Dan Beaver

Chasing the Cup

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Chasing New Hampshire (Summer)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Martin Truex Jr. was the biggest beneficiary of this week’s biggest news. He won his third race of the season after sweeping both segments—and with that gained a huge playoff bonus. He failed to take the points’ lead because Kyle Larson charged from the back of the pack to second and minimized the damage—until Tuesday that is, when NASCAR traditionally hands down penalties.

Larson’s second-place finish in the Quaker State 400 by Advance Auto Parts at Kentucky Speedway was deemed encumbered because of improper use of duct work.  Part of the penalty was a 35-point penalty that dropped him to second in the standings. Oh yeah, and he lost his crew chief Chad Johnston for three weeks.

Regular Season Races Remaining: 8 (Maximum points per race = 60)
Unique Winners in 2017: 11

Locked into the Playoffs

Martin Truex Jr. (3 wins / 13 stage wins / 709 points)
Power Ranking: 4
Points’ Standings: 2
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
New Hampshire: 11.17
Indianapolis: 12.33
Pocono: 19.17

Truex can now truly lay claim to being the top-seeded driver. His third win came with a sweep of the race after winning both segments. So did an earlier victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and he is still the only driver to have had a perfect event in that regard.

Jimmie Johnson (3 wins / 1 stage win / 519 points)
Power Ranking: 10
Points’ Standings:
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
New Hampshire: 15.83
Indianapolis: 10.67
Pocono: 22.50

Granted, Johnson’s trouble last week at Kentucky was not entirely his fault. He barely nipped a wrecking Brad Keselowski and broke something on his suspension. That sent him hard into the wall and out of the race before anyone else. Still, he has been so erratic all season that it is impossible to list him as any kind of favorite.

Kyle Larson (2 wins / 3 stage wins / 675 points)
Power Ranking: 1
Points’ Standings: 1
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
New Hampshire: 13.33
Indianapolis: 7.00
Pocono: 9.17

Larson lost the points’ lead with his encumbered finish, but he still has the honor of being at the top of the Fantasy Power Rankings—and that is more important to us than his standing in NASCAR. Last week, his charge from 40th to second added 39 place-differential points to his total and made it hard to win a league without him on the roster.

Brad Keselowski (2 wins / 3 stage wins / 536 points)
Power Ranking: 3
Points’ Standings: 8
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
New Hampshire: 6.83
Indianapolis: 13.00
Pocono: 8.67

Keselowski railed at NASCAR for the shortcomings of the current car last week. His viewpoint is undoubtedly altered by the string of bad finishes that have plagued this team for most of the season. He would be much more tense if not for the two wins that he already has in the bank.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2 wins / 0 stage wins / 418 points)
Power Ranking: 16
Points’ Standings: 16
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
New Hampshire: 18.67
Indianapolis: 23.67
Pocono: 24.17

Leagues are won and loss not so much by erratic top-five finishes, but rather through consistently strong runs. Stenhouse has 11 top-15s in his last 13 starts this season. When those are combined with his plate wins, he becomes more than a simple curiosity.

Eligible on Wins

Kevin Harvick (1 win / 3 stage wins / 599 points)
Power Ranking: 5
Points’ Standings: 4
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
New Hampshire: 10.33
Indianapolis: 5.67
Pocono: 10.17

Now that he has one mark in the wins column, Harvick can relax and concentrate on consistency. The first trait—being able to win—gets one in the playoffs, but the ability to make the best of a bad situation is what wins a championship.

Ryan Blaney (1 win / 3 stage wins / 462 points)
Power Ranking: 9
Points’ Standings: 13
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
New Hampshire: 15.33
Indianapolis: 7.33
Pocono: 7.33

For the past six weeks, Blaney has been alternating good and poor finishes. If the pattern holds, he should struggle this week, but he might not miss the top 10 by much because he doubled down in regard top-15s at New Hampshire last year.

