The monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will compete at Darlington Sunday night. Experience is everything at The Track Too Tough To Tame. I will be selecting drivers who have had success at this track before.
The best strategy when the series competes at an intermediate track is usually to pick two drivers who start up front who can lead laps and three drivers who can score position differential points. That is not the case this week.
There are 367 laps in the race and 367 bonus points available for leading laps and fastest laps. I use the same strategy I use at short tracks at Darlington because of the number of laps in the race. I will be selecting three drivers who could dominate the race Sunday night so I can score as many bonus points as possible and selecting two drivers who start deep in the field with a chance to score position differential points.
Kevin Harvick has the best stats at Darlington the last three seasons and now he starts from the pole. Since he joined Stewart-Haas Racing his average finishing position at The Track Too Tough To Tame is 2.6. I expect Harvick to lead many laps Sunday night.
Martin Truex Jr. is the defending race winner and he cannot be counted out at any race track. Truex did not have the speed that Larson, Hamlin and Keselowski had but his practice times last year were outside the top 10 and he won the race. Cole Pearn knows how to make adjustments to the car and knows how to tack advantage of track position. Truex starts 2nd and should take the lead at some point and lead many laps Sunday night.
Kyle Larson gets the spot over Kyle Busch based on practice time. Busch had the best time in final practice but he was in qualifying trim and Larson was not. Larson was fastest in the 1st practice and he was the fastest in race trim in the final practice. What made his laps so impressive is that he sat out a 30 minute penalty and then laid down the fastest lap. The fastest way around Darlington is to run the top of the track. No driver does it as well as Larson.
AJ Allmendinger has been horrible in qualifying trim but he has been decent in race trim this season. This week he qualified 29th and had 18th fastest lap time in final practice. If Allmendinger can stay out of trouble he should move up 10 spots this week.
Landon Cassill is on the team because of his price and his starting position. He is much better than the other drivers in his price range so I will give him a chance this week. Cassill starts 29th and he had the 25th best 10 lap average speed in final practice. I am hoping Cassill can move up 5 spots in the race Sunday night.
Here are my picks for the Darlington…
Martin Truex Jr. $28.00 (Starts 2nd)
Kevin Harvick $27.75 (Starts Pole)
Kyle Larson $27.25 (Starts 4th)
AJ Allmendinger $11.75 (Starts 29th)
Landon Cassill $5.00 (Starts 30th)
PICK TO WIN: Martin Truex Jr.
Good luck this week!
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