Saturday, May 9, 2009

Fantasy NASCAR: Southern 500

The drivers take the track at Darlington tonight, one of the most historic tracks on the circuit. The close to 1.5-mile track is almost 60 years old and has a long standing history known as the "Track Too Tough To Tame" The race resumes with the "Southern 500" title after many people thought it was offensive and the race was changed to the "Dodge Charger 500" for the past few races.

Dating back to 2000, this track has seen 10 different winners in the previous 14 races. Names of those winners include Terry Labonte, Ricky Craven, and Ward Burton, popular names in the 90s but faded towards the end of their careers in the early 2000s but still had the experience to win at Darlington.

Experience is a key factor at this track which is why when you look at the stats for this track, you will find a copious amount of veteran drivers with the most top-10 finishes over the past 10 races. There is something about this track that can at times, give young drivers fits (with the exception to Kyle Busch's win last year). Here's how I see it going down tonight.

I'll prep you for one of the closest NASCAR finishes in history.

1- Jeff Burton: I wanted to go with a different Jeff (Gordon) for this spot but I feel that Burton will have a better night. Burton won back-to-back in 1999 here and had the second fastest practice time on Saturday. Burton has 16 career wins at tracks of this size and has the experience I spoke about in order to win here. The last seven winners at Darlington have started 11th or better and Burton starts 6th. He is my pick to win.
2- Tony Stewart: Stewart has never won at this track in the Sprint Cup Series but when a driver is hot, you stay with them no matter what. In fact, he has only led 8 laps here in his career. He has completed 98% of the laps run here over the past 10 years and that number would be higher if he didn't crash 10 races ago. 14 of his career 33 wins have come on tracks 1-2 miles long. I think he gets his first victory, or at least another top-5 tonight.

3- Greg Biffle: Biffle has been quiet of late and is slowly slipping out of the top-12 in points. Biffle has two wins here in just eight races and starts 11th. He won back-to-back in 2005-06 and looks to return to the winner's circle tonight.

4- Mark Martin: Just announced that he will race a full schedule next year and can you blame the 50-year old who sits 15th in the points standings? Martin has 5 top-10 finishes this year, good for a tie for 5th best this year. Martin is familiar with this track and has 5 top-10 finishes in his last 10 races here. I expect more good things from him.

5- Jimmie Johnson: I'll tell you the bad first. Johnson starts 42 for tonight's race which gives him an up hill battle to the finish line. The good news is that since 2000, three drivers have won this race since starting 30th or worse. Johnson won back-to-back in both races here in 2004 and there is nothing I don't believe that this team can't do. This team will find a way to be in contention all night long.

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Chris said...

I'll pat myself on the back for this performance this weekend. Nice win for Mark Martin.