Prime Sports NASCAR – weekly picks with Daytona recap and Darlington preview

For the second straight week, Ryan Blaney was victorious and for the second straight time, Eric benefitted from it. He’s the only one of our trio to pick Blaney for Daytona but he’s also the only one that went with a cast of drivers too.

But, something about Blaney’s hot streak and Daytona went hand-in-hand.

None of Greg’s drivers scored a top 10 as he falls to -$1029. CJ put 2 of his long shots in the top 5, but neither won as he goes to -$1084.

Eric won 14 of the 26 races during the regular season, CJ 11 and Greg 6. The big wins came for Eric getting Joey Logano at 33-1 on Bristol Dirt back in March and Greg nailing Blaney at both Atlanta and Michigan.

Can anyone get into the positive range in the next 10 weeks?

Eric got there earlier this year and inching closer again.

This weekend it’s the Southern 500 to where the odds are basically Kyle Larson or the field. Last year, Kevin Harvick won the regular season championship and started the postseason with a win at Darlington. Can Larson do the same this time around?

He’s had three straight top two finishes on the Lady in Black including a pair of runner-ups in each of his last two Darlington starts to go along with four top threes in his last five starts there. He’s also had 10 top three finishes in his last 15 starts on the season including 3 of the last 4.

Martin Truex Jr. dominated the May race at Darlington in leading 248 of the 292 laps. He also led 196 laps in this race a year ago but crashed while battling for the win with 14 to go with Chase Elliott. He’s 6-1 but also has just two top five finishes in the last 10 races on the season to go along with 4 in the last 17 overall. You’re still getting the race winner from May for double the odds of Larson.

Kyle Busch (8-1), Chase Elliott (8-1) and Denny Hamlin (8-1) all have similar odds but Busch may be the better play here. He’s had six top sevens in his last seven starts at Darlington and two top threes in the last four. If not for a crash at Loudon while leading in the rain, a crash at Indy while running in the top five but caught up in the broken curbing drama and being caught up in a crash while also in the top five at Daytona last week, he’d have 10 top 5’s in 12 races since the Coca-Cola 600. Hamlin meanwhile has three top fives in his last four at Darlington including being fifth in May, but hasn’t finished better than fourth since the 10th race of the season. Elliott, should have won the second race at Darlington last year as well as the Southern 500. He was seventh back in the spring race there.

Harvick (9-1) is intriguing since he won 2 of the 3 Darlington races last year and has eight top 5’s in 10 starts on the 1.33-mile South Carolina race track with SHR, but he was a pedestrian sixth in May and has one finish in 26 races this season better than fourth.

William Byron (12-1) may be the play of the week with a pair of top fives in his last two Darlington starts while the Penske trio of Brad Keselowski (12-1), Joey Logano (14-1) and Ryan Blaney (14-1) are going in opposite directions.

Keselowski, has 1 top 10 in his last four starts at Darlington while Logano has two in the last seven. On the season, each has one top five in his last seven starts including Keselowski having two in the last 15 with Logano four in the last 17.

Blaney meanwhile has three straight top two finishes on the year and seven top sixes in the last nine. But at Darlington, he’s yet to score a top five and has one top 10 in nine starts.

Alex Bowman (18-1) is the polar opposite of Blaney. He has one top five in his last nine starts on the year but 2 top sixes in his last four at Darlington including a runner-up to Harvick in May of 2020 and sixth in this race last year.

What about some long shots?

Christopher Bell (25-1) has never had a top 10 in Cup at Darlington. Austin Dillon is 50-1 but not in the playoffs and has one top five all season. Aric Almirola (66-1) has never had a top five in Darlington before and one all season long with Matt DiBenedetto (66-1) now likely cashing it in since his playoff hopes are dashed.

Erik Jones is intriguing in this is his best track and he’s 80-1. He was 250-1 at Michigan. But, Richard Petty Motorsports hasn’t won a race since 2014 and I don’t see them winning the playoff opener either.

Chris Buescher (110-1) and Ross Chastain (150-1) are the top plays for far long shots with Buescher being ninth at Darlington back in the spring as well as having his best race on a like track in February at Homestead. On another aged surface in Atlanta for Race 1, he too had a top 10 there as well. Chastain has come along and fared well on this track in Xfinity Series competition and the fact you can get him at 150-1 is worth it.

