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.
We've had a number of driver and crew chief changes that will have a big impact on fantasy NASCAR prospects for 2019. Just yesterday, the news of Kurt Busch moving over to the #1 car for Chip Ganassi Racing was made official. The folks over at nbcsports.com have compiled a list of already announced driver and crew chief changes as well as the open rides for 2019. I encourage you to check it out -- CLINK LINK HERE.
It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out. Generally speaking, for fantasy racing purposes, it makes a lot of sense to avoid guys in new situations at the beginning of the season. This gives them time to work things out and develop the lines of communication needed to get the team running well. So guys like Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and William Byron will be tougher to roster in the first part of the season. We'll see about Martin Truex. He has the same crew chief and was already affiliated with JGR so it's not a completely new situation, but it is still a big change. I'm taking a wait and see approach on that right now.
POST RACE UPDATE: Hit all greens this week. 100% winners in cash games using the stars and scrubs approach I outlined on Saturday night. Was a great way to finish off a very successful season. I'll have a season-ending post or two in the next week or so to wrap things up for 2018. Then I'll take some time away to think about what to do with the blog for next season. If you have something you really like and want to continue -- or something new you would like to see next year -- please leave a comment or message me on Twitter @fantasynascargu
Thanks to all who have followed the blog throughout the season!
SATURDAY NIGHT UPDATE: Here we are -- the last Saturday update of the season. I've settled on a lineup approach that I don't generally like. What I'm seeing this week is a stars and scrubs approach. What landed me there is a combination of (1) guys at the top end who I really like and think give us the best chance to dominate, (2) guys at the bottom who offer pretty decent value, and (3) what turns out to be a lack of value in the middle because guys like Eric Jones, Aric Almirola, etc. qualified in the Top 10 and don't seem to offer much dominator or position difference upside. So here is the group of guys I'm really focused on:
Bittersweet to have the last race of the year upon us. I'm very excited as a Nascar fan for the race itself. We've got the very best teams racing for the championship just like it should be. I'm also excited that we've been on a pretty good roll with our Fantasy Nascar picks here. So it will be difficult to see the season come to an abrupt end Sunday afternoon.
267 laps on tap for Sunday, so 133.5 fastest lap points and 66.75 laps led points are up for grabs. The last two Miami races have been remarkably similar when it comes to a pattern on the laps led. Last season, Kyle Larson led 145 laps with Martin Truex coming next at 78 laps led. In 2016, Kyle Larson again led the way with 132 laps led with Kevin Harvick coming next at 79 laps led. In 2015, Brad Keselowski led the way with 86 laps led with Joey Logano following at 72 laps led. So we're looking to grab at least one and preferably both of the Dominators we've seen here in the last two races in particular.
Here are the guys I'm focused on -- many of which will be no surprise:
We'll have updates leading into Sunday's race so check back often Friday, Saturday and pre-race on Sunday.
SATURDAY NIGHT UPDATE: Here we go. Want to clear up one thing the NBC guys got wrong during final practice. Per Nascar.com, Martin Truex will keep his 13th starting spot. He is NOT going to the rear for the start of the race as Rick Allen stated near the end of practice. As of now, the only car going to the rear is Paul Menard for going to a back-up car following his wreck in final practice. I still don't like Truex much, but he retains some contrarian value in a large tournament if you want a role of the dice. On to the way I am looking at my lineup now:
So many story lines heading into the final cutoff race before the Championship Race next week in Miami. We'll cover all the drivers of note, but it's really hard to bet against Kevin Harvick in this situation once again. See all we have here and then be sure to check back Sunday morning for our final update.
312 laps in Sunday's race, so we have 156 fastest lap points and 78 laps led points available. In the past few races here, we've tended to see two drivers separate themselves as the dominators. The main dominator has led about 150 laps with the secondary dominator leading about 50-100 laps. We'll need at least one of those dominators in our lineup this weekend to hit those cash games. Onto the driver targets:
SATURDAY NIGHT UPDATE: News already that Truex, Suarez, Buescher and DiBenedetto will go to the rear. I think this is actually a sneaky good thing for Buescher in tournaments. He's a solid play at his $6,200 salary notwithstanding this setback. He's been strong at the 1.5 tracks and the JTG team is using Hendrick engines this weekend. I think it takes the other three guys off the table entirely.
For cash games, I'm pretty well set on the top side of my roster at Harvick, Larson and Eric Jones. NBC's practice coverage showed just how consistent Harvick was on long runs. He starts 3rd and I expect he'll be leading the race by Lap 20 or so. He's in a great spot to dominate. Larson starts 22nd and gives you great position difference upside. He's been very strong at 1.5 mile tracks despite typically starting outside the Top 10. He has 2 starts outside the Top 20 at 1.5 mile tracks this year and finished 4th (with 101 laps led) and 3rd (no laps led) in those 2 races. Jones was also very fast in practice and he has Top 8 finishes in 6 of the last 8 races at 1.5 mile tracks. (I am still toying with the idea of rolling out both Harvick and Kyle Busch. I think it does too much harm to the bottom of your lineup to work. But I'm still mulling it over since Kyle B is so damn consistent at the 1.5 mile tracks and can always jump up and dominate a race. It worries me to fade him -- but less so than the fear of fading Harvick.)
