Dale Money | May 15th, 2020
It’s been almost two full months since we had a real NASCAR race. The Pro Invitational Series did a suitable job of filling the hole left by the absence. However, I am very much looking forward to seeing real NASCAR events again and perhaps this can be a good first step towards getting major Sports back. As is to be expected, the races will all be empty-seat events. These next four races are to be split among Darlington and Charlotte, to keep the teams from traveling too far out of their home bases of North Carolina.
A couple of big driver changes have been made over the NASCAR hiatus, following Kyle Larson’s firing by team owner Chip Ganassi for a racial slur. Former Roush Fenway driver Matt Kenseth would be brought out of retirement in late April and hired on as the replacement for at least the end of this season. Kenseth and Ryan Newman were each granted a playoff waiver, this will allow for both drivers to compete for a Chase Spot.
So without further ado, let’s delve into the driver options for this upcoming race at Darlington Raceway. I’ve broken down the selections between high-salary drivers and value plays.
High Salary Drivers
Denny Hamlin (11,100 DK 12,500 FD)
Hamlin comes off a strong first-place finish last Saturday at virtual North Wilkesboro, in which he would need to bump leader Ross Chastain out of the way with nine laps left. One of the better drivers at Darlington over his career, Hamlin is second among current Cup drivers in wins and also second in average finish with 7.8. Not the most expensive among the high-salary drivers, Hamlin will be one of the names I would consider for a track such as Darlington. In 14 career races at the track, he has 11 top 10 results.
Brad Keselowski (10,400 DK 12,000 FD)
Keselowski has a reasonably priced tag this week among the more costly drivers, he could be a nice dark horse selection. He has finished top-five here in the last pair of races, with an average finish of 10.7. Keselowski will start on Pole for Sunday and should manage to earn you some useful bonus points through laps led. Especially, when you consider Keselowski has led laps in his past five races here at Darlington and 19 laps or more in each of the last two races.
Jimmie Johnson (8,300 DK 10,000 FD)
The all-time winner at Darlington among current drivers, Johnson also has the most top five’s and second most top 10’s. He’s run 21 races here with an average finish of 12.1, which is seventh-best among current drivers. You aren’t going to get the classic Johnson, however, you are getting a driver that can still challenge for top 15 place finishes. Which is what you are looking for in that bookend value play.
Matt Kenseth (7,900 DK 7,200 FD)
Seeing Kenseth in Larson’s old ride is certainly intriguing on its face, and I’ll be very interested to see what he can do. His recent history at Darlington has been solid, granted his last race was a 25th place result, however, the prior two races were six place finishes. Certainly a gamble pick, but one worth considering given Kenseth’s natural ability and the fact he will be in a Ganassi owned car.
Questions and comments?
Hit us up on the Socials:
Check out our Facebook Group where you can read and post articles at The Scorecrow
Reddit Group where everyone can post without fear of being banned at The Scorecrow
Follow Dale Money on Twitter @packerd_00
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images