Ryan Newman (1 win / 0 stage wins / 414 points)
Power Ranking: 13
Points’ Standings: 17
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
New Hampshire: 11.83
Indianapolis: 17.67
Pocono: 18.00

Newman finished 22nd last week at Kentucky. That was his worst finish in the past seven races and fantasy owners might want to give him the benefit of the doubt before they remove him in salary cap games that have adjustable values. He still has a good dollar to points ratio.

Kurt Busch (1 win / 0 stage wins / 419 points)
Power Ranking: 14
Points’ Standings: 15
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
New Hampshire: 18.17
Indianapolis: 17.33
Pocono: 11.67

Busch has not been overly consistent this year and that is a double-edged sword. While he has not posted consistent top-10s, he has also not had too many back to back bummers. Until last weekend, that is. He has finished outside the top 25 at both Daytona and Kentucky, which is going to have players scrambling for the exits.

Austin Dillon (1 win / 0 stage wins / 323 points)
Power Ranking: 20
Points’ Standings: 20
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
New Hampshire: 14.00
Indianapolis: 14.67
Pocono: 18.33

Dillon’s streak of failing to finish in the top 10 since winning his fuel mileage race at Charlotte Motor Speedway continues for one more week. Worse still, he has not earned a top-15 in the past three weeks.

Eligible on Points

Kyle Busch (0 wins / 4 stage wins / 609 points)
Power Ranking: 8
Points’ Standings: 3
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
New Hampshire: 9.83
Indianapolis: 1.33
Pocono: 20.17

With five top-fives in his last nine races and two more top-10s, one would think Busch might be happy with his results. He’s not, because Joe Gibbs Racing continues to search for that elusive win and he wants to be the first to get it. Busch’s frustration continues to mount, but fantasy players are piling up points.

Chase Elliott (0 wins / 2 stage wins / 524 points)
Power Ranking: 2
Points’ Standings: 5
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
New Hampshire: 23.50
Indianapolis: 16.50
Pocono: 15.00

If you take out the plate track, Elliott has five straight top-10s including a solid run on the road course of Infineon. He is going to have to regain momentum before he contends for a win, but this recent streak is certainly a step in the right direction.

Denny Hamlin (0 wins / 2 stage wins / 538 points)
Power Ranking: 11
Points’ Standings: 7
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
New Hampshire: 14.17
Indianapolis: 4.00
Pocono: 12.33

Hamlin has been one of the most consistent drivers during the past month. Take out Daytona, like we suggested for Elliott, and Hamlin has three consecutive fourth-place finishes. If he can get another at New Hampshire—and he is one of the best short flat track drivers around—he will help win one’s league.

Matt Kenseth (0 wins / 2 stage wins / 478 points)
Power Ranking: 19
Points’ Standings: 11
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
New Hampshire: 5.83
Indianapolis: 4.33
Pocono: 17.17

After announcing he would not return to JGR next year, Kenseth went out and had one of his best races of the year. He was well on the way to a top-10 finish until he got wrecked on the final lap. That pretty much defines his season so far.

Jamie McMurray (0 wins / 0 stage wins / 545 points)
Power Ranking: 6
Points’ Standings: 6
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
New Hampshire: 14.17
Indianapolis: 18.33
Pocono: 17.17

McMurray really is the tortoise to Larson’s hare. He is not flashy, but so long as he keeps piling up top-10s he is fantasy gold. Last week’s seventh-place finish moved him up to sixth in the standings, but he still does not have any bonus points to help him during the playoffs.

Clint Bowyer (0 wins / 0 stage wins / 469 points)
Power Ranking: 12
Points’ Standings: 10
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
New Hampshire: 21.00
Indianapolis: 14.33
Pocono: 15.83

Bowyer’s 13th-place finish last week was quite a disappointment because it came on the heels of a pair of second-place finishes in the previous two races. It seemed like he was about to break into Victory Lane and now he need to reload and start over. 

 

Power

Rankings

Top

16

Driver

Wins

Stage

Wins

Power
Avg.

|

New Hampshire

Indianapolis

Pocono

Locked into the Playoffs

4.

