Almost a third of the way through the season and we have ten different winners already. There has been some pretty good racing so far and that’s why we have so many different winners. Now will that trend continue? There are three drivers who won a total of twenty-one races between them last season that don’t have any wins yet this year.
This week the series heads to the Darlington Raceway also know as The Lady in Black or The Track Too Tough To Tame. Both of these names are appropriate for this track which is a slightly less than mile and a half track, but the configuration is more of an egg shape than an oval. That makes getting the cars to handle appropriately a bit of a challenge for the crew chiefs. You can make adjustments to help you on one end of the track, but they might hurt the handling on the other end of the track. Makes for some interesting racing.
Kevin Harvick: I’m going to pick Kevin to win his first race of the season at Darlington. He has won two of the last three races run here and has nine top five finishes in his last ten starts at this track. His lowest finish in that stretch is a ninth place finish. This team has some good notes they can use to get their car close to handling the way they want it to off the truck and should have a slight advantage early in this race.
Kyle Larson: Kyle right now seems like the odds on favorite to win the championship this year. That can all change as we have a long way to go to even get to the playoffs, but he is in the mix each and every week. He is going to provide the most competition for Kevin this week once again. He has only run six races at this track and is looking for his first win, but has finished in the top three in three of his last four starts here and has lead more laps in his last two starts than anyone else has in their last five starts.
Kyle Busch: Last week’s winner hasn’t won at Darlington since the 2008 season and that is his only win here. With that being said we can also look at his track record and see that once he wins a race he can win multiple races in a row. He has finished in the top ten in nine of his last eleven starts at this track and has momentum on his side.
Brad Keselowski: Brad won here in the fall of 2018 and has been pretty consistent. Not as consistent as Kevin, but still someone to watch. He has four top five finishes and hasn’t finished worse than fifteenth in his last eight starts at this track. This team does a good job of figuring out what changes they need to make to their cars to get them to handle the way they want as the race progresses which gives them a shot a winning.
Kurt Busch: Kurt hasn’t run as well as I expected him to so far this season, but you never know when they are going to hit on something. He has finished in the top ten in six of his last eight starts at Darlington, but surprisingly has never won here. This could be one of those weeks where experience comes out on top as the younger drivers will be messing with the Darlington stripe and Kurt should be able to avoid that.
Denny Hamlin: Denny has three wins at this track with the last one coming in the middle race here last year. This team is looking for their first win of the season and this track is a little bit like Pocono in the fact that both ends of the track are configured differently and you need to have your car setup to be balanced so you don’t lose too much time on one end as opposed to the other.
Erik Jones: Erik in my dark horse this week. He has only run six races at this track and has never finished outside the top ten. He also has one win here. The reason he’s a dark horse instead of a solid contender is the fact that he’s on a new team this season and hasn’t shown a lot yet. Still, if he can relay what he needs to his crew chief they could make the right adjustments and get him another top ten finish here.
Joey Logano: Joey is another driver looking for his first win at this track. He isn’t as consistent as some of the other drivers here, but he still run well more often than not. He has five top six finishes in his last eight starts and has scored points in eight of the last twelve stages run here. There are probably tracks where Joey is more consistent and we’ll save him up for those races.
Martin Truex Jr.: Martin runs well here himself, but just doesn’t seem to come away with the finishes he would like. In the last twelve stages run here he has won four and finished the stage in the top three eight times. In fact, the only person who has lead more laps here over the past five races is Kyle Larson. Sooner or later things are going to break right for Martin and he will head back to victory lane for the second time in his career at this track.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR DARLINGTON RACEWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Kevin Harvick
Driver Group Game Group B
- Kyle Larson
- Kurt Busch
Driver Group Game Group C
- Michael McDowell
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT DARLINGTON RACEWAY
- Kevin Harvick
- Kyle Larson
- Kyle Busch
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Brad Keselowski
Dark Horse: Erik Jones
Stay Away From: Bubba Wallace
Big 18: Kyle Larson