Fantasy NASCAR

2015 Daytona International Speedway, Coke Zero 400

Congratulations to Kyle Busch, who picked up the win at Sonoma last weekend. I had him as my Stay Away From driver because I wasn’t sure how well he would run on a track that involves a lot of shifting and braking. He showed that he is healthy enough not to let that bother him and now all he has to do is move into the top thirty in points and he will be qualified for the Chase.


This week the series heads to Daytona International Speedway for the running of the Coke Zero 400. This is the third restrictor plate race on the schedule and I think you will see drivers who are already qualified for the Chase doing some testing and taking a few chances. This is the last time they can do this before the Chase starts and they head to Talladega for the last of these races on the year.

Once again I will caution you not to use the best drivers at this track if you are limited in the number of times you can use them during the season like the Yahoo league. In the A Group you are okay to choose anyone you would like, but be careful in the B and C Groups. There is just too big of a risk of drivers getting caught up in a wreck when they are running three-wide and all within a second or two of each other.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: I will pick Dale to win this week’s race. He always seems to have a car that performs well in the draft and he knows how to handle the draft. He has won three times at Daytona and has six wins at Talladega, including the race there this spring. With twelve top five and eighteen top ten finishes in thirty-one starts, Dale is one of the most consistent drivers at this track.

Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie is no slouch at the restrictor plate tracks either. He also has three wins at Daytona and two at Talladega where he finished second to Dale this spring. Overall, Jimmie has ten top five and thirteen top ten finishes in twenty-seven starts at Daytona. I think the Hendrick cars will all do well once again this weekend.

Joey Logano: Joey won the Daytona 500 this year but, the car he used in that race is at Daytona U.S.A. and he won’t be able to use it this weekend. I don’t think it should make too much of a difference as the Penske teams always hae good cars that run well in the draft at the restrictor plate tracks. I think one of the biggest things for all drivers in these races is patience. Wait until the end before trying to make too many moves to get to the front.

Jeff Gordon: Jeff has won six races at Daytona and six races at Talladega throughout his career and that leads all active drivers. I think Jeff is starting to feel the pressure as the races wind down heading into the Chase. He wants to get a win and qualify for the Chase in his last full-time season so he can take another shot at a title and try to go out at the top of his game.

Kevin Harvick: This car has been super fast for the past two seasons and Kevin is one of those drivers you might not hear anything about early in the race and then it is like, “Where did he come from?”. He has won two races at Daytona and with the speed this team always carries, he should have no problem drafting with anybody and being able to pull out and pass when he wants to.

Kurt Busch: Kurt has had cars just as fast as Kevin this year and he also knows how to run in the draft. Although he has never won a restrictor plate race, Kurt has had cars that are capable of winning more often than not. He always seems to have a problem in the pits or chooses the wrong strategy which puts him behind too many cars on a late race restart and he either gets caught up in an accident or runs out of time. He is very capable of going to victory lane this weekend.

Matt Kenseth: Matt is another driver with multiple wins at Daytona. This team is qualified for the Chase and knows that this is an opportunity to prepare for the race at Talladega during the Chase. Matt will run at the front, but if he has a problem and gets shuffled to the back he has the patience and understanding to know that he has a lot of time to carefully make his way back to the front of the field. That is what helps you stay in contention and win races at this type of track.

Clint Bowyer: Clint had a great run at Sonoma last weekend and is always pretty good at Daytona. Even though the MWR cars haven’t had the speed they need on the intermediate tracks, I think they have a good draft package and Clint seems to know who his car works the best with. If he can find that driver and stick with them towards the end of the race, this team could pull of a mini upset.

Jamie McMurray: Jamie is another driver who doesn’t have the finishes he could have at the restrictor plate tracks, but they always seem to have a fast car. A mechanical failure or on track incident is what usually knocks him out of contention and if their luck changes they could very well find themselves in victory lane this weekend.


Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • Jimmie Johnson

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Trevor Bayne
  • Casey Mears
  • Austin Dillon
  • Kyle Larson

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Ryan Blaney
  • Danica Patrick


  1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  2. Jimmie Johnson
  3. Kevin Harvick
  4. Kurt Busch
  5. Jeff Gordon

Dark Horse: Ryan Blaney

Stay Away From: Martin Truex Jr.

Fantasy NASCAR NASCAR Fantasy Live


In the sixteenth race of the NASCAR season, we finally get to enjoy a road course after an off-week. Based on the nature of a road courses, there are drivers who specialize and are usually consistent in Sonoma. One of the challenges is that there are not many laps in the race and that passing is a challenge.

From a Fantasy Live perspective, the best strategy is to aim for points from the average finish position. As far as getting the best value out of your Fantasy Live dollar, you still want to front-load your lineup. There should be some budget options who are expected to overachieve this week. There is a lower risk to try alternate strategies this week, but the reward will also be lower than the typical race.

While I typically pick three top drivers and fill out my roster with budget choices, the strategy is slightly different in Sonoma. I will pick two top drivers, two budget drivers, and then fill out my roster with the best budget option available. A pair of Hendricks teammates will be at the top of my roster. Jimmie Jonson has spent 93% of his laps over the last five Sonoma races in the top-15 and has an average finish position of 5.8 during this time span. 56 laps led over five races would keep a driver off my roster on most tracks, but this is the fourth-best in the series at Sonoma. Due to gaining points from start-to-finish differential, Johnson has the most Fantasy Live points per race of any driver since 2010. With seven top-10 finishes over his last 10 races, Johnson is likely to earn finish position points for my team this week.

Johnson’s teammate, Jeff Gordon, has an even more impressive history at the track. While only leading twenty laps in the last five races at the track, Gordon has an third place average finish position. 80% of his laps have been run in the top-15 during this time span, good for third-best in the series. Since 2005, Gordon has six top-5 finishes and nine top-10 finishes. Jeff Gordon has a high probability for success this week.

The third selection for my roster is a budget option who has quietly provided value on Fantasy Live rosters all season. David Gilliland comes at a lower price tag and should outperform his value this week. While I am not expecting a top-5 finish out of the #38 car, Gilliland has averaged a 20th place finish over the past five races at the track. With a +7 start-to-finish differential, Gilliland has consistently worked his way through the field. Since 2005, Gilliland has three top-20 finishes and an average finish position of 21.4. If he averages anywhere around this mark, he will reward owners with two Fantasy Live points per salary cap dollar.

Casey Mears has likely stayed off of most fantasy rosters this season, but this is a week where one can take a risk on the #13 car. His salary cap figure is relatively low. Like Gilliland, Mears average finish position should be enough to provide value for your roster. Since 2010, Mears has averaged a 19th place finish. He has six top-20 finishes over his last nine Sonoma races. I am expecting Mears to earn about two Fantasy Live points per salary cap dollar. At Sonoma, this is a valuable number.

For the fifth roster spot, my goal is to fill the spot with the best driver available. Three middle-tier drivers were tempting for the last spot. Austin Dillon finished 17th at Sonoma last year, and Tony Stewart has six top-10 finishes in his last 10 Sonoma races. Due to Dillon’s limited history and Stewart’s recent history, I went in another direction for the final spot. AJ Allmendinger has a lower average finish position at Sonoma, but he has decent overall numbers at the track. He has led 35 laps over the last five Sonoma races and has an average running position around 15th place. Allmendinger has two top-10 finishes in six races and has the highest upside of the middle-tier drivers.


Fantasy Live on uses a scoring system that combines fast laps, laps led, finish position, and start-to-finish differential. In order to force us to use strategy in our roster selections, Fantasy Live uses a salary cap format. First, our formula calculates the average number of points earned by each driver over the last five Sonoma races. Next, we divide that number by the salary cap figure to determine how many points to expect from each fantasy dollar and to reveal budget options. Kurt Busch is a top-end driver at Sonoma and should be considered for your roster. Regrettably, I did not have the room on my roster for him. As a consolation prize, we will use his Fantasy Live numbers to further illustrate the formula.


