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Fantasy Power Rankings

Power Ranking After: Auto Club

by Dan Beaver

One of the statistics we track for the Fantasy Power Rankings is the Average Running Position. Last week, eight drivers had an average of better than 10th, which means there was not a lot of jockeying for those coveted single-digit spots. Despite getting sent to the back of the lead lap for a speeding penalty, Kyle Busch had the best mark at 2.84. Martin Truex Jr. was the only driver to finish in the top 10 without a better-than-10th-place average and his day was marred by crash damage.

Auto Club Speedway is traditionally a track where the cream rises and stays at the top. This week’s venue of Martinsville Speedway is not nearly as consistent. An ill-timed problem there can easily cost a lap, which can be difficult to make up – even in the current Era of Wave Arounds and Free Passes.


1. Kyle Busch (last week: 1)
Weeks in the top 10: 5
FPR#: 4.00

Busch had his eye set on 200 wins in NASCAR’s combined series and would not be denied. One had a sense that he would be doubly focused after failing to hit the mark Saturday in the Xfinity race. It was never close. While the field closed on him slightly with short run speed, he knew the race would develop long green flag runs and that is how he set up his car.

2. Joey Logano (last week: 3) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 5
FPR#: 5.54

Logano has had a couple of stumbles this year. He cut a tire and finished only 23rd at Atlanta Motor Speedway and was a distant 10th at Ingenuity Sun Media Raceway, but the rest of his efforts have been solid with a fourth in the season opener, the win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and last week’s “best in class” effort of second. Now he heads to Martinsville where he won last fall. So long as Truex doesn’t get to his back bumper, he should be good for another top-five.

3. Kevin Harvick (last week: 2) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 5
FPR#: 5.73

Don’t be fooled by the fact that Harvick fell one spot in the rankings; he actually improved his Fantasy Power Rankings number from 5.86 last week to 5.73 after Auto Club. In terms of consistency, he has been better than Logano with three top-fives and a ninth in the last four races. He’s still looking for that first win, but it’s too soon to worry about him with several more unrestricted, intermediate speedways on the horizon.

4. Denny Hamlin (last week: 4)
Weeks in the top 10: 5
FPR#: 7.20

Hamlin could close the gap on the top three this coming week at Martinsville. He is a short, flat track master and while he has lost some consistency on the course type in recent years, a fifth at Phoenix two weeks ago has us believing he could do that again on a track where he’s won as recently at 2015 and finished second last fall.

5. Aric Almirola (last week: 5)
Weeks in the top 10: 4
FPR#: 8.55

The Fantasy Power Rankings formula looks back at the past 45 days, but sometimes we have to note greater periods. Almirola has been one of the most consistent drivers since last fall’s Gander Outdoors 400 at Dover International Speedway when he finished 13th. Since then, the only times he was outside the top 10 was at Martinsville in the fall (11th) and Daytona International Speedway this spring (32nd).

6. Brad Keselowski (last week: 8) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 4
FPR#: 9.84

Keselowski seems to be settling into a pattern of adjustment during a race. In most of the first five races this season, there have been times when it appeared he’d lost the handling, but he regains his form when it matters most. That is the good news. We’ve also noticed what appears to be an enhanced rivalry between Keselowski and Logano on the track and depending on how it plays out, that could be a distraction.

7. Ryan Blaney (last week: 12) +5
Weeks in the top 10: 2
FPR#: 9.88

Blaney was easily the biggest mover last week – jumping up five spots to land in the top 10 and improving his Fantasy Power Rankings number from 11.15 to 9.88 (+1.27). He has run well most of the season, but it took back-to-back top-five finishes at Phoenix and Auto Club to make him a driver that fantasy players are willing to trust.

8. Martin Truex Jr. (last week: 6) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 2
FPR#: 9.91

Truex’s numbers took a hit last week he was collateral damage in a Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spin. His right rear quarter panel sustained fairly significant damage that kept him from contending for the win. It will also put him in a foul mood heading to Martinsville where he will be peppered with questions about last year’s bump-and-run that decided the First Data 500 in Logano’s favor.  

