Fantasy NASCAR

2014 Daytona International Speedway, Coke Zero 400

I think things are going to start heating up in the Sprint Cup Series as we are now only nine races away from the start of the Chase. Right now we have ten different winners, so that leaves six spots up to the point standings. As of right now Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne would be on the outside looking in, so they have some work to do. If we get a couple of new winners over the next nine races there will only be four spots available for those trying to qualify on points. That is why wins are so important at this stage of the game.

This week the series heads back to Daytona International Speedway for another Saturday night race and the third restrictor plate race of the season. Like always, these races can be one by any driver that starts from any position and stays out of trouble early in the race. That means another Chase spot can go to anyone this week. I caution those of you in the Yahoo league to pick your drivers carefully this week as this race is just a crap shoot.


Dale Earnhardt Jr.: I am picking Dale to come away with his third victory of the season this week at Daytona. He won the Daytona 500 this year and has finished first or second in three of his last five point races at this track. This team is hitting on all cylinders right now and has proven they know how to get the job done at the restrictor plate tracks as well as all other tracks on the circuit.

Matt Kenseth: Matt has always run well at the restrictor plate tracks and will be in contention once again this weekend if he can avoid trouble early in the race. That includes on the track, pit road, and mechanically. I think most of his poor finishes are the result of mechanical issues and there isn’t anything the driver can do about that. However, he proved how in tune with his car is last week when he realized he had a tire going down and made it to pit road before it could blow out on him and that saved him a top five finish.

Kevin Harvick: Kevin is another driver that always seems to be in contention at the end in these races. He usually rides around at the back of the pack early in the race to avoid trouble and then comes from the back to the front in the last twenty laps or so. The way he has performed this year, and all of the fast cars he has had makes me believe that he will have a shot at another win this weekend.

Jeff Gordon: Jeff has put together a very nice season so far and has won six points races at Daytona during his career. Jeff seems to know who he drafts well with before the race starts and finds those drivers when he really needs them late in these races. Watch some of the practice sessions next week and see who Jeff picks to run with in the drafting session. He will find that same driver during the race and move to the front of the field with them.

Jimmie Johnson: Let’s not forget about Jimmie Johnson. With three victories already this season we know that this team has nothing to lose by going for the win this weekend. he is guaranteed a spot in the Chase and would like to get a few more wins to pad his points once the Chase starts. He has won three points races at Daytona, and Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are the only active drivers with more career victories at Daytona than Jimmie who is tied with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip with those three wins.

Tony Stewart: As I just mentioned, Tony has won four points races at Daytona during his career and will be going all out to secure his spot in the Chase this weekend. This team has had an up and down year so far, but I think they have turned the corner and are now on the upswing. This is the type of race that Tony can win if he stays clean early on during the race and I believe he will be another driver that runs at the back of the pack for the majority of the race before making his move at the end.

Michael Waltrip: I believe Michael will be coming out of semi-retirement once again this week to give Daytona another shot. Michael runs all of the restrictor plate races during the season, and why not? He has three wins in point races at Daytona and has shown that he knows how to draft to get his car to the front of the pack. He will also ride around at the back of the pack until late in the race when he will joint the rest of the drivers at the back and make the move to the front and go for the win.

Jamie McMurray: Jamie has won two points races at Daytona during his career and always seems to have a great car here. However, something disastrous seems to happen to him during the race. Whether it be a mechanical problem or getting caught up in the big one, Jamie would like a little more luck on his side as he tries to get a win in a points race so he can qualify for the Chase.

Kurt Busch: Kurt has never won a points race at Daytona or Talladega, but he has been very good at both tracks amassing twenty-six top ten finishes in fifty-four starts. Eventually he will break into the win column at both of these tracks because he runs at the front of the pack more often than not.


Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • Matt Kenseth

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Aric Almirola
  • David Ragan
  • Jamie McMurray
  • Brian Vickers

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Michael Waltrip
  • Trevor Bayne


  1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  2. Matt Kenseth
  3. Jeff Gordon
  4. Kurt Busch
  5. Tony Stewart

Dark Horse: Jamie McMurray

Stay Away From: Clint Bowyer

NASCAR Fantasy Live

NASCAR Fantasy Live Picks, 2014 Kentucky, Quaker State 400

Congratulations to Carl Edwards for his first Sprint Cup road course victory at Sonoma. If you were unfortunate enough to pick Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, or AJ Allmendinger, you were less cheerful than the 99 team after Sunday’s race. NASCAR returns to the intermediate-sized track in Kentucky this weekend. The top drivers have dominated the first three races in Sparta. My suggestion would be to pick your top-three drivers first, then choose the best drivers with the remaining salary cap dollars.

