It’s another exciting and historic weekend in NASCAR as drivers will honor the sport’s legends with throwback paint schemes at the Darlington Raceway for the Goodyear 400. Drivers will attempt to survive 293 laps around the “track too tough to tame.” Many will leave the Lady in Black sporting her signature stripe. Only one can win the day. Luckily, you don’t have to worry about fending off thousands of other contestants this week to win money in your Monkey Knife Fight contests. It’s you against your predictive skills, just the way it should be.
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Here are some of my favorite plays from this week’s contests. Scoring in these contests is based on finishing positions inside the Top 20 with 20 points awarded to first place. An additional 0.1 points are tacked on for each lap led. Below are some picks to help you get started in your MKF contests.
Goodyear 400 Monkey Knife Fight Picks
More Or Less
Kyle Larson More Than 18.5 Fantasy Points
Last weekend, Kyle Larson annihilated this prop in Kansas. He led 132 laps of the race and was the car to beat most of the day. While that may have been impressive enough, the fact that he started the race in 32nd place made it stand out even more. Were it not for a brush with Ryan Blaney on the second to last lap, Larson may have been enjoying victory lane instead of crossing the finish line in 19th place.
This Sunday, he’ll attempt to recapture that magic he had last week as he returns to a track on which he’s run extremely well. Larson has six career Cup starts at Darlington. In those starts, he has only once failed to finish outside of the top-10. What’s more, is he’s led 500 laps in that short span.
In each of his last four races here, he’s hit this prop. One of which came in 2016 when he started from the 16th spot and finished in 3rd place. This week, he’ll take the green flag from 14th place. He’s proven that he can make up track position not just here but in general. At the end of the Goodyear 400, expect Larson to have safely passed enough cars to hit this mark.
Kyle Busch Less Than 16.5 Fantasy Points
In probably the most fitting of any NASCAR finish this season or any other, Kyle Busch took home the checkered flag at the Buschy McBusch Race last Sunday. It was also his 36th birthday. He grabbed the lead from Larson with 10 to go in the race and held on for the win. It was his first trip to victory lane in what has been a feast or famine season for the #18 car. It was his second win in as many days on the track as he took home the trophy at the truck race the night before.
Busch will try to keep that momentum rolling at Darlington. That might be difficult as he only has one win in his 18 career Cup starts here. What’s more, that win was back in 2008. What makes this even more difficult to achieve is that he’s only reached this prop in four out of his last ten attempts. He starts from the third position on Sunday, but it’s not likely that he’ll hang on to it or advance it by the end of the race. You may get a top-10 performance from him when it’s all said and done. That said, it won’t be a high enough finish to hit the mark.
Kevin Harvick More Fantasy Points Than Brad Keselowski (+1.5)
This Sunday, Brad Keselowski will lead the field when the green flag drops on the Goodyear 400. It’s a right he earned by way of the number-crunching qualifying formula used to set the field again this week. His third place finish at Kansas and his win in Talladega secured him his second pole of the season. The superspeedway victory snapped a disappointing four-race stretch for the driver of the #2 car. His history at Darlington is not entirely a bad one. In 14 Cup starts here, he does have seven top-10 finishes and one win. In fact, if he were paired up against any other driver on this track, you would likely benefit from taking him and the bonus points. But he’s not going up against just anyone this week; he’s facing the one driver that will beat him in this prop.
That driver is Kevin Harvick. While his season has been a wild ride up to this point, he’s put together a solid last two runs. Last week, he weaved his way through a real-life game of bumper cars on the last restart of the race to finish in second place. He did the same thing the week before in Talladega to secure a fourth place finish. Luck may finally be on Harvick’s side, and it couldn’t have happened at a better track for him. He’s won two out of the last three here and has led the most laps over the last 11 races than any active driver. His front row start puts him in a powerful position to win this head-to-head matchup on the strength of leading laps alone, which he should easily do.
Joey Logano (+1.5) More Fantasy Points Than Chase Elliott
Everyone has their Achilles heel, that one thing that can turn even the most competent person into a rank amateur. For Chase Elliott, that one thing is the Darlington Raceway. Whatever the reason, the Lady in Black has Elliott’s number, and she’s not calling. He’s failed to finish twice in his eight Cup starts here. While he has two top-5 finishes in that span, he also has finishes of 19th and 20th. He’ll roll off the grid from the sixth position Sunday, but historically speaking, a good starting position doesn’t always mean a good ending position. Last fall, he sat on the pole, but at the end of the Cook Out Southern 500, he was in 20th place. Even if he manages one of his rare top-10 finishes, he’ll be hard-pressed to beat out his paired driver.
In five out of the last eight races Joey Logano has run at Darlington, he has scored a top-10 finish. Four of those have been inside the top-5. His disastrous day at Talladega left him fighting from the back of the pack the following week in Kansas. He was never quite able to find what he needed to get up front. What he did do was turn a 29th place start into a 17th place finish. He’ll enjoy a more respectable 12th place start this week. That should put him in a more favorable situation to move past Elliott, who starts in sixth. Giving Logano the cushion makes this bet all the better to cash at this week’s Goodyear 400.