|12/03/15||The Champion By NHMS Numbers|
|11/20/15||The Championship Four Preview|
|11/13/15||Phoenix: Three To Watch|
|10/30/15||Martinsville: Three To Watch|
|10/18/15||Kansas: Three To Watch|
|10/05/15||Charlotte: Three To Watch|
FANTASY: Banking on America
As Kevin Harvick can attest, it's now or never time in the 2013 Chase for the Sprint Cup. If you're not positioning yourself for a championship run right now, then you're getting passed by the leaders and going a lap down. And, no, there's no Lucky Dog in the points standings.
Harvick's win at Kansas this past Sunday kept him a reasonable 25 points back of leader Matt Kenseth, while a crash for Kyle Busch dropped him precariously to 35 points back. Busch sits in fifth in the points and is the final driver within 43 points (one race before bonus points) of the lead. Anyone farther back is realistically out of it at this point.
The same might be said for Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing leagues out there. The points can be pretty volatile from week-to-week, but hopefully, managers have positioned their teams so that they can use up the starts on their best drivers to earn maximum points over the final six races. Here's a look at who should be in the lineup this week:
There are few drivers that aren't familiar with Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 1.5-mile oval opened in 1960 and serves as the prototype for the cookie-cutter tracks seen on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. Most of the teams are based out of Charlotte, and thus, are very familiar with the track. It also hosts the Sprint All-Star Race, so that means this is the third go on this track in the Gen-6 car for most of the top drivers.
This is the only night race in the Chase. Night racing can affect the outcome because the track conditions change noticeably after the sun goes down. This means that teams might find the winning combination in practice, but that it might go away by halfway through the race, or vice versa, a lousy car might come into its own.
There's no holding back now with six races to go. You can't cash in unused starts on your best drivers, so you really should be counting down to make sure you use up your starts.
- #5 Kasey Kahne - He's really in a slump. He hasn't finished better than 12th since his second-place finish at Bristol in last August, and it appears that the pinnacle of his season is behind him. Still, he has four wins at Charlotte, so perhaps he could salvage the season, even if though he won't make it back into contention.
- #20 Matt Kenseth - He's the points leader and he's won twice at Charlotte. The No. 20 team will need to be on its game as Jimmie Johnson is just three points back and performs very well at CMS.
- #48 Jimmie Johnson - Speaking of Five-Time, he's a great choice this weekend. He's tied for the all-time lead at CMS with six career Cup wins and a seventh would guarantee nothing less than a split for the points lead.
- #29 Kevin Harvick - There's two reason to pick him: he won last week and he won the last race at Charlotte. The truth is that the driver of the No. 29 has just eight top-10s in 25 Charlotte races, so it's hard to see him building momentum off last week's win.
- #1 Jamie McMurray - If the B-list is fully taxed, McMurray isn't a bad pick. He has two wins at CMS and a 22nd at Michigan in August is his only finish worse than 19th in the last 14 races; he's turning out a lot of lead-lap finishes.
- #18 Kyle Busch - Charlotte is one of the few tracks at which Busch has never won, but he has seven top-fives in the last 11 races at CMS, so he's due.
- #22 Joey Logano - His 9.6 average finish at CMS makes him the only driver in the field with a top-10 average finishing position.
- #99 Carl Edwards - Zero wins and just five top-fives in 17 CMS starts doesn't sound great, but consider that his 11.9 average finish at the track ties him with Johnson and Kahne for second among active drivers. He's consistent.
- #14 Mark Martin - His four wins jump out, but keep in mind that he continues to struggle to finish inside the top-20 this year.
- #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. - He's finished just three of the last nine Charlotte races on the lead lap, so this is not his track.
- #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - He blew an engine in this race last year, but has finished 11th and 14th in his two other Charlotte starts. The cookie-cutters have been the easiest for the rookie to learn, so he should get the nod on the fantasy roster when he visits one.
#51 Kyle Larson - One of the next big things in NASCAR, Larson gets the call for his first career Cup race on Saturday night. He's worth a go on a C-list that must be depleted at this point.
- #83 David Reutimann - Don't get cute in thinking that his five top-10s in 12 CMS starts are going to make him a dark horse to do well. BK Racing doesn't have the machinery to run up front, and that's clear in that after 60 combined races this season, neither Reutimann nor Travis Kvapil have a top-10 finish.
Drivers are listed by car number and not necessarily in rank order.