Dan Beaver

Chasing the Cup

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Chasing Kansas (Fall)

Friday, October 27, 2017


Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the racetrack, Kansas Speedway was just as unpredictable as Talladega SuperSpeedway. Only this time, it seemed to take special interest in a couple of playoff contenders. Kyle Larson’s blown engine plus Matt Kenseth’s accident and disqualification dropped them out of the Championship Hunt along with Jamie McMurray and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The remaining eight drivers are strong on the upcoming tracks and it is likely that three of them will win one race apiece. If that happens, points are going to be extremely important as only one will qualify for the finale with that criterion.

Projected to Make the Finale

Martin Truex Jr. (7 wins / 19 stage wins / 4,069 points)
Power Ranking: 4
Points’ Standings: 1
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Martinsville: 15.17
Texas: 8.83
Phoenix: 16.33

With all the strength he has shown this year on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks, Truex has to be the odds on favorite to win at Texas Motor Speedway. That will be his eighth win of the season and then he can concentrate on getting just one more at Homestead-Miami Speedway to cap off his near perfect campaign.

Kevin Harvick (1 win / 5 stage wins / 4,017 points)
Power Ranking: 5
Points’ Standings: 4
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Martinsville: 17.67
Texas: 4.50
Phoenix: 2.50

Harvick is going to be most experts’ pick to win Phoenix this year. And while he has not been quite as dominant in 2017 as he was in the past on that flat one-miler, it’s difficult to bet against him.

Denny Hamlin (1 unencumbered win – 1 encumbered / 3 stage wins / 4,014 points)
Power Ranking: 9
Points’ Standings: 6
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Martinsville: 14.00
Texas: 17.50
Phoenix: 9.33

If three drivers win and advance, Hamlin is the most likely candidate this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. He is a short, flat track master who loves to race in his home state. If he doesn’t win the First Data 500, he will have another shot in Phoenix in two weeks.  

Kyle Busch (4 wins / 14 stage wins / 4,042 points)
Power Ranking: 6
Points’ Standings: 2
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Martinsville: 4.80
Texas: 5.80
Phoenix: 9.40

If one driver qualifies on points, Busch is the most likely candidate with 42 bonus points to his credit. He cannot afford to get into trouble this week at Martinsville, and if he survives this short track ahead of Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, and Jimmie Johnson he should have a clear shot at Homestead.

Projected to Fail to Advance to the Final Round

Chase Elliott (0 wins / 3 stage wins / 4,006 points)
Power Ranking: 2
Points’ Standings: 8
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Martinsville: 18.25
Texas: 6.00
Phoenix: 9.67

If Elliott does not make the finale, it will be because he failed to bank very many bonus points during the regular season. Time is running out for him to get his first win this season and it looks increasingly less likely with each passing week.

Brad Keselowski (3 wins / 6 stage wins / 4,026 points)
Power Ranking: 3
Points’ Standings: 3
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Martinsville: 12.17
Texas: 8.00
Phoenix: 11.17

If it seems like we are having difficulty deciding what to do with Keselowski, that is because we are. The team is strong, but they lack the kind of consistency that is needed to make them an easy pick to advance.

Ryan Blaney (1 win / 4 stage wins / 4,009 points)
Power Ranking: 10
Points’ Standings: 7
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Martinsville: 21.00
Texas: 27.60
Phoenix: 13.67

Blaney has the same issue as fellow sophomore Elliott. He has not been strong enough overall to bank bonus points, but he could be a surprise winner in two weeks at Texas. As he struggles to stay out of the bottom four, look for this team to score consistent top-10s, however, and that will make them a good fantasy value.

Jimmie Johnson (3 wins / 1 stage win / 4,017 points)
Power Ranking: 11
Points’ Standings: 5
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Martinsville: 17.33
Texas: 3.17
Phoenix: 18.83

Johnson is full of surprises and he might still eke out a spot in the final four. If he does, he still has the potential to get one good restart like he did in 2016 and win another championship—but he is still likely to underperform his career averages on the following four tracks.