Each of the last three years, a driver has led over 100 laps at the track. The odds are in favor of one car being dominant this weekend. If you pick the correct driver, you will be well on your way to success. My strategy is to choose the drivers with the highest probability of being the dominant driver based on their history at the track. This will provide the best chance of winning in the fantasy live league.

Kyle Busch has led the most laps of any driver at Kentucky. He has the second-best average finish in the series. Kyle Busch has been decent in 2014, but he has not been one of the elite drivers. If he is able to duplicate his historical performance, Busch has a high probability of netting fantasy points for your team. The driver with the second-most Fantasy live points at Kentucky is Jimmie Johnson. Johnson led 182 laps in last year’s race, and he has a sixth place average finish at the track. His team has seen the most success over the last six weeks and could easily be the team to dominate this race.

Matt Kenseth is the only Sprint Cup driver with a top-five average finish at Kentucky. Although he has not led as many laps as Johnson or Busch, Kenseth has shown consistency in 2014 and should not be a disappointing pick. Other drivers at the top worth your consideration include Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, and Kurt Busch.

My picks of Johnson, Kenseth, and Kyle Busch absorb $81.25 of my $100 budget, leaving little space for the two remaining drivers. Although the price is steep, I am betting that they have the best opportunity to lead over 100 laps. David Ragan continues to be a value choice at $10.25 and usually exceeds his dollar value. With a 21st place average finish at Kentucky, you should find value with Ragan.

With only $9.50 remaining in my budget, the best options remaining are Landon Cassill, Reed Sorenson, and Travis Kvapil. Kvapil has the most points per fantasy dollar, but I do not trust his team in 2014. That leaves a toss-up between Cassill and Sorensen with the edge going to Cassill. His 28th place average finish at the track is not impressive, but still will provide enough value for his $7.50 price tag.


Fantasy Live on uses a salary cap format to prevent us from simply starting the best drivers every week. The scoring system combines laps led, fast laps, final position, and start-to-finish differential. Our formula basically determines the total number of points earned for each driver and divides that number by the salary cap figure. We can then determine how many points to expect from each fantasy dollar.

For additional clarification on the formula, we will review the details from Kurt Busch this week.


  • Total laps led last three years at Kentucky: 41 (17 laps per race = 8.5 points)
  • Fast Laps: Cannot be calculated with 100% accuracy
  • Average Finish Position: 11th = 33 points per race
  • Start-to-Finish Differential: Plus 4 = 4 points
  • Total points earned by race: 43.5
  • Fantasy Live Salary Cap Figure: $23.50
  • Points per fantasy dollar: 43.5/$23.50 equals 1.94 points per dollar

For rookies with no historical data at the track, we will use their data from all tracks in the 2014 season to provide an idea what to expect. The Fantasy Live points per dollar numbers are below with this week’s picks in bold.

GROUP A ($25.00 or higher)

  • Kyle Busch 2.94
  • Jimmie Johnson 2.50
  • Matt Kenseth 2.10
  • Brad Keselowski 1.83
  • Kasey Kahne 1.61
  • Jeff Gordon 1.47
  • Kevin Harvick 1.30
  • Joey Logano 1.23
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1.01
  • Clint Bowyer 0.85

GROUP B ($20.00 – $24.99)

  • Kurt Busch 1.94
  • Martin Truex Jr. 1.75
  • Denny Hamlin 1.55
  • Jamie McMurray 1.44
  • Aric Almirola 1.38
  • Kyle Larson 1.30
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1.15
  • Marcus Ambrose 1.08
  • Austin Dillon 1.06
  • Tony Stewart 0.91
  • Ryan Newman 0.72
  • Paul Menard 0.69
  • Greg Biffle 0.47
  • Brian Vickers 0.18

GROUP C ($15.00 – $19.99)

  • Danica Patrick 1.77
  • Casey Mears 1.61
  • AJ Allmendinger 1.37
  • Justin Allgaier 1.27

GROUP D ($10.00 – $14.99)

  • David Ragan 2.78
  • David Gilliland 1.77
  • Cole Whitt 1.33

GROUP E ($9.99 or lower)

