Providing fantasy NASCAR advice, recommendations and predictions. Fantasy racing games are their own kind of animal. I've successfully played fantasy racing games for years and started this blog for the 2018 season to offer some advice and tips for winning your fantasy NASCAR games. We'll go beyond things like starting position and fastest lap times in practice to uncover which drivers have the best chance for success each week.
I'm very happy that we were in on Truex, Larson and Kyle Busch all week long. All three were in our initial write-up this week and they finished 1-2-3 at Auto Club on Sunday.
That said, for just the second time this year, our feature lineup didn't get it done on Sunday. In large part that was because of the odd incident involving Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson as they were fighting for 3rd and 4th place about 40 laps into the race. It was odd that they were fighting so hard that early in the race and the incident itself was bizarre. It looked like Harvick wanted to come down on Larson, but he either went too far or Larson moved up a bit and Harvick got knocked into the wall. He ended up 35th and multiple laps down.
Up to that point, Harvick had moved up seven spots after starting 10th and he had 11 fastest laps. He looked like a Top 5 car easily and, with a few adjustments, might have led laps and gotten many more fastest laps. But, in that one instant, Harvick went from a 50-60 (or more) point car to a -10 point car. That was obviously the difference in cashing in this week. Under the same circumstances, I would pick Harvick again every time. He had a strong record at Auto Club, was as hot as could be, and had the fastest 5, 10 and 15 lap averages in final practice. Sometimes the right pick just doesn't work out.
We also got slammed by Daniel Suarez's late pit road speeding penalty. He started 30th and was running inside the Top 20 with about 40 laps left in the race when he got nabbed for speeding on pit road. He got a drive through penalty, which dropped him a lap down into 23rd place to finish the race.
On the plus side, we nailed the picks of Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch. Clint finished 11th, but had 15 position difference points, for a total of 48 points. Kyle finished 3rd, led 62 laps and ran 26 fastest laps. He scored 68.5 points.
We're disappointed with the result today, but we're already looking forward to getting back in the $ next week at Martinsville.
Just a quick update to let you know where I'm going with my main lineup. There are so many different ways to go, so there will be a lot of variety in the lineups on Sunday. (Also look at our preview notes in the post below.)
Good luck everyone. If you have any last minute questions before lock, please send them on Twitter @illinisjc
It's time for our first set of Auto Club preview notes. What we're trying to do here is establish our driver target list based on past performance at the track and how the team is performing at this point in the season. We'll update this list as we get more information from practice and qualifying:
Friday Night Update
Well that inspection nonsense for qualifying has really thrown things off. Here's a few things to keep in mind based on starting positions:
Feel free to tweet any questions or comments @illinisjc
I'm happy with the lineup we posted on Saturday night. It scored 280 Draft Kings points, which put it easily in the money in double up and cash games. My only disappointment was that it wasn't enough to put you in the money in tournaments. From what I saw, it finished right on (or right below) the money line in tournaments. I won a few bucks in one tournament, but came up empty in another with this lineup. So let's look again at our lineup:
Let's also look at a few guys who were on our main target list but didn't make the top lineup we put out there Saturday night:
Now a real quick look at Fontana California for next Sunday:
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We've got 12 drivers on the target list below but I want to try to simplify things and get a smaller group of the real top targets for you. So here are my top guys:
I recommend building your main lineups around these guys. If you use all five, it leaves you with $7,200 in salary left. You can slide Stenhouse in there for $7,100. Admittedly, he's in a back-up car, hasn't looked great and will be starting from the rear. So it's not a great scenario for him. But he is credited with the 29th starting spot, so he'll likely score a decent number of position difference points. He had the 20th best 10 lap average in final practice, so if he can just finish between 15th - 20th, he'll give you decent points plus the 10 or so position difference points. And don't forget what we said below -- last Spring he started 21st and finished 4th and last Fall he started 27th and finished 8th. So he's done this before -- twice. Anything close to a repeat is a home run.
