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Fantasy Power Rankings

Power Ranking After: Michigan 1

by Dan Beaver

Disregarding for the moment that Joey Logano ran away with the win last week, the Firekeepers Casino 400 was one of the most competitive races we’ve seen this year deeper in the pack. There still seems to be some work that needs to be done on this aero-package to allow for more passing for the lead, but the movement among the top 10 allowed for some interesting faces among top 10.

Last week five drivers recorded Average Running Positions of better than 10. Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Alex Bowman are all showcased on the Fantasy Power Rankings list this week, but the tightening of the field has made positions sixth through 14th very tight with a separation of fewer than four points.

With off weeks and such, the last 45 days encompasses the races from the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway through last week’s Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

1. Chase Elliott (last week: 1)
Weeks in the top 10: 12
FPR#: 5.07

Everything started to unravel for Elliott last week after he slapped the wall late in the Firekeepers Casino 400; he ultimately finished a very disappointing 20th – snapping a five-race, top-five streak that stretched back to Talladega. Before he damaged his Chevrolet, Elliott spent enough time with the leaders to land in the sixth – 12th-place range on all NASCAR Statistical Services charts and that allows him to retain the top spot in this week’s rankings.

2. Alex Bowman (last week: 2)
Weeks in the top 10: 5
FPR#: 6.78

Bowman’s frustration with second-place finishes has to be growing. At Michigan, he finished second in Stage 1 behind Joey Logano. He might have even had a slightly better car at the time, but couldn't get around his rival. Ultimately, he ended the day with a top-10 finish and that is his fifth such in the past six races. Bowman is still a solid fantasy value.

3. Brad Keselowski (last week: 3)
Weeks in the top 10: 14
FPR#: 7.26

Keselowski probably wanted to win at Michigan more than anyone in the field. As a native-Michigander and part of the Blue Oval contingent that was roundly encouraged by Edsel Ford, he set his sights on the top spot. Instead, he settled for sixth at the end, which is his third top-six in the past four weeks.

4. Joey Logano (last week: 5) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 15
FPR#: 7.30

Logano won his third Michigan race from the pole – the same spot that his two previous wins originated. We expected him and all of Team Penske to run well, but the dominance he showed was above and beyond. While he moved up only one position this week, his Fantasy Power Rankings average improved considerably. If he can stay out of trouble next week at Sonoma, he could continue up the ladder.

5. Kyle Busch (last week: 4) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 15
FPR#: 7.90

While Busch scored a top-five finish last week in Michigan, he spent enough time in the middle of the pack to record an Average Running Position and Driver Rating outside the top 10. The finishing result pays the most points – and Busch now has a three-race, top-five streak going – but it is important to know how a driver got there in order to handicap them accurately.

6. Martin Truex Jr. (last week: 9) +3
Weeks in the top 10: 12
FPR#: 10.22

A simple look at the Fantasy Power Rankings number reveals a big drop from fifth (7.90 for Busch) to Truex’s 10.22. One reason for this is the inconsistency shown by some of the drivers in the bottom half of the top 10. Truex is the posterchild for erratic finishes with alternating top-fives (including three wins) and results outside the top 15. He’s strong and deserves a spot among the leaders, but it is scary to have him on your roster.

7. Kevin Harvick (last week: 8) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 15
FPR#: 10.69

Another mistake in the pits cost Harvick early in last week’s race. He overcame it and ran with the leaders for much of the middle and end of the Firekeepers Casino 400, but he was still frustrated at the end of the race by a strategy call that kept him from challenging for the win. The bottom line is that 15 races into the season, Harvick is still looking for win #1.

8. Aric Almirola (last week: 7) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 10
FPR#: 10.91

Almirola finished outside the top 15 for the second time in the past six weeks. His two modest results were still within striking distance with a 16th at Dover International Speedway and his 17th at Michigan. At the very least that is keeping him from losing many points.

9. Kurt Busch (last week: 12) +3
Weeks in the top 10: 10
FPR#: 10.97

Busch rebounded back into the top 10 this week with his second runner-up finish of the year. In the closing lap it seemed like he came out of nowhere, but it’s important to note that he had the third-best Average Running Position of 7.79. He somehow manages to fly under the radar week in and week out and that makes him a good differentiator.

