NASCAR Fantasy Live

NASCAR Fantasy Live Picks, 2014 Homestead-Miami, EcoBoost 400

This week’s championship race at Homestead will have a difficult time matching the excitement generated by the Phoenix race. When the dust settled in Arizona, we are left with four drivers who could win the title this week.

While he has been out of my Fantasy Live lineup most of the season, Carl Edwards has a track history that makes him a front-runner this week. Edwards has 5 Top Five finishes in his last 9 Homestead races. His lap-to-lap performance is the best in the series as evidenced by 86% of his laps in the Top 15 and an average running position of 7.9 since 2005. He is also on top of the series in laps led and fast laps. Over his last five Homestead races, Edwards has the best average finish position in the series and will be a contributor in my lineup.

The second choice for my lineup is one of the four drivers vying for a championship. Kevin Harvick has 4 Top Five finishes in his last 9 Homestead races. With 75% of his laps in the Top 15 and an average running position of 10.9 since 2005, Harvick is the fourth-best driver in lap-to-lap performance. Considering his dominant effort at Phoenix, Harvick is a great choice for your roster this week.

I had a difficult time deciding between Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin for the third roster spot. While Kenseth has better numbers at the track, Hamlin will be my pick due to his chance to win the season title. Picking contenders will make the race more exciting to watch from a fantasy perspective. Hamlin has a ninth place average finish position over the last five races and the fourth-most laps led. With 4 Top Five finishes in his last 9 races, Hamlin could easily find a way to win the championship. Cases can also be made to start Martin Truex Jr. if you need to gain points on the leaders. He has excellent track data.

For Fantasy Racing, your strategy should reflect your position in the standings. Leaders should take a conservative approach and start the drivers with the highest probability for success. Those of us behind in the standings should take risks with drivers in order to gain points on the other players. Your level of risk should coincide with how many points you are behind the leaders. Whatever your strategy, we will have champions this time next week in NASCAR and in our fantasy leagues. Good luck as you try to capture your league title.

There was not a ton of salary cap room available after selecting the top three drivers. Hamlin and Edwards have a salary cap figure that is a little lower than some of the top drivers I have been recommending. As a result of the extra space, I had enough cap room to afford Justin Allgaier this week. While Allgaier does not have any track data, he has a 26th place average finish position in 2014. He was a slightly better option than some of the other budget options. With the remaining salary cap, the fifth selection will be Brian Scott. While Scott only has a 33rd place average in 2014 races, he should provide decent value at a $7.25 salary cap figure.


Fantasy Live on uses a scoring system that combines laps led, fast laps, finish position, and start to finish differential. In order to prevent us from simply starting the best drivers every week, Fantasy Live uses a salary cap format. Our formula simply calculates the average number of Fantasy Live points accumulated by each driver over the last five Homestead races and divides that number by the salary cap figure. The end result is a number that indicates how many points to expect from each salary cap figure. Matt Kenseth has some of the best track data at Homestead and is one of the best drivers in the series in 2014, but he missed the cut for my lineup. As a consolation prize, we will use his Homestead data to illustrate the formula.


  • Average finish position last five Homestead races: 9th place equals 35 points
  • Start-to-finish differential: Plus 4 equals 4 points
  • Fast laps: Cannot be calculated with 100% accuracy
  • Laps Led: 162 laps equals 16.2 points
  • Average Fantasy Live points per race: 55.20
  • Fantasy Live Salary Cap Figure: $27.75
  • Fantasy Points per dollar: 55.20 divided by 27.75 equals 1.99

Since this is the first race at Homestead this season, several rookies have not raced at the track. For these rookies, we will use their 2014 data to give you an idea how many points to expect from them. See the Fantasy Live points per dollar figures below with this week’s suggestions in bold.

GROUP A ($25.00 or higher)

  • Carl Edwards 2.82
  • Kevin Harvick 1.99
  • Matt Kenseth 1.99
  • Clint Bowyer 1.75
  • Ryan Newman 1.37
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1.36
  • Jeff Gordon 1.33
  • Brad Keselowski 0.97
  • Jimmie Johnson 0.88
  • Joey Logano 0.73

GROUP B ($20.00 – $24.99)

  • Denny Hamlin 2.65
  • Martin Truex Jr. 2.44
  • Tony Stewart 2.36
  • Aric Almirola 2.05
  • Brian Vickers 1.66
  • Kyle Larson 1.48
  • Austin Dillon 1.41
  • Kasey Kahne 1.33
  • Greg Biffle 1.04
  • Paul Menard 0.94
  • Jamie McMurray 0.84
  • Marcus Ambrose 0.69
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 0.10

GROUP C ($15.00 – $19.99)

