Fantasy NASCAR

2014 Atlanta Motor Speedway, Oral-B USA 500

There are only two races left before the start of the Chase this season and the last two spots still aren’t decided yet. We have twelve spots filled by drivers with wins this season and Matt Kenseth has to basically start the next two races and not finish in last place to secure his spot. We could get two new winners in the next couple of races and that would eliminate two spots on points if it happens. All I know is that it could be two wild weeks at the track.


This week the series heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the running of the Oral-B USA 500. Atlanta is a 1.54-mile quad-oval track, which makes it similar to most other intermediate tracks on the circuit. I predict that a new qualifying record will be set once again this weekend if the weather cooperates. The race will be held on Sunday evening as it is Labor Day weekend. Tires and engines will be tested to their limits in this 500-mile race.

Kevin Harvick: Kevin won the first race he ever ran in the Sprint Cup series at this track back in 2001, when he took over for the late Dale Earnhardt. That is the only race he has run at this track, but the way he has run every week, I look for him to qualify and run well here once again this weekend. He is my pick to win his third race of the season and move into a tie with five other drivers for most wins on the year.

Jeff Gordon: Jeff is a five-time winner at Atlanta and after his win at Michigan a couple of weeks ago has shown that he is a serious contender at all types of tracks this year. Jeff has finished in the top ten in twenty-six of his forty starts at this track, and that tells me he is very consistent here. You will want him on your fantasy team this week.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dale has had a disappointing finish last week at Bristol after getting caught up in an accident that was no fault of his own. This team has been bringing it every week and on all types of tracks this season and this weekend will be no different. I think that Dale and Steve Latarte are on the same page and Steve makes the right adjustments during the race to fit Dale’s style of driving. They can win the championship this year.

Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie has been improving over the past few weeks and this will be a huge test for this team. This week will let them know if they have their setup correct so they don’t blow tires. That issue needs to be taken care of before the start of the Chase if they want to repeat as champions. Jimmie has three wins here and has finished in the top ten in more than half of his starts here also.

Kasey Kahne: Kasey has two career wins at Atlanta and his best chance of making the Chase is to pick up a win in the next two weeks. Kasey runs well at this track and he always seems to run well at night, so both factors are in his favor this weekend. All of the Hendrick teams run well at this track on a consistent basis so you can’t really go wrong with using as many of them as you can in your league this weekend.

Carl Edwards: Carl has won three races at this track and has finished in the top five in eight of his sixteen starts here. The real problem here is that the Roush/Fenway teams have not had the speed on this type of track for much of the season. Carl wound up two laps down at Michigan a couple of weeks ago partly due to speed and the other part pit road penalties.

Joey Logano: Joey finished second in this race last year and the way the Penske teams have shown speed on this type of track this season, he is another good pick for this weekend. Even though the Penske teams run the same motors as the Roush/Fenway teams they have found something aerodynamically that makes them contenders on these tracks. I look for both of the Penske drivers to qualify towards the front of the field and run there for much of the race.

Brad Keselowski: Brad is the other Penske driver and will have a fast car himself once again this weekend. Brad was a little disappointed at Michigan a couple of weeks ago, because he really wanted to win that race in his home state. He can change that disappointment into another celebration with his fourth win of the season this weekend in Atlanta.

Matt Kenseth: Although Matt has never won a race at Atlanta and hasn’t won a race yet this season, this team will be in the Chase and can go on a roll at any time. Matt has finished in the top ten here in fourteen of his twenty-five starts and would love to pick up his first win of the year before the Chase starts. This team looked good at Bristol last weekend and just needs to make the right adjustments during the races on the intermediate tracks.

Kurt Busch: Kurt has quietly been running very well over the past month at all types of tracks. This team will be dangerous once the Chase starts, because I think they are still experimenting a little bit and will be even better once the Chase starts. They might just pull out all of the stops over the next two weeks to see what they really have and it could be enough to win a couple of more races this season.


Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Kevin Harvick
  • Jeff Gordon

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Joey Logano
  • Brad Keselowski
  • AJ Allmendinger
  • Brian Vickers

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Kyle Larson
  • Austin Dillon


  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Jeff Gordon
  3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  4. Jimmie Johnson
  5. Joey Logano

Dark Horse: AJ Allmendinger

Stay Away From: Carl Edwards

Fantasy NASCAR NASCAR Fantasy Live

NASCAR Fantasy Live Picks, 2014 Bristol, Irwin Tools Night Race

With only a few weeks remaining until the playoffs begin, many teams will be taking great risks to qualify for the Chase. Bristol Motor Speedway is a short-track with deep banking, and the end result will be multiple paint transfers. From a fantasy racing perspective, Bristol is a relatively predictable track where the top drivers are expected to finish near the top. With short tracks, there are more point opportunities for laps led and fast laps. As a result, my suggestion is to pick your three favorite drivers, then fill in the other two spots with the salary cap leftovers.

When using the Fantasy NASCAR Statistics Wizard tool to look at the multiple data points at Bristol since 2005, three drivers stand out from the pack. Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, and Kyle Busch provide the best chances for success. Kyle Larson has the best average running position and loop data of any driver, but he only has a sample size of one race. Of the drivers with more than one race in their history, Jeff Gordon has the best average running position of 9.8. Gordon runs in the top 15 for 81% of his laps since 2005. In this same time span, Gordon is 10th in total laps led and fifth in fast laps. This is a little low, but there are high expectations for Gordon.

Kyle Busch has led the most laps of any drivers and also leads fast laps since 2005. With an average finish position of 12.9 and 66% of his laps in the top 15, Busch also should be near the top when the checkered flag falls. Matt Kenseth is second with fast laps and laps led since 2005. He also ties Gordon with 81% of his laps in the top 15. Jimmie Johnson has the historical data to show his success, but I will not trust his team for a few more weeks. They are working on setups and have proved to be a high-risk high-reward team over the past month.

I like these three drivers this week, and I better like them because choosing these three drivers does not leave much salary cap space. Landon Cassill has averaged a 21st place average over the last five Bristol night races. If he gets close to this finish, he will be worth starting. David Ragan has been one of my value starters for many races this year, and almost always provides value for his salary cap space. He has a 22nd place average at Bristol and should be functional. Keep an eye on Reed Sorenson as well as he is expected to outperform his salary cap number.


NASCAR Fantasy Live on uses a salary cap formula that prevents us from simply choosing the top drivers each week. The scoring system uses the statistics of laps led, fast laps, start-to-finish differential, and final position.

This article uses a formula that determines how many points a driver has earned per race over the last five years and divides that number by the salary cap figure. The end result is a number that will show how many fantasy points to expect from each fantasy dollar. We will look at the driver who just missed my cut this week, Dale Earnhardt Jr., to show the details of the formula.


  • Total laps led last five Bristol night races: 45 laps led = 4.5 fantasy live points per race
  • Fast laps: Cannot be calculated with 100% accuracy
  • Final position: 12th place average = 32 fantasy live points per race
  • Start-to-finish differential: Plus ten = 10 fantasy live points per race
  • Fantasy Live Points Per Race: 46.5
  • Fantasy Live Salary Cap Figure: $28
  • Final Ranking 46.5 / $28 = 1.70 points per fantasy dollar

Please review the rankings below for the last five Bristol night races. For rookie drivers, we are using their numbers from the last Bristol race to give you an idea what to expect from them. This week’s selections are shown in bold.

