|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: Cookie Cutter Continuance
After the first six races in the Generation-6 car took place on vastly different track layouts, races seven and eight of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season are both on 1.5-mile cookie cutters ovals. Last Saturday night's event at Texas, the seventh race of the year, should have given teams a significant amount of data to work for as they prepare for Kansas Speedway this Sunday. The upcoming race could be the first time that drivers really start to look comfortable in the new ride.
Here's a look at how to approach the STP 400 with your Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing team:
As mentioned in the intro, Kansas Speedway is a tri-oval, cookie-cutter in shape. Its banking reaches up to 20 degrees in the corners, which matches that of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where the NSCS raced last month. The similar layout to both LVMS and Texas will result in the drivers showing their highest level of confidence in racing the Gen-6 car.
The crew chief and the teams need to start stepping it up. There is enough data out there on this track type that the responsibility falls on the teams to roll a fast Gen-6 car off the hauler. It could certainly be a rich get richer weekend for the top teams, and this is where the best crew chiefs show how they make their money.
As I just said, expect the rich to get richer, meaning that the drivers that have been the most successful early on should continue to thrive. They've figured out what works best sooner than the competition this year and should be able to use that knowledge to their benefit. Look specifically at the recent Texas and Las Vegas races, drivers that have swept the top-10 in those should make it a trifecta this weekend.
- #2 Brad Keselowski - With six top-10s in the first seven races, there are only so many more times he can register that stat without finishing first. I expect a race win soon and his 9.8 average finish at Kansas suggests the track is as good of an opportunity as any.
- #20 Matt Kenseth - A 12-place finish at Texas was disappointing for a driver that has dominated there, but he did win at Las Vegas earlier this year and has a 106.4 driver rating at Kansas.
- #48 Jimmie Johnson - His series-leading 119.5 driver rating at Kansas comes as little surprise when you consider that he's scored 11 top-10s in 13 Kansas starts. He leads the points right now, and there's a high possibility he picks up his third win of the young season.
- #29 Kevin Harvick - I don't know if I'm supposed to be impressed or not by the fact that Harvick has finished 13th in three consecutive races. I do know that I don't want a guy that has just one top-10 in seven 2013 races to start on my A-list. Since he has just one top-five in 14 Kansas starts, I'm not afraid that I'll miss the opportunity to catch lightning in a bottle by leaving him off my roster.
- #11 Brian Vickers - He puts up pretty consistent finishes when he gets the chance to race. In three starts this season, he's finished eighth twice and 11th once. He was with a brand new team last week, but that didn't stop him from grabbing a top-10.
- #16 Greg Biffle - Kansas is one of The Biff's best track. He has two wins and a solid seven top-fives in 13 starts at the track. His 113.0 driver rating there is second only to Johnson.
- #22 Joey Logano - It's time to throw his past stats out the window. Logano has two top-fives in the last three races; he had two top-fives all of last year. He finished fifth at Texas and 12th at Las Vegas, the other two cookie cutters. He also finished third at Auto Club Speedway, a larger intermediate.
- #99 Carl Edwards - Cousin Carl had 19 top-fives in 2011, but just three in 2012. He already has four in seven races this season, so it looks like he's back in top form. He's never won at Kansas, but does have eight top-10s in 11 starts.
- #56 Martin Truex Jr. - Last week's second-place finish was a reason for hope, and he finished second at Kansas in both races last year. However, those are his only two top-10s at the speedway, and, last week aside, he hasn't looked at all like he did in 2012. If he can get it going, he could be a pleasant second-half surprise, but I'd wait until he hits his stride before putting him in the lineup.
- #78 Kurt Busch - He has two top-fives on the year, but the other five races have resulted in finishes of 20th or worse. He's also only led one, lone lap this year, so there's little chance of getting the 10 bonus points from Yahoo! for a lap led.
- #12 Sam Hornish Jr. - The Nationwide Series points leader has yet to race in the Sprint Cup Series this year, but his 54.35 average fantasy point total in 2012 was far and away the best of any current C-list options.
- #51 Regan Smith - We might as well make it an all-Nationwide C-list, right? Smith is just two points behind Hornish in the NNS standings. On the Cup side this year, he's finished seventh and 22nd in two races, and whomever has started in the No. 51 has been worth the C-list start most weeks.
- #10 Danica Patrick - She finished 33th at Las Vegas and 28th at Texas in the other two cookie cutter races, so it's doubtful that she ends up producing the most fantasy points at Kansas.
Drivers are listed by car number and not necessarily in rank order.