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William Byron
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Fantasy Power Rankings

Power Ranking After: Daytona 2

by Dan Beaver

Wild card races always have the potential to shake things up. When a 'Big One' crash occurred involving the leader that consumed all but a handful of competitive cars, it appeared the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway would be a pivotal race after that would cause a lot of movement in the top 10.

But then weather moved in and halted the race – turning it into an event where the catalyst for chaos happened on essentially the last lap. Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, and Chase Elliott all finished badly because of crash damage – but they did not have to watch the final 34 laps from the garage where they would have seen their Average Running Position and Driver Ratings plummet.

The Fantasy Power Rankings looks at the past 45 days. Given the way the schedule has worked its off weeks this year, that means we are currently looking at a six-race window that begins with the Coke 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and includes a variety of courses from unrestricted, intermediate speedways, to a road course, to the hard to define Pocono Raceway. It is an interesting snapshot that will be repeated next week when Charlotte is replaced by another 1.5-miler with Kentucky Speedway.

1. Kyle Busch (last week: 1)
Weeks in the top 10: 18
FPR#: 7.19

Luck plays an important factor in racing. That is true for a driver like Justin Haley who miraculously won last week, but also at the top of the order for a driver like Busch. He sustained damage in the 'Big One' crash, but was able to keep his car rolling and stayed on the lead lap. His 12th-place finish in the race salvaged his spot at the top of the order.

2. Joey Logano (last week: 3) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 18
FPR#: 8.12

As predicted, Logano had the best car last week. One simply cannot foresee who will be in the 'Big One' accidents on a given week and Logano was slammed into the wall microseconds before he would have cleared the chaos. Logano has been incredibly solid. If one disregards the wild card tracks, he has seven top-10s in his last eight races and is likely to earn another at Kentucky.

3. William Byron (last week: 8) +5
Weeks in the top 10: 7
FPR#: 8.37

We will confess that Byron being this high on the list is a bit of a surprise, but the numbers tell the story. He has not only earned solid results in the past 45 days, but also run with the leaders long enough in each event to accumulate strong numbers in regard to Average Running Position and Driver Rating. He’s also been fairly consistent with five top-10s in his last eight attempts.

4. Kevin Harvick (last week: 2) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 18
FPR#: 9.08

If you will recall, we expressed great dismay last week when Draft Kings made Harvick their most expensive driver. He hasn’t performed well enough to assume he had a shot at the victory at Daytona or in the past weeks – and when he hit the wall after bump-drafting Keselowski into an accident, we were proved correct.

5. Alex Bowman (last week: 6) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 8
FPR#: 9.38

One of the remarkable facets of Bowman’s position in the top 10 is that he has maintained it even after his three second-place finishes from Talladega Superspeedway through Kansas Speedway aged out of the formula. A big part of the reason for this is because he showed remarkable consistency with five consecutive top-15s entering last week’s wild card event at Daytona and he ran well in that race before sustaining damage at the end.

6. Martin Truex Jr. (last week: 4) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 15
FPR#: 9.43

Daytona can be a momentum killer. Just when it seemed Truex had reversed his fortune with three consecutive top-10s, he ran into trouble on the big track and finished 22nd. If one removes the wild card events from his tally, he has three wins (at Richmond Raceway, Dover International Speedway, and Charlotte) compared to only two sub-10th place results (Kansas and Pocono). The balance tips in Truex’s favor.

7. Ryan Blaney (last week: 7)
Weeks in the top 10: 10
FPR#: 9.44

Like Truex, Blaney saw a three-race streak of top-10s end last week at Daytona. Tack on a couple of top-15s at Charlotte and Pocono, and the newest member of Team Penske is ready to be gauged by the same measuring stick as Logano and Keselowski.

8. Jimmie Johnson (last week: 12) +4
Weeks in the top 10: 1
FPR#: 10.19

As incredible as it would once have seemed, this is Johnson’s first appearance in the Fantasy Power Rankings’ top-10. It has been a hard fought road that has taken half the season and culminated in back-to-back top-fives for the first time in 2019. Dating back to Kansas, he has four top-10s and six top-15s in the last seven races. It’s time to start thinking of him as a place-and-hold driver once more.

