Dan Beaver

Chasing the Cup

print article archives RSS

Chasing Dover (Fall)

Thursday, September 28, 2017


With three-race capsules, each round of the playoffs is a mini-season with literally a beginning, middle, and end. Next week, four drivers will no longer vie for the Monster Energy Cup and it’s not looking good for two drivers who ran into trouble at New Hampshire.

The playoff points are playing a role in keeping the three drivers at the top of the order safe for the moment. Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch have wins in the first round of the playoffs, but the bonuses earned for race and stage wins have them sitting pretty additionally. The same is true of Kyle Larson regarding the points.

But at the end of the Apache Warrior 400 at Dover International Speedway, Kevin Harvick might well be the racer happiest with the current rules package. His 15 bonus points might well be the difference between advancing to round two and getting eliminated in round one.

Projected to make the Finals

Kyle Larson (4 wins / 3 stage wins / 2,125 points)
Power Ranking: 1
Points’ Standings: 2
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Dover: 7.83
Charlotte: 17.17
Talladega: 21.67

Last year, the field was a little nervous about the possibility Larson would make it to Homestead with a shot at the championship. This year, they should feel even more uneasy since the driver of the No. 42 has learned how to win.

Martin Truex Jr. (5 wins / 19 stage wins / 2,149 points)
Power Ranking: 3
Points’ Standings: 1
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Dover: 6.17
Charlotte: 6.50
Talladega: 21.17

From the beginning of the playoffs it has been essentially meaningless if Truex wins races or stages because he practically has enough of a cushion to cruise into Homestead. He still wants to beat the competition, however, and each time he takes a bonus point from them, he makes their life a little more difficult.

Kevin Harvick (1 win / 3 stage wins / 2,069 points)
Power Ranking: 5
Points’ Standings: 10
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Dover: 12.83
Charlotte: 10.00
Talladega: 12.83

When Harvick got turned by Austin Dillon at New Hampshire, he comforted himself with the 15 bonus points he has already accumulated. He is not strictly safe with only a 25-26 point advantage above 13th- and 14th-place drivers, so he needs a safe run this week to reset his chances in round two.

Denny Hamlin (1 unencumbered win – 1 encumbered / 2 stage wins / 2,088 points)
Power Ranking: 9
Points’ Standings: 5
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Dover: 12.50
Charlotte: 10.00
Talladega: 18.17

Hamlin is a flat track master, but he is no slouch at Dover either with a sweep of the top 10 last year and an eighth this spring. His 12th last week at New Hampshire was only the third time in the past 11 races that he failed to finish in the top five and he has the momentum to get to the finale.

Projected to Advance to Round 3

Brad Keselowski (2 wins / 4 stage wins / 2,106 points)
Power Ranking: 2
Points’ Standings: 4
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Dover: 13.00
Charlotte: 13.83
Talladega: 12.17

From Watkins Glen International through the regular season finale at Richmond International Raceway, Keselowski failed to earn a single top-10 and averaged a result of 17.4. He rebounded quickly with a sixth at Chicagoland Speedway and a fourth at New Hampshire and should be able to go deep into the playoffs.

Chase Elliott (0 wins / 3 stage wins / 2,070 points)
Power Ranking: 4
Points’ Standings: 9
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Dover: 3.67
Charlotte: 24.25
Talladega: 15.67

Elliott’s best chance to win one of the final eight races of the season will come this week at Dover. He has never failed to crack the top five on this track and has more maturity than at any point in his career, but he will need to show incredible composure to make it out of round two.

Kyle Busch (2 wins / 13 stage wins / 2,119 points)
Power Ranking: 7
Points’ Standings: 3
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Dover: 16.00
Charlotte: 12.83
Talladega: 17.20

Busch’s odds changed dramatically last week with his New Hampshire win. The five bonus points he earned will help get him further down the playoff road. Equally important is the fact that he managed to keep his head about him and rebound from the Chicagoland penalty, which shows the poise needed to contend for the championship.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2 wins / 0 stage wins / 2,044 points)
Power Ranking: 16
Points’ Standings: 12
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Dover: 21.33
Charlotte: 20.67
Talladega: 16.83

Your eyes are not deceiving you: We jumped Stenhouse up to the round three projections. He has been showing improvement and needs only finish ahead of either Dillon or Ryan Newman to get to round two and then he has a better than average chance of winning at Talladega. It will take a remarkable set of circumstances to get him to this point in the playoffs, but NASCAR is filled with such occurrences.

