Fantasy NASCAR: Bojangles' Southern 500 Driver Picks

BROOKLYN, MI - JUNE 12: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 12, 2016 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images )

BROOKLYN, MI - JUNE 12: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 12, 2016 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images )

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series travels to Darlington, South Carolina this week for the Bojangles Southern 500. The Sunday night race will be one of the best of the season as drivers try to jockey their way into a playoff position. Be sure to test your knowledge of NASCAR by competing in the Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing.

No track on the circuit quite like Darlington. It is known as "The Lady in Black" and "The Track Too Tough to Tame." No matter what you call it; this old track forces the drivers to be on the wheel for every lap. Drivers who lose their focus end up with the famous Darlington stripe.

The secret to winning at Darlington is making it to the checkered flag. The Southern 500 is always an attrition race. Drivers bang on the wall all night long and usually find their way to the garage. Experience goes a long way at this track. Some drivers have figured out how to tame The Lady in Black, while others will only want the race to end.

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When you look at the list of drivers who have had success at Darlington, most of them have been around for a while. Rookies usually do not fare well at this track so fantasy teams will want to select drivers who have had success at this track in the past. Here are the top 10 drivers in the last 10 races at Darlington…

Top 10 Drivers at Darington
Rank Driver Wins Average Finish Driver Ranking
1 Jeff Gordon 1 8.2 111.2
2 Denny Hamlin 1 6.5 107.8
3 Kyle Busch 1 13 105.2
4 Jimmie Johnson 1 9.7 104.4
5 Greg Biffle 2 13.3 102.9
6 Kasey Kahne 0 17 96.1
7 Kevin Harvick 1 15.3 95.9
8 Ryan Newman 0 11.5 94.2
9 Martin Truex Jr. 0 12.7 93.6
10 Carl Edwards 1 12 92.4

Track position will be important this week. The average starting position of the last 10 drivers to go to Victory Lane at Darlington is 9.1. The only driver to win the race from outside the top 15 is Regan Smith in 2011.

The best strategy this week is to select a mixture of top drivers who start up front and some who start in the middle of the field. The scoring system for Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing game rewards drivers who improve their position in the race more than the drivers who lead the most laps. It will be too risky to select a complete lineup of drivers who start in the back of the field Sunday night. Although bonus points are nice, the key to scoring high is to have drivers who finish up front. That is hard to do at Darlington when a driver qualifies outside the top 25.

Pick to Win

Kevin Harvick ($13,000) is one of the drivers who have figured out The Track Too Tough to Tame. Harvick has three consecutive top-five finishes at Darlington. He absolutely dominated the race in 2014. He won the pole and led 238 of the 374 laps on his way to Victory Lane. Harvick is on a hot streak right now. He has finished five of the last six races in the top six. The No. 4 car is my pick to win Sunday night.


Brad Keselowski ($12,100) will be looking to add one more win to his 2016 resume before the Chase begins and the Blue Deuce will have a good chance at taking the checkered flag Sunday night. Keselowski had the most dominate car in this race last year. He won the pole and led a series-high 196 of the 367 laps. Drivers must be mentally tough to win at Darlington. This is Keselowski's type of track.

Denny Hamlin ($9,900) should be the driver competing with Kevin Harvick for the win Sunday night. This is by far his best track. Hamlin has 10 career starts at Darlington and finished eight of them in the top 10. Hamlin's average starting position in 9.7 and his average finishing position is 6.5. It would not be surprising to see Hamlin visit Victory Lane at Darlington for the second time in his career.

Carl Edwards ($9,900) won this race last year and he will have a good chance at winning again Sunday night. Edwards has finished four of the last five races at the track in the top seven. The No. 19 car has consistently run up front this season. Edwards is one of the safest picks in the field this week.

Kyle Busch ($9,400) is quickly becoming a high risk, high reward driver. It seems as though he either finishes first or he finishes last. There is little in between with the No. 18 car. The "Good Kyle" should show up this week at Darlington. He has six consecutive top-11 finishes at the track. Busch will have his share of Darlington stripes Sunday night, but he should still be able to bring his car home in one piece.

Value Picks (Drivers under $9,000)

Greg Biffle ($8,400) is another veteran driver who runs well at Darlington. He has two wins, 718 laps led and six finishes in the top 10 at the track. The No. 16 team needs a win to make the Chase and this will be his best opportunity. Biffle is a good value pick at Darlington.

Clint Bowyer ($6,800) is not a driver that will win you your league this week, but if he qualifies outside the top 30 he will be a great value pick. Bowyer has finished three of his last four races at Darlington in the top 12. He has averaged eight positions gained in those races. This will be a good week to take a chance on the No. 15 car.

Jeff Gordon ($7,200) will be back in the No. 88 car this week. Gordon has the most wins in the field at Darlington. Actually he has twice as many (7) wins as the second-place driver on the list, Jimmie Johnson (3). Gordon will be the safest pick for fantasy teams. He has 23 finishes in the top 10 at The Track Too Tough to Tame. Gordon is the best value pick in the race Sunday night.

Here are my picks for the Bojangles 500 for Fox Sports Fantasy Auto Racing:

Driver 1: Kevin Harvick $13,000

Driver 2: Denny Hamlin $9,900

Driver 3: Carl Edwards $9,900

Driver 4: Kyle Busch $9,400

Driver 5: Jeff Gordon $7,200

FOX Fantasy Auto Resources

- Driver Owner Percentage

- Driver Salaries

And don't forget - prizes are on the line each race of the fantasy season! First, second and third place each win a prize. Plus, each race builds your point total for larger segment and season prizes.

*Stats from and career stats from Racing-Reference.Info

If you need any further advice with your team or want to see my updated picks after Happy Hour practice, look for me on Twitter (@MrFantasyNASCAR) or LIKE my Fantasy NASCAR Tips Page on Facebook.