Monday, 20 January 2020

Fantasy Update: Darlington last-minute lineup advice – NASCAR

Fantasy Update: Darlington last-minute lineup advice – NASCAR
13 Jan

William Byron is on the pole for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 (6 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Do the young Hendrick Motorsports driver and his “Days of Thunder” ride merit a spot in your Fantasy Live lineup? We’ve dissected the numbers to offer a suggested lineup worthy of your Fantasy Live consideration.

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RJ Kraft’s Fantasy Live lineup for race day at Darlington:
1. Brad Keselowski
2. Kyle Larson
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Joey Logano
Garage: Martin Truex Jr.

RELATED: Odds for Darlington | Lap averages | Weekend preview

Analysis: We have two races left in the Fantasy Live regular season and by and large, it’s time to let the big dogs loose.

Keselowski, Larson, Hamlin and Harvick are my absolute must-haves for this weekend. All four have been very strong at Darlington over the past five years — all but Larson have wins there — and their lap averages were among the top six in final practice. So we are not going to overthink this. They are all in the lineup.

I am putting Logano in the lineup over Truex. Logano will line up seventh while Truex will start 22nd. The starting position itself doesn’t give me pause as much as the Team Penske driver being better on longer runs (20- and 25-lap averages) in final practice. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver had a sharper fall off on the lap averages over the longer runs. Tire management is going to be crucial in this race. I also like Logano’s recent history at Darlington, despite his string of subpar results in recent 2019 races.

For the garage, I debated Truex, Byron and Kyle Busch. I am out of Kurt Busch uses so he was not an option for me. If you are going by lap averages as your guide, it’s Kyle Busch here. Truex’s recent Darlington history makes him tempting, while Byron being on the pole puts him in prime position for stage points — something he has done in his previous races from the pole (at Charlotte and the June Pocono race). All week, I have been saying to prioritize the 367-lap race over next week’s 160-lapper at Indianapolis but Busch’s 33rd-place qualifying spot (and subsequent start from the rear due to an engine change)  has given me real pause on that especially with how good he is at Indianapolis. If all goes according to plan, this will be my final uses of Harvick and Hamlin, so that makes me feel a little better on holding the 18 back. In the end, I am ultimately putting my faith in Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn’s ability to master day-to-night races as well as better lap averages than Byron.

For the bonus picks, I have Larson in Stage 1, Keselowski in Stage 2 and Hamlin for the win.

Each week in this space, we’ll also highlight two Props Challenge items for players.

MORE: Need Props help? The Action Network has you covered | Play the Props Challenge today

1. O/U 4.5 drivers score at least 40 race points. In the 2018 race, five drivers scored at least 40 points. In the 2017 race, four drivers scored at least 40 points — Hamlin’s disqualified win dropped that down to three after a points penalty. This line is right on the money. I am going with the UNDER because I think drivers starting outside the top 12 like Truex, Kyle Busch and Erik Jones will be factors in the final stage but will not gain as much in the way of stage points.

2. Will the polesitter lead O/U 100.5 laps? Taking the UNDER here for three reasons. Byron has never led 100 laps in a race thus far despite winning three poles already this season. He had a pretty sharp drop down the lap averages board past the 5-lap averages. I also expect Keselowski and Larson to be in the lead pretty early into the opening run.



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