The NASCAR Cup Series will travel to Darlington Raceway this week for their throwback themed race. Many of the cars will be wrapped in old paint schemes to celebrate the drivers from the past. Richard and Kyle Petty will be in the FS1 booth to call Stage 1, Carl Edwards will be in the booth for Stage 2 and Bill Elliott will join Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer for the final Stage. It is one of my favorite races to watch. The GoodYear 400 can be seen Sunday at 3 pm ET on FS1.
STRATEGY FOR DARLINGTON
We are officially half-way through the Fantasy Live regular season. Are you in a good position to win your league? I hope I was able to navigate you to the top of your league standings. The picks are now outscoring 99% of the entries on the nascar.com site. We should have a good chance of winning our leagues if the picks continue to score well in the second half of the season.
There are roughly 14 drivers who run well at Darlington. I will select my team this week from that list. I want to make sure the driver has been running well in recent races, has a history of running well at Darlington and posted some fast laps in practice. The drivers who check each box are in my lineup Sunday.
Here is my lineup for the GoodYear 400 at Darlington Raceway…
MARTIN TRUEX JR. (8): Joe Gibbs Racing is running well right now and Truex has been one of their best drivers. He finished third at Martinsville, won at Dover and eighth last week at Kansas. He had the last race at Darlington won until his water pump broke in the car. The No. 19 car looks fast again this week. Truex did not look blazing fast in practice, but Group B was at a disadvantage and the No. 19 car waited a bit to go onto the track. Truex won the pole and has the No. 1 pit stall in a race where pit stops will be very important. Truex should be a safe pick for a top-five finish, with the upside to win the race Sunday.
DENNY HAMLIN (5): Hamlin went to Victory Lane last week at Kansas and he said he is about to go on a winning streak. He has won back-to-back races twice in his career, so another trip to Victory Lane could happen Sunday. Hamlin has a series-best four wins at Darlington, series-high 111.6 Driver Rating and the best average finishing position in the last seven races at the track. Hamlin was also in Group B in practice so his speed doesn’t represent how fast his car is. He is just too good at Darlington to fade when he starts eighth.
KYLE LARSON (5): It is hard to believe that Larson has never won at Darlington. He is one of the best at riding the wall and he has a history of dominating this race. Larson could easily have four or five wins this year, but drivers keep moving him out of the way. His luck will change sometime this season and I would not be surprised if it happened Sunday. Larson posted the fastest speed in practice after 25 laps were run. He also qualified seventh for the race. Larson is my pick to win so I will have him in my lineup Sunday.
WILLIAM BYRON (3): Byron led 50 laps, scored 16 Stage Points and finished eighth in the last race at Darlington. The No. 24 car looks fast again this week. Byron posted the third-fastest speed in practice, with the fastest 10-lap average speed. Byron also qualified fourth for the race. Winning on Mother’s Day is really important for Byron (you can read more about it here: Byron wins on Mother Day). I would not be surprised to see the No. 24 car in Victory Lane Sunday.
TYLER REDDICK (6): Darlington is a good race to use an allocation with Reddick. Riding the wall is important at Darlington and only Kyle Larson can do it as well as Reddick. He finished second and third in the two races at Darlington last year. The Gen-7 car is more forgiving than the old cars, so 10+ Darlington Stripes should not slow down the No. 45 car Sunday. I will take a chance with the Reddick at one of his best tracks.
(GARAGE PICK) KYLE BUSCH (6): Busch had the race at Darlington won last year. Rowdy had a large lead, but the caution came out with 38 laps to go. The No. 18 car for Busch blew up under caution and finished his race. Now Busch gets to drive the car that finished second and third at Darlington last year. Busch posted the 12th-fastest speed in practice, with the eighth-fastest long run speed. Busch should be a good driver to have as an insurance policy in the Garage Sunday.
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.