Welcome back Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest players! It’s been a long two months and I hope you haven’t lost that desire to play Fantasy NASCAR because of it. These are some unprecedented times and I appreciate your patience as we navigate through them.

As you probably know, NASCAR has decided to return to action with a slew of races in the next couple of weeks–Darlington on Sunday, then Darlington again Wednesday night, then Charlotte on May 24, then Charlotte again the Wednesday after that. All of these are points-paying races and will be counted in the Slingshot game. Unfortunately, we don’t have any practice for these two races at Darlington, so we’re all kind of going in blind. Personally, I’ll be relying on track history to make my picks as well as overall game strategy.

Brad Keselowski “won” the pole (via random draw) for Sunday’s race and will have Alex Bowman joining him on the front row to start The Real Heroes 400. You can click here for the full starting lineup.

*Please note: the picks and suggestions below are my opinions and strategy for the Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest. These are not meant to sway your thinking in any way, but rather give you insight into the drivers I am most likely to pick on race day.*

Slingshot Fantasy Auto Contest Picks for Darlington Sunday Afternoon

Martin Truex, Jr. standing tall at Phoenix Raceway
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Joey Logano ($11,900) – I’m pretty high on Joey Logano this weekend, and Penske as a whole for that matter. You probably already know that if you read my Betting Picks article for Sunday, and if you didn’t, you can click here to do so. The #22 Ford will roll off the grid from 9th for The Real Heroes 400 but there’s no reason why Logano shouldn’t be a top 5 threat this weekend. He’s never won at Darlington but he has three top 5s in the last five events here, and his new crew chief, Paul Wolfe, has experience in getting a driver to victory lane at this track as well. Joey has two wins on the season thus far, and I think he’ll be a contender once again on Sunday. He should pick up some Stage points as well.

Martin Truex, Jr. ($11,600) – I went back and forth quite a bit between Truex and his teammate, Denny Hamlin ($11,700), in this spot, but I think I’m going to roll the dice with the #19 Toyota here for a few reasons. First, Truex has been known to not deviate much from his initial setup for a race weekend, which having that experience is obviously an advantage this weekend with no track time before the race. Second, in my eyes, the #19 Toyota has been faster than the #11 Toyota this season, even though Truex hasn’t gotten the finishes. The third reason, and probably the biggest, is that Truex starts 15th while Hamlin starts 10th–more room to move up and get place differential fantasy points. Martin won here at Darlington back in 2016 and has four straight top 15s here, three of which were also top 10s.

Chase Elliott ($11,400) – I know it’s been a while since we’ve seen NASCAR Cup Series racing, but you can’t forget how fast those Hendrick Chevrolets were at the beginning of the year. Chase Elliott could probably have two wins already if it wasn’t for bad luck. This weekend, the #9 Chevrolet will roll off the grid from 11th but I expect Chase to not only grab some Stage points but also challenge for a top 5 finish when The Real Heroes 400 is all said and done. He finished 5th here at Darlington back in 2018 and has 10th- and 11th-place finishes to his credit here as well. Over the last four races at The Lady in Black, Elliott has an average running position of 10.1 (which is 9th-best in the series) and an average finish of 11.3.

Tyler Reddick ($8,100) – The rule at Darlington is to not pick rookies in Fantasy NASCAR. Well, with how crazy 2020 has been thus far, we might as well throw the rules out the window. Tyler Reddick has been ridiculously impressive in his #8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing this season, legitimately challenging for top 10s and even top 5s on a weekly basis. This will be the first time he races a Cup car at Darlington, but don’t forget that Tyler has finishes of 2nd and 3rd on his resumé here in the Xfinity Series. The best part? Reddick starts 29th on Sunday, which lowers the possibility of him having a really bad Slingshot score, while opening up the opportunity for him being a goldmine in this game thanks to the place differential points.

John Hunter Nemechek ($6,800) – Rounding out my five-driver Slingshot lineup for the first Darlington race is a safe and cheap pick in John Hunter Nemechek. Ever since John Hunter has been driving a Cup Series car, he’s proved to be a pretty reliable mid-20s finisher, and this weekend he will be starting from back in 34th. I’ll take that upside. Again, we’re dealing with another rookie here, but the other option down here is Daniel Suarez ($6,300), who starts back in 37th. However, Darlington is a skill race track and…well…you probably know what I think about Suarez’s racing skill.

Alternate Roster Considerations

One of the chalk picks this weekend is Ty Dillon ($7,200), who starts 33rd and has a great track record at Darlington, with finishes of 20th, 21st, and 13th in his three Cup Series starts here. With my lineup, I wasn’t able to make his salary work, but if you wanted to, you could pivot off of Chase Elliott down to Erik Jones ($11,200)–who won the Southern 500 here at Darlington last year and starts 20th–or even pivot off of Logano down to Denny Hamlin. With that being said, I don’t trust Joe Gibbs Racing enough to make those moves, so unless I have a major change of mind by race day, I’ll be sticking with the five drivers above. Good luck!

As someone who has always been obsessed with numbers, Fantasy NASCAR has been the perfect fit with me. I pride myself on the quality of my analysis for each race, and am glad that I have been able to help others along the way. I've been a serious Fantasy NASCAR player for over 10 years now, and I'm just getting started.