  • Travis Kvapil 3.59
  • Reed Sorensen 2.52
  • Michael Annett 2.21
  • Landon Cassill 2.17
  • Alex Bowman 1.49
  • JJ Yeley 1.25
  • Ryan Truex Jr. 0.88
  • Josh Wise 0.26
Fantasy NASCAR

2014 Kentucky Speedway, Quaker State 400

We move from a road course race out west to a Saturday night intermediate track in Kentucky. The Kentucky Speedway is a 1.5-mile tri-oval speedway that opened in 2000. The Sprint Cup Series has only run three races at this track, but some of the drivers have run quite a few races in the Nationwide Series here. This track is also very similar to tracks like Kansas and Chicagoland, so we can see how drivers have fared at those tracks as well as we decide who to start this weekend.


Matt Kenseth: There are only ten more races before the Chase starts and some good drivers are still looking for their first win of the season. At the top of that list is Matt Kenseth, who won seven races last season. Matt should make the Chase based on his point position, as I don’t think we will see sixteen different drivers getting wins before the Chas starts. However, Matt won this race last season and has finished in the top ten in all three of his starts here. That is why I am picking him for the win this weekend.

Kyle Busch: Kyle won the inaugural race at this track and has also finished in the top ten in all three of his starts here. He is the only driver to have two top five finishes though and has qualified in the top four in each of those starts. I think Kyle is better under the lights and the majority of this race will be run after dusk.

Jimmie Johnson: Although Jimmie has yet to win at this track, he is another driver who has finished in the top ten in all of his starts here. Jimmie had never won at Michigan until a couple of weeks ago and he might pick up his first win at this track this Saturday night. Jimmie has been very good on this type of track lately and will be in contention at the end of this race.

Jeff Gordon: Jeff is the last of our drivers to finish in the top ten in every race at Kentucky Speedway. Once again, he has never won at this track either, but has been very good week in and week out this year. I look for Jeff to have another good run this weekend and if all of the correct adjustments are made to his car late in the race he will also contend for the win.

Joey Logano: Joey has won three of four Nationwide Series races he has run at this track. He has one top ten finish at Kentucky in the Sprint Cup Series and that came last year when he finished fourth. This team has been having a successful season and I look for them to run well once again this weekend.

Brad Keselowski: Brad has won two of six races he has run in the Nationwide Series at this track. He also won the Sprint Cup race here two years ago and has finished in the top ten in two of his three starts here in that series. Both of the Penske teams have qualified and run well at the intermediate tracks this season and this week should be no different.

Kevin Harvick: Kevin has run very well all season and has never finished worse that sixteenth at Kentucky. I think he will improve on his best ever finish of tenth at this track this week and will be in contention at the end of this race. I am predicting a top five finish for Kevin this weekend.

Kurt Busch: Kurt has run here with three different teams over the past three seasons and in this, his fourth start, he will once again be with a new team. That doesn’t seem to matter much, because Kurt seems to run well at this track. I think this team is ready to start running more consistent as we near the Chase and will try and get another win before the Chase starts.

Kasey Kahne: Kasey has never finished worse that thirteenth at this track in his three starts here. This team needs to start stepping up their program as they are currently nineteenth in points and have yet to win a race this season. They need to pick up a win to guarantee a spot in the Chase and to prove to themselves that they are a championship contender.

Austin Dillon: Austin has won two of the four Nationwide races he has run at this track and this team will head into this weekend with a lot of confidence. They have been consistent all season and could very well surprise a lot of people this weekend. I look for Austin to be the highest finishing rookie this week.


Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Matt Kenseth
  • Jimmie Johnson

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Joey Logano
  • Brad Keselowski
  • Jamie McMurray
  • Denny Hamlin

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Austin Dillon
  • Kyle Larson


  1. Matt Kenseth
  2. Jimmie Johnson
  3. Joey Logano
  4. Brad Keselowski
  5. Kyle Busch

Dark Horse: Austin Dillon

Stay Away From: Greg Biffle

NASCAR Fantasy Live

NASCAR Fantasy Live Picks, 2014 Sonoma, Toyota / Save Mart 350

Now that Jimmie Johnson and the 48 team have started their domination mode that we are all familiar with, Nascar moves west to wine country for the first of two road races this season. Due to the nature of the road course, Sonoma is one of the more predictable tracks of the season. Generally, drivers who traditionally run at the top finish at the top, while those who struggle will continue to perform poorly. The end result is good news for the fantasy players at the top of the standings and little opportunity to gain points on the leaders for the players at the bottom.