Projected to Advance to Round 2

Jamie McMurray (0 wins / 0 stage wins / 2,053 points)
Power Ranking: 6
Points’ Standings: 11
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Dover: 16.83
Charlotte: 12.50
Talladega: 18.33

Last week was only the third time in the past 14 races that McMurray failed to finish among the top 15; he was 16th in the ISM Connect 300 and one of his other modest results in that span of time was a 17th. The No. 1 team continues to be the most consistent in the field and that is fantasy gold.

Ryan Blaney (1 win / 3 stage wins / 2,070 points)
Power Ranking: 10
Points’ Standings: 8
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Dover: 26.00
Chicagoland: 26.20
Talladega: 21.33

It is kind of difficult to figure out what to say about Blaney’s team on a weekly basis. They show occasional strength and a lot of inconsistency. Last week was only the second time this year that the No. 21 earned back-to-back top-15s with a ninth at New Hampshire and an 11th at Chicagoland.

Jimmie Johnson (3 wins / 1 stage win / 2,076 points)
Power Ranking: 11
Points’ Standings: 7
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Dover: 13.00
Charlotte: 19.50
Talladega: 16.17

Johnson finished 14th last week at New Hampshire, which was his fifth consecutive top-five. With a high of eighth in that span of races, he is not exactly establishing himself or his team as place-and-hold contenders.

Matt Kenseth (0 wins / 3 stage wins / 2,087 points)
Power Ranking: 17
Points’ Standings: 6
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Dover: 11.67
Charlotte: 13.00
Talladega: 21.33

Kenseth has been strong, but a little inconsistent since finishing second at Watkins Glen. In the past six races, he has alternated top-fives with top-10s and another result outside the top 20. It will take only one stumble for him to get eliminated and it’s anyone’s guess as to when that might happen.

Projected to Fail to Advance to Round 2

Ryan Newman (1 win / 0 stage wins / 2,043 points)
Power Ranking: 12
Points’ Standings: 14
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Dover: 13.67
Charlotte: 8.50
Talladega: 15.17

We are vacillating about Newman. He has a tendency toward consistency. Dover is a track suited to his driving style. Anything can happen on those high banks, however, and he is just as likely to get caught up in someone else’s mess as any other driver.

Kurt Busch (1 win / 0 stage wins / 2,027 points)
Power Ranking: 14
Points’ Standings: 15
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Dover: 20.50
Charlotte: 7.67
Talladega: 7.83

Busch is not exactly in a must-win situation, but with 17 points to make up on 12th in the standings, he has a tall order ahead of him and some recent bad luck that is hard to ignore. Two of his best tracks are coming up at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Talladega SuperSpeedway, but first he has to clear Dover.

Kasey Kahne (1 win / 0 stage wins / 2,023 points)
Power Ranking: 19
Points’ Standings: 16
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Dover: 10.50
Charlotte: 20.83
Talladega: 24.00

Kahne has not been a very good fantasy value most of the year and his last six races have not been an exception. Since Watkins Glen this summer, he has only one top-15 and an average finish of 25.67.

Austin Dillon (1 win / 0 stage wins / 2,044 points)
Power Ranking: 20
Points’ Standings: 13
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Dover: 22.17
Charlotte: 13.50
Talladega: 18.33

The only one who knows if last week’s contact with Harvick was aggressive driving, a mistake, or retaliation is Dillon and he is not likely to tell us which is true. The bottom line is that he has not earned enough fantasy points to make the rank and file player care much, however. 

Power
Rankings

Points

Standings

Driver

Wins

Stage
Wins

Power
Avg.

|

Dover

Charlotte

Talladega

Projected to Make the Finals

1.

2

Kyle Larson

4

3

6.57

|

7.83

17.17

21.67

3.

1

Martin Truex Jr./p>

5

19

8.31

|

6.17

6.50

21.17

5.

