Best Bets for the 2021 Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help a Hero 200 (NASCAR) – Saturday, September 4
Last week, I struck gold when I predicted the three Kaulig Racing drivers would dominate at Daytona.
They went on to finish the race first, second, and fourth. Now, it’s time to see if I can accurately predict the winner at Darlington.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will visit Darlington Raceway for the second time this season. Fans can watch the race Saturday, September 4 at 3:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN.
Justin Allgaier won at Darlington in the Spring but he’ll have his challengers if he wants to repeat. Let’s check out my top bets for Saturday’s race, as well as who you might want to back wherever you bet on sports online.
Denny Hamlin (+120)
Denny Hamlin returns to the Xfinity Series for his annual start at Darlington. This is the fourth consecutive year Hamlin will make his lone Xfinity Series start of the season at Darlington.
When you look at Hamlin’s stats at Darlington, it’s not hard to see why he likes racing here.
He won three times at the track from 2007-2010 but that was so long ago that it’s hard to factor into this pick.
That’s why I’m going to focus on his last six races at the track.
|Year||Finishing Position||Laps Led (of 147)|
In 2019, he actually crossed the finish line first but he failed post-race inspection and NASCAR placed him in 38th.
Outside of that finish, Hamlin has never finished worse than eighth in 13 career starts and has eight top-two finishes.
On Saturday, he’ll drive the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. That car has been in victory lane nine times this season with Kyle Busch, Ty Gibbs, and Christopher Bell. Does anyone really think Hamlin can’t make it 10?
If you need any extra motivation, Hamlin has three wins at Darlington in the Cup Series.
Hamlin starts 14th on Saturday. If I were you, I’d tune in early to see him work his way to the front.
Justin Allgaier (+700)
Coming into this season, Darlington served as one of Justin Allgaier’s best tracks. He had seven top 10 finishes in 11 starts at the track but he couldn’t break through. This season, he crossed that off his list.
Allgaier passed his teammate, Josh Berry, on a restart with 10 laps to go and held him off on the final restart of the day to capture his first victory at Darlington and second win of the season.
Over his last 10 races, he has six top-five finishes, including three runner-up finishes. It’s starting to become a matter of when, not if he’ll pick up his third victory of the season. Darlington definitely represents a good opportunity.
There are only three more races in the regular season. Allgaier sits third in the playoff points but he trails leader Austin Cindric by 25 points. It isn’t much better when you realize he is 19 points behind second-place A.J. Allmendinger.
It’s time for Allgaier to start building up some playoff points. Being third in points is good but it doesn’t give you a cushion in the playoffs. A win at Darlington this weekend would put him in a much better spot.
He’ll roll off the grid fourth on Saturday.
Brandon Jones (+1600)
Brandon Jones is having one of the weirdest seasons I’ve ever seen.
In his first 10 races of the season, he had five top-five finishes, but the other five finishes were 33rd or worse. Things improved in the Summer with five straight, top 10 finishes but lately, his inconsistency has returned.
Check out his finishes over the last six races.
- Atlanta: 39th
- New Hampshire: 38th
- Watkins Glen: 6th
- Indianapolis Road Course: 36th
- Michigan: 2nd
- Daytona: 40th
Jones isn’t a bad driver but it’s like something always goes wrong. The good news is Darlington is one of his best tracks.
In last year’s race at Darlington, leaders Denny Hamlin and Ross Chastain crashed coming to the white flag. Jones was running third and passed the two leaders, leading only the final lap in his first win at Darlington.
He came close to winning back-to-back at Darlington earlier this season but he came home third.
Following the Darlington race last season, Jones had three wins. This season, he has zero and sits 10th out of 12 drivers in the playoff standings. It’s time for Jones to step up and score some playoff points. If not, it’ll be an early playoff exit.
Jones starts all the way back in 25th. We’ll see which version of Jones shows up on Saturday.
Austin Dillon (+2000)
Austin Dillon will make his fifth Xfinity Series start of the season.
However, this will be his first appearance in the No. 31 Chevrolet for Jordan Anderson Racing. The car didn’t race at Darlington earlier this season but drivers have had success in other races.
Dillon’s teammate in the Cup Series, Tyler Reddick, scored a pair of top 10 finishes at COTA and Charlotte. Josh Berry had a pair of top 10 finishes himself at Mid-Ohio and Pocono.
In the Xfinity Series, Dillon has three starts at Darlington.
- 2012: 5th
- 2013: 11th
- 2017: 10th
He finished fifth and 11th, respectively, in his two starts at the track in 2012 and 2013. Dillon returned in 2017 with a 10th place finish. Those results may not stand out, but I’m looking at his success in the Cup Series at Darlington.
In the first race of last year’s Cup Series playoffs, Dillon nearly pulled off a surprise victory. He finished second, just 0.343 seconds behind Kevin Harvick.
Just a few years prior, Dillon had a fourth-place finish at Darlington.
You know Dillon is hungry after missing the Cup Series playoffs. This isn’t his main series but a win is a win. I think you’ll see him push hard on Saturday.
He will definitely be behind early though, as he starts all the way back in 35th.
2021 Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help a Hero 200 Prediction
There are a couple of drivers with good value, but I can’t go against Denny Hamlin.
Hamlin is just straight up more talented than everyone else in the field. It certainly doesn’t help that he is at one of his best tracks and he drives the best car.
If you want to look ahead to the Cup Series, check out my top picks to win the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Championship.