Loading scores...
Martin Truex Jr.
Getty Images
Fantasy Power Rankings

Power Ranking After: Phoenix

by Dan Beaver

Slowly but certainly the impact of Daytona is losing its significance.

Three races on unrestricted tracks are in the books. Two were on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks and one on a short, flat track. Now we head to a two-mile course, which will be followed by another short, flat track and another 1.5-miler. This is one of the meatiest parts of the schedule were drivers have a tendency to string long runs of good finishes together.

Five drivers had three consecutive top-10s on the unrestricted tracks. Another three have scored at least two top-10s in those three races. The predictability of next week’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway should be fairly high. There is a caveat, however. The two-mile course that is coming up next week will be the biggest track to host the new aerodynamic rules package and that contributes to a level of uncertainty.


There have been some subtle changes to who is running well on the 1.5-mile tracks. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Chris Buescher pop into one’s mind and while we cannot rule out the possibility they would have surged without the new rules, it does cause us to look more closely at this week’s race with fresh eyes.

1. Kyle Busch (last week: 2) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 4
FPR#: 4.70

According to NASCAR Statistical Services, a perfect Driver Rating is 150. Last week Busch came closest to earning the first perfect score of the year with a 149.7. He won Stage 2 of the TicketGuardian 500k and took the checkers in both the Cup and Xfinity race one week after winning two events at Las Vegs. He’s on a roll, has a ton of confidence and does not seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

2. Kevin Harvick (last week: 1) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 4
FPR#: 5.86

Harvick is second on the list, but in all reality he has not been as dominant as he was in 2018. Nonetheless, he scored back-to-back top-fives on the 1.5-milers and would have earned another last week if not for a bad call from the pit box. He gambled on two tires and then bailed on the strategy. Forced to come back from a spot outside the top 20, he barely made it into the top 10 and that was a disappointing result for him at Phoenix.

3. Joey Logano (last week: 3)
Weeks in the top 10: 4
FPR#: 6.23

Logano was not great last week in Phoenix, but then again we didn’t expect much from him on a track where he’s failed to crack the top 10 for two years. The good news is that he was consistent and that provides a set of notes for improvement. At Phoenix, he ran between eighth and 11th most of the day before finishing 10th, making him one of the drivers with three top-10s so far this year.

4. Denny Hamlin (last week: 4)
Weeks in the top 10: 4
FPR#: 7.36

Hamlin is quietly hanging in there. A victory at Daytona carries the same weight as anywhere else, but it does not signal overall strength. Since winning the 500, Hamlin has been 11th or better in the next three races. Last week might have been the most predictive of his season, however. He scored a top-five on a track type that was once very kind to him, but on which he has fallen off in recent years. This might signal a rebound that could keep him as a top-10 pick for the rest of the first half of this season.

5. Aric Almirola (last week: 9) +4
Weeks in the top 10: 3
FPR#: 9.40

Last year Almirola was on the cusp of the top 10 in most weeks, but inconsistency caused him to bounce in and out of this ranking. By the end of the year, he had spent 12 weeks with the elite – one-third of the time. His Fantasy Power Ranking average of 9.40 is only 1.43 points above 11th and a quick look at what happened to Erik Jones last week should put in perspective how quickly one can fall. Still, one has the sense that he is going to stick around for a while.

6. Martin Truex Jr. (last week: 13) +7
Weeks in the top 10: 1
FPR#: 10.00

Now that Truex has made it into the top 10, we expect him to stay awhile. Daytona hurt his average and despite some strong finishes at Atlanta and Las Vegas, he didn’t run as well on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks this year as he did last. He’s found a way to surge at the end of two races this year and finish second, but has not yet scored a victory. Then again, Busch is the only member of the Big 3 with a win, so the field is still wide open.

7. Kyle Larson (last week: 7)
Weeks in the top 10: 3
FPR#: 10.40

Larson is developing a reputation for fading at the end of races. He looks incredibly strong at times until about the two-thirds mark and then seems to lose the handle. Nevertheless, he enters the weekend with seven consecutive top-15s stretching back to last fall’s Texas 500 and that makes him a good value in games when he is rightly-priced.

