NASCAR Finish Line: Analyzing best Group 2 plays for both Darlington races


NASCAR Finish Line is back in action starting with Sunday’s race at Darlington Raceway. Who is the best Group 2 pick to make in each race?

NASCAR Finish Line, a free-to-play gaming app from Penn National Gaming, is back with the resumption of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season. Each week, there will be six groups of five drivers for the upcoming race. Users will predict which driver will finish first among each of the six groups and then the overall race winner and second-place finisher for a chance to win $25,000 if all eight scenarios are correctly selected.

RELATED: Download NASCAR Finish Line

The second of six groups for Sunday’s (May 17) 293-lap race at Darlington Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX/FOX Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) consists of Chase Elliott, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin. All but Elliott and Busch have a victory at the 1.366-mile South Carolina track.

The group remains the same for Wednesday’s (May 20) 228-lap race at Darlington (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1/FOX Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) except Brad Keselowski takes Elliott’s spot meaning that Busch is the lone driver in Group 2 for the weeknight race without a win at Darlington.

RELATED: Stage lengths for NASCAR’s first races back

For a stats look, NASCAR.com has compiled the results of the last three races at Darlington, the career average finish for each driver at Darlington and the 2020 results on intermediate tracks (the drivers’ average finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway) to see who is the best play to make in Group 2. We have included all Group 2 drivers (for both races) to help you prepare for both events.

A point system has been assigned to each year, starting with one point for the best finisher and counting up to six points for the worst finisher. Those numbers were then added up. The lowest total signifies the strongest driver (green), and the highest total represents the weakest driver (red) — in recent years.

Driver Last 2 Darlington races‘1 Career Darlington
avg. finish
2020 Las Vegas
2020 Auto Club
Total
Kurt Busch Avg. finish: 6.5 (3) Avg. finish: 16.5 (5) Finished 25th (5) Finished 3rd (1) 14
Chase Elliott* Avg. finish: 12.0 (4) Avg. finish: 17.2 (6) Finished 26th (6) Finished 4th (2) 18
Denny Hamlin Avg. finish: 19.5 (6) Avg. finish: 7.8 (2) Finished 17th (2) Finished 6th (4) 14
Erik Jones Avg. finish: 4.5 (2) Avg. finish: 4.7 (1) Finished 23rd (4) Finished 10th (5) 12
Martin Truex Jr. Avg. finish: 13.0 (5) Avg. finish: 11.6 (4) Finished 20th (3) Finished 14th (6) 18
Brad Keselowski* Avg. finish: 3.0 (1) Avg. finish: 10.7 (3) Finished 7th (1) Finished 5th (3) 8

*Means Elliott is in Group 2 for Sunday’s race only; Keselowski is in Group 2 for Wednesday’s race only.

Elliott has the best spot in the standings among the group, but interestingly enough, he ranks toward the bottom when factoring in all the above categories. Jones has the advantage for Group 2 in Sunday’s race based on the strength of his Darlington stats. His 2020 results have been up and down, but with Elliott and Truex in this group, Jones may be an overlooked choice that others won’t make. If you value Darlington stats more, Jones is the pick to make. If you value the 2020 season stats so far a bit more, Elliott would make for the better option.

For Wednesday’s race, Keselowski is the overwhelming pick for Group 2 with the best mix of Darlington stats and intermediate results so far in the 2020 season.