This week’s race takes place at Darlington Raceway, also known as “The Track Too Tough to Tame.” Wrecks and tire issues are common at this 1.366-mile Egg-shaped Oval, therefore picking drivers that start further back will not be a bad idea as they will take advantage of Place Differential opportunities.
Note that the following initial rankings are based on a combination of a driver’s projected performance and their DraftKings price.
1: Martin Truex Jr. ($10,700 on DraftKings) – Truex is the defending race winner and has been a threat to win regardless of track type. He has finished 12th or better in five of the last six Darlington races.
2: Kyle Larson ($10,300) – Larson has three Top 10 finishes in three starts at Darlington and has finished in the Top 10 in the last two weeks.
3: Denny Hamlin ($9,900) – Darlington is one of Hamlin’s best tracks statistically. In 11 starts at the site, Hamlin has one win and nine Top 10 finishes. His worst finish at the site is 19th and his Average Finishing Position of 6.3 ranks first among active drivers.
4: Kyle Busch ($10,600) – He has been one of the best drivers this season with the second-best Average Running Position of 9.0, the second-most Fastest Laps at 704, and the third-most Laps in the Top 15 at 5,388 in 2017. Kyle Busch has finished 11th or better in his last seven Darlington starts.
5: Kevin Harvick ($9,700) – He has been strong at the site since joining Stewart Haas Racing in 2014. Harvick has the best AFP of 2.7 in the last three Darlington races and has led the most Laps in two of the last three.
6: Brad Keselowski ($9,200) – He has finished in the Top 10 in the last two Darlington races and has the seventh-best Driver Rating of 95.5 in eight starts at the site.
7: Matt Kenseth ($9,500) – Kenseth has four Top 6 finishes in the last five Darlington races. He has recent momentum from five Top 9 finishes in the last six races in 2017.
8: Erik Jones ($8,800) – Jones has never raced at Darlington, but he’s been hot with three consecutive Top 10 finishes in the last three races this season. That includes finishes of third and second at Michigan and Bristol.
9: Ryan Newman ($8,100) – Newman has the fifth-best AFP of active drivers at Darlington, 11.9 in 18 starts. He has finished 13th or better in his last four starts at the site.
10: Jamie McMurray ($8,500) – He has finished 16th or better in his last four Darlington starts. McMurray has 12 Top 10 finishes this season, which is eighth of all drivers.
11: Chase Elliott ($9,300) – Elliott has one Top 10 finish in two starts at Darlington, but he has the sixth-best ARP of 12.1 of all drivers this season.
12: Clint Bowyer ($8,400) – Bowyer has finished with a positive PD in his last five Darlington starts, including three Top 15 finishes.
There are a few other drivers to watch in this week’s race. Austin Dillon ($7,400) has never finished with a negative PD in three starts at Darlington. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ($7,300) has finished in the Top 20 in the last four races in 2017, as well as scoring three Top 20 finishes in four starts at the site. Ty Dillon ($6,800) will be making his Darlington debut, but has five Top 20 finishes in the last six races this season. Chris Buescher ($6,600) started 31st and finished 17th in his only Darlington start. He has 12 Top 20 finishes this season. In two starts at Darlington, Matt DiBenedetto ($5,700) has never finished with a negative PD. His best finish at the site is 25th and his worst finish is 26th.
Check out my post-practices and qualifying article on DailyRoto.com for more coverage and picks later this week and follow me on Twitter @seanman247.