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May 24, 2024

NASCAR survivor pool: NASCAR.com’s 36 for 36 picks for Charlotte


A general graphic saying 36 for 36
NASCAR

NASCAR.com’s 36 for 36 continues at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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 NASCAR.com — 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:

T-1. Dustin Albino: 319

T-1. Steve Luvender: 319

3. r/NASCAR Community: -26

4. Cameron Richardson: -46

Race 14 of 36: Charlotte

The Cup Series’ last points-paying race in Darlington tightened up our 36 for 36 leaderboard quite a bit. Cameron Richardson’s Daniel Hemric pick didn’t quite pan out, earning him just four points and sending him to the bottom of the standings. Carson Hocevar netted Steve Luvender 11 points, while Dustin Albino’s 23-point pick of Noah Gragson tied him with Steve for the top spot in the standings. The r/NASCAR community used a heavy hitter — William Byron — whose 38-point afternoon was the highest-scoring of our pickers and moved the subreddit to just 26 points out of the lead.

Our panel had the week off from their usual picking duties for the All-Star Race, but they’re back in action for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. The 600 is, technically, the most valuable race on the schedule due to its unique added fourth stage — and, thus, an opportunity to earn more points. How will they play this one?

Jayski’s Dustin Albino: No. 17, Chris Buescher

Dustin’s pick last week: No. 10, Noah Gragson (23 points)

Total season points: 319 (first place, tied)

Dustin: There is an old saying, “Strike while the iron is hot” and there is, arguably, no driver hotter in the Cup Series than Chris Buescher. Sure, he experienced heartbreak at Kansas, losing out to Kyle Larson in the closest finish in Cup Series history. Then, he was on the wrong side of a slide job gone bad from Tyler Reddick at Darlington. But the No. 17 team is helping lead the Fords back to relevancy, as Buescher has been a consistent player in the outcome of these races. He’s had race-winning pace at the last two intermediate tracks and was fast at Las Vegas earlier this season before he literally drove the right-front wheel off. OK, maybe the tire was left loose, but you get the point.

NASCAR.com’s Steve Luvender: No. 19, Martin Truex Jr.

Steve’s pick last week: No. 77, Carson Hocevar (11 points)

Total season points: 319 (first place, tied)

Steve: The four-stage Coca-Cola 600 is a huge opportunity to gobble up a possible 10 extra points, regardless of finishing position. Ross Chastain, for instance, finished 15th in the 2022 600 but earned the third-most points — including more than race winner Denny Hamlin — due to racking up 26 points from stages alone. With that in mind, I’m going with Martin Truex Jr. this weekend. MTJ has earned the third-most stage points so far in 2024 (107), behind only Kyle Larson (159) and Denny Hamlin (110). Larson would have been an obvious choice for the stage-point play, but uncertainties around the Indianapolis 500/Coca-Cola 600 double aren’t worth the risk; I’ll save him for the playoffs. (Better believe the No. 5 is part of my Fantasy Live lineup, though.)

NASCAR.com’s Cameron Richardson: No. 3, Austin Dillon

Cameron’s pick last week: No. 31, Daniel Hemric (4 points)

Total season points: 273 (fourth place)

Cameron: At some point, the 2024 season has to turn around for the No. 3 team as it sits 31st in points. Charlotte could be the place for it to gain some much-needed momentum as Dillon broke through for this maiden Cup win in 2017 and has three top 10s in the last four oval races around the 1.5-mile facility. In 2022, he was on the brink of taking the lead on the final lap before getting turned in a four-wide kerfuffle coming down the frontstretch. Give me another solid day for the No. 3 this Sunday.

r/NASCAR Community: No. 5, Kyle Larson

r/NASCAR’s pick last week: No. 24, William Byron (38 points)

Total season points: 293 (third place)

It was a close one, but the r/NASCAR community selected Kyle Larson in this week’s voting thread. Will he capitalize on the Indianapolis-Charlotte double?

Here’s what Redditors had to say:

u/Quasar_24: “On one hand, I have serious concerns that Kyle will be pretty fatigued. But on the other hand, gestures towards Indianapolis.”

u/SeattlePassedTheBall: “I think we need to capitalize on him here when there’s 4 stages instead of 3.”

u/michigan_matt: “Exactly this. You have to use an HMS car at a track where you get 4 stages when they’ve won over half the 1.5 mile races in the NextGen. If we didn’t just use Byron he’d be the guy, but since he’s not and we’re saving Chase for road courses, you have to go Kyle.”

Check back next week to see how our pickers fared as the season-long 36 for 36 journey continues. 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!

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