Fantasy Live Picks for Darlington


The Cup Series will travel to Darlington Raceway for another intermediate track race. I love this race because of the way NASCAR celebrates the history of their sport. I also love the way “The Lady in Black” chews up tires and spits out drivers who decide to “dirty dance” with her. The racing on the intermediate tracks has been pretty good this year. I see no reason why the race at Darlington will not be the same this weekend. The Goodyear 400 can be seen Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on FS1.

The Fantasy Live picks were good for two Stages last week, but the last Stage is where the points are paid. Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain and Tyler Reddick spent most of the first two Stages in the top-10. Reddick got into the wall and finished 20th. I put Chase Elliott and his 3rd-place finish in the Garage. That did not work out well. The picks are still outscoring 99.8% of the entries. I will do my best to get us a bounce-back race at Darlington.




The Cup Series had their normal practice session at Kansas Speedway. The teams had 20-minutes to shake down their cars before they lined up for qualifying. Most of the teams were able to make some long runs. This is very important because Darlington wears out tires quickly. We want the drivers who were fast on the long-runs in our lineup Sunday.

Here are the practice speeds for the Goodyear 400





KYLE LARSON (6): Larson won the last race at Darlington and he won the race last week at Kansas. The No. 5 car is going to be tough to beat Sunday at Darlington. Larson is one of the best at searching the track for grip and running against the wall to pass other cars. He posted the fastest speed on the 15-lap average speed chart in practice and Larson qualified 6th for the race. I will use another allocation with “Yung Money” at one of his best tracks.

DENNY HAMLIN (4): Hamlin seems to be on a mission to win the championship this year. He has led laps in 16 consecutive races. This is one short of Kyle Busch’s 17 races. Hamlin should have won the last race at Darlington. He led 177 laps, won both Stages, but was caught up in an accident in the final laps of the race. The No. 11 car looks fast again this week. Hamlin wasn’t the fastest in practice but he said on the radio that he was trying different lines to ensure his car ran well at the middle and the top. Hamlin wasn’t concerned with lap speeds.  I would not be surprised to see Hamlin back in Victory Lane Sunday.

WILLIAM BYRON (6): Byron won this race last year and he came back for the Southern 500 and finished 4th. Byron started off the season on fire, but has cooled down lately. It looks like the No. 24 team is ready to get back to Victory Lane. Byron came out and posted a fast lap in practice and then they came in to make some adjustments. He did not make as many long runs as the other drivers, but he qualified 5th for the race. Byron has the track position to score a lot of points at Darlington.

TYLER REDDICK (5): It is no secret that Reddick is one of the best drivers at Darlington. This track wears out tires quickly and that forces the drivers to move up the track to make speed. Reddick is one of the best at running the wall. The only question is… How many “Darlington Stripes” can his car take in the race? Reddick finished 2nd, 22nd, 3rd and 2nd in the four races at Darlington in the Gen-7 car. The No. 45 car looks fast again this week. Reddick posted top-10 speed on the long runs in practice and he won the pole for the race. Reddick should score a lot of Stage Points and score well in Fantasy Live Sunday.

BRAD KESELOWSKI (10): Could this be the weekend when Keselowski breaks his 110-race winless streak and gets his first win at RFK Racing? Darlington is a good track for Keselowski, so maybe it will happen. Keselowski finished 6th, 4th and 7th in his last three races at Darlington. He also scored Stage Points in every Stage last year and had the 4th-best average running position in the two races. Keselowski looked fast in practice and he qualified on the front row. Keselowski has a good chance to score a lot of Stage Points, lead some laps and be one of the top scoring drivers in the Fantasy Live game.


(GARAGE PICK) CHRIS BUESCHER (10): The NASCAR Gods are cruel at times and it seems like they owe Buescher a win after he was beat by the slimmest of margins last week. Buescher finished 3rd in the last race at Darlington. The No. 17 car looks fast again. Buescher posted the 4th fastest speed on the long runs and he qualified 3rd for the race. The No. 17 car has a great chance to finish up front at “The Track Too Tough to Tame.”


Good luck and be sure to follow me on X (Twitter) @MrFantasyNASCARI 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.