On tracks that are predictable, my strategy is to pick my drivers from the top-down. In other words, find the best choices and fill in with the best options available with whatever money is remaining. The top three average finishers over the last five years at Sonoma are Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Marcos Ambrose. All three averaged a top five finish since 2009. Combined, they will take $77 of the $100 salary cap budget, and they should be worth their cost.

Jimmie Johnson had been unstoppable in the last month. If he has a bad finish, I cannot regret taking the series leader during a hot streak. He is averaging 48.5 points per Sonoma race and 1.73 fantasy points per dollar. My biggest concern with starting Johnson is that he has not led a lap at Sonoma since 2009. That being said, his fantasy live point total over the past five years is the most of any driver.

The second selection is a toss-up between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer. Both drivers will perform well. Bowyer has a slightly higher point total than Gordon with a lower salary cap figure. The edge goes to Gordon due to Gordon’s better performance over the course of the 2014 season. His team has been one of the most consistent on a week-to-week basis. Like Johnson, Gordon is low of the total laps led with only 17 in the last five years, and this is his only drawback.

My third pick was initially an easy choice with Marcos Ambrose until I noticed I had enough cap space for Kurt Busch. Kurt Busch is the only driver to lead a lap in four of the last five Sonoma races. His 94 laps led is the most of any driver. While Busch has experienced more recent success, Ambrose is more consistent over the last ten years. His 64 laps led is fourth among all drivers. With the new Chase format, his team knows this is one of the few races they can realistically win. Marcos Ambrose will be driving to win on Sunday.

With only $23 remaining, we were lucky to scrap together two solid options with the rest of the cap money. Boris Said only has a $7.50 cap figure. Although he is not as dominant at the road courses as he once was, Said still is averaging a 21st place finish and led eight laps in 2010. His 3.31 points per fantasy dollar is the highest of any driver. David Gilliland performs adequately at Sonoma with a 22nd place average sine 2009. He will not challenge to win the race, but should finish in the middle and provide value for his $12.50 cap figure. Outside of the five drivers chosen above, other options I like who missed the cut include AJ Allmendinger, Tony Stewart, Casey Mears, and Martin Truex Jr.

The salary cap formula used in this article determines how many fantasy points to expect from each fantasy dollar.


Fantasy Live on uses a salary cap formula in order to prevent you from simply starting the best drivers every week. Their scoring system combines laps led, fast laps, finish position, and start-to-finish differential. This formula tallies the total points earned by each driver over the last five years and divides this figure by the fantasy live salary cap number. The end result is a number that predicts the number of points to expect per fantasy dollar for each driver.

For further clarification, see the example of Marcos Ambrose at Sonoma below:


  • Total laps led last five years: 64 (6.4 fantasy points per race)
  • Fast laps: Cannot be calculated with 100% accuracy
  • Finish position: 4th place (40 fantasy points per race)
  • Start-to-finish differential: Minus 2 equals minus 2 fantasy points
  • Total points per Sonoma race: 44.4
  • Fantasy Live Salary Cap Figure: 21.24
  • Fantasy points per dollar: 44.4/21.24 equals 2.09

We will use 2014 totals for drivers with no historical data at the track. The points per fantasy dollar for each driver are below. Suggested drivers this week are in bold:

GROUP A ($25.00 or higher)

  • Clint Bowyer 1.79
  • Jimmie Johnson 1.73
  • Jeff Gordon 1.65
  • Carl Edwards 1.30
  • Kevin Harvick 1.28
  • Brad Keselowski 1.01
  • Joey Logano 0.94
  • Matt Kenseth 0.91
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. 0.84
  • Kyle Busch 0.37

GROUP B ($20.00 – $24.99)

  • Marcos Ambrose 2.09
  • Kurt Busch 1.80
  • Kasey Kahne 1.52
  • Kyle Larson 1.43
  • Austin Dillon 1.40
  • Brian Vickers 1.31
  • Aric Almirola 1.22
  • Tony Stewart 1.12
  • Greg Biffle 1.12
  • Paul Menard 1.09
  • Jamie McMurray 1.03
  • Martin Truex Jr. 1.02
  • Ryan Newman 0.88
  • Denny Hamlin 0.41

GROUP C ($15.00 – $19.99)

  • AJ Allmendinger 2.14
  • Justin Allgaier 1.27
  • Casey Mears 1.19

GROUP D ($10.00 – $14.99)

