Dan Beaver

Fantasy Power Rankings

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Power After: Firekeepers 400

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


The rain-shortened Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Raceway caused a bit of movement in the top 10 this week. With Kyle Busch being forced to drop to the back of the pack because his splitter failed inspection, he was unable to amass as great an average running position or driver rating as Kevin Harvick, but the two still hold a substantial lead over the remainder of the pack.

Shortened distances do have nearly as big an impact as they once did on the predictive nature of a NASCAR race because of the segmentation of the event. Stage wins and points mean so much to today’s drivers, that no serious thought is given to sandbagging until the end of the event, so the cream rises to the top as quickly as possible and remains there throughout the race.

1. Kevin Harvick (Last week: 2)
Weeks in the top 10: 15
The Firekeepers Casino 400 was Kevin Harvick’s to win until his teammate Clint Bowyer gambled on two tires and the proximity of rain. That would have been Harvick’s sixth victory of the season – and equally important, it would have elevated his playoff points total to 31. Harvick does not have a free pass into the final four, but he is getting closer by accumulating those bonuses.

2. Kyle Busch (Last week: 1)
Weeks in the top 10: 14
Kyle Busch’s fall from the top position was partially due to a worse-than-normal average running position at Michigan, but it also had to do with the fact that his O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway victory fell out of this week’s formula. The NASCAR Fantasy Power Rankings looks at the past 60 days in order to highlight recent momentum and Busch still has a drivetrain issue from Dover International Speedway dragging his number down.

3. Joey Logano (Last week: 3)
Weeks in the top 10: 16
Joey Logano keeps plugging along. His seventh-place finish last week at Michigan was the 12th time in 15 races this year that he has scored a top-10. Three of his five top-fives for the season have come in the past 60 days. That suggests he and the No. 22 team are improving, but it is going to take a mistake by both Harvick and Busch in the same race to allow Logano to get another win.

4. Kurt Busch (Last week: 4)
Weeks in the top 10: 16
Kurt Busch can be extremely frustrating to handicap. On the heels of what might have been his worst performance all season at Pocono Raceway, he had one of his best weekends at Michigan. We fully expected him to drop back to the high side of the top 10 last week, but he ran with the leaders until the rain fell and locked him into third.

5. Brad Keselowski (Last week: 5)
Weeks in the top 10: 15
Brad Keselowski was another driver that we undervalued last week based on his recent Michigan performance, but when the rain-soaked checkered flag waved over the Firekeepers Casino 400, he had his fourth sixth-place or better finish in the last five weeks.

6. Clint Bowyer (Last week: 6)
Weeks in the top 10: 14
It is important to note that Clint Bowyer’s position in the top 10 for 14 of 16 weeks has less to do with his pair of victories than it does his consistency. In the last 60 days, he has four top-10s in eight races, two more top-15s, and a 20th. He is not earning maximum points every week, but the good news is that he has very little downside on the weeks he misses the top spot.

7. Denny Hamlin (Last week: 8)
Weeks in the top 10: 16
Denny Hamlin’s 12th-place finish was fairly representative of his entire race. He had the 12th-best driver rating and the ninth-best average running position. In the past 60 days, he has scored three top-fives, one more top-10, and three results between 12th and 14th. Like Bowyer, he’s been consistent and that is worth a lot to fantasy owners.

8. Kyle Larson (Last week: 7)
Weeks in the top 10: 14
In some ways, Kyle Larson’s strength is also his weakness. He is going to push hard every week and that has gotten him into trouble a few times in the last 60 days. He wanted a fourth consecutive Michigan win badly enough that he spun himself out in the Firekeepers Casino 400 and could not overcome his lost lap until the caution that ended the race.

9. Aric Almirola (Last week: 9)
Weeks in the top 10: 5
When looking for consistency, Aric Almirola pops immediately into mind. In the last 60 days, seven of his eight attempts ended in result of sixth through 13th; his other race landed 17th. He completed all but one of the 2,450 laps in that span of time and earned positive place-differential points in five of those events. When he is rightly-priced, Almirola deserves a spot on your fantasy roster.

