This is one of those rare weeks when we get to see two practices before our Driver Group Game lineups need to be selected. We need to use the information we obtained in practice and make adjustments to our lineups whenever we have the opportunity to do so. Here are my updated Driver Group Game picks…
Driver Group Game A Picks
I wish I had more allocations with Kyle Busch. He is my pick to win right now. I only have 2 allocations left with the No. 18 car so I will save him for the playoffs. If you have 4 or more allocations left with Busch, make sure he is in your lineup.
Martin Truex Jr. (3): I debated between Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. for my Group A pick to pair with Kyle Larson. Both have great stats at Darlington, both were top 5 on the speed chart in practice so it came down to allocations. I have 4 left with Truex and 3 left with Harvick, so Truex gets the spot in my lineup. Also, there should be 12-14 pit-stops Sunday night. I trust the No. 19 pit crew more than the No. 4 team.
Kyle Lason (8): Larson put on a clinic last year at Darlington. He 284 and won both Stages. Larson has averaged 204 laps led in the last 2 Southern 500s and he is averaging 17 Stage points per race. He looks like he is ready to dominate the race again Sunday night. Larson posted the fastest 5-lap, 10-lap, 15-lap and 20-lap speed in final practice. All of the teams were talking about how fast the No. 42 car was at the top of the track. The only question is if he can keep it off the wall for 500 miles.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Kyle Busch 2) Kevin Harvick 3) Kyle Larson 4) Martin Truex Jr. 5) Brad Keselowski 6) Joey Logano 7) Chase Elliott
Driver Group Game B Picks
Denny Hamlin (3): Hamlin is too hot to ignore. Hamlin has finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 1st, 2nd and 5th in his last 6 races. Hamlin will get a lot of practice laps this week since he is driving the Xfinity Series race. His car was very fast on the long runs in final practice. Hamlin posted the 3rd best 10-lap average speed and the 4th fastest 20-lap average speed. The No. 11 team is too good right now to fade.
Kurt Busch (2): Darlington ranks as the best track for Busch. He has the 2nd best Driver Rating and the 2nd best average finishing position. Busch really liked his car in practice. He posted the 4th-fastest speed with the 8th-best 10-lap average speed and the 6th-fastest 20-lap average speed. I am running out of allocations with Busch but I have to have him on my team at his best track.
Daniel Suarez (6): Suarez needs points in order to keep his spot in the playoffs. I expect the No. 41 team to gamble with their pit strategy to earn a lot of Stage points. Suarez liked his car in practice. It was not at the top of the speed chart but he was more focused with keeping it off the wall. That is usually more important at Darlington than it is to post fast laps.
William Byron (8): I have to have the Days of Thunder car in my lineup. That is one awesome looking car. The good news is that it is fast. I listened to Chad Knaus on the radio during final practice and he did a great job at keeping Byron call so he could run some smooth laps. Byron ranks 9th this season in average finishing position in the 550 HP engine package. I just have a feeling he will run well Sunday night.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Denny Hamlin) Kurt Busch 3) Erik Jones 4) Clint Bowyer 5) William Byron 6) Daniel Suarez 7) Ryan Blaney 8) Alex Bowman 9) Jimmie Johnson 10) Ryan Newman
Driver Group Game C Picks
Matt DiBenedetto (5): DiBenedetto kept his momentum going with a good day of practice at Darlington. He posted the 5th fastest speed in final practice and that has to give this team momentum. DiBenedetto is using the car he drove to a 20th place finish at Darlington. He is running a lot better now than he was in the spring. I expect a top-15 finish from the No. 95 team Sunday night.
Chris Buescher (3): Buescher has been awesome this season and Darlington ranks as his best track. He has 3 career starts in the MENCS at the Lady in Black and he has never finished outside the top 17. Last year Buescher qualified 19th and finished 13th. Buescher posted the 17th fastest speed in final practice but he said he liked his car. I will roll the dice with Buescher at one of his best tracks.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Chris Buescher 2) Matt DiBenedetto 3) Darrell Wallace Jr. 4) Daniel Hemric 5) Ty Dillon
Driver Group Game Team
Group A: Martin Truex Jr. (4), Kyle Larson (8)
Group B: Denny Hamlin (3), Kurt Busch (2), Daniel Suarez (6), William Byron (8)
Group C: Chris Buescher (3), Matt DiBenedetto (5)
I will post my final picks for Driver Group Game Saturday evening.
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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