Caps After Texas (Spring)Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Kyle Larson got right back in the swing of things Sunday with a second-place finish in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. He arguably had the fastest car at the end of the night and might have caught Jimmie Johnson if it had not taken so long to get around Joey Logano. That was his fifth top-two finish in the past six races this season and if anyone deserves the honor of being the driver with the highest cost, Larson is the man.
Clint Bowyer narrowly missed a fourth top-10 of the season when he crossed under the checkers 11th. If he had scored a single-digit result, he would like have gained a little more than 50 cents, but his fans should be comfortable in the fact that he is going to continue to climb the grid. His average finish on unrestricted tracks is better than 10th at 9.17. If he keeps that pace, his natural level will be in the mid-$20-range before he levels off. There is still plenty of time to get on his bandwagon.
It is far too soon to tell if Dale Earnhardt Jr. is going to keep the little momentum that a fifth-place finish at Texas provides, but for the moment we are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He has run slightly better than he finished in several of the first six races of the season, but ultimately it is the points one earns that decides if a driver should be on a roster—not potential or popularity. Earnhardt can be signed for $21.
Brad Keselowski adjusted upward by 25 cents as part of a slight reorganization at the top of the salary cap. Keselowski has been more consistently strong than most of the others in his range with a worst of sixth in the six races since Daytona and that predictability is extremely valuable.
The principle drivers Keselowski has bettered are Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch. While Elliott is still one of the strongest racers and best values, he had to take 50 cent decrease to $27.50 to make room for Keselowski and Larson. His worst finish in the past 12 weeks dating to last fall’s Talladega SuperSpeedway race is a 14th, but there are not enough top-fives to make him rival the two more expensive drivers.
For his part, Busch is always exciting, but his go-for-broke style of racing often leaves fantasy players with a hole in their roster. He had an active O'Reilly 500 that ultimately ended with him in 15th. That snapped a three-race, top-10 streak and caused fantasy players to reevaluate his potential. Wait until he gets another pair of top-fives before committing.
Danica Patrick was the only driver this week to fall by more than 25 cents. This is a critical season for the female driver and she simply is not putting up enough fantasy points to make players want to risk starting the No. 10. If a switch flips, she could be a great value at $11, but it will take several weeks before there is any rationale to raise her cap.
Daniel Suarez was the only rookie to adjust in value this week despite the fact that many of them struggled. Suarez’s 19th-place finish last week was the fifth time in seven races this year that he ended outside the top 15. His new price tag of $17 simply acknowledges his freshman status. If he has a strong run at Bristol Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway, he could rise again.