  • Average finish position last five Sonoma Races: 10.4 equals 29.6 Fantasy Live points
  • Start-to-finish differential: Negative 3.6 equals (-3.6) points per race
  • Laps led: 93 equals 9.3 points per race
  • Fast laps: 45 equals 4.5 points per race
  • Total Fantasy Live points earned: 43.8
  • Fantasy Live salary cap figure: 27
  • Fantasy points per dollar: 43.8 divided by 27 equals 1.62 points per dollar

Below you will see the Fantasy Live points per dollar for each driver in the series. Suggested picks are in bold. For drivers with no track history, we will use the 2015 numbers to give you an idea of the value that they are providing. I hope you get the chance to watch one of the more exciting races of the NASCAR season and that you find success on your rosters. As always, feel free to post your lineup in the comment field.

GROUP A ($25.00 or higher)

  • Jimmie Johnson 1.95
  • Jeff Gordon 1.94
  • Kurt Busch 1.62
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1.08
  • Jamie McMurray 0.99
  • Joey Logano 0.97
  • Brad Keselowski 0.93
  • Matt Kenseth 0.61
  • Kyle Busch 0.42
  • Denny Hamlin (-0.09)

GROUP B ($20.00 – $24.99)

  • Clint Bowyer 2.11
  • Edwards 1.72
  • Kasey Kahne 1.61
  • Martin Truex Jr. 1.33
  • Aric Almirola 1.32
  • Paul Menard 1.27
  • Ryan Newman 1.00
  • Kyle Larson (-0.35)

GROUP C ($15.00 – $19.99)

  • Austin Dillon 2.25
  • Greg Biffle 1.73
  • AJ Allmendinger 1.47
  • Tony Stewart 1.38
  • Sam Hornish Jr. 0.76

GROUP D ($10.00 – $14.99)

  • David Gilliland 2.81
  • Boris Said 2.40
  • Cole Whitt 2.15
  • Casey Mears 2.08
  • David Ragan 1.44
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1.38
  • Danica Patrick 1.32
  • Justin Allgaier 1.30

GROUP E ($9.99 or lower)

  • Michael Annett 4.33
  • Alex Bowman 3.20
  • Michael McDowell 3.00
  • Matt DiBenedetto 2.88*
  • JJ Yeley 2.85
  • Brendan Gaughan 2.00*
  • Josh Wise 1.92
  • Jeb Burton 1.89*
  • Landon Cassill 1.15
  • Alex Kennedy 0.45
  • Justin Mars 0.00

* Driver has no track data, and we are using his 2015 numbers.

Fantasy NASCAR

2015 Sonoma Raceway, Toyota/Save Mart 350

After a week off the series heads out west to the Sonoma Raceway for the running of the Toyota/Save Mart 350. This is the first of two road-course races that are on the schedule with both of them being run before the Chase starts. As of right now, I only see one “road-course professional” on the entry list, Boris Said. Keep your eye on the entry list as the week progresses to see if drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya (doubtful), Marcos Ambrose, Scott Pruett, or Ron Fellows are hired to drive for someone. These guys might be worth a shot in your league.


Jeff Gordon: I am picking Jeff to break into the win column for the first time this season and qualify himself for the Chase this weekend. Jeff has won five races at this track and has finished in the top five in fourteen of his twenty-two starts here. He also finished second in the last two races here, in the top ten in the last nine races, and has finished first or second in ten of his starts here.

Clint Bowyer: Clint has won a race at this track, finished in the top five in five of his nine starts, and the top ten in seven of those starts. This team hasn’t been the best of the oval’s this year but, they might be able to do something this weekend. It isn’t so much about speed as it is about handling at this track and I think this team will do a good job of getting the car setup right for Clint.

Kurt Busch: Kurt also has won one race at this track and he just seems to be getting better on the road-courses as his career progresses. He has won two races on oval tracks this year and would love to get back-to-back wins this weekend. As well as this team has run and with the improvements he has made on this type of track, Kurt should be a legitimate contender this weekend.