GROUP A ($25.00 or higher)

  • Kyle Busch 3.43
  • Jimmie Johnson 2.50
  • Jeff Gordon 2.42
  • Matt Kenseth 2.21
  • Kasey Kahne 1.71
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1.70
  • Clint Bowyer 1.53
  • Carl Edwards 1.32
  • Joey Logano 1.19
  • Brad Keselowski 0.81
  • Kevin Harvick 0.47

GROUP B ($20.00 – $24.99)

  • Austin Dillon 2.26
  • Brian Vickers 2.06
  • Kyle Larson 2.05
  • Marcus Ambrose 1.89
  • Denny Hamlin 1.80
  • Greg Biffle 1.76
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1.75
  • Jamie McMurray 1.67
  • Martin Truex Jr. 1.53
  • Paul Menard 1.37
  • Kurt Busch 1.12
  • Ryan Newman 0.98
  • Aric Almirola 0.29

GROUP C ($15.00 – $19.99)

  • Justin Allgaier 2.67
  • Jeff Burton 1.97
  • Danica Patrick 1.44
  • Casey Mears 0.94
  • AJ Allmendinger 0.39

GROUP D ($10.00 – $14.99)

  • David Ragan 2.38
  • Cole Whitt 1.67
  • David Gilliland 0.94

GROUP E ($9.99 or lower)

  • JJ Yeley 4.62
  • Landon Cassill 4.28
  • David Stremme 4.17
  • Reed Sorenson 3.43
  • Michael Annett 2.67
  • Alex Bowman 1.53
  • Dave Blaney 1.00
  • Michael McDowell 0.32
  • Josh Wise (-0.13)
  • Ryan Truex (-1.26)
Fantasy NASCAR

2014 Bristol Motor Speedway, Irwin Tools Night Race

Jeff Gordon won his third race of the season at Michigan last week and looks like a strong contender for this year’s championship. The win ties him with Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Brad Keselowski for most wins on the season with only three races left until the Chase starts. Kyle Larson dropped out of the last Chase spot after a disappointing last place finish and now Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne are fighting for the last Chase spot to go by points. If we get another different winner in the next three races, that spot will vanish.


This week the series heads back to Bristol Motor Speedway for the running of the Irwin Tools Night Race. This Saturday night race is one of my favorites of the year and always has a lot of excitement in it. This is also a track where we could see the thirteenth different winner on the season.

Bristol is a slightly longer than half-mile high banked track that the drivers can get around in about fifteen seconds. Qualifying is important at this track because you want to get a good pit stall. The pits are located all the way around the track and your pit stall location could be the difference between winning and losing this race.

Jeff Gordon: I am picking Jeff to win his fourth race of the season this week. Jeff has five career wins at this track and the way he has been running lately, it is hard to pick against him. This team is hitting on all cylinders right now and that is exactly where you want to be as we close in on the Chase. Every bonus point will come in handy once the Chase starts also.

Kyle Busch: Kyle also has five career wins at Bristol and would like to come away with a great finish this week after hitting the wall very early in the race at Michigan last week which lead to a dismal finish for him. Kyle has the mentality to win at Bristol where trading paint is the name of the game. If they can start towards the front of the field he will have a great shot at winning this race.

Kurt Busch: Kurt is another driver with five wins at this track and I think that with his new team he should have a car that is good enough for him to get back to victory lane once again this season. Look for Kurt to be in contention at the end of this race if they can stay out of trouble early in the race. Small mistakes are huge at this track because you can find yourself down multiple laps in a hurry if you have a penalty on pit road.

Brad Keselowski: Brad has won twice here in only nine starts and he loves this type of racing where you can trade a little paint if you need to move someone out of your way as you work your way through traffic. If you go to Bristol with this mind set you will be successful more often than not. Brad never seems to get too upset when someone bumps him when they are racing hard and knows that he can do the same.

Carl Edwards: Carl won the race here in March and this is the type of track that this team has been good at this season. They have really struggled on the intermediate tracks, but have been very good on the short tracks. Carl could very well pick up his third short track win of the season and gain some valuable bonus points for the Chase. However, if they want to have a real shot at winning the championship this year they will have to correct the problems they have on those intermediate tracks.