10. William Byron (last week: 6) +4
Weeks in the top 10: 4
FPR#: 11.03

Byron clings to the final spot in the top 10 after finishing 18th last week at Michigan. He’s still fantasy relevant because of the three top-10 finishes he recorded in the previous four races and players can still accept the fact that he is on a generally upward trend. Even if he falls off this list after next week’s race at Sonoma Raceway, he is worthy of attention.

Dropped from the Top 10

11. Kyle Larson (last week: 10) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 5
FPR#: 11.90

Larson’s return to the top-10 last week was short lived, but it will pay to note that he was 17th two weeks ago following the Coke 600 with a Fantasy Power Rankings number of 15.33. On the 2-mile track, he ran well but slipped outside the top 10 in the closing laps. Unfortunately, road courses are not his specialty with only two top-10s on them in 11 starts so he may need to wait before getting back onto this list.

Big Mover outside the Top 10

13. Daniel Suarez (last week: 15) +2
Weeks in the top 10: 3
FPR#: 13.76

One important sign that a driver is improving is when he runs well on courses that previously eluded him. Suarez’s first Michigan top-10 came in grand fashion last week when he scored a top-five. On the way to that finish, he accumulated an Average Running Position of about 13th, however, and it will take a few weeks before we start thinking of him as a place-and-hold racer.

16. Clint Bowyer (last week: 14) -2
Weeks in the top 10: 5
FPR#: 15.88

Frustration. That single word sums up Bowyer’s last six weeks. He enters each race with a ton of confidence and when he stays out of trouble, he has recorded three top-10s. Since crashing out of the Geico 500, however, he’s finished 24th at Charlotte Motor Speedway and 35th at Michigan – both with crash damage. When a driver starts to wonder what will happen next, he often makes mistakes.

 

This
Week

Driver

Power
Avg.

Last
Week

Difference

1.

Chase Elliott

5.07

1

0

2.

Alex Bowman

6.78

2

0

3.

Brad Keselowski

7.26

3

0

4.

Joey Logano

7.30

5

1

5.

Kyle Busch

7.90

4

-1

6.

Martin Truex Jr.

10.22

9

3

7.

Kevin Harvick

10.69

8

1

8.

Aric Almirola

10.91

7

-1

9.

Kurt Busch

10.97

12

3

10.

William Byron

11.03

6

-4

 

11.

Kyle Larson

11.90

10

-1

12.

Ryan Blaney

12.05

11

-1

13.

Daniel Suarez

13.76

15

2

14.

Erik Jones

13.97

13

-1

15.

Chris Buescher

15.21

16

1

16.

Clint Bowyer

15.88

14

-2

17.

Paul Menard

16.67

20

3

18.

Jimmie Johnson

16.81

18

0

19.

Ryan Newman

16.91

21

2

20.

Tyler Reddick

17.00

19

-1

21.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17.23

17

-4

22.

Daniel Hemric

17.85

23

1

23.

Denny Hamlin

18.12

22

-1

24.

Austin Dillon

20.71

24

0

25.

Brendan Gaughan

21.33

25

0

26.

Ty Dillon

24.03

26

0

27.

Ryan Preece

24.65

28

1

28.

Matt DiBenedetto

25.58

29

1

29.

David Ragan

25.58

27

-2

30.

Corey LaJoie

25.77

30

0

31.

Jeffrey Earnhardt

26.67

31

0

32.

Michael McDowell

27.16

32

0

33.

Parker Kligerman

27.60

33

0

34.

Bubba Wallace

27.61

34

0

35.

Justin Haley

28.33

35

0

36.

Ross Chastain

28.69

36

0

37.

Matt Tifft

28.94

37

0

38.

Reed Sorenson

30.12

38

0

39.

Bayley Currey

30.19

39

0

40.

Garrett Smithley

30.80

 

NA

41.

Landon Cassill

32.84

43

2

42.

Quin Houff

32.84

40

-2

43.

Joey Gase

33.18

41

-2

44.

Josh Bilicki

33.20

 

NA

45.

BJ McLeod

33.30

42

-3

46.

Timmy Hill

34.00

44

-2

47.

Cody Ware

34.20

45

-2

48.

Stanton Barrett

34.60

46

-2

49.

Kyle Weatherman

34.80

 

NA

50.

JJ Yeley

35.20

47

-3

 

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.