Dan Beaver

NASCAR Fantasy Cheat Sheet

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Coke 600 Cheat Sheet

Friday, May 25, 2018

Back-to-back races on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks should give fantasy players some useable data. That really seemed like what was going to happen for the majority of the KC Masterpiece 400 at Kansas Speedway as the race ran green and the cream was firmly at the top.

A series of late-race cautions slowly eliminated several top contenders. Still, among the top five finishers, we had four drivers listed within one position of where they actually finished – and that was a moral victory. The addition of 200 miles to the program this week makes room for more carnage, blown engines, and mistakes, but predictions still must be made and fantasy rosters have to be filled.

1. Kevin Harvick
He's won four of the last five races on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks and finished second in the other. Who else but Harvick would we put in the No. 1 slot?

2. Kyle Busch
With a perfect sweep of the top 10 on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks this year, Busch is a great choice to anchor a roster. His second at Vegas and win at Texas underscores that.

3. Joey Logano
It took a tire gamble last week to get Logano into the top five, but he now has 10 top-10s in 12 races this year and is going to get another in the Coke 600.

4. Martin Truex Jr.
After a tough stretch from Texas through Talladega, Truex is back on track with back-to-back top-fives at Dover and Kansas.

5. Denny Hamlin
If Hamlin can avoid mistakes, he is capable of scoring a top-five. Eight of his last 10 races on "cookie-cutter" tracks were fifth or better.

6. Kyle Larson
If not for an accident at Texas, Larson would almost certainly have a perfect record of top-10s on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. Last week, he was the driver to beat until a late-race accident relegated him to “just” a fourth-place finish.

7. Brad Keselowski
Keselowski has been hit or miss this year and has only two top-fives to his credit. Both of these came on unrestricted, intermediate speedways, however.

8. Kurt Busch
If one disregards his crash-induced 35th at Vegas in the Pennzoil 400, Busch has a perfect record of top-10s on this track type stretching back to last fall at Kansas.

9. Ryan Blaney
Blaney was Larson's closest competition last week in the KC Masterpiece 400 at Kansas until he made a mistake and ruined both of their days.

10. Erik Jones
It's past time to start thinking of Jones as a top-10 contender: After all, he has four of those in his last five races on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks.

11. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer has been consistent for most of the year, but less so on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. Still, this team has the capacity to score a top-10 any given week.

12. Chase Elliott
There is little doubt that Elliott will be strong on this track type eventually; last year, he had six top-fives in 10 races. The 2018 season has not been nearly as strong, however.

13. Aric Almirola
He has not scored a top-five on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks yet this year, but three of the four races ended in top-15s for Almirola.

14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The best news that came out of last week's KC Masterpiece 400 at Kansas was that teammate Kenseth was dealing with the same set of issues as Stenhouse has been all year.

15. Austin Dillon
Dillon has not scored a similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track top-10 since he won last year's Coke 600 on fuel mileage, but he has seven results of 17th or better in 10 races on this type.

16. Daniel Suarez
For all of the promise shown by Suarez this year, he has not had much luck on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. His single top-15 came in the QuikTrip 500 aat Atlanta and he has no top-25s since.

17. Alex Bowman
Bowman has lagged behind the other Hendrick mates, but he has been very consistent with only two results outside the top 20. One of these came at Texas with damage.

18. Paul Menard
Menard has alternated one solid run with a mediocre one on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks and the pattern suggests he will finish outside the top 15 this week.

19. Jimmie Johnson
He was once the king of the "cookie-cutter" tracks, but Johnson has not scored a top-10 on them in his last six starts.

20. Matt Kenseth
One suspects that Kenseth expected to face a learning curve at Kansas last week, but he certainly didn't know it would be that steep.

21. William Byron
Byron may have been on his way to a career-best finish last week, but a slight bobble in the closing laps made it apparent why it's hard to bet on rookies.

22. Kasey Kahne
Kahne has not scored a top-15 on this track type in 2018, but he has been a better value than many would have anticipated. The No. 95 will improve in small increments.

23. David Ragan
Last week, Ragan snapped a three-race streak on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks of 23rd-place finishes. He improved by 10 to finish 13th.

24. Jamie McMurray
Last year, players could expect McMurray to finish in the top 15 almost every week. He has struggled right along with the other Chevy drivers in 2018 and is simply not performing well.

25. Chris Buescher
It's difficult to know which drivers will run into trouble in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, but if Buescher avoids it, he could be a solid top-20 pick.

26. Matt DiBenedetto
Mid-pack drivers are more impactful when they are predictable. DiBenedetto's last three races on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks ended in 16th- or 22nd-place finishes.

27. Michael McDowell
This is a driver and team that will keep pushing until the end. When they've avoided troubled in the past two races, McDowell finished 14th at Texas and 20th at Kansas.

28. Landon Cassill
Players looking for a great bargain should watch Cassill closely in practice. His last two starts on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks were both in the top 25.

29. AJ Allmendinger
Allmendinger has been encouraged by his teammate Buescher's performance in the past couple of weeks and almost got a top-15 to match the No. 37's performance at Vegas and Texas

30. Ty Dillon
With a lot of backing from his grandfather Richard Childress, we had higher hopes for this team early in the season but Dillon is not quite ready to be on a majority of rosters.

31. Ryan Newman
Newman has the capacity to surprise fantasy owners nearly every week. Unfortunately, he has not done that with much regularity on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks in the past two seasons.

32. Ross Chastain
He is not the first driver one thinks of for their roster, but in games like Draft Kings where he is extremely undervalued, Chastain's last four results in the top 30 made him a bargain.

33. Gray Gaulding
One of Gaulding's best results this year came on the similarly configured Texas Motor Speedway, but that was largely because of attrition and his average on the track type is 29.5.

34. Darrell Wallace Jr.
The only time other than Daytona that Wallace finished among the top 10 was on another similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track in Texas - but there was a lot of attrition that day.

35. Reed Sorenson
With some late race attrition last week, Sorenson earned his first top-30 of the season at Kansas. His average in seven races is 33rd.

Previous Cheat Sheets

KC Masterpiece 400 (Kansas) 
O'Reilly 500 (Texas) 
Pennzoil 400 (Vegas) 
QuikTrip 500 (Atlanta) 
Auto Club 400 

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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