Dan Beaver

NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

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TicketGuardian 500 Cheat Sheet

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Second to only the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks, short courses one mile and less in length make up nearly 25 percent of the NASCAR schedule.

To run well over the course of the season, one must figure out how to go fast at Ingenuity Sun Media Raceway, Martinsville Speedway, Richmond International Raceway, and New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Once that is done, those skills translate to both the larger flat tracks of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway, as well as the road courses of Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International. This week will be pivotal for the drivers and fantasy owners alike, so take good notes over the course of the weekend.

1. Kevin Harvick
With a nine-race streak of top-six results at ISM Raceway, we would be crazy if Harvick was not this week's top pick. Back-to-back wins at Atlanta and Vegas don't hurt either.

2. Kyle Busch
Injury forced Busch to miss the spring 2015 500; since then, he has four top-fives and a seventh in his last five attempts.

3. Chase Elliott
It would have taken a win at Phoenix last fall to get Elliott into the Championship finale. He almost pulled that off with a second-place finish that was his fourth straight top-12.

4. Martin Truex Jr.
Truex was so good on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks last year that he may have been overlooked on short, flat courses - but he earned four top-fives in his last five attempts on them.

5. Brad Keselowski
Last year, Keselowski got off to a strong start on short flat tracks by finishing fifth at Phoenix, first at Martinsville, and second at Richmond in the spring.

6. Ryan Blaney
Blaney finally got the finish he deserved last week at Vegas. After running in the top five all afternoon, he finished fifth to complete a sweep of the top 15 in 2018.

7. Kyle Larson
If you are playing an allocation management game, save Larson for next week at Auto Club, but he deserves to be handicapped in the top 10 based on his Phoenix record of two top-fives in the last three attempts.

8. Joey Logano
Logano scored one victory, two more top-fives, and a 10th on this track type last year, but he also finished outside the top 20 on three occasions.

9. Denny Hamlin
When he hits on the right setup, Hamlin is hard to stop on short, flat tracks. At Phoenix, he earned four top-10s in his last six starts. Unfortunately, they are bookended by a pair of sub-20th-place results.

10. Daniel Suarez
This Young Gun could be one of the hidden gems at Phoenix with four top-10s and another pair of top-15s in eight short, flat track races last year.

11. Paul Menard
We have not shown Menard the respect he deserves so far in the Cheat Sheets, but his ninth-place finish at Vegas last week forced us to take a hard look at his handicap.

12. Erik Jones
Jones finished in the top 15 in his first two attempts on this track type and then struggled badly at Richmond and New Hampshire. Three of his last four attempts ended sixth or better, however.

13. Aric Almirola
Stewart-Haas Racing has been incredibly strong so far in 2018 and Almirola has been consistent with results of 10th through 13th in three races.

14. Alex Bowman
Short, flat tracks are drivers’ courses and that could mean Bowman will get his first top-15 of the season with Hendrick Motorsports.

15. Kurt Busch
We've said for a while that Busch has a tendency to overdrive on occasion. Last week, he took out himself and Elliott when he lost control in turn four of his home track.

16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Roush-Fenway Racing has not always been one of the first to come to mind on short, flat tracks, but Stenhouse earned five top-10s and two more top-15s on them last year in eight attempts.

17. Jimmie Johnson
The Mighty has fallen and last week's 12th-place finish at Vegas came after Johnson was off the lead lap for the majority of the Pennzoil 400. Circumstance, more than strength, contributed to his top-15.

18. Clint Bowyer
It doesn't get much more consistent than this: Bowyer finished 13th in both Phoenix races last year. His previous four efforts were all outside the top 20, however.

19. Austin Dillon
His victory in the Daytona 500 was dramatic, but not predictive. Seven of Dillon’s last eight attempts dating back to last fall at Kansas were in the low-teens, however, and that is a good gauge.

20. Jamie McMurray
The consistency he showed at the beginning of 2017 is conspicuously absent this year, so McMurray should be treated with caution.

21. Ryan Newman
Race strategy gave Newman the victory in this event last year, but that is his only top-10 in the past five Phoenix races.

22. William Byron
The rookie has not yet lived up to his potential, but everyone still expects great things from the driver of the No. 24.

23. Darrell Wallace Jr.
He did not get into the front half of the field last week at Vegas, but Wallace performed admirably for a rookie with little Cup experience. His 21st was a solid performance.

24. Kasey Kahne
Kahne will continue to help the Leavine Family No. 95 get stronger. His last two efforts ended in a 21st at Atlanta and a 19th at Vegas.

25. AJ Allmendinger
Slowly but surely, Allmendinger's results are slipping down the order and last week's 30th at Vegas might not be the bottom for this team.

26. Trevor Bayne
With no top-15s to his credit on this one-mile oval, it is difficult to put a very high value on Bayne this week.

27. Ty Dillon
As soon as a spot opens up for Dillon with his Grandfather's team, he will become a much better value than he is with the satellite No. 13.

28. Michael McDowell
Finishing 37th last week was a heartbreak for McDowell after the strength he showed in practice and qualification for the Pennzoil 400.

29. Chris Buescher
So far this season, "five" has been Buescher's favorite number. He finished 5th in the Daytona 500, 25th at Atlanta, and 15th at Vegas.

30. Matt DiBenedetto
Half of DiBenedetto's results on short, flat tracks last year ended in top-30 finishes, but none were better than the 27th he earned at Phoenix in the fall.

31. Rick Ware’s No. 51
The No. 51 has had a lot of late-week changes to their announced driver, but no matter who is behind the wheel, a result in the low-30s is indicated.

32. David Ragan
He was solid on the other short, flat tracks last year, but Ragan could muster only a 35th at Phoenix in the spring and a 33rd in the fall.

33. Ross Chastain
Chastain has made the last two starts in the No. 15 with a 30th at Atlanta and a 29th at Vegas. He has not yet competed on a short, flat track in his career, however.

34. Corey LaJoie
He has not yet scored a top-25 on this track type, but LaJoie came close on a couple of occasions with a best of 27th at New Hampshire last fall.

35. Jeffrey Earnhardt
Earnhardt has scored two top-30 finishes on short, flat tracks and one of these came at Phoenix. The vast majority of his efforts were in the mid- to high-30s, however.

36. DJ Kennington
The Gaunt Bros. will roll out the No. 96 this week to allow Canadian Kennington to get some laps around the Phoenix one-miler. He'll earn some valuable experience.

37. Gray Gaulding
Last week, there was enough attrition to raise Gaulding to 33rd. It is difficult to tell how many cars will retire this week.

Previous Cheat Sheets

Pennzoil 400 
QuikTrip 500 
Daytona 500

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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