Fantasy Recap: Can Harvick be trusted for long haul?
October 07, 2013, George Winkler, NASCAR.com
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Fantasy owners who jumped at Kevin Harvick after he won his first Coors Light Pole since 2006 despite a high price of $28 knew right from the start of Sunday's Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway that they had made a strong choice. Harvick led the first 44 laps en route to piling up the most fantasy points for the week.
It wasn't a walk-over, though, as a caution-filled race caused plenty of opportunities for drivers to slip in the scoring. Luckily, though, the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was able to overcome a bit of bad luck when he was shuffled toward the back during a debris caution on Lap 86. Harvick took just two tires on a later pit stop and was able to make up ground.
From there it was fairly smooth sailing for the No. 29, and Harvick finished ahead of second-place Kurt Busch with plenty of room to spare for his 22nd victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Harvick finished with 147.5 fantasy points and made for a shrewd pairing with Jimmie Johnson, who was second in fantasy scoring.
If you were able to squeeze in a Joey Logano, Kurt Busch or Jeff Gordon onto your roster, too, then you were in business with multiple top-five fantasy plays this weekend. If not, you might be wondering whether you should grab Harvick while the going is good heading into the next race at Charlotte.
It's buyer beware, though, because Harvick doesn't have a standout record at the 1.5-mile track in NASCAR's hotbed, even though he won there this year in the Coca-Cola 600. In 25 career starts there, he does have the two wins but just eight top-10 finishes. And his average finish of 17.3 at the track is somewhat pedestrian by his standards.
A quick look at NASCAR Statistical Service's Loop Data shows that Harvick is 19th in average place at Charlotte and 18th in driver rating. Based on all that, it might be good to take your gains this week and unload him for a cheaper option for the next race. We'll see how practice and qualify go, but let's not get too happy with Harvick just yet.
Key Fantasy Moment: Justin Allgaier was a fantasy favorite entering the Kansas race in his second Sprint Cup Series start for Phoenix Racing in the No. 51. He qualified 21st and was cheap at $5.25. He was worth a flier because of the salary he'd free up to get other drivers. And things were going well for Allgaier until Lap 136 when he blew a tire and collided with the No. 39 driven by Ryan Newman. In one fell swoop Allgaier ruined his chances for a big fantasy day and damaged Newman's. That double-whammy led to Newman finishing 41st in fantasy scoring and Allgaier ending up 42nd. The only driver with a worse fantasy score was Danica Patrick, who crashed out on Lap 1.
Biggest Bargain: Casey Mears finished just 17th in fantasy scoring, but at $13 it was well worth it. Consider this: If you resisted spending $3.50 more to roster Ricky Stenhouse Jr., despite the No. 17's good practice and qualifying runs (started on the front row), you were a savvy fantasy player. Because not only did you pocket the extra $3.50, but you also got 45 more fantasy points than Stenhouse Jr. produced. And that is the type of low- to mid-range gamble that can make a big difference in whether you pulled away from the pack on Sunday.
Biggest Bust: It's hard not to dogpile on Kyle Busch, even though it's the last thing he needs after a tough day at Kansas. But when you're the highest-priced driver coming into the race at $29 and you spend the afternoon spinning and sliding and eventually crashing out of the contest, forgive fantasy owners if we're a little bitter. Busch brought home a negative score of minus-7.5 points largely due to a minus-16 in place differential. Fantasy owners should have known better, given Busch's struggles at Kansas, where he had just two top-10 finishes in 12 starts leading up to Sunday. He now has three straight finishes of 31st or worse.
Tip to take to next week: Kyle Busch could bounce back at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he has a strong history, and Jimmie Johnson has been dominant there, too. But what else is new? If you're looking for a slightly under-the-radar pick for the Bank of America 500, Joey Logano is someone to consider. According to NASCAR Statistical Services, Logano has the best average finish, 9.8, in the past eight seasons at the track. Now, Logano hasn't been racing in the Cup Series there that long, but it's still impressive that in nine races at the facility he has managed six top-10s, including three top-fives. He might not be a bad deal at $23.50 and coming off back-to-back top-fives at Dover and Kansas.