Greg Biffle: Greg has never won a race at Bristol in the Sprint Cup series, but he has had some very good cars and very bad luck during the races here. Instead of worrying if he can make the Chase on points he would just love to get the win here this weekend. If this team can stay close to the front and have a flawless pit stop late in the race they should have a good chance of getting that win.

Matt Kenseth: Matt won this race last year which gave him three career victories at this track. Matt should make the Chase on points without a win, but they would like to get that win for the bonus point. A win would also give this team some confidence as we near the Chase. You are going to have to win races during the Chase to win the championship and those who have wins going in know that they can finish races.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dale has one win at Bristol and has finished in the top ten in almost half of his starts here. This team looks good every week on all types of tracks. They will have a great chance at winning the championship the way they are going about business this season and I think they will win at least one more race this season.

Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie has struggled for the past couple of months with mechanical problems that has taken them out of races. I think this is the type of track that this team will be able to turn their fortunes around at this weekend. I don’t think we will see a lot of tire issues this weekend which is something that has really plagued this team lately.

Kevin Harvick: Kevin has one career win at Bristol, but he has only one top ten finish here in his last eleven starts. However, the way this team has brought a fast car to the track every week this season, I think they will be a contender once again this weekend. All they need is for all the cautions to fall right for them just like every other team.


Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Jeff Gordon
  • Kyle Busch

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Carl Edwards
  • Greg Biffle
  • Brad Keselowski
  • Marcos Ambrose

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Jeff Burton (tentative)
  • Austin Dillon


  1. Jeff Gordon
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Kurt Busch
  4. Carl Edwards
  5. Brad Keselowski

Dark Horse: Marcos Ambrose

Stay Away From: Brian Vickers

Fantasy NASCAR NASCAR Fantasy Live

NASCAR Fantasy Live Picks, 2014 Michigan, Pure Michigan 400

Once the red flag cleared and the dust settled at Watkins Glen, we saw some exciting action in the closing laps between AJ Allmendinger and Marcus Ambrose. Allmendinger’s win translates to one less available spot for drivers without a 2014 victory. They only have four races to secure their spot in the playoffs. Michigan is a fast track and a challenging one to pick a fantasy lineup. There are many good drivers here, but no great ones. There are multiple directions to choose from, and there will be an opportunity to gain points this week.

My two favorite drivers this week, Kenseth and Harvick, are two of the favorites. Kenseth has not led many laps at Michigan, but has run in the top 15 for 79% of his laps since 2005. Over the last ten August races at Michigan, Kenseth has an eighth place average. Harvick’s team has been one of the best throughout the 2014 season, and he averages a 12th place average over the last ten August races. His team received penalties from Watkins Glen, but should not have much impact on the results. His average finish position is the sixth-best of all drivers at Michigan. As previous stated, there are many directions you can go this week, and starting Keselowski, Logano, Gordon, or Dale Earnhardt Jr. will not hurt your chances.

The third pick on the weekly roster has a great history at Michigan, but has experienced a mediocre season. Greg Biffle was initially off my roster due to his mediocre June performance. I chose Biffle narrowly over Larson or Vickers. Ultimately, Biffle’s performance was too tempting to pass. Biffle has the best average running position and loop data since 2005. He is also second in fast laps and laps led. My expectations for Biffle are to finish between 10th and 15th place with the potential for upside.

There is phenomenal value with some of the budget drivers this week. Justin Allgaier and Danica Patrick should provide value. I like both drivers, and could not choose them due to the salary cap. David Ragan only carries a salary cap value of $10.50. With a 19th place average over the last five August races, Ragan will not be a top driver. However, he will provide great value if gets close to his average. Michael Annett finished in 21st place back in June, and seems to be improving over the summer. Keep an eye on the status of Tony Stewart and Regan Smith. From a pure fantasy perspective, Regan Smith has a $7 valuation and a 21st place average at the track. If Stewart sits, you can substitute Smith and Keselowski for Ragan and Biffle and stay under the salary cap.


