The field of 16 is set and now it is time for the Cup Series to race for the 2023 championship. It will begin at one of the “crown jewel races” in NASCAR. The Cup Series will join the Xfinity Series at Darlington Raceway for the Southern 500 (the race is actually called the Crown Royal Presents Darlington Labor Day Weekend, but it will always be the Southern 500 to me). Here is the schedule for the races at Darlington this weekend…
The Cup Series competed at Darlington Raceway in May. Martin Truex Jr. dominated the race by leading 145 laps and Ross Chastain led 93 laps. In the end, it was William Byron who beat Kevin Harvick to the finish line to capture the checkered flag. Darlington is a track that wears out tires quickly and the track conditions will be different Sunday night. I still think it is a good idea to use the data from the May race at Darlington to help handicap the Southern 500 this week.
You can watch the highlight of the race at Darlington in May here: Goodyear 400
* Carl Edwards is in the booth with Clint Bowyer and Mike Joy to call the race 😊
STATS FOR DARLINGTON
Darlington is a unique track. It is egg-shaped, high-banked and it wears out tires as fast as any track on the circuit. The best way to handicap this race is to look at the drivers who have consistently had success at Darlington and the other high tire wear tracks. There is an art to saving the Goodyear’s over a long run and the drivers who do it the best will be up front Sunday night. I also like to look at what happened at Dover. The Monster Mile is a one-mile, high-banked track. It does not wear out tires like Darlington, but the setup of the cars are similar.
Here are the Driver Rankings from the races in the Gen-7 car at Darlington, the races on the high tire wear tracks (Auto Club and Homestead) and the high-banked track at Dover…
There are races where we need to save our top drivers in the Driver Group Game and then there are races when we need to play our top drivers. The race Sunday night is one of the races when we need to load our lineups with the top drivers. Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick have a history of running well at Darlington and they were very good at this track in May. I will use these drivers this weekend and find other races to save allocations.
The Fantasy Live regular season is complete. The picks outscored 99.6% of the entries on nascar.com. Now it is time to outscore 99% of the entries in the playoff portion of the game. The allocations reset to five this week. That may not sound like a lot, but it is. If we save the top drivers at Talladega and the Charlotte Roval, that means we can play our top drivers in five of the eight remaining races. I plan to play the studs Sunday night.
The Southern 500 is a long race. The trend is for one driver to lead 150 laps and another driver to lead 90 laps. We MUST have these two drivers in our lineups if we want to win some cash Sunday night. I plan to play two-to-three potential dominators and pair them with cheaper drivers who have had success at Darlington (Erik Jones, Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.).
EARLY WEEK PICKS FOR DARLINGTON
ONE & DONE PICK: ERIK JONES
DRIVER GROUP GAME PICKS: WILLIAM BYRON, DENNY HAMLIN, MARTIN TRUEX JR., KEVIN HAVICK, BRAD KESELOWSKI, BUBBA WALLACE, RICKY STENHOUSE JR., TY GIBBS
FANTASY LIVE PICKS: MARTIN TRUEX JR., DENNY HAMLIN, WILLIAM BYRON, KEVIN HARVICK, KYLE LARSON (GARAGE) ROSS CHASTAIN
Good luck this weekend!
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