  • Danica Patrick 1.78
  • AJ Allmendinger 1.53
  • Justin Allgaier 1.20
  • Casey Mears 1.12

GROUP D ($10.00 – $14.99)

  • David Gilliland 1.42
  • David Ragan 0.89
  • Trevor Bayne 0.43
  • Cole Whitt (-0.09)

GROUP E ($9.99 or lower)

  • Reed Sorensen 2.18
  • Michael Annett 2.10
  • Alex Bowman 1.33
  • Michael McDowell 1.33
  • Brett Moffitt 1.17
  • Landon Cassill 1.09
  • JJ Yeley 0.18
  • Blake Koch 0.00
  • Josh Wise (-0.15)
  • Brian Scott (-0.41)
Fantasy NASCAR

2014 Homestead-Miami Speedway, Ford EcoBoost 400

The field is set for the first championship race under the new Chase format. Four drivers and four different owners will vie for the championship this week at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The four drivers and their respective teams are Kevin Harvick, driving in his first season for Stewart-Haas Racing, Joey Logano, driving for Penske Racing, Denny Hamlin, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, and Ryan Newman driving for Childress Racing. None of these drivers has ever won a Sprint Cup championship, but that will change for one of them this weekend.

Out of these four drivers, the one who comes away with the best finishing position this week will become the new Sprint Cup champion. Hopefully they all have great cars and we can see who really deserves to win the championship in a close race. The intensity of this race is going to be something hardly ever seen in any professional sport. Every pit stop, every restart, and every crew chief decision will have a bearing on who win the championship.


Kevin Harvick: I am going to pick Kevin to win the championship and do it by winning the race this weekend. This team has been the fastest and most consistent of all the teams left in the Chase, they haven’t had mechanical issues lately, and they qualify well every week. I think they win the pole and the race. Although he has never won a race here, Kevin has finished in the top ten in nine of his last ten starts at this track.

Joey Logano: Joey has only been slightly behind Kevin when it comes to being fast and consistent, especially on the mile and a half tracks. I think this team will once again qualify in the top five and make this an exciting race all the way to the end. Joey has only run five races at this track and came away with his best finish last season when he came away in eighth place.

Denny Hamlin: Don’t count this team out. Denny won this race last season and that is what you need to do to guarantee yourself a championship this year. This team is going to come into this race with a lot of confidence and should be able to have a great setup under their car when they unload it from the trailer. In nine starts at this track, Denny has two wins and five top ten finishes. Any of these drivers can be this year’s champion.

Ryan Newman: Hardly anyone gave this team a chance to even make it to the second round of the Chase, but here they are in the championship race. Ryan is also in his first year with Richard Childress Racing and he never gives up. This can be seen in the pass he made on the last lap of the race at Phoenix and I’m sure he is going to do something very nice for Kyle Larson after he used him to stay off the wall and make the pass he needed to make it to this round. Ryan’s best finish at Homestead-Miami was a third place finish he came away with two years ago.

Jeff Gordon: Jeff missed the final round of the Chase by the narrowest of margins and that will give him incentive to win the race this weekend. Even though he can’t be the champion this season, they can show everyone what they could have done if they would have had on more point heading into the final race of the year. Jeff won this race two years ago and has finished in the top ten in eleven of his fifteen career starts here.

Carl Edwards: Carl has two wins at this track, but he has struggled at the mile and a half tracks this season. I think his team was doing everything they could for him while he still had a shot at the championship, but now they are probably looking towards next season without Carl. Carl is moving to Joe Gibbs Racing next year and will be replaced with Trevor Bayne who will run full-time for Roush/Fenway Racing.

Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie has never won a race at Homestead, but that might be because all he had to do was stay out of trouble to win championships. This week he will have nothing to lose and can cross this track off his bucket list if he can get his first win here. I really think that this team is going to try some different things this weekend to see if they can figure out why they weren’t as good as past seasons.

Greg Biffle: Greg won three races in a row from 2004 to 2006 at this track, but has struggled here a bit after it was reconfigured. He is another Roush driver that hasn’t had the speed that the Penske teams have had this season, even though both teams run the same engines under the hood. I would have to guess that there is something missing from their aero package and they would like to figure that out before next season.

Tony Stewart: Tony has also won three races at this track, but this team has struggled on this type of track this year. It really seems odd that they have done so, when Kevin Harvick has been just the opposite and they both run for the same organization. Tony won the first two races he ran at this track and then won his third race here two years ago. Winning this race would give this team a boost they need as they head into the off season.

Matt Kenseth: Matt finished second in this race last season and doesn’t want to go into the off-season knowing he didn’t win a race this year after winning six races the previous season. This team is going to do everything they can to find the speed they need to win a race on an intermediate track and then come back next year and win multiple races before the start of the Chase.


Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Kevin Harvick
  • Jeff Gordon

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Ryan Newman
  • Greg Biffle
  • Carl Edwards
  • Tony Stewart

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Kyle Larson
  • Danica Patrick


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

Dark Horse: Kyle Larson

Stay Away From: Brian Vickers

NASCAR Fantasy Live

NASCAR Fantasy Live Picks, 2014 Phoenix, Quicken Loans Race For Heroes 500

Drivers in the championship hunt are not down to their last chance to qualify for the finale at Homestead. Fistfights at the end of last week’s race are a reflection of the high stakes that are occurring in the playoffs. This week, we return to Phoenix International Raceway and the track should favor the top drivers. In Fantasy Racing, we are at the point in the season where we need to be very close to the top of the standings to have a chance to win our league. For tracks that favor the top drivers, I recommend selecting your three favorite drivers and choosing budget drivers with the final two roster spots.

The first two choices for my roster are contenders for the championship with a successful history at Phoenix. Jeff Gordon has 6 Top Ten finishes in his last 19 Phoenix races. With an average running position of 10.4 since 2003, Gordon is the third-best in the series in lap-to-lap performance. Although there are a couple of drivers with better track data, Gordon has been a top driver all season. Combining his 2014 numbers with decent track data makes Jeff Gordon a good choice for your starting lineup.

The second-best driver in the series in most statistical categories, Kevin Harvick, is another great choice for your roster. Over the past five races at Phoenix, Harvick has the best average finish position and the most laps led in the series. He has 7 Top Five finishes in his last 19 races. Harvick has a high probability for success and should find his way onto your roster.

Jimmie Johnson has the best historical numbers at Phoenix with 13 Top Five finishes in his last 19 races. Although he won last week, his inconsistency in 2014 scares me away. Instead, I am recommending a driver who is still in the playoffs without the dominant track data at Phoenix. Brad Keselowski is ninth in the series in lap-to-lap performance since 2005. I am more intrigued by his recent success where his average finish position is second in the series over the last five races. With championship implications, I expect this team to finish near the top. To summarize, if the driver got into an altercation last week, I am recommending them for your roster this week.

With the lineup front-loaded, we are left with little cap room for the final two spots. Ty Dillon is only a $5.00 salary cap hit. He looked okay at Atlanta earlier this season and has more upside than the other drivers with a low salary cap numbers. David Ragan has a 31st place average finish position over his last five Phoenix races. His lap-to-lap data is acceptable enough to warrant starting.


Fantasy Live on uses a scoring system that combines laps led, fast laps, finish position and start-to-finish differential. In order to prevent us form starting the best five drivers every week, Fantasy Live uses a salary cap format. Our formula calculates the average number of Fantasy Live points earned by each drives and divides that number by the alary cap figure. Then end result is a number that indicates how many points to expect from each fantasy dollar. Jimmie Johnson has the track data to consider starting him this week, but his Martinsville debacle has scared me from adding him to my roster. As a consolation prize, we will use his Phoenix numbers over his last five races to illustrate the formula.


  • Total laps led last five Phoenix races: 57 laps equals 5.70 Fantasy Live points
  • Fast laps: Cannot be calculated with 100% accuracy
  • Average finish position: 9th place equals 35 Fantasy Live points
  • Start-to-finish differential: Negative equals (-2.00) Fantasy Live Points
  • Total Fantasy Live points per race: 38.70

See this week’s fantasy live points per dollar numbers below with highlighted picks in bold. Good luck with your picks for Phoenix.

GROUP A ($25.00 or higher)

  • Kevin Harvick 3.17
  • Kyle Busch 2.30
  • Carl Edwards 2.21
  • Brad Keselowski 1.91
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1.79
  • Jimmie Johnson 1.43
  • Matt Kenseth 1.31
  • Joey Logano 1.31
  • Jeff Gordon 1.30
  • Ryan Newman 1.11
  • Clint Bowyer 0.73

GROUP B ($20.00 – $24.99)

  • Denny Hamlin 1.79
  • Greg Biffle 1.70
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1.70
  • Aric Almirola 1.37
  • Kasey Kahne 1.09
  • Tony Stewart 0.98
  • Paul Menard 0.93
  • Austin Dillon 0.93
  • Kurt Busch 0.89
  • Marcus Ambrose 0.85
  • Jamie McMurray 0.81
  • Martin Truex Jr. 0.76
  • Kyle Larson 0.52
  • Brian Vickers 0.45

GROUP C ($15.00 – $19.99)

  • AJ Allmendinger 1.61
  • Casey Mears 1.42
  • Justin Allgaier 1.18
  • Danica Patrick 1.08