Fantasy Live on combines fast laps, laps led, final position, and start-to-finish position differential. In order to prevent us from simply picking the top drivers every week, Fantasy Live utilizes a salary cap format. The goal is to find value in your picks.

The salary cap formula for this article basically determines how many fantasy points to anticipate from each fantasy dollar you spend. Fantasy Live on has a scoring system that includes final position, start-to-finish differential, laps led, and fast laps. With a salary cap format, the system makes sure that we cannot simply start the top drivers every week. In order to identify the value drivers, this formula basically calculates the total number of points earned and divides by the salary cap figure. The final number is the number of fantasy points to expect from each fantasy dollar. Dale Earnhardt Jr. barely missed my roster this week, and we will use his Michigan data for further clarification.


  • Laps Led during last five August Michigan races: 51 = 5.1 fantasy live points per race
  • Start-to-Finish Differential: Plus 3 = 3 fantasy live points per race
  • Final position: 15th place average = 29 fantasy live points per race
  • Fast laps: Cannot be calculated with 100% accuracy
  • Total number of points per race: 37.1
  • Salary Cap Figure on Fantasy Live: 28
  • Final ranking: 37.1 pointes / 28 dollars = 1.33 points per fantasy dollar

For rookies who have not raced at Michigan in August, we are using their performance for the June race. Ryan Truex and Alex Kennedy have never raced here, so we are using their 2014 season averages to help give you an idea what to expect from them. See this week’s rankings below with highlighted picks in bold:

GROUP A ($25.00 or higher)

  • Clint Bowyer 1.81
  • Kevin Harvick 1.72
  • Kasey Kahne 1.59
  • Carl Edwards 1.57
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1.33
  • Joey Logano 1.28
  • Kurt Busch 1.28
  • Jeff Gordon 1.26
  • Matt Kenseth 1.17
  • Brad Keselowski 1.16
  • Jimmie Johnson 0.89

GROUP B ($20.00 – $24.99)

  • Greg Biffle 2.30
  • Brian Vickers 2.16
  • Austin Dillon 2.02
  • Kyle Larson 1.84
  • Aric Almirola 1.62
  • Marcus Ambrose 1.44
  • Denny Hamlin 1.38
  • Tony Stewart 1.32 **
  • Ryan Newman 1.32
  • Martin Truex Jr. 1.30
  • Paul Menard 0.98
  • Jamie McMurray 0.87
  • Kurt Busch 0.14

GROUP C ($15.00 – $19.99)

  • Justin Allgaier 1.90
  • Danica Patrick 1.73
  • AJ Allmendinger 1.71
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1.42
  • Casey Mears 1.24

GROUP D ($10.00 – $14.99)

  • David Ragan 3.09
  • Cole Whitt 2.86
  • Trevor Bayne 1.25
  • David Gilliland 1.11

GROUP E ($9.99 or lower)

  • Travis Kvapil 4.06
  • Michael Annett 4.00
  • Regan Smith 3.00 **
  • Alex Kennedy 2.80
  • Reed Sorensen 2.29
  • Dave Blaney 2.17
  • Landon Cassill 0.84
  • Alex Bowman 0.59
  • Josh Wise 0.27
  • Ryan Truex 0.11
  • Joe Nemecheck 0.11
Fantasy NASCAR

2014 Michigan International Speedway, Pure Michigan 400

AJ Allmendinger is a virtual lock to make the Chase by virtue of his win at Watkins Glen this past weekend. This is AJ’s first win in the Sprint Cup series and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Once again the finish at Watkins Glen was exciting, with Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose, and Kurt Busch racing for the win after a restart with only two laps remaining in the race.

There are now twelve different winners so far this season and it looks like all of them should be in the top thirty in points after the next four races. That leaves only four spots open right now that will go to drivers by points. Right now Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, and Kyle Larson hold those final four spots, but that could easily change over the next four weeks with new winners, or even a poor finish in a race that could drop these drivers out of the Chase and put another driver into the final spot.