The best longer shots are the 33-1 grouping of Kurt Busch and Tyler Reddick. Busch, has 5 top eights in his last seven tries at Darlington including two top sixes in his last three starts on the season. Reddick, was fifth last week for his second top five of the year and at his best at a track like Darlington. Do you trust either though to win?

Who did we pick this week? Find out below.

Race Odds

3-1…K Larson

6-1…M Truex Jr.

8-1…Kyle B, C Elliott and D Hamlin

9-1…K Harvick

12-1…W Byron and B Keselowski

14-1…R Blaney and J Logano

18-1…A Bowman

25-1…C Bell

33-1…Kurt B and T Reddick

50-1…A Dillon

66-1…A Almirola and M DiBenedetto

80-1…E Jones (was 250-1 at Michigan)

110-1…C Buescher

150-1…R Chastain, Newman, D Suarez and D Wallace Jr.

175-1…C Briscoe and C Custer

250-1…R Stenhouse Jr.

300-1…M McDowell


NOTE: Each analyst has a weekly wagering limit of $100.

NOTE: The weekly wagering limits will increase $100 for each playoff round ending with a $500 wagering limit for the Championship Four race.



Eric Smith

K Larson…3-1…$40 ($120)  

M Truex Jr…6-1…$18 ($108)  

Kyle B…8-1…$14 ($112) 

D Hamlin…8-1…$12 ($108)  

W Byron…12-1…$10 ($120)  

A Bowman…18-1…$6 ($108) 


RECORD: 14 for 26

TOTAL: -530 




Greg DePalma

D Hamlin…8-1…$100 ($800)  

W Byron…12-1…$30 ($360)  

R Blaney…14-1…$20 ($280) 

A Bowman…18-1…$20 ($360) 

Kurt B…33-1…$30 ($990)  


RECORD: 6 for 26

TOTAL: -1029




CJ Radune

K Larson…3-1…$80 ($240)  

M Truex Jr…6-1…$40 ($240)  

Kyle B…8-1…$40 ($320) 

D Hamlin…8-1…$40 ($320)  


RECORD: 11 for 26

TOTAL: -1084



Weekly Race Points Standings


Week 25 Daytona

1 Eric +26/-530

2 Greg -100/-1029

3 CJ -100/-1084






Eric Smith

D Hamlin…7-1…$15 ($105) …13th

W Byron…12-1…$9 ($108) …37th/Acc.

C Elliott…12-1…$9 ($108) …8th  

J Logano…12-1…$9 ($108) …23rd

R Blaney…13-1…$9 ($117) …1st

A Dillon…15-1…$7 ($105) …17th/Acc.  

B Keselowski…16-1…$7 ($112) …33rd/Acc.

R Stenhouse Jr…22-1…$5 ($110) …22nd

M DiBenedetto…22-1…$7 ($154) …25th  

B Wallace…25-1…$5 ($125) …2nd  

T Reddick…30-1…$4 ($120) …5th   

R Chastain…35-1…$3 ($105) …18th  

C Briscoe…40-1…$3 ($120) …21st/Acc.

D Suarez…40-1…$3 ($120) …19th/Acc.  

R Preece…50-1…$3 ($150) …4th

C Lajoie…60-1…$3 ($120) …16th/Acc.   


RECORD: 1 for 1

TOTAL: +26




Greg DePalma

D Hamlin…7-1…$50 ($350) …13th

W Byron…12-1…$16 ($192) …37th/Acc.  

R Stenhouse Jr…22-1…$9 ($198) …22nd  

M DiBenedetto…22-1…$18 ($396) …25th   

Kurt B…28-1…$7 ($196) …12th  


RECORD: 0 for 1

TOTAL: -100




CJ Radune

D Hamlin…7-1…$17 ($119) …13th

W Byron…12-1…$10 ($120) …37th/Acc.    

C Elliott…12-1…$10 ($120) …8th  

J Logano…12-1…$10 ($120) …23rd 

A Dillon…15-1…$8 ($120) …17th/Acc.  

B Keselowski…16-1…$8 ($128) …33rd/Acc.

A Bowman…18-1…$8 ($144) …7th  

C Bell…20-1…$6 ($120) …32nd/Acc. 

R Stenhouse Jr…22-1…$6 ($132) …22nd  

M DiBenedetto…22-1…$6 ($132) …25th   

B Wallace…25-1…$6 ($150) …2nd   

T Reddick…30-1…$5 ($150) …5th  


RECORD: 0 for 1

TOTAL: -100

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