The NASCAR Cup Series has reached the halfway point of the regular season. The racing will heat up over the summer as the drivers try to position themselves for a playoff spot and a run for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Championship. We need to make a run to the top of our league standings too. The Fantasy Live picks are rolling right along, just like they have for 12 years. The picks are outscoring 99.2% of the entries on the nascar.com site. We cannot slow down now. I will do my best to get the picks running hot over the summer months.
STRATEGY FOR CHARLOTTE
There are 13 races in the books, and we have enough data now to know which teams run well at which tracks. The race Sunday at Charlotte is the last race on a 1.5-mile track in the regular season. We need to use the drivers who have run well at Las Vegas and Kansas. We can also look at the drivers who race well at Dover and Darlington too, since the Cup Series used the same aero package in those races. The drivers who ran well at the 1-5-mile tracks and finished up front using the current aero package will be in my lineup Sunday.
* There are four Stages in the Coca-Cola 600. Fantasy Live only awards Stage Points for the first-two Stages. Our Garage pick needs to be selected by the end of Stage 3. I will post my pick for the Garage driver just before lap 300 on my Twitter account: @MrFantasyNASCAR
CUP SERIES PRACTICE SPEEDS
The Cup Series was scheduled to have practice and qualifying Saturday evening, but Mother Nature did not cooperate. The starting lineup for the Coca-Cola 600 will be set “per the rule book.” There are some drivers who start deep in the field, who should have a lot of speed Sunday. I plan to play the drivers who start up front.
FANTASY LIVE LINEUP FOR CHARLOTTE
KYLE LARSON (4): I am running low with allocations with the No. 5 car, but we cannot fade Larson at Charlotte. He has been the best driver at the track since 2018. Larson won both races at Charlotte in 2019 and he won again in 2021. He led 63 laps and finished second at Las Vegas and Larson led 85 laps and finished second at Kansas. Larson should lead a lot of laps, score a lot of Stage points and finish in the top-five Sunday.
WILLIAM BYRON (2): I have two allocations left with Byron. Is it time to panic? Not at all. Byron is really good on the intermediate tracks. The schedule over the summer does not have many intermediate tracks, so we should use him Sunday. The No. 24 car won the last race (Darlington) and Byron won at Las Vegas too. The No. 24 car will start on the pole, have the No. 1 pit stall and should have enough speed to score a lot of Stage Points and finish in the top-five Sunday.
CHASE ELLIOTT (8): I have a lot of allocations left with Elliott and I will start using the No. 9 car, now that Elliott has the rust knocked off. Elliott did not compete at Las Vegas or Kansas, but he has been awesome at Charlotte. Elliott finished 4th, 2nd, 1st, 2nd and 33rd in his last five races at Charlotte. He won Stage 1 and led 86 laps last year, but he was involved in a wreck. Elliott should have a great race Sunday.
DENNY HAMLIN (5): There is a lot to like about Hamlin this week. He won the last race on a 1.5-mile track at Kansas and he won the Coca-Cola 600 last year. He also finished second at Charlotte in 2020. Hamlin will start fourth when they race. He will have the track position and the pit stall to run up front and score a lot of points in the Coca-Cola 600.
KYLE BUSCH (5): Busch finished 14th at Las Vegas and 35th at Kansas. We need to fade him, right? Not so fast my friend…. Busch had fast cars in both race. He just had some bad luck. Now he gets to compete at one of his best intermediate tracks. Busch finished 2nd, 3rd, 29th (engine problems), 4th, 3rd, 3rd and 1st in his last seven Coca-Cola 600’s. Busch will start up front and he had some track time this weekend since he is racing the Xfinity Series race. Busch is just too consistent at Charlotte to fade this week.
(GARAGE PICK) ROSS CHASTAIN (6): I am sure some of you will hate this pick and some of you will love it. It seems like most NASCAR fans either hate the way Chastain drivers or they love it. We need to put our bias aside and simply play the best drivers and Chastain falls into that category. Trackhouse Racing has been at their best on the 1.5-mile tracks. Chastain finished fifth earlier this month at Kansas. He also led 153 laps and scored 16 Stage Points in the Coca-Cola 600 last year. Chastain will be my insurance policy in the Garage when they race the Coca-Cola 600.
Good luck and be sure to follow me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR. I will send out a Tweet during the race to let you know if I plan to swap out one of my drivers for my Garage pick.