up front again Sunday night at Nashville.

BUBBA WALLACE (7): The last pick in Group B was a tough decision. I really like the Toyota’s and the drivers from Hendrick Motorsports, so I had to decide between Bubba Wallace and Alex Bowman. I cannot believe I am writing this, but Wallace has been more consistent than Bowman this year in the intermediate aero package races. Wallace finished 12th at Dover, fourth at Kansas, fifth at Darlington and fourth at Charlotte. He also finished 12th at Nashville last year (Wallace is having a better season in 2023 then he had last year). I will roll the dice with the No. 23 car Sunday night.

(CONTRARIAN PICK) DANIEL SUAREZ (6): I expect Tootsies will be on the No. 99 car in Nashville and there will be a lot of people in the stands cheering for my Amigo Sunday night. Suarez has been good at Nashville. He finished seventh and 15th in his two races. The No. 99 car “should” be fast again this week, but I do not trust Suarez. He has had a lot of bad luck this season, so I will fade the No. 99 car. He would be a decent pick if you want to save an allocation with Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick or Kyle Busch.

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

 

GROUP C DRIVERS

TY GIBBS (7): I already have two drivers from Joe Gibbs Racing in my lineup, so why not add a third. Gibbs has never competed in a Cup Series race at Nashville, but he did finish fourth in the Xfinity Series race at Nashville last year. He had a decent race this year at Dover. Gibbs started 24th and he finished 13th. The No. 54 team should provide Gibbs a car that is fast enough to finish in the top-10 Sunday night.

RICKY STENHOUSE JR. (7): Who is this dude that is driving the No. 47 car this year? There is no way that is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. To say Stenhouse is having a “career year” is an understatement. He is running near the top-10 in almost every race (even Sonoma) and he is finishing most races in the top-15. Stenhouse finished sixth and 16th in his two races at Nashville. He should run around the top-10, with a good chance for a top-12 finish Sunday night.

(OTHER CHOICE) AJ ALLMENDINGER (5): The only other choice in Group C besides Ty Gibbs and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is Allmendinger. Corey LaJoie has had a few good runs, but we cannot trust the No. 7 car to finish in the top-15 this week. Allmendinger is best used at the road courses, but he is a good pivot if you are running low with allocations with Gibbs. Allmendinger finished 19th at Nashville last year and he finished 18th at Dover earlier this season. He gets some extra seat time this weekend, since Allmendinger is running the Xfinity Series race Saturday (Ty Gibbs is also running the Xfinity Series race).

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

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

 

 

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Good Luck This Weekend!

 

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