Fantasy Recap: Remember Kahne?
October 13, 2013, George Winkler, NASCAR.com
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Kasey Kahne didn't win the Bank of America 500 on Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but he did take the top spot in the NASCAR Fantasy Live game with a score of 164.5 points. That was two points better than his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson, who finished fourth in the race. And it was more than 50 points better than the man who won the race, Brad Keselowski.
For Kahne, who hadn't had a top-10 in the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, getting back to Charlotte was just what the doctor ordered. Kahne now has nine top-fives in 20 Sprint Cup races at Charlotte, a track where he continued to showcase his strength. While Kahne fell just short of notching his fifth victory at the track, he proved worthy of a spot-start in fantasy leagues.
However, fantasy owners must be wondering what to make of Kahne's successful run at Charlotte. Despite being a strong driver, Kahne has had more than his share of unfortunate and unpredictable events this season. With Talladega Superspeedway looming on the horizon, that isn't exactly what owners want to hear.
Kahne maintains a nice second-tier price of $25, but he has been somewhat Jekyll and Hyde in performance this year. The good Kahne ran off a four-week string early in the season where he was second at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, won at Bristol Motor Speedway, finished ninth at Fontana and was fourth at Martinsville Speedway. But then he had a stretch during midseason where he was 23rd at Dover International Speedway, 36th at Pocono Raceway and 38th at Michigan International Speedway.
So which Kahne will show up at Talladega?
Well, Kahne is still last among the 13 Chase drivers in the standings, 81 points behind the leader Matt Kenseth. However, perhaps he has regained some of that early-season momentum. Then again, it's Talladega and bad luck seems to find the No. 5 at the worst times.
So the recommendation is to be thankful for the result in Charlotte if you were a lucky owner of the No. 5 this week. But it's worth searching for a safer option for Talledega -- if there is such a thing. Going back to Kahne for Martinsville, where he is coming off back-to-back top-five finishes, is something to file away in the back of your mind. Kahne can still be a dominant fantasy performer in the right conditions.
Key Fantasy Moment: Raise your hand if you gambled on Kyle Larson in his Sprint Cup Series debut. Guilty as charged because his $5 price tag was hard to resist. Larson had a good run going, getting as high as 12th place after qualifying 21st. But on Lap 247 the engine in the No. 51 car went out and he ended in 37th. That led Larson to having the third-worst fantasy score of the day, but you can't blame fantasy owners for trying. Larson at least showed a glimpse of his future in Cup and should be a sought-after bargain in 2014.
Biggest Bargain: Fantasy owners who had the courage to dust off Denny Hamlin and put him in their lineups were richly rewarded. Hamlin produced the eighth-highest fantasy score and was second to race-winner Keselowski among non-Chase drivers. For Hamlin, he had his 10th top-10 finish in 17 races at Charlotte and the performance indicated he still has something left in the tank for 2013. That makes it a little easier to bank on his strong history at Martinsville in a couple of weeks. For $20.25 he was a relative bargain, especially when compared with Mark Martin, who at the same price produced the worst fantasy score of the day.
Biggest Bust: Greg Biffle didn't provide an epic meltdown for your fantasy team, but he was the lowest scorer among Chase drivers. Biffle had his second straight pedestrian performance with a 16th-place finish matching his car number. But he was only 23rd in fantasy scoring. For $24.75 that is not what fantasy owners expected. Joey Logano ($23.75) gets honorable mention in this category for producing the 22nd-highest fantasy scorer and failing to deliver at a track where he had six top-10s in nine previous Cup races.
Tip to take to next week: Matt Kenseth is known as a restrictor-plate king, so if he's on your roster keep him there, because heading into Talladega his price should rise even higher than the $29 it stands at now. Kenseth has the highest driver rating in the past eight seasons at Talladega, according to NASCAR Statistical Services. Another known restrictor-plate master is Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has the second-highest driver rating in this timespan. Consider them as a 1-2 punch next week, then cross your fingers and hope they avoid the "big one."