GROUP D ($10.00 – $14.99)

  • David Ragan 1.21
  • David Gilliland 1.20
  • Cole Whitt 0.71

GROUP E ($9.99 or lower)

  • JJ Yeley 3.52
  • Michael Annett 1.84
  • Landon Cassill 1.09
  • Reed Sorensen 0.88
  • Alex Bowman (-0.36)
  • Ty Dillon
Fantasy NASCAR

2014 Phoenix International Raceway, Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500

I know one thing for sure about the new Chase format. The drivers that are in contention will do anything and everything they can to move into the final round. That means they don’t care what happens to the other drivers who are in the same position as they are. It also means that this week’s race at Phoenix is going to be filled with dicey moves, and a lot of controversy.

So far, none of the Chase drivers has won a race in the Eliminator round, so there will be at least three drivers who get to move to the championship based on points, and right now all eight of the drivers can make it one points after the next race. This should be one of the most exciting races ever run in Phoenix.


Phoenix International Raceway is a one-mile D-shaped oval that is fairly flat in the turns. It was reconfigured in 2010 to its current look. It is also the only oval NASCAR track that measures it race length in kilometers. The only other two races measured in kilometers are the road-course races in Sonoma and Watkins Glen.

So the race is 500-km, which equates to 312-miles and 312 laps. This makes it a fairly short race, but don’t let the length fool you. A driver can find themselves lapped in no time at all and it is difficult to get those laps back in this short race. That means a driver better have a great handling car right from the get go or they will be in trouble.

Kevin Harvick: Kevin has won five races at Phoenix in his career and is my pick to win this race and propel himself into the championship race. Kevin has won three of the last four races here and also finished runner-up the race before those four. They still need to be flawless in the pits and make the right calls all through the race to be in contention at the end.

Brad Keselowski: Brad has yet to win a race at Phoenix, but he has finished in the top six in four of his last five starts here. I think another top five finish should be enough to qualify Brad for the final race of the season, and a shot at his second Sprint Cup championship.

Jeff Gordon: It took Jeff seventeen tries to get his first ever win at this track and then he won twice. This team has been so good all season and now they have to fight to move to the final race with a chance to win their fifth championship. An altercation on the track late in the race at Texas has put this team into a position where they can ill afford to make any mistakes.

Denny Hamlin: Denny has won one race here during his career, but he has finished in the top five in eight of his eighteen starts. This is the type of track that this team excels at and I think they will come with a car that is capable of running up front all day. Points are going to be at a premium for all drivers still in the Chase, because only one of these drivers can make the final race with a win.

Carl Edwards: Carl has won two races at this track in his career and has finished in the top ten in twelve of his twenty starts here. This team hasn’t looked good in any of the races since the Chase started, but they always make a comeback at the end and keep themselves in contention. Carl can get a top five finish here and qualify for the championship race and surprise a lot of people in his last season at Roush/Fenway Racing.

Ryan Newman: Ryan has one win at Phoenix and has finished in the top ten here in seven of his last nine starts. This team in another team that not many people thought could win the championship in their first season together, but they have impressed during the Chase and have been improving every week. They need another great run to move to the final round.

Matt Kenseth: Matt got his lone win here twelve years ago and hasn’t run consistently well here over the past six seasons. This team is going to have to figure a way to set up their car from the start of the race, or they are going to find themselves eliminated from this years Chase.

Jimmie Johnson: Even though Jimmie isn’t in the Chase any longer, this team is still going to try to win these last two races and we have seen them go on runs like that before. Jimmie is right behind Kevin Harvick in number of wins with four at this track, and he has also finished in the top five in an astounding fourteen of his twenty-two starts here.

Dale Earnhardt.:
This team was also eliminated from the Chase in the second round, but they won the first race of the Eliminator round and have three straight top five finishes at Phoenix. Dale won the races here in 2003 and 2004, so he knows how to get the job done and I think he has gotten better here with a little advice from teammate, Jimmie Johnson.

Joey Logano: Joey has five top ten finishes in eleven starts at Phoenix and two in a row. This team has proved that they are better at every track this year than they have been in the past and is looking for redemption after losing some points last week after a late race altercation where he blew a tire. They need a top ten finish to make the championship race in my opinion.


Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Kevin Harvick
  • Jimmie Johnson

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Denny Hamlin
  • Brad Keselowski
  • Carl Edwards
  • Ryan Newman

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Justin Allgaier
  • Danica Patrick


  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Jimmie Johnson
  3. Brad Keselowski
  4. Jeff Gordon
  5. Denny Hamlin

Dark Horse: Greg Biffle

Stay Away From: Brian Vickers