Denny Hamlin’s Bracket Challenge: NASCAR Picks for Every Round

Denny Hamlin’s Bracket Challenge: NASCAR Picks for Every Round article feature image

Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images. Pictured: NASCAR Cup Series driver Chase Elliott

  • Denny Hamlin's Bracket Challenge for Dirty Mo Media will close when Sunday's NASCAR race at Kansas goes green around 3 p.m. ET.
  • Using a mix of NASCAR performance and contest strategy, we filled out our optimal bracket.
  • Below we detail our Denny Hamlin's Bracket Challenge picks for all five rounds.

All hail Denny-stradamus!

A couple of weeks ago, NASCAR Cup Series driver, team owner and co-host of the "Actions Detrimental" podcast for Dirty Mo Media proposed an NCAA Tournament-style bracket to take place over the course of five weeks/races.

On Tuesday, Dirty Mo Media made Denny Hamlin's Bracket Challenge a reality, allowing users to submit their NASCAR bracket picks for the next five races (Kansas, Darlington, Charlotte, Gateway and Sonoma) with real prizes on the line.

Please note that while Denny Hamlin's Bracket Challenge does last five weeks, the deadline to submit picks is the start time of Sunday's race at Kansas, which, according to the content rules, is "approximately 3 p.m. ET on May, 7, 2023."

I also want to get out ahead of this now – the picks below are simply my initial gut (no jokes please) reactions made quickly while running through the bracket.

The Action Network's Nick Giffen will have a much more in-depth and math-based article with bracket challenge picks determined by his model's simulations of each race, so stay tuned for that later this week!

So without further ado, here are my NASCAR picks for Denny Hamlin's Bracket Challenge.

Denny Hamlin's Bracket Challenge Picks

Kansas Picks

  • Ross Chastain over Noah Gragson
  • Daniel Suarez over Chase Briscoe
  • Brad Keselowski over Erik Jones
  • Kyle Busch over Aric Almriola
  • Ryan Blaney over Ryan Preece
  • Bubba Wallace over Chris Buescher
  • Joey Logano over Michael McDowell
  • Martin Truex Jr. over Chase Elliott
  • Kevin Harvick over Harrison Burton
  • Austin Cindric over Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  • William Byron over Corey LaJoie
  • Tyler Reddick over AJ Allmendinger
  • Denny Hamlin over Justin Haley
  • Kyle Larson over Todd Gilliland
  • Josh Berry/Alex Bowman over Ty Gibbs
  • Christopher Bell over Austin Dillon

OK, I lied to you already. Because Elliott is NASCAR's most popular driver, it's very likely that he'll be the contest winner in plenty of brackets.

As a result, I'm playing a little contest strategy here and have him losing to Truex right off the bat.

Darlington Picks

  • Chastain over Suarez
  • Busch over Keselowski
  • Wallace over Blaney
  • Truex over Logano
  • Harvick over Cindric
  • Reddick over Byron
  • Hamlin over Larson
  • Bell over Bowman/Berry

In this round, I'm using a very tough race track to take out Byron and Larson, who, along with Elliott, will be among the most popular winners in most bracket submissions.

Will this work out? Only time will tell. But I do know that this type of strategy gives me leverage over the field while not exactly picking crazy longshots either with Reddick and Hamlin moving on.

Charlotte Picks

  • Chastain over Busch
  • Truex over Wallace
  • Reddick over Harvick
  • Bell over Hamlin

Gateway Picks

  • Truex over Chastain
  • Bell over Reddick

Sonomo Pick

  • Truex over Bell

When it's all said and done, I'm getting favorites like Elliott, Byron and Larson out early, paving the way for a very Toyota-heavy Final Four with Truex topping Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Bell for the title at Sonoma.

Where am I right? And, most likely, where am I wrong? Please let me know @PJWalsh24 on Twitter.

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