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May 10, 2024

NASCAR survivor pool:’s 36 for 36 picks for Darlington

A general graphic saying 36 for 36
NASCAR’s 36 for 36 continues at Darlington Raceway.

With 36 races and 36 full-time Charter cars, our players select one car per race, but there’s a simple twist: once they’ve made the pick, they can’t choose that car again for the rest of the 36-race season. Yes, that means every car will be selected exactly once … a survivor pool, by another name.

Follow along weekly as our panel of pickers — Dustin Albino from Jayski, along with Steve Luvender and Cameron Richardson from — embarks on a season-long journey to think like strategists and prove their picking prowess.

We’ll also feature a fourth “community” 36 for 36 pick each week, as decided by fan vote on the r/NASCAR subreddit. Can the collective vote topple our trio of full-timers?

Current Standings:

  1. Steve Luvender: 308
  2. Dustin Albino: -12
  3. @therichreport: -39
  4. @NASCARonReddit: -53

Race 13 of 36: Darlington

It was a middle-of-the-road day for our 36 for 36 pickers at Kansas — no photo finish here. Dustin Albino’s selection of 25th-place finisher Austin Dillon broke his tie for the points lead in Steve Luvender’s favor, who earned 24 points with John Hunter Nemechek. The r/NASCAR community picked up 20 points from Bubba Wallace, while the big winner of the week was Cameron Richardson — thanks to a 50-point, fifth-place day for Denny Hamlin.

Darlington is the next challenge for our panel, a unique and notoriously tricky track with two dates on the calendar. For this weekend, though, there’s hardly any playoff talk; in September’s race that concludes the regular season, that’ll be a different story.

Jayski’s Dustin Albino: No. 10, Noah Gragson

Dustin’s pick last week: No. 3, Austin Dillon

Points earned last week: 12 (25th-place finish)

Total season points: 296 (second place)

Dustin: With three consecutive top-10 finishes, Gragson has jumped 10 spots in the regular season championship standings and is among the hottest drivers in the Cup Series. He shows up to the track regularly as the fastest Stewart-Haas Racing entry. Darlington is also a track that is in his wheelhouse. Sure, his lone Cup start last season wasn’t ideal, but have you seen his numbers there in the Xfinity Series? He won twice, has an average finish of 4.0 and never finished worse than eighth in seven starts. That’s Kyle Busch territory. Here’s to thinking he keeps up the momentum this weekend.’s Steve Luvender: No. 77, Carson Hocevar

Steve’s pick last week: No. 42, John Hunter Nemechek

Points earned last week: 24 (13th-place finish)

Total season points: 308 (first place)

Steve: A rookie at a place as notoriously difficult as Darlington? Believe it! Carson Hocevar impressed last year in a surprise start driving the Legacy Motor Club No. 42, qualifying 15th and finishing 17th. Darlington is also the site of one of his rare Xfinity Series starts — he finished sixth last May — and a 5.25 average finish in four Craftsman Truck Series starts at the track isn’t too shabby. It’s a track that requires grit and determination, and even as an underdog, I believe he’s got it (a top 10 at Texas comes to mind). One downside if Hocevar wins Sunday, though: it would spell the end of his memorable campaign to qualify for the All-Star Race Fan Vote, considering a victory qualifies a driver for the big show just as winning the fan vote would.’s Cameron Richardson: No. 31, Daniel Hemric

Cameron’s pick last week: No. 11, Denny Hamlin

Points earned last week: 50 (fifth-place finish)

Total season points: 269 (third place)

Cameron: A bit of a strategy play for the long haul of the season, but Hemric has two top 10s across the last three races so I’m going to strike while the iron’s still hot for the No. 31 team. Kaulig has had success at Darlington in the Next Gen. The No. 31 has top 10s in the last two spring races at the South Carolina track, and if some late-race chaos ensues similar to last year, it could put Hemric in a great spot for another quality run.

r/NASCAR Community: No. 24, William Byron

r/NASCAR’s pick last week: No. 23, Bubba Wallace

Points earned last week: 20 (17th-place finish)

Total season points: 255 (fourth place)

Reddit’s collective vote went to defending race winner William Byron.

From the voting thread:

u/FridgusDomin8or: “After a few bad weeks in a row I think we need a rebound, I think Byron is our pick this time around. Either him or Reddick. Byron’s been real good here in the Next Gen era, up front at the end of both spring races the last two years.”

u/LeapsFrog: “I am going to recommend William Byron. He won this race last season and seems to have always been great at this track in the 7th Generation era.”

Check back in two weeks to see how our pickers fared as the season-long 36 for 36 journey continues when points racing resumes for the Coca-Cola 600.

And, if you’ve got a competitive itch beyond meticulously managing your Fantasy Live lineup each week, feel free to save or print your own 36 for 36 sheet and see if you can beat our pickers and the Reddit community!