9. Brad Keselowski (last week: 5) -4
Weeks in the top 10: 17
FPR#: 10.51

Last week Keselowski was part of the storyline for all the wrong reasons. He crashed Byron in practice simply to make a point and was then wrecked in the Coke Zero 400 by an errant bump-draft. He has been falling steadily down the ranking with sub-15th-place finishes at Charlotte, Sonoma Raceway, and now Daytona and he needs to reverse the trend this week on the 1.5-miler at Kentucky.

10. Chase Elliott (last week: 9) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 15
FPR#: 10.74

Elliott is hanging onto his position in the top 10 by a fingernail. Last week, he posted the most laps inside the top 15 (117 to Logano’s 112) and he had strong numbers in all of the other strength-based categories we track. But the bottom line is that he has not scored a top-10 finish in four weeks and that is going to catch up with him.

Dropped from the Top 10

11. Denny Hamlin (last week: 10) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 11
FPR#: 11.16

When Hamlin started the season with a win at Daytona and top-10 finishes in all but one of the first nine races, everyone was ready to hail him as a potential champion. In the nine races since, he has only two more top-10s and an average finish of 17th. It’s a little more difficult to get excited about him now.

Big Mover outside the Top 10

20. Erik Jones (last week: 17) -3
Weeks in the top 10: 3
FPR#: 17.56

Jones is only 13 points out of playoff contention, but he really needs to win in order to reverse the impression that he is lagging behind his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates. Third-place finishes at Pocono and Kansas put him on fantasy players’ radar screens, but sub-20th-place finishes in three of the last six weeks have kept him from being a place-and-hold driver.

 

This
Week

Driver

Power
Avg.

Last
Week

Difference

1.

Kyle Busch

7.19

1

0

2.

Joey Logano

8.12

3

1

3.

William Byron

8.37

8

5

4.

Kevin Harvick

9.08

2

-2

5.

Alex Bowman

9.38

6

1

6.

Martin Truex Jr.

9.43

4

-2

7.

Ryan Blaney

9.44

7

0

8.

Jimmie Johnson

10.19

12

4

9.

Brad Keselowski

10.51

5

-4

10.

Chase Elliott

10.74

9

-1

 

11.

Denny Hamlin

11.16

10

-1

12.

Kurt Busch

12.00

14

2

13.

Kyle Larson

12.00

11

-2

14.

Aric Almirola

12.53

13

-1

15.

Chris Buescher

15.06

15

0

16.

Ryan Newman

16.03

18

2

17.

Paul Menard

16.47

19

2

18.

Daniel Suarez

17.00

16

-2

19.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17.14

20

1

20.

Erik Jones

17.56

17

-3

21.

Clint Bowyer

19.27

21

0

22.

Daniel Hemric

19.30

22

0

23.

Austin Dillon

20.71

23

0

24.

Matt DiBenedetto

21.16

24

0

25.

Bubba Wallace

22.80

25

0

26.

Michael McDowell

23.72

26

0

27.

Ty Dillon

25.42

31

4

28.

David Ragan

25.81

27

-1

29.

Matt Tifft

26.71

28

-1

30.

Justin Haley

26.80

42

12

31.

Corey LaJoie

27.52

32

1

32.

Parker Kligerman

27.73

30

-2

33.

Ryan Preece

27.97

29

-4

34.

Brendan Gaughan

28.00

 

NA

35.

Bayley Currey

29.00

34

-1

36.

Landon Cassill

29.81

37

1

37.

Ross Chastain

30.12

33

-4

38.

Garrett Smithley

30.80

36

-2

39.

Joey Gase

30.82

35

-4

40.

Reed Sorenson

31.62

38

-2

41.

JJ Yeley

32.27

45

4

42.

Quin Houff

32.96

39

-3

43.

BJ McLeod

33.13

40

-3

44.

Josh Bilicki

33.50

41

-3

45.

Cody Ware

34.91

43

-2

46.

Kyle Weatherman

35.33

44

-2

 

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.