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NASCAR Fantasy Live Preview

Fantasy Live: Pennzoil 400

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

NASCAR.com has designed a game that matches the race day experience. With points for Finishing Results, Stage Points, and Bonuses based on several different categories, it is possible to have a successful outing even if one or two of a fantasy player’s drivers experience trouble.

With a unique feature to the game, NASCAR.com’s Fantasy Live game allows them to make in-race changes to their lineup up until the final stage of the race. That means that if one of the drivers experiences trouble like Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson did at Atlanta Motor Speedway last week, players who are actively engaged with the game can make a quick swap and not lose points.

And as an added bonus this year, Rotoworld is doing live updates throughout the race to insure players have the information needed to make those changes, so make certain to follow our Twitter feed.

The Fantasy Live game is made up of five active drivers and one that sits in reserve in the garage. The garage driver allows players to take some chances on a car that would otherwise be seen as too much of a dark horse at the start of the race—such as Aric Almirola last week.

This week, the series heads to a second consecutive similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track. The Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway follows on the heels of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 and because the two courses share a lot of similarities, players can use last week’s results as a shortcut to setting this week’s roster.

Bear in mind, however, that the Fantasy Live game allows you to start a driver only 10 times in the 26-race regular season, so allocation management will come into play.

Kevin Harvick was easily the class of the field at Atlanta. He was so dominant in fact that many of the other racers radioed to their crew chief wondering if he was just playing with them. He entered the weekend highly regarded after leading the most laps in the previous four races on this track. His record at Vegas is not nearly as strong, even though he has a win there in 2015. He comes with a caveat, however; last year, he crashed to finish 38th, and that victory four years ago is his only top-five in the past seven Vegas races.

Martin Truex Jr. won last year’s Pennzoil 400. That was part of a dominant season on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks in which he swept the top-10, scored six victories, and had two more top-three finishes in 10 races. He did not quite live up to expectations at Atlanta. Truex failed to clear inspection in time to take a qualification lap and was forced to roll off the grid from the back. He charged to the top five and actually earned stage points in the first segment, but stalled out and finished fifth.

Brad Keselowski seemed to be the only driver who could keep up with Harvick at Atlanta immediately following caution flags. The setup on the No. 4 seemed to work slightly better on long runs and that gave Kez a shot when the final caution waved. The No. 2 stayed within closing distance of Harvick, but had to settle for the runner-up spot. Last year, Keselowski began the season with four results of sixth or better on this track type. He is picking up where he left off. 

Denny Hamlin ended last year with almost as much momentum as Truex on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. From the Coke 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway last summer through the Atlanta race, he has been perfect in regard to top-five finishes, so last week’s fourth should not have come as any kind of surprise. The only niggling doubt might come from the fact that he was not particularly productive before this streak with three results outside the top 20 in the first four races on this track type. His one strong run came at Vegas when he crossed under the checkers sixth.

Kurt Busch finished only eighth last week, but he showed a lot more promise during the race. His 50 laps led made him second best in that category and a slightly better adjustment during the final pit stop would easily have put him in the top five. Vegas is his home track. Both he and younger brother Kyle cut their teeth on the bullring in the parking lot and always go there with added enthusiasm. Unfortunately, they have not had the success on the Cup track either envisioned. Kurt has only one top-five in 16 previous starts and that came well back in 2005. He showed promise last year, however, with a pole winning run and ninth-place finish. He would have been much better if not for crash damage experienced during the race.

Garage Pick

Stewart-Haas Racing placed three of their drivers in the top 10 last week. Clint Bowyer was easily the greatest surprise in the field with his third-place finish. That was a shocker because he failed to earn a single top-five last year on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks with a best of ninth at Kansas Speedway in the spring. His first seven attempts on this course type ended in top-15s, however, which gave him a great set of notes from which to work. It took just a few minor tweaks to give him one of the most competitive cars in the field and he showed what he could do with it.

 

Driver

Segment Points

Segment Wins

Kurt Busch

22

1

Kevin Harvick

20

1

Brad Keselowski

18

1

Ryan Blaney

18

1

Martin Truex Jr.

18

 

Aric Almirola

16

 

Joey Logano

16

 

Kyle Busch

13

 

Clint Bowyer

11

 

Michael McDowell

11

 

Paul Menard

11

 

Alex Bowman

9

 

Denny Hamlin

8

 

Kyle Larson

8

 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

7

 

Trevor Bayne

4

 

Darrell Wallace Jr.

4

 

Chase Elliott

3

 

Austin Dillon

2

 

Daniel Suarez

1

 

 

Dan Beaver
Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.