I started this blog to provide a casual, recreational level of fantasy NASCAR advice and discussion. I've been playing these contests for a number of years and am annoyed by lineup sellers and groups of players using the same lineup. I'm hoping to give the casual player some help in building solid lineups that can beat that annoying crowd most of the time. I'm not a "tout" and don't do this for a living, so proceed accordingly. I hope you enjoy the discussion here and Good Luck!
AP Photo/Charles Krupa
Next up is the #11 Toyota of Denny Hamlin. Denny is a tricky driver for me to figure out for fantasy purposes. He often seems to have a fast car, seems like he should excel, but falls short of those expectations due to some kind of unforced error -- like speeding on pit road, a loose wheel, etc. Despite that, Hamlin really had a great 2017 season. Let's recap some of the numbers.
He had two wins (at New Hampshire and Darlington), 15 Top 5's and 22 Top 10's. He did most of his damage starting with the Memorial Day weekend Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In the 25 races from Charlotte through the end of the season, Hamlin scored both of his victories and put up 14 Top 5's and 18 Top 10's. He had a ton of speed the entire second half of the season. Hamlin returns to his JGR team with continuity at crew chief (Mike Wheeler), so there's no real reason to expect any significant drop off from his 2017 performance.
So where should we lean on Hamlin for fantasy purposes? He has traditionally performed his best on shorter tracks, and that has largely been the case in recent years. He has a win and another top 5 finish in the last two races at Darlington. At Richmond, he has been in the Top 10 for the last four races, including a win and two other Top 5 finishes. He had the win at New Hampshire last year and has also shown well at Phoenix -- despite the poor finish due to the run in with Chase Elliott in the playoffs last year. So always consider Hamlin at the short tracks.
He has also emerged in the last two seasons at the road courses of Sonoma and Watkins Glen. I've never really considered Hamlin a road course guy, but in the last two seasons, he has not finished outside the Top 5 in any of the four road course races. He won at Watkins Glen in 2016 and finished 4th there in 2017. (Conversely, he finished no higher than 19th in the six races at Watkins Glen from 2010-2015.) He finished 2nd at Sonoma in 2016 and 4th in 2017. (Conversely, he finished no higher than 18th in the six races at Sonoma from 2010-2015.) Four consecutive Top 5's over two different season is still a bit of a small sample size, but there is at least some indication that Hamlin has found something at the road courses. Mike Wheeler became Hamlin's crew chief for the 2016 season, so this marked turn around coincides with his presence. So maybe that's what sparked this change. At the very least, Hamlin is someone to watch closely at the road courses in practice and qualifying to see if his newfound speed continues at these tracks.
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