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Jimmie Johnson
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Fantasy Live: Quaker State 400

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: July 9, 2019, 3:11 pm ET

With weather in the area, the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway erupted with a 'Big One' crash on Lap 117. Battling for the lead, Austin Dillon tried to block Clint Bowyer and they spun – taking with them all but four cars in the lead pack.

For the drivers who stalled right then and there, a bad finishing result was entered in the results column. But in the big scheme of things, the final results were not as severely impacted since Stage points had already been awarded and Laps Led were frozen a few circuits later because of rain.

This race turned out to be as unpredictable as we predicted it would be.

Justin Haley was a miraculous winner, but he was on 0 percent of fantasy rosters. If you were on the Chevrolet bandwagon after Talladega Superspeedway earlier this year, however, you may have had William Byron and Jimmie Johnson on your roster as dark horses – and if so, you probably won your league.

Now it’s time to move to Kentucky Speedway and this race should be much more predictable. One of the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks, this type of course dominates the schedule and there is a lot of data to parse. What makes this a little tricky is that everyone wants to run well on these courses and so the lion’s share of their resources is spent on the unrestricted, intermediate speedways. That in itself can create a list of dark horses that could help differentiate your lineup.  

Jimmie Johnson
We will lead with Johnson this week for two reasons: 1) He just ascended to the top-10 in the Fantasy Power Rankings and 2) He has the best record on 1.5-milers in recent races. Johnson has been improving steadily all season and with four top-10s to his credit, no one has been better on this track type since Texas Motor Speedway’s O'Reilly 500.

Alex Bowman
All four of the Hendrick Motorsports drivers are in the Power Rankings top-10 and each of them has an active streak of top-15s on 1.5-mile tracks. Bowman rivals Johnson with three top-10s at Kansas, Charlotte, and Chicagoland. One of these was a career-first win two weeks ago in the Camping World 400. When he misses this year, it has not been by much and Bowman’s worst result on this track type was an 18th at Texas; everything else has been in the top 15.

Joey Logano or Brad Keselowski
If you have enough allocations remaining for Team Penske’s top two drivers, this is a good time to use them. Neither Logano nor Keselowski has been perfect in every race, but both of them have been perfect at times with JoLo winning Las Vegas Motor Speedway earlier this year and finishing second and third in the two most recent 1.5-mile races. Keselowski has wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Kansas with a second at Vegas and fifth in the most recent race at Chicagoland.

Erik Jones
Jones needs a good run this week. Just when it appeared he might silence the rumors about what will happen at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2020, he was collateral damage in the Coke Zero 400 'Big One' that sidelined a lot of strong competitors. Jones has been hit-or-miss in the past few months with results outside the top 20 interspersed with top-10s. The majority of his runs have been strong, however, and we are betting he’s going to rebound this week.

Value Pick

Chris Buescher
Buescher has been one of our go-to dark horses several times this year. Typically players want to make their risky picks on wild card tracks, but Buescher has been solid several times on the 1.5-milers and should be highly considered as a way to extend your allocation management for marquee racers. In six races on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks this year, he has top-10s at Atlanta, Kansas, and Charlotte with a worst of 20th and an average of 13.5.

Garage Pick

Aric Almirola
Normally we would have Almirola listed as one of the favorites on the 1.5-mile tracks. Through Texas this spring, he had an eight-race streak of top-10s to his credit and even when he slipped a little bit in the next two races, he was still solid with a 12th at Kansas Speedway and 11th at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Two weeks ago, he looked lackluster at Chicagoland Speedway and finished 16th in the Camping World 400. If you put him in the garage, he can be activated if he earns Stage points and appears to be on his way to a good finish.

Red Flag

Denny Hamlin
Hamlin is one of the most popular picks this week. On 37 percent of the rosters as of Tuesday, he was second only to Bowman (43%). He has been productive recently with 32.3 fantasy points on average in the last three weeks. But he hasn’t been very consistent on the 1.5-mile tracks. Hamlin’s Texas victory was great; his 10th at Vegas was good, but those are his only top-10s. Worse still, his last three efforts on this track type have produced a best of 15th. Fantasy owners should expect more from a marquee racer.

 

Segment wins and points at Kentucky
(4 segments to date)

Driver

Segment
Points

Segments
earning
points

Segment
Wins

Martin Truex Jr.

40

4

4

Kyle Busch

35

4

 

Kevin Harvick

30

4

 

Kyle Larson

17

3

 

Ryan Blaney

15

2

 

Matt Kenseth

13

2

 

Clint Bowyer

12

3

 

Erik Jones

11

3

 

Jamie McMurray

11

2

 

Kurt Busch

8

2

 

Denny Hamlin

7

2

 

Paul Menard

7

2

 

Daniel Suarez

4

1

 

Chase Elliott

3

3

 

Joey Logano

3

1

 

Aric Almirola

2

1

 

Jimmie Johnson

2

1

 

 

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.