|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: Two Chasers, Two Races
While there might be several drivers still mathematically capable of winning the championship, only two are still logically in the running: Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth. With just seven points separating the two, only bad luck will stop the championship from coming down to the final race at Homestead.
Of course, it was bad luck at Phoenix that knocked Johnson off the top last year after he had won at Texas. This year, fresh off another win at Texas, he'll be on alert to try and avoid the same ill fate. It's a track where he's been dominant over the years and Kenseth has not. However, the No. 20 has found a new ability on the short, flat tracks, like New Hampshire and Martinsville, and that will make Kenseth competitive this weekend.
Even though the championship is down to two, there will still be a full, 43-car field (as always). From a Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing standpoint, that means that owners must step back from the championship hunt that's going on and look at the field as a whole. Here's a peak at who might put up a good week:
Phoenix International Raceway is unique from the standpoint that it hosts the second and 35th races of the Sprint Cup Series season, which means that the gap between seasons is actually much shorter than the gap between the two races in the same season. The drivers have been to this track, but it's been quite sometime, and they've learned a lot about the Generation Six car in that span. The track itself is a one-mile oval that was recently reconfigured with a little more banking than NHMS, but it's still the track on the circuit that most similarly resembles the Magic Mile in Loudon.
It's the time of year when teams might be trying something for 2014, so that makes it a little harder to take a driver's history at face value. Johnson and Kenseth are the only two that are really still points racing, so everyone else needs to do their best to prepare for next year. Keep in mind how horrible Johnson was between the time he clinched the Chase and the time it started. His team was clearly working on some things and didn't care about their actual finishing position; many teams could be taking a similar approach over the last two races.
It's pretty simple at this point as there are only two races to go. Start the best drivers that you still have available. Those starts are "use it or lose it," and you don't get any bonus points for left over starts on Johnson, Kyle Busch or Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (the top performers on each of the three respective lists).
- #20 Matt Kenseth - I don't really care that Kenseth has a 17.2 career average finish at Phoenix. He's racing for a championship and has outperformed his stats on this track type all season long.
- #29 Kevin Harvick - Last year's winner of this race can be feast or famine, as he has three wins at PIR, but only 10 top-10s in 21 starts. He's been consistent all season, so he's not a bad option at all if both Kenseth and Johnson are used up.
- #48 Jimmie Johnson - This is an opportunity for Johnson to build a bigger points lead. He's won four times at Phoenix and conversely has just four finishes outside the top-10 in 20 starts, that makes for a 6.4 average finish at the track.
- #5 Kasey Kahne - Not only has he been in a horrible slump for a few months, but his 19.1 average finish at PIR makes him the A-list's worst option to begin with.
- #18 Kyle Busch - Considering the way Busch has raced for much of the Chase, he's nearly a lock for a top-10. He has 10 of them in 17 races at PIR,
- #39 Ryan Newman - With five top-fives in the last 11 races at Phoenix, he's got upside. Although, Newman has no other top-10s in that span.
- #78 Kurt Busch - He's second on the B-list when it comes to average fantasy points at PIR and has proven to be a reliable option throughout the year.
- #99 Carl Edwards - He's been in a slump, but he's a great option in either of the final two races. Edwards has two wins and three poles in his career at Phoenix.
- #14 Mark Martin - He might average the most points on the B-list at PIR, but Martin's finished no higher than ninth in 2013 since a season opening third-place finish in the Daytona 500. He has just five top-10s in 26 starts this season.
- #22 Joey Logano - He's never led a lap at Phoenix in nine starts ... not one.
- #13 Casey Mears - There's not a lot to go on, other than that Mears is clearly the second best driver on the C-list this week.
- #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - It might be unlikely that you have any starts left on Stenhouse (although I have one), but with no other drivers of note starting this week, he's definitely the best option, if you can still use him.
- #51 Justin Allgaier - The No. 51 has been a trendy pick this season, as the driver is constantly changing. That said, it hasn't been a good car for quite some time and Allgaier's highest finish in three starts this season is 24th.
Drivers are listed by car number and not necessarily in rank order.
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