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Kevin Harvick
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Fantasy Power Rankings

Preseason Power Ranking

by Dan Beaver

With the 2019 season just around the corner, it is really anyone’s guess as to who will come out of the gates strongest.

In sports, there are many circumstances that level the playing field. That has never been truer than with the new aerodynamic rules for 2019. Designed to create more passing, the effect could either be negligible—in which case last year’s dominators may return to the front of the pack—or the effect could be extreme and the first several races will be impossible to predict.

Either way, all we have to go on is historic data. The again, that is the same data that salary cap managers and game designers have to consider. This week’s Power Rankings before the Daytona 500 will be based on last year’s complete season.


1. Kevin Harvick  
2018 Weeks in the top 10: 35
2018 FPR#: 5.74

Harvick had a career year in 2018. His eight wins were the most of any season and nearly all of the experts thought he was a favorite to win the championship. Since the knockout-style playoff has been employed, drivers have had to win Homestead to take the Cup home. Harvick finished behind Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr., but he ended the season with three consecutive top-fives and carries momentum with him into 2019.

2. Kyle Busch
2018 Weeks in the top 10: 34
2018 FPR#: 6.04

Like Harvick, Busch was strong right up until the end of the season. He also won eight times, which matched his performance from 2008. He scored five more runner-up finishes and scored a top-five to end the year. Busch finished outside the top 10 only eight times. Four of those poor results came on plate tracks where finishing position is often a factor of luck as much as skill. One of his greatest strengths in 2018 was the fact that his top-10s almost always came in long streaks, so fantasy players had ample time to climb on his bandwagon.

3. Kurt Busch
2018 Weeks in the top 10: 36
2018 FPR#: 8.06

When he crashed at Phoenix in the penultimate race, the elder Busch was devastated. Perhaps that was because he knew it was his last opportunity to seriously challenge for a championship. At times, his consistency was greater than that of either Harvick or his younger brother, but he had difficulty in scoring top-fives and earned only one victory. This year, he moves to Chip Ganassi Racing into a car that struggled in 2018 and it is going to be anyone’s guess as to how he will make Jamie McMurray’s No. 1 perform.

4. Joey Logano
2018 Weeks in the top 10: 26
2018 FPR#: 8.14

Even if the drivers who dominated the season failed to won, at least Homestead was not a boring race. The team that dominates a season does not always win a championship. Just look to this year’s Super bowl for an example: The New England Patriots struggled at the start of 2018, but managed to score a few more points than the dominant Los Angeles Rams. Logano had his car setup for the end of the Ford 400, but he was also strong for most of the year with a Fantasy Power Average that was better than the final member of the Big 3.

5. Martin Truex Jr.
2018 Weeks in the top 10: 30
2018 FPR#: 8.22

If Truex had gotten the long run he wanted at the end of the Homestead race, he might be the champion last year instead of Logano. One has to play the cards they are dealt, however. Truex was the consummate all or nothing driver in 2018 with 20 top-fives and only one result between sixth and 10th. With his move to Joe Gibbs Racing, he could be even stronger in 2019.

6. Brad Keselowski
2018 Weeks in the top 10: 31
2018 FPR#: 8.70

Through the first 19 weeks, Keselowski scored 11 top-10s. He failed to win in the first half of the year, but came close with a second at Atlanta Motor Speedway—and just past the halfway mark, he finished third at Kentucky Speedway. Counterbalancing those early numbers were five races in which he was either slowed or stopped by crash damage. Kez came on strong on the cusp of the playoffs with three consecutive wins, but remained uneven in the second half of the year.

7. Chase Elliott
2018 Weeks in the top 10: 20
2018 FPR#: 9.52

Toward the end of 2018, Elliott was one of the strongest drivers in the field. Once he scored his first career victory at Watkins Glen International in August, he remained in the top 10 for most of the year and won twice more at Dover International Speedway and Kansas Speedway – both of those victories came during the playoffs. New rules often benefit younger drivers who don’t have as much to unlearn as the veterans and the 2019 aero package could play into his favor.

7. Ryan Blaney
2018 Weeks in the top 10: 29
2018 FPR#: 9.52

Blaney was not flashy in 2018, but he had a knack for staying up on the wheel and finishing well. That paid dividends on the Charlotte Roval when Jimmie Johnson overdrove the final chicane and wiped out the leader Truex. Even when winning seems like the luck of the draw, there is a lot of skill that goes into placing one’s car where it needs to be to capitalize on another driver’s mistake.

9. Kyle Larson
2018 Weeks in the top 10: 33
2018 FPR#: 9.62

Larson was the Pride of Chevrolet at the beginning of the season. While most of their other drivers struggled start to finish, he qualified well in the first 10 weeks and most often finished among the top 10 as well. As the spring turned to summer and then later fall changed the setups even more, Larson faded somewhat and was less impactful in the closing races.

10. Clint Bowyer
2018 Weeks in the top 10: 30
2018 FPR#: 9.83

In 2018, Bowyer was relieved to finally run well on a weekly basis. That positive attitude contributed to some strong runs and kept him among the Fantasy Power Rankings Top 10 for 30 weeks. It might not be quite as simple to stay there in 2019 if he begins to expect more from the car and becomes frustrated. 
 

This
Week

Driver

Avg.
Finish

1.

Kevin Harvick

5.74

2.

Kyle Busch

6.04

3.

Kurt Busch

8.06

4.

Joey Logano

8.14

5.

Martin Truex Jr.

8.22

6.

Brad Keselowski

8.70

7.

Chase Elliott

9.52

7.

Ryan Blaney

9.52

9.

Kyle Larson

9.62

10.

Clint Bowyer

9.83

 

11.

Denny Hamlin

10.17

12.

Aric Almirola

11.31

13.

Erik Jones

12.82

14.

Jimmie Johnson

14.06

15.

Alex Bowman

14.68

16.

Ryan Newman

15.42

17.

Paul Menard

17.03

18.

Austin Dillon

17.40

19.

Daniel Suarez

17.58

20.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17.64

21.

Jamie McMurray

17.70

22.

William Byron

19.27

23.

Matt Kenseth

21.96

24.

Chris Buescher

22.79

25.

Trevor Bayne

23.31

26.

Daniel Hemric

24.89

27.

Michael McDowell

25.12

28.

David Ragan

25.35

29.

Bubba Wallace

25.95

30.

Ty Dillon

26.39

31.

Cole Custer

27.73

32.

Regan Smith

28.61

33.

Matt DiBenedetto

28.98

34.

Parker Kligerman

29.88

35.

Cole Whitt

30.08

36.

DJ Kennington

31.84

37.

Ross Chastain

31.90

38.

Timothy Peters

32.25

39.

Josh Bilicki

32.75

40.

Landon Cassill

33.57

41.

Corey LaJoie

33.76

42.

JJ Yeley

33.94

43.

Jeffrey Earnhardt

33.97

44.

Blake Jones

34.17

45.

Gray Gaulding

34.39

46.

Joey Gase

34.65

47.

Reed Sorenson

35.18

48.

Cody Ware

35.40

49.

Harrison Rhodes

35.76

50.

Kyle Weatherman

35.82

51.

Spencer Gallagher

36.00

52.

BJ McLeod

36.38

53.

Jesse Little

36.50

54.

Derrike Cope

36.67

55.

Tanner Berryhill

36.80

56.

Garrett Smithley

37.00

57.

Jeb Burton

37.25

58.

Timmy Hill

37.38

59.

Alon Day

38.75

60.

David Starr

39.75

61.

Hermie Sadler

40.00

 

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.