Darlington Fantasy Preview

By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)

Hello there everyone if you’re like me you have long ago given in to the Fantasy Sports craze. You put a great deal of thought and effort, to build your team just like you really owned a race team in real life. However finding information on who to select each week is very difficult, but welcome to the first edition of a new weekly series. Each week I will be breaking down past trends by drivers at each race track, and steer you in the right direction. I will also each week provide you with my actual team of drivers I will be using in my fantasy league.

This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series goes to one of it’s most unpredictable, and hardest tracks to drive… Darlington Raceway. At Darlington you try to survive more than anything else, that being said some drivers have had better success at surviving than others over the years.

Start ‘Em At Will:

  • Jeff Gordon has seven career victories at Darlington, which is the most among active drivers, and with the way he is driving of late, you have to imagine that he’s bound to hit victory lane soon. He has led 599 laps this season, and at Darlington in his career he has led 1,610 laps (Nearly double the next highest active driver Bill Elliott, 980).
  • Jimmie Johnson has two career victories at Darlington, and just because he hasn’t won since the inception of the spoiler, doesn’t mean he is irrelevant in Fantasy NASCAR. Johnson has the highest career average finish at Darlington among active drivers at 6.9. Not only that, but he is a virtual lock for a top-ten, as he has finished in the top-ten nine times in his 11 career starts at the track “Too Tough To Tame”.
  • Jeff Burton, just like Jeff Gordon, has been extremely competitive as of late. He goes into Darlington with momentum, and he is actually my pick to win this weekend. He has two career victories at Darlington, and he is looking to snap a 51-race win-less streak. Expect Burton to be hungry this week.
  • Denny Hamlin is undoubtedly one of the hottest drivers on the circuit since the spoiler came into play, and I expect that trend to continue this weekend. In four career starts at Darlington Hamlin has a top-five and three top-tens. His average finish at “The Lady In Black” is an impressive 8.0.
  • Greg Biffle has been without a question the best car at Roush-Fenway Racing this season, and he comes to a track where he has two previous victories. Biffle is tied for the league lead in top-tens for 2010 at seven, expect him to carry the Ford banner this weekend.
  • Mark Martin is an extremely clean race car driver, and that is why Darlington suits him so well. He doesn’t overdrive his car, he is patient enough for it to come to him. Martin won this race last season, and he has two career victories at Darlington. Also despite his sluggish start to 2010, he has found a way to sit sixth in the point standings.
  • Martin Truex Jr. is clawing into chase contention. After a slow start he has moved to 14th in the overall point standings, and he is real sporty at Darlington. In four career starts here he only has one top-ten, but he’s never far from the front. His career average finish at Darlington is an 11.2.
  • Brad Keselowski is an intriguing pick. Keselowski only has one career start at Darlington, but it ended in an eighth-place finish. His feud with Carl Edwards has seemingly cooled off, so I think it’s safe to start Keselowski this week.
  • Joey Logano has gotten better at each track he has visited the second time around… Well in his only career start at Darlington Logano finished ninth. If Logano can avoid other people’s troubles, which has been the only reason he’s not in chase contention right now, he will have a great run.

Stay Away From ‘Em

  • Sam Hornish Jr. is a driver that you absolutely should stay away from at Darlington. In two career starts his best finish here is a 30th-place in 2009. Hornish is only ahead of Max Papis, Norm Benning, and Jeff Fuller as far as career average finish is concerned at Darlington.
  • Marcos Ambrose has only one career start at Darlington, and he came away with a 33rd place finish. So until I see further data on Ambrose I cannot suggest anyone to start him at this tricky race track.
  • Casey Mears is not only not for sure in the race just yet, as he is a go-or-go-home driver, but he also has been terrible at Darlington in his career. Considering that he is in far less superior equipment that he has been in for his entire career tells me that he will finish lower than his average finish of 30.2 at Darlington.
  • Brian VickersDavid Reutimann, and A.J. Allmendinger are also guys to stay away from this week. Not only do each of them have career average finishes lower than 25th-place, but between the three of them they have only combined to lead one lap at Darlington.

I participate in ESPN’s Stock Car Challenge Fantasy League, so I get three drivers from Category A, and two drivers from Category B. Now here is my actual fantasy team lineup for Darlington:

  • A1: Jimmie Johnson
  • A2: Jeff Gordon
  • A3: Mark Martin
  • B1: Jeff Burton
  • B2: Martin Truex Jr.

Author: Toby Christie

Toby is the Editor of TheFinalLap.com and Social Media Director of all things @TheFinalLap. He is the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly radio show and podcast, and he is the writer and co-host of the Racing Legends podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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