The regular season is complete for the NASCAR Cup Series and that usually means it is time for nascar.com to release their playoff game for Fantasy Live. That is not the case this season. The allocations will be reset to five and the game will continue like the regular season game. I was told the reason for the change was that the playoff format they used the last two seasons was not very popular. I doubt this will be popular as well. Why not just run the entire season on 10 allocations? That was my question. They thought that was a bad idea too.
Fantasy Live Playoff Format
There are 10 races in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. We can use each driver 5 times. Each driver will score points the same way they scored points in the regular season game. The difference is that the 4 drivers competing for the 2020 NASCAR Championship will NOT score Stage points at Phoenix. The rest of the field will score Stage points if they finish in the top 10 of the Stage.
I think they made the game too easy. I mapped out my allocations for each race to ensure I will have the top drivers at each track. My picks have beaten 99% of the competition every year I played this game. I see no reason why 2020 should be any different.
Here are my early week picks for Darlington…
Kevin Harvick: Kevin Harvick complete smoked the field in the first race at Darlington. He led 159, scored 14 Stages points and went to Victory Lane. The team decided to bring the same car back to the track in the second race and led to a 3rd place finish. He also used this car in the race at Indianapolis and smoked the field again. Crew Chief Rodney Childers said they plan to use that car in one of the playoff races. I was told that Harvick will have the same chassis that he used to lead 159 laps at Darlington and 68 laps at Indinapolis.
Denny Hamlin: Denny Hamlin had two great races at Darlington in May. The No. 11 car started 10th and finished 5th in the first race and the team brought a new car to the track in the second race. It took a while for Hamlin to get to the front but he had the best car in the second-half of the race and went to Victory Lane. It was Hamlin’s 3rd win at the “Lady in Black.” Hamlin also scored Stage points in all 4 Stages. Hamlin should score a lot of points from the front row Sunday night.
Chase Elliott: Chase Elliott had one of the fastest cars in both races at Darlington in May. He started 11th and finished 4th on Sunday. Elliott started 17th in the second race and quickly went to the front. He scored 13 Stage points and he passed Erik Jones with 68 laps left in the second race. Elliott was battling Denny Hamlin for the lead with 28 laps left in the race. He was flat out dumped by Kyle Busch and Elliott went onto the track and flipped the bird to the driver of the No. 18 car. Elliott probably could have won the race without Busch putting him into the wall.
Brad Keselowski: The race at Darlington usually comes down to strategy because the tires wear out so quickly. No driver in the field is as good as Brad Keselowski at mapping out a strategy to steal track position and find a way to Victory Lane. Keselowski has a 5th place average finishing position at Darlington over the last three seasons. That includes a win in 2018. This is a good race to use the No. 2 car.
Clint Bowyer (Start): Clint Bowyer had fast cars in both races but he could not find a way to finish up front. Bowyer ran most of the race in the top 10 in the Sunday race at Darlington. He scored 10 Stage points but finished 17th. He led 71 laps, won both Stages but finished 22nd in the second race. He also had the fastest Green Flag Speed in the second race at Darlington. His poor finish was the result of a tire going down on lap 198. I cannot fade the fastest car in the last race at Darlington. I will use an allocation with Bowyer Sunday night.
Garage Driver: Erik Jones: Erik Jones starts deep in the field but I am not worried about it. The Stages are 115 laps Sunday night. That is plenty of time to get to the front. Jones had two great races at Darlington earlier this season, but that should not surprise anyone. To say Darlington is his best track is an understatement. Jones has finished 5th, 8th, 1st, 8th and 5th in his 5 races at Darlington (5.4 average finishing position). Having a driver with a 5th-place average finishing position as an insurance policy is not a bad idea this week.
Good luck and be sure to follow me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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