Greg Biffle: Greg is another driver who hasn’t found the speed he needs on the oval’s this year but, he can drive on a road-course. If he has a chance of making the Chase this season by winning a race, this might be one of his best shots at getting it done. He has finished in the top ten in six of his twelve starts here and will be giving it everything he has this weekend.

Carl Edwards: Carl won this race last season and has been pretty good at this track over his career with five top ten finishes in ten starts. I don’t think being on a new team will affect him too much this weekend because it is more about the driver than the car or strategy. I look for Carl to qualify well and run well during the race.

Tony Stewart: Tony has gotten a little better over the past month or so and this might be one of his better shots to pick up a win and get qualified for the Chase. He has won two races at this track and has always been good on both of the road-courses throughout his career. He also has the attitude to knock guys out of his way if he needs to make a move to get closer to the front and sometimes that is what it takes at this track.

AJ Allmendinger: AJ won the road-course race at Watkins Glen last year so, we know he can get the job done. He didn’t win that race without a lot of great competition pushing him the whole race and he still hung on to grab the checkered flag. I think this team is a little disappointed with the way they have run so far this season but, I think they are looking forward to racing this weekend.

Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie has one win at this track and has finished in the top ten in his last six starts here. He has also finished in the top ten in eight of his thirteen starts at this track and likes to run these races because they remind him a little of the racing he did early in his career on off-road courses. They have nothing to lose and will take all of the chances they think they have to just to win more races before the Chase starts.

Kasey Kahne: Kasey has also won one race at this track and has gotten better on this type of track during his career. He has finished in the top ten in four of his last six starts at Sonoma. He will do anything to pick up win before the Chase starts.

Kevin Harvick: Kevin always seems to have a car capable of winning these races but, something always seems to happen to him either on the track or in the pits. He might have a mechanical problem, run out of gas, or get caught up in an accident on the track that pushes him out of contention. However, with the way he has run every weekend for the past two seasons, you can never count this team out of any race.


Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Jeff Gordon
  • Jimmie Johnson

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Clint Bowyer
  • Greg Biffle
  • AJ Allmendinger
  • Tony Stewart

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Boris Said
  • David Gilliland


  1. Jeff Gordon
  2. Jimmie Johnson
  3. Clint Bowyer
  4. AJ Allmendinger
  5. Greg Biffle

Dark Horse: AJ Allmendinger

Stay Away From: Kyle Busch

Fantasy NASCAR NASCAR Fantasy Live


I was glad to see Martin Truex Jr. and the #78 team pickup a win in the Pocono race last weekend, although this did not benefit me in Fantasy Live.

Like Pocono, there is not a driver who stands out in laps led over the last five races in Michigan. Several of the top drivers, however, have finished at the top of the standings consistently. I think the best strategy this week is to front-load your lineup with three of the top drivers and find value selections with the remaining two spots. This is not a necessary strategy, and Michigan is a opportunity for owners behind in the standings looking for an alternate lineup to gain back points. Michigan is a lower risk to swing for the fences than other tracks in the series because many drivers have seen success.

With an average finish position of 4.8 over the last five Michigan races, Kevin Harvick should be an easy choice for your lineup. Over the same time span, the best driver in the series in 2015 has the most Fantasy Live points per race. He also has a respectable 81% of his laps running in the top-15 and the best lap-to-lap performance data in the series. Over the long-term, Harvick has enjoyed nine top-10 finishes and 17 top-20 finishes. Based on the combination of 2015 success and historical success at MIS, Harvick has a high probability for success this week.

The next two picks for my lineups are Penske teammates who perform favorably in Michigan. Brad Keselowski is one of the most consistent drivers at Michigan. While he does not lead many laps, he is consistently running near the front of the field. Over the last five races at Michigan, Keselowski has spent a series-best 96% of his laps running in the top-15. Because he only has 40 laps led, he is fifth in the series in Fantasy Live points per race. His long-term numbers are not impressive, but I think the #2 car will find enough speed to stay near the top this week.

