NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Darlington

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last four races):

Both with 4 - Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick
All with 3 - Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Kurt Busch

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.

RankDriverHigh RatingAvg. Rating
1Denny Hamlin137.6109.0
2Kyle Larson139.5108.1
3Erik Jones108.3105.7
4Kyle Busch138.6104.5
5Kevin Harvick148.9100.9
6Martin Truex Jr125.9100.1
7Brad Keselowski137.498.1
8Jimmie Johnson141.197.6
9Ryan Newman118.292.0
10Joey Logano121.589.7

Recent Pole Winners:  
2018 Denny Hamlin
2017 Kevin Harvick

Last Year's Race Winner:  Brad Keselowski

The Likely Suspects: Darlington isn't nicknamed "Too Tough to Tame" for nothing, but these elite drivers know how to cozy up to the Lady in Black without totally losing control: Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, and Ryan Newman.

My 2 Cents: Darlington isn't just about the throwback paint schemes, so think old school when it comes to making your final picks this week. The veterans know that at Darlington the most successful drivers race against the track more than their competitors. My no-brainer pick this week is Denny Hamlin. My next picks are Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson. I'll round out my team with Ty Dillon and Michael McDowell.

My Final Four: Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Ty Dillon.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Alex Bowman. Although Bowman is still looking to earn his first top-20 finish at Darlington, he's improved with each race start. He finished 24th here last year, which was his first time out driving the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, and he also has finishes of 29th (2014) and 24th (2015). It also doesn't hurt that Hendrick Motorsports has the most Cup wins here as an organization. That's one good notebook he'll have access to.

My last second-look driver at Bristol, Denny Hamlin, not only won the race, but also apologized for ruining the almost Cinderella story for Matt DiBenedetto, who finished second but led the most laps with 93. Hamlin started on the pole and led 79 laps. The win was his fourth this season.

Points to Ponder:
  • Kurt Busch (2001, 2013) and Kevin Harvick (2014, 2017) lead all active drivers in Busch poles at Darlington with two each.
  • 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 at Darlington.
  • Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins by an organization at Darlington in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with 14 victories
  • 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, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman with seven each. 
  • Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in the MENCS in average finishing position at Darlington with a 6.154 in 13 starts.
  • Kyle Busch leads all active drivers in laps led at Darlington with 598 laps led in 14 starts.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 8 a.m. EST on Sat., Aug. 31st, and your final picks by 6 p.m. EST on race day Sun., Sept. 1st.

Enjoy the race!

Carol D’Agostino wields fantasy-racing superpowers. Each week, Carol researches statistics and combs through her personal racing notes to provide fans with fantasy racing advice in NASCAR Fantasy Fusion, a column she has written for Skirts & Scuffs since October 2011. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. This year she joins the NASCAR Expert Picks panel at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet. When she isn’t crunching numbers, you’ll find Carol in business meetings or hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat. 
NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Darlington NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Darlington Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Thursday, August 29, 2019 Rating: 5