10

Kevin Harvick

1

3

9.75

|

12.83

10.00

12.83

9.

5

Denny Hamlin

2, 1

2

12.66

|

12.50

10.00

18.17

Projected to Advance to Round 3

2.

4

Brad Keselowski

2

4

8.11

|

13.00

13.83

12.17

4.

9

Chase Elliott

 

3

8.32

|

3.67

24.25

15.67

7.

3

Kyle Busch

3

13

10.50

|

16.00

12.83

17.20

16.

12

Ricky Stenhouse Jr./p>

2

 

17.04

|

21.33

20.67

16.83

Projected to Advance to Round 2

6.

11

Jamie McMurray

 

 

10.37

|

16.83

12.50

18.33

10.

8

Ryan Blaney

1

3

13.23

|

26.00

26.20

21.33

11.

7

Jimmie Johnson

3

1

13.43

|

13.00

19.50

16.17

17.

6

Matt Kenseth

 

3

17.19

|

11.67

13.00

21.33

Projected to Fail to Advance to Round 2

12.

14

Ryan Newman

1

 

14.80

|

13.67

8.50

15.17

14.

15

Kurt Busch

1

 

15.17

|

20.50

7.67

7.83

19.

16

Kasey Kahne

1

 

18.25

|

10.50

20.83

24.00

20.

13

Austin Dillon

1

 

18.89

|

22.17

13.50

18.33

Not in Playoff Contention

8.

17

Joey Logano

1

1

11.00

|

13.00

14.00

17.17

13.

18

Clint Bowyer

 

1

14.98

|

16.50

21.33

13.33

15.

 

Erik Jones

 

 

15.54

|

15.00

7.00

33.00

18.

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr./p>

 

 

17.88

|

15.40

15.00

19.20

21.

 

Trevor Bayne

 

 

19.67

|

25.00

25.33

26.33

22.

 

Paul Menard

 

 

21.58

|

19.17

26.00

15.50

23.

20

Daniel Suarez

0

1

21.62

|

6.00

11.00

19.00

24.

 

Ty Dillon

 

 

21.96

|

23.00

36.00

13.00

25.

 

Aric Almirola

 

 

22.29

|

17.00

18.00

18.17

26.

 

Chris Buescher

 

 

23.06

|

21.33

24.33

24.50

27.

 

AJ Allmendinger

 

 

23.26

|

22.67

21.33

21.83

28.

 

Michael McDowell

 

 

23.79

|

19.50

26.17

30.67

29.

 

Danica Patrick

 

 

24.17

|

18.67

20.67

24.83

30.

 

David Ragan

 

 

26.68

|

23.83

31.50

27.67

31.

 

Landon Cassill

 

 

27.52

|

30.33

26.50

23.00

32.

 

Cole Whitt

 

 

28.58

|

26.60

31.67

16.80

33.

 

Matt DiBenedetto

 

 

28.92

|

32.40

31.40

27.80

34.

 

JJ Yeley

 

 

29.60

|

34.33

33.75

31.33

35.

 

Joey Gase

 

 

30.89

|

NA

NA

21.00

36.

 

Gray Gaulding

 

 

32.14

|

24.00

27.00

20.00

37.

 

Reed Sorenson

 

 

32.74

|

34.50

32.00

30.33

38.

 

Corey LaJoie

 

 

32.86

|

NA

33.50

27.00

39.

 

Jeffrey Earnhardt

 

 

35.02

|

32.67

35.00

31.00

 

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



Highest Searched Drivers over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    Roto Pat: Start Rodgers

    Roto Pat: Start Rodgers
  •  
    Rankings: Steelers on top

    Rankings: Steelers on top
  •  
    Dose: Rodgers returns for GB

    Dose: Rodgers returns for GB
  •  
    Waivers: Wentz replacements

    Waivers: Wentz replacements
  •  
    Dose: Miami upsets NE

    Dose: Miami upsets NE
  •  
    Dose: PIT

    Dose: PIT's O crushes BAL
  •  
    Silva: Week 14 Matchups

    Silva: Week 14 Matchups
  •  
    Dose: Kamara injured in loss

    Dose: Kamara injured in loss