NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Goodyear 400 at Darlington

Wow! The Kansas finish was a close one. In fact, the closest finish in NASCAR Cup history as Kyle Larson beat Chris Buescher to the line. That one will sting for a while, unless of course Chris gets redemption this week at Darlington.
This Week's Pick Strategy: You can't go wrong loading your roster with drivers who love that high line like Kyle Larson and Tyler Reddick. I'm weighing more heavily toward Chevys than Fords, but I'll add in one or two Joe Gibbs Racing drivers as well.

Drivers with the Most Top 10s
By Race (2020 to 2023) 
Chase Elliott - 4
All with 3 - Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr.
All with 2 - Joey Logano, Tyler Reddick, William Byron, Justin Haley, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Erik Jones, and Chris Buescher
Drivers with Most Top 10s
By Track (Last nine races)

All with 5 -  Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, William Byron, Erik Jones, and Chase Elliott
All with 4 - Tyler Reddick, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Chris Buescher
All with 3 - Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman, and Bubba Wallace
Last Year's Pole Winner:  Martin Truex Jr.
Last Year's Race Winner:  William Byron

The Likely Suspects: My Darlington elites are are Martin Truex Jr., William Byron, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, Brad Keselowski,  Joey Logano, and Erik Jones

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer is a tie between the master of the high line, Kyle Larson, and Denny Hamlin. My next picks are Tyler Reddick, Brad Keselowski, Erik Jones, and Ross Chastain. I will complete my team with Justin Haley and Noah Gragson.

My Final Four: Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Tyler Reddick, and Noah Gragson

Second-Look Driver: This week's sleeper pick is Erik Jones. Erik will be behind the wheel of the No. 43 car for the first time in three weeks after suffering a compression fracture in a lower vertebra at Talladega last month. Darlington has been Erik's best track to date, earning two wins, five Top 5s and eight Top 10s for an average finish of 11.833, the fifth best finish among active drivers. Erik is approaching a milestone at Darlington. He currently stands at 827 laps led needing 173 to reach 1,000 laps led. Stay tuned.

Points to Ponder:
  • Joey Logano leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in poles at Darlington Raceway with two (2022 sweep).
  • The first starting position is the most prolific in the field, producing more winners (21) than any other at Darlington. The outside front row (second starting position) has produced the second-most wins (18). 
  • Chevrolet leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Darlington Raceway with 44 victories; followed by Ford. Toyota has made 10 trips to Victory Lane.
  • Denny Hamlin (2021, 2020, 2017, 2010) leads all active drivers in victories at Darlington with four as well as in second-place finishes with four (2007, 2012, 2013, 2022), Top 5s with 12, and in Top 10s with 16.
  • Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins by an organization at Darlington in the NASCAR Cup Series with 16 victories.
  • Denny Hamlin leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Darlington Raceway with an 8.435 in 23 starts. Hamlin leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers with 978 laps led in 23 starts at Darlington.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your initial picks by 10:20 a.m. on May 11th, and your final picks by 3 p.m. ET on race day Sunday, May 12th.

Carol D'Agostino has been playing Fantasy NASCAR for 17 years. She launched  NASCAR Fantasy Fusion for Skirts & Scuffs in October 2011. Each week, Carol pores through statistics and combs through her personal notebooks to arm fans with analysis and picking strategies that will leave their friends wondering how they got so smart. Carol also does race coverage for Skirts & Scuffs at Richmond Raceway and occasionally at her home track, Dover International Speedway. She is also part of the distinguished NASCAR Expert Picks panel at formerly called Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet.

When she isn’t wielding her fantasy-racing superpowers, you’ll find Carol hammering out a news release or creating a marketing strategy at a small niche public relations firm she founded called Purple Cat or executing downtown revitalization projects for a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Goodyear 400 at Darlington NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Goodyear 400 at Darlington Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Saturday, May 11, 2024 Rating: 5