Thursday, August 30, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington


By Carol D'Agostino
Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last five races):
Kevin Harvick- 5
All with 4 - Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman
Both with 3 - Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr.

Driver Rating - Top 10
Since 2015 - Factors in Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps and Lead-Lap Finish. A driver can score a maximum driver rating of 150 points per race. Updated Prior to the 2018 race.
SOURCE: MRN.com

Rank
Driver
High Rating
Avg. Rating
1
Denny Hamlin
137.6
110.3
2
Kyle Busch
138.6
105.1
3
Erik Jones
103.1
103.1
4
Jimmie Johnson
141.1
100.8
5
Kevin Harvick
148.9
100.4
6
Kyle Larson
111.1
100.2
7
Martin Truex Jr
125.9
98.8
8
Brad Keselowski
137.4
95.7
9
Matt Kenseth
125.6
93.4
10
Ryan Newman
118.2
93.1
Recent Pole Winners:  
2017 Kevin Harvick
2016 Rained Out
2015 Brad Keselowski

Last Year's Race Winner:  Denny Hamlin

The Likely Suspects: Successful fantasy picks at Darlington require surviving Darlington. These drivers are among my go-tos for Darlington: Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman,  Kyle Larson and Jimmie Johnson.

My 2 Cents: When doing your final picks this week remember that experience matters here. If you need to pick between a veteran and a rookie, go for the veteran. Darlington is challenging and the cars won't be looking too pretty at the end, but veteran drivers have a much better chance to make it to the end. My no-brainer pick this week is Kevin Harvick. My next picks are Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones, Ryan Newman and the Dillon brothers Austin and Ty. I'll round out my team with Chris Buescher and Alex Bowman.

My Final Four: Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman and Alex Bowman.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Erik Jones. For a non-veteran at Darlington, Jones is pretty stout here with a series-best average finish of five, having earned one Top 5 and one Top 10. He boasts an average running position of 9.757 which is third best in the series. Our last second-look driver (at Bristol) was William Byron. Despite earning an impressive fifth starting position, his car suffered a handling issue early on that he was never able to recover from. He finished the race in 23rd place.

Points to Ponder:
  • Kasey Kahne leads all active drivers in Busch poles at Darlington with four (2004, ‘05, ’06 and ’11). 
  • Ford leads the series in poles at Darlington with 42 poles; followed by Chevrolet (21).
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with three wins (2004 sweep, 2012).  
  •  Jimmie Johnson (three) and Denny Hamlin (two) are the only active multiple race winners. Only four other active drivers have won at Darlington – Martin Truex Jr. (2016), Kevin Harvick (2014), Matt Kenseth (2013) and Kyle Busch (2008).  
  •  Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins by an organization at Darlington in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with 14 victories.
  • A total of 11 different manufacturers have won in the series at Darlington; led by Chevrolet with 41 victories; followed by Ford (28).
  • The first starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other starting position at Darlington. The outside front row (second-place) has produced the second-most wins (17).   
  • Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in second-place finishes at Darlington with three; followed by Kevin Harvick with two.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in top fives with nine; followed by Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman with seven each. 
  • Ryan Newman leads all active series drivers with 13 top 10s; followed by Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson with 12 each.
  • Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Darlington with a 5.833 (12 starts).
  • Two active series drivers have an average finish inside the top-10 at Darlington: Denny Hamlin (5.8) and Kyle Larson (8.7).
    Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 8 a.m. EDT on Saturday, September 1st, and your final picks by 6 p.m. EDT on race day Sunday, September 2nd.

    Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter at @purplecatpr.

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