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NASCAR Fantasy Live Preview

Fantasy Live: Pennzoil 400

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: February 20, 2020, 10:53 am ET

If you – like this writer – watched every one of your Daytona 500 drivers get hauled off the track by a wrecker, then you are going to be very, very happy that the next race on the schedule is on one of the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks.

There are 10 races on the doglegged and double-doglegged 1.5-mile tracks plus another on the true oval of Homestead-Miami Speedway. All of these tracks are unique to the drivers, but fans find similarity in the teams that typically run up front. With its progressive banking, Las Vegas Motor Speedway is among the most distinctive and there are a few drivers who have mastered this course.

Last year five drivers swept the top 10 in Vegas’ two races. In 2018, seven drivers completed the feat.

Kevin Harvick was one of the drivers who swept the top five last year, but we decided to let him rest at Vegas because of a tendency to be crash prone on this track. He finished 39th in fall 2018, was 38th in 2017, and 41st in 2015. Given that Fantasy Live is an allocation management game, it just seems safer to have him available later in the year. Most of his accidents came early in their respective races, so he could be a solid pick for the garage; if he survives Stage 2, he is likely to challenge for a top-five.

If you need to make up points, load the roster with marquee drivers. Select from among those who seem to never stumble on this track and worry about allocation management in a couple of weeks.


Brad Keselowski
As unlucky as Keselowski has been at Daytona, he’s been unstoppable at Las Vegas in recent years. His third-place finish in 2013 was all the more remarkable because it came on the heels of four efforts outside the top 25. It also began a streak of nine consecutive results of seventh or better. In that span he has three wins, another runner-up finish, and two thirds. In his career, he has earned top-fives in 53.8% of his starts, which makes him the only driver batting above .500. Last year, Keselowski finished second in this race to his teammate Logano.

Joey Logano
Logano is only one race behind his teammate Keselowski in terms of his top-10 streak. He finished fourth in 2014 and since then has bagged five top-fives in his last eight starts. During his eight-race, top-10 streak Logano has amassed an average of 5.1, which makes him hard to bypass. Logano earned his playoff position early last year with a win in the Pennzoil 400 and if he misses this year, we bet he will still land inside the top five. Logano has a top-10 average of 69.2% during his career, which is matched only by teammate Keselowski as the two land second on that chart.

Ryan Blaney
The only driver with a better top-10 percentage than Logano and Keselowski is their teammate Blaney. With five top-10s in seven starts, he has a percentage of 71.4% and only two disappointing races. One of these came last spring when he lost multiple laps after he felt a tire going down. He made up one lap, but couldn't get all the way back onto the lead lap. Blaney returned in the fall with something to prove. He finished fifth. That was the fifth time in the last six races that he finished seventh or better at Vegas.

Kyle Larson
We expected more from Larson last year at Vegas. It’s not that he ran particularly bad; he finished 12th in the spring and eighth in the fall. But as he was coming off three straight results of second or third on this course, we thought he would be a part of winning storyline at the end of the race. He missed, but Larson’s pair of top-15s elevated his percentage in that column to 75%. That ties him with Martin Truex Jr. for the most top-15s compared to their starts behind only Logano with an 84.6%.

Value Pick

Ross Chastain
NASCAR has a tendency to develop great storylines. What could be better than Chastain scoring a dramatic top-five in relief of the injured Ryan Newman? Last week the racing world watched in horror as Newman’s car was impacted on the drivers’ side rooftop as he slid across the finish line upside down. The fact that he walked out of the hospital on Wednesday holding the hands of his two little girls is nothing short of miraculous and emotion is going to be very high in the No. 6 pits this week.

Garage Pick

Martin Truex Jr.
Honestly, Truex could be substituted for either Blaney or Larson above. We’ve moved him to the garage for the moment as a way to save allocations since this driver improved as the 2019 season rolled along. He was uneven in the opening rounds of last year, but he managed to score an eighth in the Pennzoil 400. He came back to win the fall South Point 400 and establish himself as the driver to beat in the playoffs. Truex also won the 2017 Vegas race and has five top-fives in his last seven races there.

Red Flag

Kyle Busch
Frankly Busch is good everywhere, but he has been uneven on his hometown track. He crashed in his first attempt in 2004, finished second and third in the next two events, ninth in 2007, was 11th in 2008, won the next year, and then went three seasons with results of 15th or worse. Last year he was third in the spring and 19th in the fall. It’s just hard to believe that he won’t be more predictable elsewhere later in the year.

NASCAR America “Beat the Broadcasters”

In the NASCAR America “Beat the Broadcasters” league, Steve Letarte once again got off to a great start with 174 points. Nate Ryan (168), Dale Jarrett (167), and Kelli Stavast (152) rounded out the top four. Debuting this year, Dillon Welch landed fifth on the leaderboard with 149, narrowly beating NBC NASCAR Talk’s Daniel McFaddin (146).

 

Segment Points at Vegas,

Last Three rolling years

Driver

Segment Points

Segments earning #

Martin Truex Jr.

76

10

Joey Logano

65

9

Kevin Harvick

64

7

Brad Keselowski

44

7

Kyle Larson

44

7

Chase Elliott

42

9

Ryan Blaney

35

6

Kurt Busch

30

6

Kyle Busch

25

5

Denny Hamlin

17

3

Jamie McMurray

14

3

Aric Almirola

14

3

Jimmie Johnson

13

4

Alex Bowman

13

4

Erik Jones

10

3

Daniel Suarez

9

2

William Byron

9

2

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

8

2

Austin Dillon

6

1

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

5

2

Ryan Newman

3

2

Paul Menard

2

2

Matt Kenseth

2

1

 

Las Vegas Coverage

Four to Watch at Vegas: Joey Logano
Power Rankings after Daytona 1

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.