 

Power
Rankings

Points
Standings

Driver

Wins

Stage
Wins

Power
Avg.

|

Martinsville

Texas

Phoenix

Projected to Make the Finale

4.

1

Martin Truex Jr.

7

19

8.24

|

15.17

8.83

16.33

5.

4

Kevin Harvick

1

5

9.89

|

17.67

4.50

2.50

9.

6

Denny Hamlin

2, 1

3

12.65

|

14.00

17.50

9.33

6.

2

Kyle Busch

4

14

10.88

|

4.80

5.80

9.40

Outside Playoff Contention

2.

8

Chase Elliott

 

3

8.18

|

18.25

6.00

9.67

3.

3

Brad Keselowski

3

6

8.20

|

12.17

8.00

11.17

10.

7

Ryan Blaney

1

4

13.21

|

21.00

27.60

13.67

11.

5

Jimmie Johnson

3

1

13.30

|

17.33

3.17

18.83

Projected to Fail to Advance to Round 3

1.

9

Kyle Larson

4

4

7.14

|

16.60

16.67

10.17

7.

11

Jamie McMurray

 

 

11.00

|

16.17

10.00

12.17

8.

17

Joey Logano

1

1

11.33

|

11.50

10.67

11.17

12.

16

Ryan Newman

1

 

15.25

|

11.83

17.00

12.83

13.

13

Kurt Busch

1

 

15.31

|

26.00

11.33

9.17

14.

18

Clint Bowyer

 

1

15.41

|

20.50

23.17

25.83

15.

 

Erik Jones

 

 

16.14

|

12.00

17.00

13.50

16.

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

 

 

17.26

|

17.80

4.40

14.20

17.

10

Matt Kenseth

 

3

17.26

|

12.67

16.40

16.80

18.

15

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

2

 

17.36

|

29.33

17.50

22.33

19.

12

Kasey Kahne

1

 

17.77

|

17.83

20.00

17.67

20.

14

Austin Dillon

1

 

18.88

|

16.17

23.50

23.17

21.

 

Trevor Bayne

 

 

19.36

|

22.40

25.67

26.40

22.

20

Daniel Suarez

 

1

21.23

|

32.00

19.00

7.00

23.

 

Paul Menard

 

 

21.27

|

17.33

26.83

19.83

24.

 

Ty Dillon

 

 

21.65

|

22.00

18.50

19.33

25.

 

Aric Almirola

 

 

21.76

|

20.33

20.83

16.50

26.

 

Chris Buescher

 

 

22.68

|

23.75

25.00

29.67

27.

 

AJ Allmendinger

 

 

23.41

|

13.50

18.50

19.50

28.

 

Michael McDowell

 

 

24.05

|

22.67

28.20

28.75

29.

 

Danica Patrick

 

 

24.48

|

24.00

22.83

22.33

30.

 

David Ragan

 

 

26.30

|

20.33

27.00

25.67

31.

 

Landon Cassill

 

 

27.43

|

24.17

30.50

26.50

32.

 

Cole Whitt

 

 

28.75

|

22.20

29.60

34.00

33.

 

Matt DiBenedetto

 

 

28.77

|

31.40

33.50

27.40

34.

 

JJ Yeley

 

 

29.60

|

31.33

33.50

30.00

35.

 

Joey Gase

 

 

31.00

|

36.00

39.00

35.67

36.

 

Gray Gaulding

 

 

31.62

|

34.00

34.00

36.50

37.

 

Corey LaJoie

 

 

32.67

|

28.00

32.00

38.00

38.

 

Reed Sorenson

 

 

32.67

|

35.25

36.80

31.33

39.

 

Jeffrey Earnhardt

 

 

34.85

|

34.50

36.33

36.00

 

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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