Dan Beaver

Chasing the Cup

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Chasing Homestead

Thursday, November 16, 2017


And then, there were four. Nine races have been run; 12 drivers eliminated and the four who made the finale are the cream of the 2017 crop.

Two of the final four made their way into the Championship round by virtue of wins while another used the points system to his absolute benefit. The final spot was a nail biter until the end of the Can Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Brad Keselowski benefited by the ongoing feud between Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott because it eliminated the veteran competitor. Both Hamlin and Elliott led at various stages of the races, however, and Kez was not comfortable until the final handful of laps.

Ultimately, he also qualified based on points—but unlike Truex, he has not dominated the season.

Still, with NASCAR’s “best driver” format at Homestead, this is anyone’s game. Who will win? It will really come down to which team positions its driver at the front and who has the best restart late in the Ford 400.

Projected to Make the Finale

Martin Truex Jr. (7 wins / 19 stage wins / 5,000 points)
Power Ranking: 1
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Homestead: 21.67

Yes, Homestead-Miami Speedway is a much different 1.5-mile track than most of the so-called "cookie-cutter" courses and with an average finish of 21.67 on the true oval during the past three years, it has not been his best track. Most fantasy experts would agree that this is not a typical season for Truex, however, and it is hard to imagine that he is not going to contend for the win until the final lap.

The only thing that will give players pause is that he has not always had the best of luck—the team has made their fair share of mistakes—and anything can happen in a one-race shootout. Truex is expensive in salary cap games, but he has consistently proved to be worth starting.

Truex enters the weekend with a four-race streak of top-fives this season.

Kevin Harvick (2 win / 6 stage wins / 5,000 points)
Power Ranking: 5
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Homestead: 2.00

There is such a thing as peaking at the right time and that is precisely what is happening to Harvick. He has not been one of the best fantasy values all year, but round three was about as perfect as possible with three consecutive top-fives that included a victory on the last 1.5-mile track.

Harvick has finished third or better in his last three Homestead starts and that means he has the best average finish of the four contenders. The only thing that keeps him from being seeded first in our rankings is that he had gotten progressively worse in those three races with a win in 2014, second in 2015, and third last year. If he finishes fourth in the 2017 Ford 400, he will not win the championship.

Kyle Busch (5 wins / 14 stage wins / 5,000 points)
Power Ranking: 6
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Homestead: 15.33

Busch won the 2015 season finale and the championship. That is going to make him highly valued by fantasy players. He is far from a certainty, however, with a seventh-place finish in 2013 and a sixth last year. His average is marred by a 39th in 2014—and that brings us to another uncertainty in his regard. Busch is prone to overdriving at times and occasionally slaps the wall when a lot is on the line.

In the nine playoff races of 2017, he has three wins and another pair of top-10s, but the remainder of his efforts ended 15th or worse for an average of 12.2. That gives him the least recent momentum of the Championship Four by four positions to Keselowski.

Brad Keselowski (3 wins / 8 stage wins / 5,000 points)
Power Ranking: 2
Next three tracks, 3-year average finish
Homestead: 13.67

Keselowski has not limped into the finale by any stretch of the imagination, but last week’s struggles in the Can Am 500 at Phoenix International Raceway gave fantasy players some pause. If not for the accident by Hamlin, his 16th would not have been enough to advance the No. 2.

Keselowski fans will hang their hopes on the fact that he finished third in back-to-back races in 2014/2015. Unfortunately, he has failed to crack the top 10 in six of nine races on this track.

 

Power
Rankings

Points
Standings

Driver

Wins

Stage
Wins

Power
Avg.

|

Homestead

Projected to Make the Finale

1.

 

Martin Truex Jr.

7

19

7.99

|

21.67

2.

 

Brad Keselowski

 

 

8.21

|

13.67

5.

 

Kevin Harvick

 

 

9.62

|

2.00

6.

 

Kyle Busch

 

 

10.80

|

15.33

Outside Playoff Contention

3.

5

Chase Elliott

 

3

8.36

|

11.00

4.

9

Kyle Larson

4

6

8.39

|

6.67

7.

12

Jamie McMurray

 

 

11.28

|

7.67

8.

17

Joey Logano

1

1

11.46

|

8.00

9.

6

Denny Hamlin

2, 1

4

12.75

|

8.67

10.

8

Ryan Blaney

1

4

13.09

|

21.50

11.

10

Jimmie Johnson

3

1

13.84

|

6.33

12.

16

Ryan Newman

1

 

15.38

|

14.33

13.

15

Kurt Busch

1

 

15.41

|

10.67

14.

19

Clint Bowyer

 

1

15.49

|

24.67

15.

 

Erik Jones

 

 

16.02

|

NA

16.

7

Matt Kenseth

1

3

16.64

|

6.67

17.

11

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

2

 

17.00

|

24.67

18.

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

 

 

17.32

|

27.00

19.

14

Kasey Kahne

1

 

17.64

|

22.67

20.

13

Austin Dillon

1

 

18.61

|

17.00

21.

 

Trevor Bayne

 

 

19.59

|

26.67

22.

20

Daniel Suarez

 

1

20.95

|

NA

23.

 

Paul Menard

 

 

21.17

|

13.00

24.

 

Aric Almirola

 

 

21.31

|

33.33

25.

 

Ty Dillon

 

 

21.65

|

28.00

26.

 

Chris Buescher

 

 

22.88

|

24.00

27.

 

AJ Allmendinger

 

 

23.56

|

22.67

28.

 

Michael McDowell

 

 

23.88

|

21.33

29.

 

Danica Patrick

 

 

24.25

|

23.67

30.

 

David Ragan

 

 

26.50

|

28.67

31.

 

Landon Cassill

 

 

27.27

|

28.33

32.

 

Cole Whitt

 

 

28.81

|

27.00

33.

 

Matt DiBenedetto

 

 

28.85

|

32.00

34.

 

JJ Yeley

 

 

29.60

|

35.50

35.

 

Gray Gaulding

 

 

31.79

|

40.00

36.

 

Reed Sorenson

 

 

32.63

|

33.67

37.

 

Jeffrey Earnhardt

 

 

34.77

|

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



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