2

Martin Truex Jr./p>

3

13

8.04

|

11.17

12.33

19.17

10.

9

Jimmie Johnson

3

1

12.70

|

15.83

10.67

22.50

1.

1

Kyle Larson

2

3

5.65

|

13.33

7.00

9.17

3.

8

Brad Keselowski

2

3

7.53

|

6.83

13.00

8.67

16.

16

Ricky Stenhouse Jr./p>

2

 

16.27

|

18.67

23.67

24.17

Eligible on Wins

5.

4

Kevin Harvick

1

3

9.43

|

10.33

5.67

10.17

9.

13

Ryan Blaney

1

3

12.42

|

15.33

24.00

7.33

14.

15

Kurt Busch

1

 

15.55

|

18.17

17.33

11.67

13.

17

Ryan Newman

1

 

15.27

|

11.83

17.67

18.00

20.

20

Austin Dillon

1

 

18.89

|

14.00

14.67

18.33

Eligible on Points

8.

3

Kyle Busch

 

4

10.75

|

9.83

1.33

20.17

2.

5

Chase Elliott

 

2

7.37

|

23.50

16.50

15.00

11.

7

Denny Hamlin

 

2

13.82

|

14.17

4.00

12.33

19.

11

Matt Kenseth

 

2

18.73

|

5.83

4.33

13.17

6.

6

Jamie McMurray

 

 

9.65

|

14.17

18.33

17.17

12.

10

Clint Bowyer

 

 

14.50

|

21.00

14.33

15.83

Drivers Outside Playoff Contention

7.

12

Joey Logano

1

1

9.85

|

10.33

4.67

15.33

15.

14

Erik Jones

 

 

15.80

|

NA

NA

3.00

17.

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr./p>

 

 

16.90

|

12.25

15.50

11.20

18.

 

Kasey Kahne

 

 

17.60

|

16.00

16.00

20.33

21.

 

Trevor Bayne

 

 

19.30

|

27.25

37.67

23.40

22.

 

Paul Menard

 

 

21.88

|

19.50

19.33

27.17

23.

 

Aric Almirola

 

 

22.03

|

20.50

28.00

31.00

24.

 

Ty Dillon

 

 

22.12

|

NA

NA

19.00

25.

 

Daniel Suarez

 

 

23.43

|

NA

NA

15.00

26.

 

Chris Buescher

 

 

23.71

|

29.50

14.00

15.00

27.

 

AJ Allmendinger

 

 

23.82

|

18.17

26.33

21.83

28.

 

Michael McDowell

 

 

24.48

|

32.50

26.67

23.50

29.

 

Danica Patrick

 

 

25.27

|

22.83

30.33

25.50

30.

 

David Ragan

 

 

26.53

|

31.33

31.00

23.17

31.

 

Landon Cassill

 

 

27.52

|

30.67

25.33

28.83

32.

 

Cole Whitt

 

 

28.45

|

30.60

31.33

27.83

33.

 

Matt DiBenedetto

 

 

29.26

|

31.00

36.00

32.20

34.

 

Gray Gaulding

 

 

31.97

|

NA

NA

29.00

35.

 

Reed Sorenson

 

 

32.61

|

35.80

39.00

32.00

36.

 

Corey LaJoie

 

 

33.38

|

41.00

NA

28.00

37.

 

Jeffrey Earnhardt

 

 

35.25

|

36.00

NA

34.00

A note about the three-year stats: The three-year average finish is a script that looks at the last 1,116 days—to provide for minor changes in the schedule. Since some races shift dates more than a week or two, the past three years occasionally contain five races instead of six. It is a consistent snapshot, however.

A note about the Power Average: The Fantasy Power Rankings formula includes finishing results this season as well as various “strength-based” intangibles such as Laps in the top five, 10, and 15, average running position, speed in traffic, and quality passes (passing a car while in the top 15) expressed as if they were finishing results. The lower the number, the stronger the driver. 



Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.
Email :Dan Beaver



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