  • David Gilliland 2.24
  • David Ragan 1.95
  • Danica Patrick 1.22

GROUP E ($9.99 or lower)

  • Boris Said 3.31
  • Landon Cassill 3.10
  • Josh Wise 2.67
  • Michael Annett 2.21
  • Cole Whitt 1.76
  • JJ Yeley 1.69
  • Alex Bowman 1.41
  • Ryan Truex 0.86
  • Joe Nemecheck (-0.68)
  • Reed Sorenson (-1.18)
Fantasy NASCAR

2014 Toyota/Save Mart 350, Sonoma Raceway

Jimmie Johnson looks tough, Kevin Harvick looks like a contender every week and Tony Stewart just keeps improving. There is still a long way before the Chase starts, but some teams are showing their strength right now. With the new system in place this season, a driver that makes the Chase the week before it starts has just as good of a chance as any driver in the field. The main thing is to make that Chase.

Jimmie Johnson won his third race of the season in his last three starts to make him the person to beat once again this season, but Kevin Harvick proved that he is just as good on a weekly basis. Matt Kenseth is still looking for his first win of the season and is still solidly in the hunt at this time. A lot of things can happen before the Chase, and more things can happen during it!

This week the series heads out west for the first road course race of the season at the Sonoma Raceway. Sonoma is a 2.52-mile road course with twelve turns. This is only one of two road courses on the circuit and many drivers are happy because of it. I myself believe that if a restrictor plate race is good enough for the Chase a road course race should be included too. That will tell me who the real champion is!


Marcos Ambrose: Although Marcos has yet to win a race here and hasn’t really improved this season, this is the track that I think he wins at. Since breaking his transmission in his first start here for the Wood Brothers back in 2008 and finishing 42nd, Marcos has reeled off five straight top ten finishes and should have a car that can win the race this weekend.

Jeff Gordon: With five career wind and thirteen top five finishes in twenty-one race, Jeff is another strong pick for the win. This team has been more consistent this year than the last four years on a weekly basis and if his back feels good he will be a contender for the win once again this week.

Tony Stewart:
I think this week will be a tell tale sign to Tony’s’ health. He started off the year rather slow, but has come on strong over the past month. He has always run well on the road courses and has two wins and nine top ten finishes in fifteen starts here. I think he has a great chance of getting his first win of the season this weekend.

Clint Bowyer: Clint is another driver that has struggled a bit so far this season. he is also a driver that has been very consistent at Sonoma during his career. Clint has one win and six top ten finishes in eight starts here. I’m sure this team is looking at this race to get their first win of the season and qualify for the Chase.

Jimmie Johnson: Let’s not forget this guy. Jimmie has finished in the top ten in his last five starts at this track including a win back in 2010. The way this team is performing right now you can’t count them out of any race. He has nothing to lose by taking chances and going for the win in another race before the Chase starts, which makes him very dangerous this week.

Kurt Busch: Kurt is my dark horse of the week. He has struggled the last month and a half, but he has always been very good at Sonoma. He is already qualified for the Chase and loves to run the road courses. If he has a decent handling car next week and can compete, he will stop at nothing less than a win.

Brad Keselowski: I will never forget the finish that Brad and Marcos Ambrose put on at Watkins Glen a few years ago. This was just two good ‘ol boys racing their hearts out for a win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and after the checkered flag flew, Brad had nothing but good things to say about the competitiveness of that race. This is a guy that has what it takes to win at this track.

Kyle Busch: Kyle has a win at this track and loves to run this type of a race. He needs to be a little more patient early in the race and not worry about getting knocked around some. That is what happens at this track. If you stay calm and make your passes at the right time you will find yourself in position to win at the end of the race and you have done it before.

Watch for the “ringers” this week. I am sure that their will be a few road course experts in the field this week such as Boris Said and others. I’m not sure who will run the #66 car this weekend, if Juan Pablo will be back behind the wheel or who else you might see in a car. The entry list comes out on Tuesday and once it does you will have other options to start this weekend, especially in in the Yahoo league.


Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Jeff Gordon
  • Jimmie Johnson

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Marcos Ambrose
  • Tony Stewart
  • Brad Keselowski
  • Jamie McMurray

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Boris Said
  • Justin Allgaier


  1. Marcos Ambrose
  2. Tony Stewart
  3. Jeff Gordon
  4. Brad Keselowski
  5. Jimmie Johnson

Dark Horse: Kurt Busch

Stay Away From: Dale Earnhardt Jr.