After a wildly eventful race Friday night, we go right back to the grind to prepare for Saturday’s Crown Royal Purple Bag Project 200 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The Xfinity Series certainly isn’t short on races with long names, but either way this should be a good one. Kyle Busch wrecked early in Friday night’s race. Following that we saw Corey Heim and Rajah Caruth wreck in stage three. Tyler Ankrum even finished worse than where he started. So it was a great night to fade the chalk and if you did, then congratulations are in order. I wasn’t as fortunate but the beauty of this game is we can get it all back with the next race. Here are the top drivers and strategies for Saturday afternoon’s Xfinity Series race from Darlington Raceway!


Crown Royal Purple Bag Project 200 Lineup Picks

This opening section will be brief simply because we didn’t have practice or qualifying to dissect. We’re simply hoping these cars roll off the truck with the right setup. I’m anticipating some carnage and high variance. Because practice and qualifying were rained out on Friday, the lineup is set by the metric. So if you aren’t a full-time driver or in a full-time car, you’re not starting very far up front. William Byron and John Hunter Nemechek are going to be popular because of where they start. Figuring how to differentiate off them is where the fun begins.

But Saturday’s race goes green in the afternoon for the same race structure as last night’s race. The stages are broken up in 45-45-57 lap segments for 200 miles at Darlington. It’s an old surface and once again, tire management matters but these drivers will have more trouble racing against the track than the field.

With practice and qualifying cancelled we have an interesting situation where you could very well build lineups based solely on position differential. If doing 10+ lineups, sure you can play around with that thought process. However, do get exposure to a driver that can get dominator points and potentially separate themselves with a big 80-90 point score on DraftKings.

Top Price Core Plays

William Byron ($12,000; Starting P38)

Without qualifying, Byron has to start dead last. So he can’t get you any negative points and you expect him to move up easily in this 17-car for Hendrick Motorsports. It should have top five potential, but we can’t assume anything. After all the most expensive driver in Friday’s race didn’t even make it to lap 20. Byron has won here in the Cup Series as well as Homestead. I don’t think I need to deep dive too much here as we know there’s win equity, position differential, and he has a chance to lead laps later on in the race. He’s playable in all formats and hits value with a top 10, and really crushes it with a top five.

Justin Allgaier ($11,500; Starting P7)

It hasn’t quite been the start to the season Allgaier was anticipating. I fully expected a win at Dover but that was not meant to be. In fact, he only has two top five finishes nearly three months into the season. But again, Darlington is a race where I’ll lean into track history. I’m expecting his car to roll off fast since we didn’t have practice or qualifying for this race. Yes, I’ll have some shares of Cole Custer ($11,200; Starting P1), but I’d be surprised if Allgaier didn’t find his way to the front at some point. He won the spring Darlington race for the Xfinity Series in 2021 and 2022 while finishing as the runner-up a year ago. 

Sheldon Creed ($10,500; Starting P3)

There is a lot of reason to target Aric Almirola ($10,800; Starting P18) as he offers PD and is in similar equipment to Creed. Almirola now runs a part-time schedule with JGR and won at Martinsville about a month ago and a week before that he was second at Richmond. But JGR thrives on shorter, flat tracks. I do expect the organization to be good this weekend, which isn’t really going out on a limb by any means.

Creed is a bit of a running joke in the series especially after he failed to get a win in two years with Richard Childress Racing. But in the Truck Series in 2021, he did grab a pair of wins with the now defunct GMS Racing. He even finished second in the 2022 fall race in the Xfinity Series after leading 47 laps. I think ownership will certainly come in low especially without practice and qualifying so I’m willing to get exposure at around 20%.

John Hunter Nemechek ($9,700; Starting P34)

It may be difficult to fit both Byron and JHN into your lineups. I’m not saying it’s impossible but you’re taking two expensive PD options and you’ll likely struggle to fit in a dominator if you go this route. With Joe Gibbs Racing last year, JHN grabbed a pair of top five finishes here while leading 156 laps between both races. Even when he ran both races in 2022 he managed to finish ninth and fourth with Sam Hunt Racing. We know this equipment isn’t elite by any means, but JHN and Corey Heim get the most out of it. It’s certainly good enough. Like Byron, this is easy PD that you can target in all formats. Not a bad discount either considering he starts two rows ahead of Byron and saves you $2,300.


Mid-Price Core Plays

Carson Kvapil ($8,300; Starting P13)

It’s been a small sample size for Kvapil, but there’s plenty to like. He finished second at Dover last month and honestly looked like he could’ve won the race. Prior to that he finished fourth at Martinsville. If we think most lineups try to force Byron and JHN, while also trying to squeeze in a dominator, it’s possible Kvapil is overlooked. And yes, it’s a bit of a loaded field this week but there’s still some upside and this isn’t a bad price for a driver that has shown top five upside. Obviously, the big concern is the lack of experience because Darlington is one of the more difficult tracks on the schedule and he did not get any practice time yesterday. But we need some upside in this range and Kvapil definitely offers that.

