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!
Photo -- LAT Photographic and Autoweek.com
Aside -- I just love this Lowe's paint scheme.
Jimmie Johnson had a very rocky and unpredictable 2017 season. That is about the worst thing one could say about an elite level driver for fantasy purposes. Let's look at some of the numbers to show just how erratic things were.
Johnson won races at Texas, Bristol and Dover. His Texas and Dover wins came as no surprise because historically those are two of his strongest tracks (see below). In the remaining 33 races, however, Johnson had only one other Top 5 finish (3rd in the October race at Dover). And, for the entire year, Johnson had only eleven Top 10 finishes. On the flip side, he finished outside the Top 20 twelve times. It's incredible to think that one of the best drivers and teams in the history of NASCAR would be more likely to finish outside the Top 20 than in the Top 10. But that is what happened with the 48 team last year.
Can we expect an all around improvement in 2018? I'm not convinced that we can due to all the change and uncertainty that has happened in the off-season. First, the Chevy teams are all switching to a new chassis. While that may ultimately lead to more speed -- as the Toyota chassis update did -- there is likely to be at least some struggle and a learning curve early in the season. And, within Hendrick Motorsports, there has been a near complete makeover, with Johnson now being teammates with a stable of three young but talented drivers -- Chase Elliott, William Byron and Alex Bowman. I have to imagine something will be lost without the input of accomplished race winning drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne, both of whom were Johnson's teammates last year.
So what to do with Johnson for our fantasy games in 2018? At this point, I have to recommend limiting his use to the tracks where he has historically dominated. Things could change if the team shows marked improvement in speed at some point in 2018, but for now, I would stick with the tracks he loves. Here are three to focus on: (1) Dover -- In the last three Dover races, Johnson has finished 3rd, 1st and 7th. In the last ten races there, he has four wins and seven finishes inside the Top 7. Johnson will probably be a threat to win every Dover race until the day he retires. (2) Texas -- Johnson has won four of the last seven and six of the last eleven races at Texas Motor Speedway. In 29 Texas races during his Cup Series career, Johnson has seven wins, another five second place finishes, and a total of twenty-one Top 10 finishes. He has finished outside the Top 20 only four times. Simply amazing numbers and the dominance shows no signs of slowing at this track. (3) Charlotte -- Finally comes a track that is just a 15-20 minute walk down the street from Hendrick Motorsports' complex in Concord, North Carolina. Early in his career, Johnson simply manhandled the competition at CMS. He won five of his first ten races there as a full-time Cup driver, led laps in each of those races and did not finish outside the Top 7. His performance at CMS has been more uneven since then, but he has been very strong there the last two years. During those four races, Johnson has a win in October 2016, to go along with 3rd and 7th place finishes. In the one other race (the 2017 Coca Cola 600), Johnson ran out of gas a few miles from the finish while leading the race. (Austin Dillon went on to win that race and take the #3 back to Victory Lane.) Johnson always seems to bring a little something extra to those hometown Charlotte races.
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