NASCAR Fantasy Blog


NASCAR Fantasy Preview: Kansas

October 02, 2013, Dan Beaver, NASCAR.com

NASCAR Fantasy Preview: Kansas
Johnson, Kenseth are the favorites, but there is good value to be had

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The next two weeks are a great time for the points leaders, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, and Kyle Busch, to solidify their advantage before the series heads to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup's two wild card tracks. Talladega Superspeedway is unpredictable and a driver can lose 30 or more positions in a single lap -- including the final circuit. The tight confines of Martinsville Speedway have drivers constantly at risk of sustaining damage that could drop them to the tail of the lead lap and with NASCAR’s Wave Around and Free Pass rules, that can also be critical.

A lot can go wrong on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks as well, but drivers have more control over their destiny on them than other types. Detune the engine, and power failures are minimized. Stay out of three-wide situations, and accidents are less likely to occur, so drivers can choose when to be aggressive and work strategy to their benefit. 

Kansas Speedway is distinct from Charlotte Motor Speedway, but along with the remaining similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks a common set of skills is required to go fast there. This week’s fantasy roster will feature marquee drivers from superteams. Players will be tempted to place-and-hold most of their roster, but start making decisions for the Bank of America 500 as soon as the green flag waves over the Hollywood Casino 400 because some minor adjustments will need to be made. 

Rank

Driver

Power Avg.

1.

Matt Kenseth

6.69

2.

Jimmie Johnson

7.72

3.

Carl Edwards

9.66

4.

Kevin Harvick

10.02

5.

Greg Biffle

10.24

6.

Kyle Busch

10.58

7.

Jeff Gordon

12.50

8.

Martin Truex Jr.

12.68

9.

Kasey Kahne

12.98

10.

Denny Hamlin

13.13

11.

Brad Keselowski

13.86

12.

Clint Bowyer

14.75

13.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

15.23

14.

Kurt Busch

15.41

15.

Ryan Newman

17.44

16.

Mark Martin

17.90

17.

Paul Menard

18.14

18.

Marcos Ambrose

18.35

19.

Joey Logano

18.82

20.

Jamie McMurray

18.90

21.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

19.91

22.

Aric Almirola

20.18

23.

AJ Allmendinger

20.53

24.

Juan Pablo Montoya

21.33

25.

Brian Vickers

22.25

26.

David Ragan

22.94

27.

Jeff Burton

24.18

28.

David Reutimann

27.98

29.

Justin Allgaier

30.69

30.

Danica Patrick

31.83

31.

David Gilliland

33.20

32.

Casey Mears

33.25

33.

Landon Cassill

33.39

34.

Travis Kvapil

34.38

35.

Dave Blaney

36.65

36.

JJ Yeley

36.93

37.

Timmy Hill

37.18

38.

Reed Sorenson

37.68

39.

Cole Whitt

38.32

40.

Michael McDowell

38.94

41.

Josh Wise

39.25

42.

Tony Raines

40.06

43.

Joe Nemechek

40.59

The Favorites

Johnson has lacked consistency on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks this year. Two of his last four attempts on this track type ended in results outside the top 20 and in seven attempts he has only two top-fives. At Kansas, he has been close to perfect, however. He enters the weekend with nine consecutive top-10s of which two are victories and another four ended in top-three finishes. Johnson has accumulated the type of stats that are most important to players of the NASCAR Fantasy Live game. In the past 11 races, he has earned 496 quality passes and 439 fastest laps run, which leads the series in both categories. Equally important, his fastest laps run total is more than twice that of the closest competitor Kenseth.

That said, Kenseth still has to be recognized as one of this week’s favorites. He has won more than half of the seven races held on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kansas, Kentucky Speedway, and most recently at Chicagoland Speedway. There is another pattern that might give superstitious players a momentary pause, however. Kenseth has finished outside the top 10 in his other three attempts. The good news is that is heavily outweighed by his recent record at Kansas because one of his victories this season came in the STP 400. He also won the 2012 edition of this race and those two showings contributed to his accumulation of the second-most fastest laps run during the past 11 races.

Greg Biffle sits third in fastest laps run with 205 and second in quality passes during the past 11 races. Like Johnson and Kenseth, he has converted those strong runs into solid finishes. He entered last year’s edition of this race with seven consecutive top-10s, of which two were victories. He has struggled a little in the past two Kansas contests, placing 27th last fall and a 19th this spring, but that could play into a player’s hands if it causes the competition to overlook him this week. 

Dark Horses

To get into Chase contention, Jeff Gordon is going to need to resurrect the form he had earlier in his career at Kansas. He won the first two races on this track and finished fifth in his third attempt. From 2007 through the first 2011 race, he strung five consecutive top-fives together, but engine problems in back-to-back races that fall and in spring 2012 robbed him of his momentum. He has finished respectably in the top 15 and on the lead lap in his last two attempts, but his best result was a 10th last fall and that is not enough to help him make up much ground on the points leaders. He performed a little better than his finishing position of 13th suggests in the STP 400, however, to earn the sixth-most points in the NASCAR Fantasy Live game and that is what matters most this week. 

Brad Keselowski will most likely be the best non-Chaser at Kansas. He won the 2011 STP 400 on fuel mileage and returned that fall to finish third. While he has not scored a top-five since then, he has consistently scored points in the NASCAR Fantasy Live game. Last fall, he earned the eighth-most points in the game and this spring he was the fifth-best value. One reason for this productivity is that he is tied for the second-most average quality passes in his seven career attempts and he is liable to perform just as strong this week. 

Jamie McMurray is another driver who cannot be overlooked at Kansas. He swept the top 15 there last year and scored a seventh this spring. Dollar for dollar, he could be one of the best values in the game. 

Underdogs

Ryan Newman got off to a strong start at Kansas. He finished in the runner-up position behind Gordon in the first two races and won his third attempt. When one talks about momentum shifting, his record on this 1.5-miler is a prime example. Newman crashed 40 laps from the end of the 2004 Banquet 400 and failed to finish. In 11 races since then, he has scored only one top-10. Equally disappointing is the fact that he has lost place differential points in all but one of those events and the only time he improved his position in race trim was in 2009 when he finished modestly in 22nd after starting 30th. He was a lap off the pace that afternoon.

Kyle Busch is an all or nothing driver on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. He started the season with a fourth-place finish in the Kobalt Tools 400 at Vegas and won the NRA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway; his last three attempts at Kentucky, Atlanta, and Chicagoland have also ended in top-fives with a victory in Georgia, but the middle two races ended in 38th-place finishes. One of these came at Kansas when he crashed on lap 102 of 267. Last fall, he crashed twice in this event and his tendency to push the envelope just a little too far has to make fantasy players a little nervous.