Taylor Gray ($7,700; Starting P24)

Gray had a solid showing in Friday night’s Truck Series race. When so many chalk options busted, Gray still had a decent evening. He started third and finished eighth but still managed to lead 16 laps, and a lot of those laps led came before the big wreck in stage three.

He’s looked strong this year in the few races he’s run with JGR in the Xfinity Series. That being said, the average running position has been better than the finishing position. But we also haven’t seen him start this deep in the field so we can thank “the metric” for that one. We don’t often get JGR equipment this cheap and starting this far back, but he’s very much in play with top 10 potential.

Sammy Smith ($7,500; Starting P23)

Not a ton to go off of with Smith aside from the fact that the PD fits into the build and he’s affordable. The equipment is good, we all know that. He drives for the same team as Allgaier, Sam Mayer, Brandon Jones, and Carson Kvapil. He hasn’t had quite the success in his first season with JRM. I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s been a rough transition for Smith coming over from Joe Gibbs Racing similar to the struggles Brandon Jones had last year.

He wrecked at Dover a couple weeks ago but did have a stretch of top 10 finishes at Vegas, Phoenix, Richmond, Martinsville, and Texas. Last year with JGR he finished 11th in this race. If he can deliver that kind of performance on Saturday, he’ll pay off the price tag easily.


Value Price Core Plays

Ryan Sieg ($6,800; Starting P26)

This isn’t a terrible price for Sieg as we normally assume he’s in a top 15 car. And we’re getting a discount here. Sieg has made some improvements this year. He was seventh at Vegas and almost won Texas a few weeks back. He hasn’t been caught in too many wrecks, although he did have engine failure a couple weeks ago at Dover.

My concern isn’t the lack of experience with Sieg. Rather, we’ve seen him gamble for track position at tracks where you shouldn’t be taking that risk. Staying out on old tires is not advisable at a track like Darlington. If you stay out, restart on the front row, and you’re much slower than those on fresher tires, you are potentially starting a pileup. He was horrible here last year not collecting a top 25 in either race. However, in the six races we saw from 2020-2022 he finished 11th or better in five of them.

Josh Williams ($6,200; Starting P25)

Williams seems to have turned a corner just a bit. Obviously, Dover did not go well for him. But he did finish 12th at Richmond, 10th at Martinsville, and 12th at Texas. He even finished 14th at Vegas a couple months back. In each of those races he started outside the top 20. We get him at a similar starting spot for this race, with similar top 15 upside. It’s mostly the equipment we’re buying into with Williams. But I think he understands the opportunity he has with Kaulig Racing and knows he needs to make the most of it. Darlington has been one of his worst tracks throughout his career, but in nine races here he’s finished 17th or better four times. We know we aren’t getting win equity here, we’re just hoping to squeeze a solid run out of him.

Matt DiBenedetto ($6,100; Starting P31)

Matty D gets to run a full-time schedule for the remainder of the year and we’ve seen top 20 upside from him in the small sample size this year. With that said, I don’t know if there’s much more of a ceiling. Yes, he drives for the same team as Ryan Sieg. But there’s probably more invested in Sieg’s ride. Fortunately, Matty D does start deep in the field for this race. I anticipate he’ll be popular because of the PD and name recognition. But we aren’t starting many of these value plays with confidence since practice and qualifying was rained out on Friday.

Brennan Poole ($5,300; Starting P21)

There’s a ton of risk with this Poole. But without practice and qualifying, he starts higher than we’d normally like and we don’t know what kind of speed the car has. Truthfully, it’s entirely probable that he goes backward. So you aren’t playing him in cash games. However, we also know he has the upside to score well in this pricing tier. He’s finished 22nd or better in every race except for Richmond. I like the chance for a top 20 finish, but we aren’t getting the PD we would if he started a couple rows back.

However, even in bad equipment he’s done well here. In both races last year he gained 10+ spots of PD with JD Motorsports and finished top 25 in both contests. Even during his time with RCR he finished fifth and sixth here.

With any of these plays in the value tier, you are playing with fire. You aren’t starting any of them with confidence. But if you opt for drivers starting further back, just know that you’ll likely need some chaos for them to provide your lineups with some value.

Crown Royal Purple Bag Project 200 Driver Pool

Pricing TierDrivers
Top TierWilliam Byron ($12,000; Starting P38)
Justin Allgaier ($11,500; Starting P7)
Cole Custer ($11,200; Starting P1)
Aric Almirola ($10,800; Starting P18)
Sheldon Creed ($10,500; Starting P3) - GPP Only
John Hunter Nemechek ($9,700; Starting P34)
Mid-TierCarson Kvapil ($8,300; Starting P13)
Brandon Jones ($8,000; Starting P14)
Taylor Gray ($7,700; Starting P24)
Sammy Smith ($7,500; Starting P23)
Value TierRyan Sieg ($6,800; Starting P26)
Jeb Burton ($6,400; Starting P16)
Josh Williams ($6,200; Starting P25)
Matt DiBenedetto ($6,100; Starting P31)
Brennan Poole ($5,300; Starting P21)
Josh Bilicki ($4,900; Starting P30)
Blaine Perkins ($4,800; Starting P36)