You’d need to go back to October of 2020 to find the last occasion in which Kyle Busch won a race. However, he couldn’t have picked a better time to tie the record for second-most years with at least one win (doing it on his 36th birthday). Now with 58 Cup wins, Busch sits tied for ninth with current driver Kevin Harvick.
It would come at the expense of Kyle Larson, who looked to be in control of the race until a pair of crashes late compromised his starting position. A bad restart with three laps remaining that involved Ryan Blaney wiped out any opportunity at a potential victory, however. Larson would finish a disappointing 19th. We leave behind Kansas and head 15 hours east to Darlington.
Looking at the track specs for Darlington Raceway, it is a 1.3 mile, egg-shaped track. Dubbed the Lady in the Black, this track has one of the roughest race surfaces on the schedule. Couple the rough surface with drivers continuously making contact with the wall at Darlington (problems are going to arise in terms of major tire wear and handling issues.) Keeping this in mind, pit crews will be leaned upon heavily.
This week, the Money Train delves into the DFS options for Sunday’s Cup Series event in Darlington. I’ve broken down the selections between high salary, mid-range, and value play. Included are player salaries from both FanDuel and DraftKings. Best of luck to everyone with their lineups this weekend.
Kyle Larson (13,000 FD | 11,400 DK)
As stated previously, Larson ran a great race at Kansas until late-race circumstances intervened. Although the last three races have been a letdown in terms of finishing. He continues to rank among the top drivers in numerous statistical categories regardless. In his prior two Darlington meets, Larson has finished third, and second respectively. Having already taken two big bites at the apple, could the third time be the charm?
Even with a 14th place starting position, I still believe Larson can offer solid value in all categories. In the last four Darlington races, Larson has accumulated at least 40 or more laps led in each of them. In back-to-back events combined for 412 laps (128 and 284 respectively). Consider buying at least a few shares, regardless of his recent struggles. You don’t want to be kicking yourself if he carves up the field on Sunday.
Denny Hamlin (14,000 FD | 10,600 DK)
The hiccup was bound to occur at some stage. However, to his credit, Hamlin was able to rack up solid points days in both instances. With Busch’s win last week, it now leaves Hamlin as the only Gibbs driver still not to have gone to victory lane this season. No matter which track we’ve visited this season he has continued to press (don’t expect there to be a real change this weekend at the “Lady in Black”).
He does have three wins here at Darlington, which includes the victory last Spring. Starting on the fourth row on Sunday, Hamlin will again be challenging for numerous laps. Already he’s led 744 laps this season, which dominates the cup series. Consider the next closest driver sits second with 511, so over a 230 lap margin. Over the last three visits here, Hamlin has an average driver rating of 109.
Erik Jones (7,300 FD | 8,200 DK)
With just the one top 10 result since Bristol, Jones is looking for any opportunity to break out of this current rut. This weekend might be his best chance, having never finished lower than eighth in his six cup visits to Darlington. Only Harvick has a better average finish in the last five Darlington races.
Even with a 26th place starting position, cracking that top 10 is certainly within reach (that’s if his most recent history is any indicator). Keep in mind Jones leapfrogged 26 other cars en route to a fourth-place outcome. While he has since left Gibbs for Petty, the quality of performance should not drop off too much. Expect Jones to be one of the most highly sought-after drivers on Sunday.
Aric Almirola (7,500 FD | 8,000 DK)
It was good to see Almirola secure his first top 10 of the season at Richmond a few weeks ago. He needs to get back to that kind of racing if he wants to dig himself out of the current points hole. Darlington is another track in which Almirola has run strong over the last two years. Following a seventh-place outcome here last May, Almirola added a ninth-place run at Darlington just four months later.
In his last five-track attempts, he’s finished outside of the top 14 just once. With a 27th place starting position, it leaves a lot of place differential value. After leaving owners high and dry last race, this is an opportunity for Almirola to repay the disillusioned. I would consider taking a flier on the Stewart-Haas wheelman.
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