Matt DiBenedetto almost shook up the playoff picture in what would have been a minor upset on Saturday night in Bristol. If he would have been able to hang on and win this race it would have eliminated one of the bubble drivers, who right now is Daniel Suarez who is two points ahead of his teammate Clint Bowyer for the final spot in the playoffs. This is going to make for some exciting racing in the next two events before the playoffs starts.
BOJANGLES’ SOUTHERN 500
The series will be off this week before the head to the Darlington Raceway on Labor Day weekend for the running of the Bojangle’ Southern 500. This track is also known as “The Track Too Touch to Tame” and “The Lady in Black”. I heard Darrell Waltrip say on the broadcast once something to the effect of ‘She ain’t no lady.’ You will often hear about the Darlington Stripe during the race which refers to the paint drivers will get from the wall on their cars. This happens because of the track configuration which is more of an egg shape than an oval.
While this track still has some pretty good banking, the configuration makes it a little harder to set up the cars to handle the way the drivers want on both ends of the track. You will see a lot of adjustments made during this race and cars that are handling good at the beginning of the race might just fade at the end and vice versa.
Denny Hamlin: I am going to pick Denny to win back to back races and gain some more valuable playoff points in this race. He won here for the second time two years ago and also has three runner-up finishes in thirteen starts at this track. He has been very consistent lately which is another reason to think he will be the driver to beat on Labor Day weekend.
Ryan Newman: I like Ryan this race as well because of how good he was at Bristol and how good he has been at Darlington throughout his career no matter who he was driving for. In fact, Ryan has seven top ten finishes in his last ten starts here and thirteen top ten finishes in twenty starts in his career at this track.
Kyle Busch: Kyle has been very good here throughout his career also. His only win at this track came way back in the 2008 season, but he hasn’t finished worse than eleventh in his last nine starts. He is going to want to do everything he can to keep Denny from winning this race and taking those playoff points away from him.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin has five top five finishes in his last six starts here including his only win back in 2014. He has also lead over two-hundred laps in two of those races which tells us that he really knows how to get around this track. After a disappointing end to his Bristol race he will be looking forward to getting back on track at Darlington.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie leads all active drivers with three wins at Darlington, but he really hasn’t shown much all season. In fact, in his last four Darlington starts his average finish is a bit over twenty-fifth. I really don’t see him having a very good race again this week, but he could surprise.
Kurt Busch: Kurt has three top ten finishes in his last four starts at this track, yet those were all with Stewart-Haas Racing. The question here is, will his new crew chief be able to get his car set up to his liking? The only way we are really going to know is to wait and see how he does in the practice sessions. We will really want to look at his ten lap averages and also see how well he qualifies before deciding to start him.
Erik Jones: With only two races under his belt at Darlington there really isn’t a lot to go on for Erik. However, in those two races he has finishes fifth and eighth and has really looked good lately. Once again if you want to put him on your roster you will still have to wait and see how he practices and qualifies before deciding if you want to start him or not.
Kyle Larson: Kyle looked really good at Bristol coming away with a top ten finish and has four top ten finishes in five starts at Darlington. I think he is another driver you can put on your roster and start if you are running out of some of the other top drivers in his group. I think he is going to have a competitive car once again and might win this race.
Brad Keselowski: Brad won this race last year and has five top ten finishes in ten career starts here. I’m sure they are going to have a fast car right off of the truck and should be competitive all weekend. Brad is already in the playoffs and this team is known for doing something different to try and win races and gain playoff points. That can be good or bad for us fantasy players, because we don’t know if they will do that and if it will work out or not.
Martin Truex Jr.: Martin won this race three years ago and has finished outside of the top fifteen only once in his last eight starts at this track. He has lead laps in each of his last three starts and won both of the stages in the race two years ago. That tells us that he should have a very good car that is capable of winning this race.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR DARLINGTON RACEWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Kevin Harvick
- Martin Truex Jr.
Driver Group Game Group B
- Denny Hamlin
- Ryan Newman
- Erik Jones
- Kurt Busch
Driver Group Game Group C
- Chris Buescher
- Ty Dillon
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT DARLINGTON RACEWAY
- Denny Hamlin
- Kevin Harvick
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Kyle Larson
- Kyle Busch
Dark Horse: Erik Jones
Stay Away From: Daniel Suarez
Big 18: Kyle Larson