We’ve finally made it to the playoffs after a year full of bewildering driver regression, progression, and flat-out randomness. This season has been entertaining, to say the least with so many different storylines and with a season full of Hendrick dominance, it never felt too stale.

Starting the playoffs with a crown jewel event is one of the best ways to get the hype train going. This race may not carry the same excitement into the weekend as it used to, but there have been some amazing finishes in recent memory. 

Martin Truex Jr. took the win earlier this year and has been favored by a lot of analysts heading into this weekend. However, I haven’t seen the same speed out of MTJ since then, so I’m not willing to call him my favorite.

Favorite: Kyle Larson

Larson finished second to Truex earlier this year, but he has the best average finish of any active driver at Darlington with 6th. Coming into the playoffs, we are currently sitting on what might be his longest dry spell of the season, but that’s not saying much.

All year long, Larson has been winning crown jewel events, even outside of NASCAR. Winning the Southern 500 seems like it fits perfectly in his 2021 storyline. Hendrick has been laying low since midseason, but playoff time is the perfect time to pick the pace back up.

Dark Horse: Tyler Reddick

Earlier this week I predicted Reddick to make it into the next round and that was mainly because of Darlington. I think that he has an amazing opportunity to get his first win and get a great jump to the playoffs. He currently averages 13.75 in his four starts and this was a track he had a strong underdog run going at last year.

Last year Austin Dillon made an amazing run to begin the playoffs that allowed him to advance to the next round, I could see Reddick having the same success. RCR has the resources to make a similar run this season and put all their efforts into Reddick and this race at Darlington.

Fantasy:

High-End Picks:

  1. Kyle Larson: $11,500
  2. Denny Hamlin: $9,500
  3. Kevin Harvick: $9,800
  4. Kyle Busch: $11,200
  5. Joey Logano: $10,100

Mid-Tier Picks:

  1. Tyler Reddick: $8,000
  2. Kurt Busch: $8,100
  3. Ryan Blaney: $8,500
  4. Alex Bowman: $8,900
  5. Austin Dillon: $8,300

Lower-End Picks:

  1. Chase Briscoe: $6,300
  2. Bubba Wallace: $6,000
  3. Michael McDowell: $6,400
  4. Ryan Preece: $6,600
  5. Erik Jones: $6,100

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