Welcome back! This is going to be a whole new ball game for me trying to predict races when they are only days apart instead of weekly. My guess is the articles will be a bit shorter for the time being with mostly just picks going in. I’m not even sure how the DGG is going to work now that the only race that will have qualifying this month will be the Coca-Cola 600. Maybe we will be able to set our rosters right up to race time. I’ll have to find out from the boss. All of the other races won’t even have any practice sessions. I’m guessing there will be a competition caution after a short run in each race to let teams make adjustments to the cars. This is going to be interesting.
DARLINGTON RACE 1
So, the first race upon resuming the season is going to be held on May 17th at the Darlington Raceway. They don’t even have a sponsor name for this race yet. Then they will turn around and race here again on Wednesday night. Chicagoland and Sonoma lost their races for this season and the spring race scheduled for Richmond was also eliminated with the updated schedule.
Other things that have happened since we’ve been away are that Kyle Larson was let go after uttering a racial slur during an iRace and has been replaced by Matt Kenseth. Ryan Newman has also been cleared to come back to racing and will be back in the saddle next Sunday.
Denny Hamlin: I’m going to pick Denny to win this race. In his fourteen career starts at Darlington he has two wins and seven top five finishes. I think this is almost like a restart to the whole season where teams were taking the data they accumulated from the first four races and worked on figuring out how to make their cars better and it seems that the Joe Gibbs engineers are some of the best in that regard.
Brad Keselowski: Brad won here back in the 2018 season and has finished in the top five in three of his last five starts here. With Joey Logano already winning two races it seems that the Penske teams are on the right path with where they are with their cars at this point of the season. With a new crew chief it’s possible that Brad will have some handling issues without any practice time.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin has finished in the top five here in six of his last seven starts. Once again this team got off to a bit of a slow start this season, but this is one of those tracks where Kevin is very good. He won one of those last six races and sat on the pole in three of them. He also lead over five hundred laps in that stretch.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie leads all active drivers with three wins at Darlington. The Hendrick teams have all shown a major improvement in speed so far this year across the board and I think Jimmie still has a win or two in the tank in his final year as a full-time driver in this series. He might be worth putting on your roster. I think experience is going to be huge when there isn’t any practice before a race.
Kyle Busch: Kyle has finished no worse than eleventh in his last ten starts at this track. Even though his only win here came back in the 2008 season he is probably the best driver on the circuit showing that he can drive pretty well even when his car isn’t handling too well and they always seem to get it fixed up towards the end of the race. The starts of these races are going to be the dicey part.
Kurt Busch: Kurt has never won a race here, but he has finished in the top ten in his last three starts here. In fact, last year he won the first stage and then finished second in the second stage and lead ninety-four laps before finishing seventh in that race. I think in his second season with Chip Ganassi Racing and with his experience he should do well once again this week.
Joey Logano: Joey has finished in the top five in three of his last five starts at Darlington. Now with new crew chief Paul Wolff on the top of his pit box he might break into the win column for the third time this season and first time at Darlington. This team hasn’t been great throughout the races this year but, they are always there at the end.
Matt Kenseth: A new team and a bit of a layoff for Matt. Will his experience behind the wheel in this series make him a dark horse in his first race back, or will the new team and crew chief hinder his effort? The car he will be driving has done very well here lately with Kyle Larson behind the wheel where it finished in the top three in three of its last four starts. Matt has finished in the top six in five of his last seven starts here. Can he drive with the setup Kyle Larson used? Might be worth taking a shot on here.
Martin Truex Jr.: Martin has really shown he knows how to run on all types of tracks over the past three seasons or so and is a veteran to the series. Once again I think the experience behind the wheel is going to play a huge roll in who will run well and who will have difficulties in these races. There are a lot of new things to consider when setting your roster for these next few races at least.
Here are the updated rules for the DGG: For the Guts or Gutless league I have put Matt Kenseth in the B group seeing he is a veteran driver on a good team. I have also removed Kyle Larson from the list of available drivers.
NEW LOCK SCHEDULE
To limit interaction, teams will drive to the tracks; Unload; Go through inspection; Line up according to a random draw; Race. The Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway is said to include practice sessions and qualifying. As such, these ‘COVID-19’ replacement races and the Coca-Cola 600 (to keep things simple) will not follow the normal lock 1 and lock 2 procedure. Going forward, until further notice, your league entry will lock at the scheduled race time. Which, is also listed on your entry form. I don’t know if (or which of) these races replace any races past or future. If a race is ‘complete’ (1 – 4) or confirmed ‘on-the-schedule’ (5 – 8 and 27 – 36), then you will be able to view the entry form for that race. Otherwise, those race numbers (9 – 26) entry form are locked until I know which race and track it will be.
MATT KENSETH and KYLE LARSON
In the DGG League I have put Matt Kenseth in the C Driver Group.
Commissioners! You decide where you want him. Go to Commissioner > Drivers and drag Matt Kenseth into the group you want him in.
You can take Kyle Larson out of a group and back to the driver pool.
Warning! Kinda, more an FYI. If a player has set Larson on a future entry, the player will not be able to remove Larson from that entry. There will be no check box. The solution is for the player to click the red Clear All button to remove the whole entry and start fresh. If Larson is left in, the entry form will show the NE (not entered) next to his name indicating he is not racing.
RYAN NEWMAN and ROSS CHASTAIN
Ryan Newman is back! He should be listed on your entry forms in the #6 as usual. Ross Chastain will go back (I think) to Spire Motorsports. There is no official entry list out yet.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR DARLINGTON RACEWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Denny Hamlin
- Kevin Harvick
Driver Group Game Group B
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kurt Busch
- Erik Jones
- Chris Buescher
Driver Group Game Group C
- Ty Dillon
- Cole Custer
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT DARLINGTON RACEWAY
- Denny Hamlin
- Kevin Harvick
- Kyle Busch
- Joey Logano
- Jimmie Johnson
Dark Horse: Matt Kenseth
Stay Away From: Alex Bowman
Big 18: Denny Hamlin