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Dan Beaver

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17. Austin Dillon

Friday, January 4, 2019


Austin Dillon’s victory in the season-opening Daytona 500 virtually insured he would be part of the 2018 playoffs. Often that is a double-edged sword. In the history of the win-and-in playoff, there have not been more than 16 winners in the regular season. Teams have learned they do not need to worry about their points position. As a result, they can be prone to experiment or gamble and fantasy players never know when that will happen.

For the next four weeks after his Daytona win, that seemed to pay dividends to Dillon. He finished between 10th and 17th in those races and was a decent value. His next eight attempts were much less consistent. Five of those results were outside the top 25, punctuated by another few mid-teens finishes. Players were waiting for him to turn his fortunes around at any minute, but often when they started him, he scored minimal points. During that span, he fell from 12th in the standings to 19th.

For the remainder of the regular season, Dillon never climbed above 18th in points because even though he had a few strong runs, they rarely came in back-to-back races.

However, the positive side of locking into the playoffs early is that a team can prepare for the final 10 races. That paid dividends for Dillon.

He kicked of the playoffs with an 11th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and then finished sixth at Richmond Raceway. He crashed out of the Charlotte Roval and had trouble at Martinsville Speedway. But he finished 17th or better in the remaining races. A player who jumped on his bandwagon early had an opportunity to ride his momentum – and since he struggled much of the regular season, he was a good differentiator on one’s roster.

What might have happened if he had not won the 500 is open to speculation, but it seems somewhat likely that the No. 3 would not have made the playoffs, would not have had the opportunity to experiment, and likely would not have been as good a value.

It is also difficult to believe this organization is going to be stronger with the loss of Ryan Newman. Dillon becomes the senior statesman in his sixth full season, but we have not seen enough of him in past years to have a firm grasp on how he will handle the responsibility.

One way or another, this will be a defining year for Dillon.

Three Best Tracks
Darlington (13.0 in 5 attempts)
Daytona (13.4 in 11)
Auto Club (14.4 in 5)

Three Worst Tracks
Watkins Glen (27.2 in 5)
Chicagoland (25.2 in 5)
Atlanta (23.2 in 6)

2018 Stats
Victories: Daytona 500
Top-fives: 2 (.056)
Top-10s: 8 (.222)
Top-15s: 19 (.528)

2018 Finishes at or above their rank? = 24 (66.7%)



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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