10. Jimmie Johnson (Last week: 9)
Weeks in the top 10: 5
Just as it seemed Jimmie Johnson was getting back on track, he slipped at Michigan and finished 20th. His position in the top 10 is secured by two top-fives, three more top-10s, and a 12th-place result, but so much more is expected of the seven-time champion. Pay close attention to his salary cap and only start him if he is a bargain.

Big Movers outside the Top 10

17. Paul Menard (Last week: 20)
Weeks in the top 10: 1
Last week, Paul Menard appeared to have turned a corner with his performance behind the wheel of the No. 21. His fifth-place finish in the Firekeepers Casino 400 was his first top-five of the season and it comes four weeks after he finished sixth in the KC Masterpiece 400 at Kansas Speedway. We’ve been fooled by his performance before, but with Sonoma Raceway next on the schedule, Menard could be a great differentiator.

19. Erik Jones (Last week: 16)
Weeks in the top 10: 0
Erik Jones finished 15th last week at Michigan. That was his third top-15 in the past eight races compared to three results outside the top 25. It’s not quite time to say he is in a full-blown sophomore slump, but caution is indicated – especially in light of the fact that he has lost place-differential points in seven of the last eight events. 

 

This
Week

Driver

Avg
Finish

Last
Week

Difference

1.

Kevin Harvick

5.04

2

1

2.

Kyle Busch

5.80

1

-1

3.

Joey Logano

6.64

3

0

4.

Kurt Busch

8.73

4

0

5.

Brad Keselowski

9.11

5

0

6.

Clint Bowyer

9.77

6

0

7.

Denny Hamlin

10.00

8

1

8.

Kyle Larson

10.26

7

-1

9.

Aric Almirola

10.57

10

1

10.

Jimmie Johnson

11.00

9

-1

 

11.

Ryan Blaney

11.17

11

0

12.

Chase Elliott

12.12

12

0

13.

Martin Truex Jr.

12.93

14

1

14.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

13.71

13

-1

15.

Alex Bowman

14.36

15

0

16.

William Byron

15.74

17

1

17.

Paul Menard

15.78

20

3

18.

Daniel Suarez

16.35

18

0

19.

Erik Jones

17.68

16

-3

20.

Jamie McMurray

17.78

19

-1

21.

Ryan Newman

18.79

21

0

22.

Austin Dillon

18.86

22

0

23.

David Ragan

21.97

23

0

24.

Bubba Wallace

22.03

24

0

25.

AJ Allmendinger

22.97

25

0

26.

Kasey Kahne

23.51

26

0

27.

Brendan Gaughan

24.00

28

1

28.

Chris Buescher

24.42

27

-1

29.

Michael McDowell

26.32

30

1

30.

Ty Dillon

26.56

32

2

31.

Trevor Bayne

26.94

29

-2

32.

Matt DiBenedetto

27.26

31

-1

33.

Matt Kenseth

27.94

33

0

34.

Cole Whitt

28.18

34

0

35.

Landon Cassill

30.17

35

0

36.

Ross Chastain

30.74

36

0

37.

Corey LaJoie

31.77

38

1

38.

Timothy Peters

32.25

40

2

39.

DJ Kennington

32.43

37

-2

40.

Gray Gaulding

32.60

39

-1

41.

Parker Kligerman

32.75

41

0

42.

Reed Sorenson

33.12

42

0

43.

Joey Gase

34.00

44

1

44.

Daniel Hemric

34.25

45

1

45.

Cody Ware

34.50

46

1

46.

Harrison Rhodes

35.00

43

-3

47.

Timmy Hill

35.22

48

1

48.

Chad Finchum

35.50

47

-1

49.

Jeffrey Earnhardt

36.00

49

0

50.

Derrike Cope

37.00

50

0

51.

JJ Yeley

37.14

51

0

52.

BJ McLeod

37.50

52

0

53.

Garrett Smithley

39.00

 

 

 



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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