On Sunday, NASCAR will be going retro at Darlington! It’s “Throwback Weekend”, and many teams will be rolling out blast from the past paint schemes (Check them out). Darlington is the perfect weekend for NASCAR to go old school. “The Track Too Tough To Tame” was built in 1950 and its the original speedway on the circuit. Darlington is a unique 1.366 mile egg shaped oval where tire wear is high. It’s a challenging track where the best of the best find victory lane.
In terms of variables I want in a driver at Darlington I want ….
- A great track record. Darlington is a “Skill Track” where a driver is a difference maker.
- I want a driver who’s been strong at high-tire wear tracks. Knowing how to manage tires will be key on Sunday (Total Speed Rankings at high-tire wear tracks since 2020).
- A driver who’s been clicking off good results in 2021 (Season to date Total Speed Rankings).
- At Darlington you want a driver who starts reasonably near the front, but take note the last eight races here have been won from a starting position between 6th to 15th. Here’s the STARTING LINEUP for Darlington.
This year at ifantasyrace.com we’re committed to writing about the full field every week. Find out what Super Low Tier drivers are the best of the best in ….. “TheSuper Low Tier- Darlington!”
Darlington Fantasy NASCAR Rankings
1) Martin Truex Jr. (Starting – 4th)
Darlington Fantasy Spin – Martin Truex Jr. is an elite performer at Darlington who should be on your short list of favorites. Last fall when the series raced at “The Track Too Tough To Tame”, Truex put on a display of domination and was the class of the field. Truex didn’t finish first, but there’s no doubt he had the best car. At high-tire wear tracks, Truex is one of the best in the business. Since 2020 at high-tire wear tracks his Total Speed Ranking is the 2nd best. One attribute you have to like about Truex is how well the #19 team is running. Their the only multi-time winners in 2021, and since Homestead minus Bristol Dirt and Talladega, his average finish is 4.4 and he’s only once finished outside the top 6. On Sunday, look for Truex to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
Darlington Track History – Martin Truex is a former Darlington winner (2016) who’s performed at a an extremely high-level. In 2020 over the combined Darlington races, Truex had the 2nd best driver rating, a 7.8 average running position but had a misleading 12.7 average finish. Last fall, Truex was the class of the field. In the race he won Stage #1, won Stage #2, led 196 laps, ran the most fastest laps (90) but finished a misleading 22nd. Late in the race, Truex was reeling in leader Chase Elliott, but as he was passing him they had contact which led to both of them slamming into the wall. That led to an unexpected pit stop for Truex which doomed him to his poor result. In terms of speed analytics from that event, Truex was the fastest driver early in a run, had the best green flag speed, the best Total Speed Ranking and was the 4th fastest driver late in a run (Speed Cheat Sheet). In Darlington #2 2020, Truex finished 2nd in Stage #1, 3rd in Stage #2, was the 2nd fastest driver late in a run, had a 6.7 average running position and finished 10th. In race #1 2020, Truex finished 3rd in Stage #2, 6th overall and ranked as the 6th “Fastest Driver Late In A Run.” In 2019, Truex finished an asterisk mark 15th. In that race he finished 9th in Stage #1, but then in Stage #2 near lap 175 while he was running around 5th he made an unexpected pit stop for a loose wheel which dropped him a lap down. In terms of speed late in a run, Truex ranked as the 5th fastest. In the three Darlington races prior to that, Truex had the best driver rating, a 5.8 average running position and a 6.7 average finish.
DraftKings $10,300/ FanDuel $13,500
2) Kyle Larson (Starting – 14th)
Darlington Fantasy Spin – Kyle Larson is an elite performer at Darlington who’ll be tough to beat. He’s a master at running the high-line, and at Darlington that’s the fast lane, especially in a day-time race. At “The Lady In Black”, Larson has come extremely close to victory lane in the past and in 3 of his last 4 races, he’s finished in the top 3. Over his six combined Darlington starts, Larson has a 6.7 average finish and only once has he finished outside the top ten. This year at the two high-tire wear venues visited, Larson has results of 2nd (Atlanta) and 4th (Homestead). At Atlanta, the most recent high-tire wear venue visited he led 269 laps and had the best Total Speed Ranking. On Sunday, look for Larson to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
Darlington Track History – Kyle Larson has performed at an extremely high-level at Darlington and over his last four races he has three results in the top 3 and a 5.5 average finish. In 2020, Larson obviously missed all three races. In fall 2019 in his most recent race, Larson finished 3rd in Stage #1, 5th in Stage #2, led 44 laps and finished 2nd. In fall 2018, Larson dominated, but poor restarts at the end cost him what looked like a certain victory. In the race he won Stage #1, won Stage #2, led 284 laps and then finished 2nd when the checkered flag waved. In 2017, Larson had his lone result outside the top ten and finished 14th, but take note in that race he led 124 laps! Larson’s three results prior to that are 3rd, 10th and 8th.
DraftKings $11,400/ FanDuel $13,000
3) Denny Hamlin (Starting – 7th)
Darlington Fantasy Spin – Denny Hamlin will be a factor at Darlington. At “The Lady In Black”, Hamlin’s a three-time winner and in 2020 he was the only driver not named Harvick who won there. Since 2015 at Darlington minus a misleading result in 2019, Hamlin’s average finish is 5.3., and that even underrates him since he had a slightly misleading result last fall. This year on the track, you have to love how well he’s performed on a weekly basis and on Sunday, look for Hamlin to finish in the top five and compete for the win.
Darlington Track History – Denny Hamlin has been an elite performer at Darlington. Last fall, Hamlin had a great car but finished an asterisk mark 13th. In the race, Hamlin finished 4th in Stage #1, 2nd in Stage #2, led 19 laps and had a 5.1 average running position. “Performance Wise”, Hamlin looked top five good, but during a round of green flag pit stops around lap 307 he messed up on entry to pit road which led to a long slow lap around this egg shaped oval. That mistake dropped him from 3rd to about the mid-teens. In Darlington #2 2020, Hamlin raced his way to victory lane from the 16th place starting position. Additionally, Hamlin led 12 laps, had a 9.1 average running position, finished 8th in Stage #1 and 7th in Stage #2. In race #1 last spring, Hamlin finished 5th, had a 5.9 average running position, finished 2nd in Stage #1 and 9th in Stage #2. In 2019, Hamlin had a great car but finished an asterisk mark 29th. In the race he finished 5th in Stage #1, 3rd in Stage #2 but then in the final Stage around lap 275 while he was running in 4th he crashed. In the four races prior to that, Hamlin had results of 10th, 1st, 4th and 3rd.
DraftKings $10,600/ FanDuel $14,000