Keselowski’s teammate, Joey Logano, has led the most laps of any driver in the last five Michigan races. With 80% of his races in the top-15 and an average finish position of 10.6, you can expect the #22 car to run near the front. Like Keselowski, Logano does not have long-term consistency at the track, but has found speed since switching over the Penske. There are a couple of more cost-effective options like Greg Biffle or Paul Menard to consider, but the price difference was not worth taking the best drivers with the top-3 spots on my roster. With his current success, I will keep on eye on Truex in qualifying and practice.

The drawback to front-loading my lineup is that there is very little salary cap room to work with for the final two spots. Cole Whitt has a 26th place average finish position in two Michigan races. He has worked his way through the field, and his +13 start-to-finish differential provides additional value. I’m not thrilled about the options for the fifth roster spot. With a 30th place average, I will tentatively go with Michael Annett. I will likely save this spot for a driver who qualifies near the back of the field and go for start-to-finish differential. Brendan Gaughan can provide value with only a $4.75 cap hit if he can make the field.


Fantasy Live on uses a scoring system that combines fast laps, laps led, average finish position and start-to-finish differential. Fantasy Live uses a salary cap format to manage the quality of drivers who find our rosters. Our formula calculate the amount of Fantasy Live points earned by each driver over the last five Michigan races. Next, we divide that number by the salary cap figure to determine which drivers provide the most value. Greg Biffle is a top five driver at Michigan, but his inconsistency in 2015 scared me away from adding him to my roster. As a consolation prize, we will use his Michigan data over the last five Michigan races to further illustrate the formula.


  • Average finish position last five Michigan races: 8.2 equals 35.8 points per race
  • Start-to-finish differential: Plus 7.2 equals 7.2 points per race
  • Fast laps: 71 equals 7.1 points per race
  • Laps led: 102 equals 10.2 points per race
  • Total Fantasy Live points earned per race: 60.3
  • Salary cap figure: $19.75
  • Fantasy points per dollar: 60.3 divided by 19.75 = 3.05 points per Fantasy Live Dollar

Below is the Fantasy Live points per dollar for each driver in Michigan. This week’s recommended picks are highlighted in bold. We will use the 2015 numbers for rookie drivers with no track history. Good luck navigating through another week of your NASCAR lineup and feel free to discuss your lineup decisions in the comments.

GROUP A ($25.00 or higher)

  • Kevin Harvick 2.10
  • Joey Logano 2.03
  • Brad Keselowski 1.75
  • Jeff Gordon 1.36
  • Jimmie Johnson 1.29
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1.25
  • Jamie McMurray 1.16
  • Denny Hamlin 0.96
  • Matt Kenseth 0.88
  • Kurt Busch 0.85
  • Kyle Busch 0.36

GROUP B ($20.00 – $24.99)

  • Clint Bowyer 2.20
  • Paul Menard 1.92
  • Ryan Newman 1.72
  • Kasey Kahne 1.53
  • Carl Edwards 1.38
  • Martin Truex Jr. 1.06
  • Aric Almirola 0.93
  • Kyle Larson 0.35

GROUP C ($15.00 – $19.99)

  • Greg Biffle 3.05
  • AJ Allmendinger 2.09
  • Tony Stewart 1.79
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1.52
  • Austin Dillon 1.36
  • Ryan Blaney 0.07*

GROUP D ($10.00 – $14.99)

  • Sam Hornish Jr. 3.08
  • Cole Whitt 2.93
  • Danica Patrick 2.54
  • David Gilliland 2.12
  • David Ragan 1.99
  • Casey Mears 1.94
  • Trevor Bayne 1.28
  • Justin Allgaier 0.29

GROUP E ($9.99 or lower)

  • Brandan Gaughan 3.58
  • Ty Dillon 3.27*
  • Matt DiBenedetto 3.20*
  • Michael Annett 3.17
  • Brett Moffitt 2.67*
  • JJ Yeley 2.61*
  • Mike Bliss 2.43*
  • JJ Yeley 2.23
  • Josh Wise 2.08*
  • Landon Cassill 2.02
  • Alex Bowman 1.93
  • Jeb Burton 1.80*
  • Josh Wise 1.38
  • Brett Moffitt 1.27
  • Mike Bliss 0.87

* Driver has no track data, and we are using his 2015 numbers.

