This is not a prediction of who will win the Monster Energy Cup. With NASCAR’s winner-take-all rule at Homestead-Miami Speedway, that is anybody’s guess as Joey Logano proved last year when he chose right on a short run instead of a long run setup.
Chase Elliott is our pick to be the best fantasy value this year for several reasons.
In his fourth full season, he is coming into his own. Last year, he won his first race at Watkins Glen International. Soon afterward, he won twice more at Dover International Speedway and Kansas Speedway. Both wins came in the playoffs when they mattered most. It has been quite some while since an inaugural winner found Victory Lane so consistently afterward.
With NASCAR’s new rules package debuting this week in Atlanta, all drivers are on an even footing. Three years of experience has given Elliott the opportunity to learn how to dial in his car, but he is not so wedded to his notebook that he cannot adapt quickly to what promises to be a new style of racing.
His first three wins came on completely different styles of tracks: a road course, a similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track, and the high-banked concrete oval.
Perhaps the biggest recommendation for Elliott is that he is likely to be the most improved driver this year and that is going to make him a great value in salary cap games.
He’s made the playoffs each year he’s been a fulltime driver. The past two seasons, he advanced to Round 3 and if not for the unique nature of last year’s standings – with three drivers earning so many bonus points during the regular season – he had his best shot of getting to the Championship 4. It is highly unlikely that the competition will be so unbalanced in 2019.
This year, Elliott is going to win more than three times and is going to have a career year in regard to top-fives. We think his best opportunities to win will come on traditionally strong venues for Hendrick Motorsports like Michigan International Speedway, Pocono Raceway, and Bristol Motor Speedway.
Elliott will be in contention at Homestead and if he guesses right on the setup in the finale, he may well take the Cup back to Georgia.
Three Best Tracks
Dover (4.3 in 6 attempts)
Michigan (5.3 in 6)
Watkins Glen (7.2 in 6)
Three Worst Tracks
Las Vegas (27.8 in 4)
Daytona (27.0 in 7)
Indy (21.8 in 4)
Victories:  (Watkins Glen, Dover II, and Kansas II)
Top-fives: 11 (.306)
Top-10s: 21 (.583)
Top-15s: 27 (.750)
2018 Finishes at or above their rank? = 3