This week the series heads back to Michigan International Speedway for the running of the Pure Michigan 400. MIS is a 2-mile D-shaped oval track and it is very fast after being repaved. How much faster is it now? Kevin Harvick set a new track qualifying record in June at over 204.5 m.p.h. which is over 10 m.p.h. faster than the old track record. At these speeds, engines and tires are going to be at a premium this weekend.

Kevin Harvick: I am picking Kevin to win once again this weekend because he has been fast all season and he is due for another win. He has finished second in the last three races here and should be able to pick up that final position this weekend. I see this team coming with a very similar setup to what they had in June and they haven’t been having any mechanical issues lately. I think they have the correct setup to reduce tire wear while still be fast.

Matt Kenseth: Matt has won two races at this track and always seems to have a great car here. However, this season the Joe Gibbs Racing teams haven’t had the best cars and probably need to work on their aerodynamics more to be really competitive with the Hendrick and Penske teams right now. Matt should make the Chase no matter if he has a win or not because of his point standing, but I’m sure he would love to win a race and gain some valuable bonus points heading into the Chase.

Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie won the race here in June, but he has had a lot of issues over the past month or so. This team needs to figure out their tire issues before the Chase starts if they want to repeat as champions once again. With the speeds these cars will be running this weekend, there is going to be a lot of strain on the tires in the corners and a blown tire will end your day quickly.

Jeff Gordon: Jeff has always been good at Michigan finishing in the top ten in well over half of the races he has run here. That includes two wins, but he hasn’t won a race here since 2001. He did lead a bunch of laps here in June and came away with a sixth place finish in that race. This team has been consistent all year and that is why they are in first place in the standings right now.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: This is the type of track that Dale should run very well at. He knows how to get off the corners and get back into the gas to carry that speed down the straightaways and that is the name of the game at Michigan. The way this team has run all year they have a great shot at winning another race this weekend. They are a legitimate title contender right now.

Joey Logano: Joey has one win at this track and has finished in the top ten in six of his eleven starts here. The Penske cars have been very fast all season at this type of track and this weekend should be no different. I look for Joey to qualify in the top five and have a car that is capable of winning this race. I think if they stay away from mechanical issues and penalties on pit road, they will have a shot at the end of this race.

Kasey Kahne: There are a couple of races before the Chase that this team has a good chance of winning and making it into the Chase. This is one of those races. Kasey has won a race here before and has finished in the top ten in almost half of his starts at this track. They have a chance to make the Chase by points, but I know they would rather win a race and take that chance out of the equation. Win and your in.

Greg Biffle: Greg has won four races at this track, but this season the Roush/Fenway cars have really struggled to find the speed on the intermediate tracks. Until they figure out why they can’t get the speed out of their cars that the competition is getting, I would stay away from these drivers on this type of track. Greg is only five points from the last Chase spot at this time, but would like to get a win and lock himself in.

Carl Edwards: Carl is already locked in the Chase, but they also have a Roush/Fenway car. They will not be able to win a championship this season unless they can find the speed on these tracks. The competition is too much better than they are right now and a poor finish in the Chase can spell doom for any driver with a three race knockout round.

Brad Keselowski: Brad is the other Penske driver that should have a fast car once again this weekend. They are all ready locked into the Chase and would just like to get a few more bonus points heading into the Chase. I look for Brad to qualify in the top five along with Joey Logano and if they can stay clean throughout the race, they should have a great shot at the end to visit victory lane.


Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Kevin Harvick
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Joey Logano
  • Brad Keselowski
  • Denny Hamlin
  • Aric Almirola

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Jeff Burton
  • Kyle Larson


  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  4. Brad Keselowski
  5. Jeff Gordon

Dark Horse: Kyle Larson

Stay Away From: Greg Biffle