Fantasy NASCAR

2015 Michigan International Speedway, Quicken Loans 400

Congratulations to Martin Truex Jr. for winning the race at Pocono this past weekend. The win qualifies Martin for the Chase and he deserves it the way he has driven the past month of the season. We now have ten drivers locked into the Chase and six spots left to fill over the next twelve races.


This week the series heads to Michigan for the first of two races at Michigan International Speedway. MIS is a two-mile moderately-banked D-shaped speedway just outside of Brooklyn, Michigan. This track is similar in configuration to California Speedway and is quite wide, which leads to three wide racing in the corners at times.

Kevin Harvick: I am picking Kevin to win this week’s race as he has finished second here in his last four starts. I think he will move up one more spot and visit victory lane once again. He always seems to have one of the fastest cars every week, and with the long straightaways here he should be able to pull away from everyone else. If he can stay out of trouble on the track he will be the driver to beat this weekend.

Paul Menard: Paul has finished fourth in his last three starts here and has been having a pretty good year. This team had some trouble with their tachometer at Pocono last week that cost them a few laps. That problem should be resolved and Paul should have a good car once again. He is my sleeper pick this week.

Joey Logano: Joey has one win at this track and has finished in the top ten in his last four starts here. This team still needs to figure out how to keep up with the track when making their adjustments during the race. They always seem to qualify well and start out the race with a great car but, they seem to lose a little bit on every stop they make.

Clint Bowyer: Clint has yet to win a race at Michigan although he has finished in the top ten in his last eight starts here. This team hasn’t run up to their expectations this season and they need to figure out how to get some more speed out of their car. If they can get the speed they could win a race and qualify for the Chase but, if they don’t find speed they will have to wait until next year.

Greg Biffle: Greg has four wins during his career at this track but, he is another driver that hasn’t been able to find the speed he needs to be competitive. The speed issue might be coming to an end though. Greg was fast at Kansas a month ago and then he finished second at Charlotte in the Coca-Cola 600. If he has that same speed this week he could pull off the upset.

Carl Edwards: Carl has two career wins and is already qualified for the Chase by virtue of his win in the Coca-Cola 600. This is another team that couldn’t find the speed it needed early in the season but, they seem to be getting a little faster every week. In fact, all of the Joe Gibbs drivers seem to be faster over the past month. Now that he has that win, this team can concentrate on communicating better and getting to know one another better.

Matt Kenseth: Matt has two wins at Michigan during his career and has also finished in the top ten in eighteen of his thirty-one starts. Matt is already qualified for the Chase and this is one of his favorite tracks to run at. I look for Matt to run well throughout the race and finish in the top ten once again.

Jeff Gordon: Jeff has three career wins at Michigan and would love to get number six to qualify himself for the Chase. He also won the fall race here last year and should have a lot of confidence heading into this weekend. If he doesn’t get the win this week watch for him to go all out at Sonoma the following week on the road course.
Tony Stewart: Although Tony hasn’t run anywhere near the way he would like, he has always been very good at Michigan. He has only one win here but, he has finished in the top ten in twenty of the thirty races he has started here. One of these weeks the old Tony Stewart is going to be back on the track and he always seems to start out slow during the year and gets better and better as the season progresses.

Martin Truex Jr.: Martin has never won a race at Michigan but, the way he has run the last month and with the confidence he has after his win last week at Pocono, this could be the week that he wins back to back races. This team has a lot of speed in their car right now and they are making all of the right calls on their adjustments as the races progresses. If they can keep this up they will be a serious contender to win a championship this year.


Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Kevin Harvick
  • Matt Kenseth

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Carl Edwards
  • Paul Menard
  • Clint Bowyer
  • Greg Biffle

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Justin Allgaier
  • Danica Patrick


  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Carl Edwards
  3. Matt Kenseth
  4. Jeff Gordon
  5. Joey Logano

Dark Horse: Paul Menard

Stay Away From: Kyle Busch