This week at Darlington not only brings on a challenge of an inverted top 20 from Sundays results but we are also battling weather. The Xfinity race on Tuesday got ppd until Thursday at noon. Looking at the weather for Wednesday doesn’t give anyone that warm fuzzy feeling inside. Provisions have already been made in case there is more rain to move the race to Thursday night. Now that we have covered Mother Nature, lets talk about Wednesdays Cup Series race. The starting order was determined by the results from Sundays race. The top 20 was inverted so Sunday’s winner Kevin Harvick will be starting 20th and the front row will be Ryan Preece and Ty Dillon. This poses some unique oppurtunities in constructing lineups. There are also some prime place differential targets who should be staples in your cash lineups.
Jimmie Johnson (DK $9,100 FD $10,000)
Since we knew how the starting lineup was going to set up for this race, when Jimmie wrecked everyone in the industry had the same thought go through their head, “Oh great, Jimmie Johnson chalk”. Last season it would have been cringeworthy having to put him into your cash lineup. However, whether its the idea of retirement on the horizon or the changes to the Chevy, Jimmie seems to have new life. All HMS cars have shown speed this year and Jimmie was great on Sunday until he felt the need to try to get around Buescher at the end of stage 1 well leading. That accident put him out of the race and into the 37th starting position Wednesday. Great place differential upside and if trends stay true, Jimmie will work his way through the field and into the top 10.
William Byron (DK $8,900 FD $9,000)
Before the end of Stage 1 on Sunday it was the HMS show. Jimmie, Byron and Bowman were dominating the second half of the stage. Then things took a crazy turn, first with Jimmies accident then Byron with an issue that put him into the wall and out of contention for the win. Byron finished 34th on Sunday and thats where he will start on Wednesday. Like Jimmie, I expect Byron to march up through the field and contend for a top 5, top 10 finish. With the tremedous upside potential, he is another staple in your cash lineup.
Kurt Busch (DK $8,700 FD $9,400)
Went to the Kurt Busch well on Sunday and it worked great. He finished third and now starts 18th. The difference between taking Kurt over Harvick or Bowman is the price. Harvick is 11.6k and Bowman is 10k well Kurt is $8,700. That difference in price gives you extra lineup flexibility plus he has some built in place differential once again. Kurt has great track history and has shown how well he can do at a track like Darlington.
Clint Bowyer (DK $7,300 FD $8,400)
Since they inverted the top 20 we have a front row that consists of Ryan Preece and Ty Dillon. I don’t see either of these guys leading a long run here to start the race. If you look at row two, you’ll find Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer. These are two drivers I can see leading up to the competition caution. At $7300, if Clint can find the front and lead a good chunk of laps to start the race we have found ourselves a cheap dominator. Clint had speed and was in the top 10 most of the day until a bad pit stop turned what was a great day into a great starting postion for him on Wednesday. Clint is teammates with Harvick so you have to believe that the Stewart Haas teams have all talked about the adjustments Harvick made to have such a dominating car.
Denny Hamlin (DK $10,700 FD $12,500)
I think you could easily go back to Kevin Harvick or Alex Bowman for Wednesdays Cup race. They both had great cars and looked dominant most of the race. However if you look at their overall speed, Hamlin was right behind them on Sunday. I could see Hamlin getting overlooked on Wednesday with people paying a little more or a little less to get the previously mention Harvick and Bowman. Hamlin is a great tournament pivot of those two. In his last 6 races here, Hamlin has finished outside of the top 10 only once and those finishes include one win and four top five finishes.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr (DK $7,900 FD $6,400)
If there was a way to show how not to start a race after a layoff, Ricky showed it on Sunday. On the first lap coming off turn two, Ricky tried going four wide and spun into the inside wall ending his day before it ever really started. Ricky is as safe as a cash play as you are going to get Wednesday. Never thought I’d hear those words come out of my mouth. He has the highest floor, starting last, and if he can keep it out of the wall, Ricky has shown the ability to be a top 15, top 20 car at Darlington over his career.
Any questions, message Dave on twitter @davidjr831 and lets hope Mother Nature gives us a little break on Wednesday so we can get some mid week racing in.