8. Brad Keselowski (last week: 5) -3
Weeks in the top 10: 3
FPR#: 10.71

Keselowski’s broken suspension last week points to one of our concerns about drivers who win races early in the season. It seems that the team gambled on a setup that cut his tire and dropped him off the lead lap. He was never able to overcome the deficit and finished 19th – one lap off the pace. Buyer beware.

9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (last week: 8) -1
Weeks in the top 10: 3
FPR#: 10.75

Stenhouse is another driver who was not expected to run particularly strong last week on the short, flat track of Phoenix. Given his strong runs at Atlanta (when he was able to keep up with the leaders despite being a lap down) and at Vegas (where he finished sixth), he should rebound this week and challenge for another top-10.

10. Clint Bowyer (last week: 1) +1
Weeks in the top 10: 2
FPR#: 10.79

Bowyer seems to have picked up in 2019 where he started 2018. He’s been consistent and hovering around the 10th-place mark for the last three races. Last year, his early season consistency culminated in a win at Martinsville. If one has reasonable expectations for the No. 14, he could be a solid value when he fits the right niche on a roster.

Dropped from the Top 10

13. Chase Elliott (last week: 10) -3
Weeks in the top 10: 2
FPR#: 11.88

One is left to wonder what might have happened if Elliott had not jumped the start last week at Phoenix. With better track position to start the race, he would have had a better Average Running Position, but it is likely he still would have lost the handle in the closing laps after spinning on Lap 219. Hendrick Motorsports still has some ways to go before they are a consistent threat to finish in the top 10.

14. Erik Jones (last week: 6) -8
Weeks in the top 10: 3
FPR#: 13.42

Jones spun with a vibration on Lap 38 last week at Phoenix and seems to have damaged his car in the process. He was running 12th at the time. The problem happened early enough to destroy his Average Running Position and Driver Rating. Finishing 29th with those extenuating factors made him this week’s big loser.

 

This Week

Driver

Power Avg.

Last Week

Difference

1.

Kyle Busch

4.70

2

1

2.

Kevin Harvick

5.86

1

-1

3.

Joey Logano

6.23

3

0

4.

Denny Hamlin

7.36

4

0

5.

Aric Almirola

9.40

9

4

6.

Martin Truex Jr.

10.00

13

7

7.

Kyle Larson

10.40

7

0

8.

Brad Keselowski

10.71

5

-3

9.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

10.75

8

-1

10.

Clint Bowyer

10.79

11

1

 

11.

Kurt Busch

10.83

12

1

12.

Ryan Blaney

11.15

15

3

13.

Chase Elliott

11.88

10

-3

14.

Erik Jones

13.42

6

-8

15.

Jimmie Johnson

14.50

18

3

16.

Alex Bowman

14.50

14

-2

17.

William Byron

14.86

16

-1

18.

Daniel Suarez

15.58

17

-1

19.

Ryan Newman

15.95

19

0

20.

Paul Menard

18.10

21

1

21.

Jamie McMurray

18.71

22

1

22.

Matt DiBenedetto

19.71

20

-2

23.

Chris Buescher

19.74

23

0

24.

Austin Dillon

20.27

24

0

25.

Ty Dillon

22.10

27

2

26.

Daniel Hemric

22.15

25

-1

27.

Tyler Reddick

23.33

30

3

28.

David Ragan

23.75

28

0

29.

Ryan Preece

24.50

26

-3

30.

Brendan Gaughan

25.33

31

1

31.

Michael McDowell

25.80

29

-2

32.

Bubba Wallace

27.10

34

2

33.

Parker Kligerman

27.20

32

-1

34.

Corey LaJoie

27.58

35

1

35.

Ross Chastain

27.60

33

-2

36.

Matt Tifft

28.32

36

0

37.

Quin Houff

31.00

 

NA

38.

Landon Cassill

31.20

37

-1

39.

BJ McLeod

31.33

38

-1

40.

Bayley Currey

31.50

 

NA

41.

Casey Mears

32.60

39

-2

42.

Cody Ware

34.00

40

-2

43.

Joey Gase

35.29

41

-2

44.

Reed Sorenson

35.40

42

-2

45.

Garrett Smithley

36.40

43

-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.