Just a few quick comments on guys I am not pushing this week. I've seen others pushing some or all of these guys, so I wanted to explain why I am not going that way. It's not that I don't like these guys or don't think they cannot dominate and win. All of them are capable of doing that and you should have exposure to them if you're doing a bunch of lineups. I just like the guys I listed above a bit more:
If you have any questions or lineup decisions to make, please reach out on twitter @illinisjc and I'll do my best to answer them.
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Here's our updated list of driver targets for this Sunday's race at Phoenix. We didn't learn too much from practice on Friday because no one did extended race runs. It was all focused on qualifying. We've made a few additions and updates here based on speed shown Friday and starting spot. Saturday night, we'll have a final update with some example roster constructions.
Photo c/o www.stewarthaasracing.com
It was a mixed bag for us in the Vegas race.
We were right in pushing Harvick, Larson, Truex and Keselowski. Harvick, of course, dominated and all four finished in the top six.
We were also right in pushing Paul Menard, Aric Almirola and Ryan Newman. This trio finished 9th, 10th and 11th, respectively. They had good points days and also scored some solid position difference bonus points.
What killed some of our lineups was Michael McDowell. We noted that he seemed like the best car in his price range, but that he carried significant risk due to his 15th starting spot. That left the door open to big time negative points if he had a problem. Well he did have a problem. Things looked good for the first 100 laps. McDowell had led 11 laps due to an alternate pit strategy and was on the lead lap running in the 17th position. But early in Stage 2, he lost the motor and had to retire the car. He finished last and scored negative points on DK.
I was able to save some face with a lineup based on drivers we featured here -- Harvick, Keselowski, Larson, Newman, Almirola and Chris Buescher. I had too much exposure to McDowell and needed to put in a few with an alternate low cost guy. This line-up returned about 6X and was only about 10-12 points away from being a tournament winning lineup.
If McDowell had not had the mechanical problem, I really think our primary lineups would have returned some good money. But the risk we identified came to pass. At least we had enough alternatives to pick some to help salvage something from today. We'll continue aiming for the top as we go forward to Phoenix next week.
Phoenix -- Looking ahead to Phoenix, the field has to be worried about what Harvick might do there. He is just on another level right now and in the last nine Phoenix races, he has five wins and has not finished lower than 6th. Amazing. Kyle Busch has also been strong there, finishing no worse than 7th in the last five Phoenix races.
We'll be back in a couple of days with our formal Phoenix preview and initial driver targets.
UPDATE: Sick to my stomach with McDowell blowing up there. Just bad luck.
There are so many different ways to go this week. I really like four cars -- Harvick, Truex, Larson and Keselowski. It's impossible to get all four in a lineup though. Here are a couple of possible lineups that I'll be rolling with on Sunday.
Pic from Team Penske website (LINK)
Yesterday I was worried that my initial target list was too Ford heavy. Today, I'm thinking it was spot on and that Fords are just the way to go right now. Incredibly, eight Fords will roll off from the first twelve starting positions for the Pennzoil 400 on Sunday. That includes the top three starting spots belonging to Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch.
So let's go back through my target list and add a few more names to consider. These are listed in Draft Kings salary order.
Using these targets, you can put together a few real strong lineups. Here's one idea I kind of like before we see practice: Truex, Larson (or Harvick), Blaney, Almirola, Menard, McDowell.
I'll have some final thoughts and line up ideas very late Saturday night/early Sunday morning, so check back before you finalize those lineups.
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Off to Las Vegas this weekend for the second consecutive 1.5 mile track. This is a much different track though. The pavement is not as old as Atlanta and it won't chew up tires and kill lap time as much as we saw in Atlanta. We have one practice and then qualifying on Friday with two additional hour long practices on Saturday. The weather should be dry, but chilly, which will probably give us some very fast speeds.
We have a pretty good list of drivers with a long history of consistent success at Las Vegas. Here are some we'll be looking at very closely this week in order of their DK price:
As of now, I'm thinking this list is too heavy on the Fords. I'll be looking for one or two Toyotas and Chevrolets to add to the list on Friday or Saturday.
My name is Steve and I've won thousands playing NASCAR fantasy racing games. This blog will share my advice for enjoying and winning your fantasy racing games. I'm also a NASCAR writer at the motor sports website slicksandsticks.com