There are different ways to go with the rest of the lineup. You can take one or two sub $6K guys and try to get another potential dominator like Keselowski, Almirola or Blaney. If you go that route, my favorite sub $6k guys are Ty Dillon, Michael McDowell and Corey LaJoie. Or you can go more balanced with guys in the $7K range. In that area, I like Allmendinger and Stenhouse the best. I'm leaning toward the more balanced approach in cash games and the idea of using multiple sub $6K guys in tournaments only.
Another pretty nice week last week. Cole Whitt coming up big with a 24th place finish, Allmendinger 14th and our Sunday update man Martin Truex all the way to 3rd with laps led and fastest laps. Would have liked to see more from Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and Austin Dillon, but you can't get all the breaks.
Texas is 334 laps, so lots of laps led and fastest lap points on the table again. Also, as you look back at track history, remember we had a repave and reconfiguration after the 2016 season. So only the 2017 races and Spring 2018 were on this layout and pavement. We also have a new tire compound this weekend to add to the mix. Here are some guys I am focused on heading into practice and qualifying on Friday and Saturday.
I think some more opportunities will open as the weekend goes along. None of the other big time drivers ($9K+ guys) are standing out to me on paper right now. But I'm sure a few of them will separate themselves by showing good speed in practice and/or qualifying. We'll post the final update very late Saturday night.
SUNDAY UPDATE: TRUEX AND JOHNSON FAIL INSPECTION SO GET OFFICIAL STARTING SPOT IN THE REAR. SQUARELY ON THE CASH GAME BOARD NOW. KESELOWSKI DROPS TO REAR FOR UNAPPROVED ADJUSTMENTS. KEEPS TOP 10 OFFICIAL STARTING SPOT, SO OFF THE CASH GAME BOARD.
SATURDAY NIGHT UPDATE: Here's my cash game lineup construction thoughts as of now. Remember, there will be tech inspection on Sunday morning and anyone who fails will have their Q time disallowed and get an official starting spot at the rear of the field. That could change things dramatically and give us new guys that are essential plays. So stay current on Sunday morning. If there is something significant, I'll update if I can, but no guarantee.
Real happy with the guys I talked about last week. While Paul Menard didn't finish well because of damage sustained in a random pit road incident, he was running in the Top 10 and had legitimate speed just as I thought. Overall a very solid and profitable week.
For Martinsville, all the way up to 500 laps so finding those Dominators is key. BEWARE that post-qualifying technical inspection will be on Sunday morning. If a car fails, its qualifying time will be disallowed and its official starting spot will move to the back of the field. In the past, we've seen a few cars fail tech and, if the same happens on Sunday, it could open last minute value plays who will gain a lot of position difference upside. So be sure to stay with it on Sunday morning before the race begins.
Here are the guys I'm focused on heading into the weekend.
We'll have more late Saturday night after practice and qualifying.
Straight to the point here. I'm going to break down what I see as the critical lineup choices for Sunday's race.
Was happy to hit another good week at Talladega. I'm not a big fan of the plate tracks in general, but we had success at 3 of the 4 races on the plate tracks this season. Back to a 1.5 mile track at Kansas this weekend. We'll be back to searching for the Dominators with laps led and fastest laps points playing a key role. Here are the guys I'm focused on:
Look for our late, late Saturday night update with our final notes and driver targets for Sunday's race!
There are some clear building blocks for our Talladega lineups this weekend. Let's dive right into the final race analysis:
Restrictor plate racing at Talladega this weekend. Quick recap on my general approach to the plate track races -- I tend to play less overall and focus more on tournaments and less on cash games. The randomness of the wrecks, etc. just takes so many things out of our control that it is really a free for all in these races. Also, track history matters the least at these tracks so it's hard to do much useful preparation during the week since starting position is so critical. The fact that we can't outwork our competition with pre-race research and preparation takes away a critical advantage that we have over the field most weeks. It's the most important reason why I don't play as much on plate track weekends.
That said, here are some guys that I would be most interested in if their starting spots make sense:
SUNDAY UPDATE: Hi all. I'm very sorry but am unable to post any further update this weekend. I just haven't had the time to prepare like I normally do this weekend and I'd rather be silent then steer anyone the wrong way. I'll be back in full next week!
The season is starting to wind down, so we want to finish strong. Dover this weekend which means we've got 400 laps and need to find those Dominators again with 200 points available for fastest laps and another 100 for laps led. Here are some notes and driver targets to focus on as the race weekend unfolds:
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