9. Kurt Busch (last week: 11) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 1
FPR#: 10.00

It took a while for Busch to climb into the top 10 after a disappointing Daytona 500. In general, he doesn’t tend to accumulate the type of Driver Ratings and Average Running Positions that contribute positively to this formula, but at the end of the day he has been in the running with four consecutive results of third through seventh. That’s good in almost any game.

10. Kyle Larson (last week: 7) +3
Weeks in the top 10: 4
FPR#: 10.90

Last week was a huge disappointment for Larson fans. Given his record on two-mile tracks, he should have battled for a top-five and might have even denied Busch the 200th victory. He was damaged in the Stenhouse stack up, but he largely recovered from that and surged for a little while. By the end of the race, he was simply not very strong and is at risk of falling out of the top 10 with one more frustrating effort.

Dropped from the Top 10

11. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (last week: 9) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 3
FPR#: 11.63

Stenhouse’s day was not going particularly well before he gambled on old tires and spun. His car was handling badly, which occasioned a snappy response to an engineer just before he looped the Ford. Short, flat tracks are not typically good venues for Roush Fenway Racing, so it could take a couple of weeks for him to get back inside the top 10.

14. Clint Bowyer (last week: 10) -4
Weeks in the top 10: 2
FPR#: 13.87

Bowyer was not happy with his car from the start of the race. He lost a cylinder early and eventually became the only driver to retire. That happened early enough that he was burdened with an Average Running Position of 25.68 (25th) and his Driver Rating was in the same range. Where he really hurt fantasy players, however, was in the Draft Kings game where he lost 23 points. Anyone with him on their roster had virtually no shot at winning a penny.

 

This Week

Driver

Power Avg.

Last Week

Difference

1.

Kyle Busch

4.00

1

0

2.

Joey Logano

5.54

3

1

3.

Kevin Harvick

5.73

2

-1

4.

Denny Hamlin

7.20

4

0

5.

Aric Almirola

8.55

5

0

6.

Brad Keselowski

9.84

8

2

7.

Ryan Blaney

9.88

12

5

8.

Martin Truex Jr.

9.91

6

-2

9.

Kurt Busch

10.00

11

2

10.

Kyle Larson

10.90

7

-3

 

11.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

11.63

9

-2

12.

Chase Elliott

12.03

13

1

13.

Erik Jones

13.53

14

1

14.

Clint Bowyer

13.87

10

-4

15.

Jimmie Johnson

14.13

15

0

16.

Daniel Suarez

15.06

18

2

17.

William Byron

15.18

17

0

18.

Alex Bowman

15.53

16

-2

19.

Ryan Newman

17.46

19

0

20.

Paul Menard

17.93

20

0

21.

Austin Dillon

18.61

24

3

22.

Jamie McMurray

18.71

21

-1

23.

Matt DiBenedetto

19.37

22

-1

24.

Chris Buescher

19.68

23

-1

25.

Daniel Hemric

22.74

26

1

26.

Tyler Reddick

23.33

27

1

27.

Ty Dillon

23.54

25

-2

28.

David Ragan

24.81

28

0

29.

Ryan Preece

25.08

29

0

30.

Brendan Gaughan

25.33

30

0

31.

Michael McDowell

25.62

31

0

32.

Parker Kligerman

27.20

33

1

33.

Matt Tifft

27.72

36

3

34.

Bubba Wallace

27.88

32

-2

35.

Corey LaJoie

28.28

34

-1

36.

Ross Chastain

28.31

35

-1

37.

Landon Cassill

30.85

38

1

38.

Quin Houff

32.00

37

-1

39.

Bayley Currey

32.40

40

1

40.

Casey Mears

32.60

41

1

41.

BJ McLeod

32.80

39

-2

42.

Cody Ware

33.88

42

0

43.

Reed Sorenson

35.10

44

1

44.

Joey Gase

35.17

43

-1

45.

Garrett Smithley

36.20

45

0

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 15 years with a little help from his >600,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.