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June 14, 2024

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


A general graphic saying 36 for 36
NASCAR

NASCAR.com’s 36 for 36 continues at Iowa 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:

  1. Steve Luvender: 396
  2. Dustin Albino: -21
  3. r/NASCAR Community: -51
  4. Cameron Richardson: -71

Race 17 of 36: Iowa

Last week at Sonoma was a solid afternoon for our pickers Dustin Albino and Cameron Richardson, who were wise enough to select Michael McDowell for a 40-point, second-place race. The r/NASCAR community’s Daniel Suárez pick netted a respectable 26 points, while Steve Luvender’s points lead narrowed after a bad day for Joey Logano earned only 18 points.

What’s on the menu next? The inaugural Cup Series race from Iowa Speedway. Nearing the midway point of the season and visiting a track with no historical records, our picking panel will need to be strategic about who to employ. Let’s see their approach as NASCAR roars into the Hawkeye State.

Jayski’s Dustin Albino: No. 20, Christopher Bell

Dustin’s pick last week: No. 34, Michael McDowell (40 points)
Total season points: 375 (second place)

Dustin: After winning his first crown-jewel race last month, Bell jetted to Iowa to participate in a Goodyear tire test, joined by Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski. As we saw recently with Joey Logano dominating the All-Star Race and Ty Gibbs cruising to victory in the All-Star Open, familiarity with a place via a tire test can pay dividends. Add in the fact that Bell was downright lethal at Iowa in the Xfinity Series for JGR, earning two victories and a pair of runner-up finishes in five starts while leading more than 60% of the race three times. The last two times I’ve swung for the fence with a pick, it backfired at Charlotte and Gateway. Hoping the third time will be the charm.

NASCAR.com’s Steve Luvender: No. 71, Zane Smith

Steve’s pick last week: No. 22, Joey Logano (18 points)
Total season points: 396 (first place)

Steve: Sonoma didn’t pan out the way that Joey Logano and I had hoped, but you’ll have that in this cruel game. A new track for the Cup Series means it’s something of a wildcard race, so I’m going with a wildcard pick to match: rookie Zane Smith. Smith scored top 10s in his only starts at Iowa – the two 2019 races in the Xfinity Series – which is more of a track record than some other drivers left on my board. I’ll admit, though, that my expectations are modest. Smith is 34th in points, lowest of all full-time drivers, and isn’t returning to the No. 71 car next year. But, after finishing 16th and 19th in the last two races, it’s the first time the No. 71 has scored back-to-back top-25 finishes all year. Momentum is momentum!

NASCAR.com’s Cameron Richardson: No. 22, Joey Logano

Cameron’s pick last week: No. 34, Michael McDowell (40 points)
Total season points: 325 (fourth place)

Cameron: A new Cup venue? Look no further than Logano, who has a knack for beating everyone to the punch when the series debuts at a track. The No. 22 Team Penske driver won the first Next Gen event with the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum, won the first event when Cup ran dirt at Bristol for three seasons and was the first champion of the Next Gen era. If there’s a chance to be opportunistic, you know Logano and crew chief Paul Wolfe will be the first to pounce.

r/NASCAR Community: No. 6, Brad Keselowski


r/NASCAR’s pick last week: No. 99, Daniel Suárez (26 points)

Total season points: 345 (third place)

The r/NASCAR community selected Brad Keselowski as their collective pick for Iowa.

From the voting thread:

u/michigan_matt: “3 wins and 6 top fives in 7 Xfinity races here. Has finished top three in each of the last 3 oval races this season. I think we need to strike with Brad.”

u/Extreme-Bite-9123: “I’m gonna say Brad. He has had probably the best speed in the cup series lately. Top three finish in three of the last four races, and even did pretty decent at Sonoma. He has really good xfinity stats here, with three wing and six top fives in seven races. Plus, he did a tire test there recently, and knows how the track will be”

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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