Categories
Fantasy NASCAR

2014 Daytona International Speedway, Daytona 500

Welcome back race fans! The first points race of the 2014 season kicks off this Sunday at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, FL. As I was watching the Duels last evening I was wondering what is really going to happen this season. Who will win the championship with the new format where the last race of the season determines the champion between four drivers? Is this the right way to determine a champion after 36 weeks of racing? Who will be the most improved driver? Which drivers will have disappointing season’s? Who will be the rookie of the year?

Those questions can only be answered by watching the races and seeing how the season develops. The first duel was quite tame last evening, with Matt Kenseth proving that once again this season he is going to have great equipment. The second duel started out just like the first until the last lap when all heck broke loose. However, Denny Hamlin proved this week that he is back in top form after a disappointing season last year when he was knocked out of a few races and drove the final races when he was not 100% healthy after a crash that injured his back.

So, lets see what we think is going to happen this week, predict a winner and then set our lineup for the first race of the year. One thing that I would like to caution everyone on that is in a Yahoo league you only get to start each driver nine times throughout the year, so don’t use your best drivers at restrictor plate tracks! There are just too many unknowns at these tracks, and any driver can get caught up in the big one no matter how well they have run the entire race.

DAYTONA 500

Now, with that said I am going to pick Denny Hamlin to win the Daytona 500 this year, but I won’t be starting him in my Yahoo lineup for the reasons that I stated above. Denny is one of the best drivers in the B list and I will probably use him nine other times during the season. I do like the way that he ran all week at Daytona and the Joe Gibbs cars all looked good the whole week.

The driver that will give Denny a run for his money this weekend is going to be Matt Kenseth. Matt is another of the Joe Gibbs drivers that has run well all week. Matt has made a few mistakes on the track and that has cost him and some other drivers a lot of headaches. I think Matt has learned a lot like all of the drivers have about the closing rates of the cars, how they draft this year, and how and where they are the most unstable.

Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano both drive for Penske Racing and both of those cars looked great in the draft last night. Brad made a mistake on pit road that cost him a chance at winning a Duel, but I am sure that he learned a lot from that experience. I think that most drivers trust both of these guys not to make mistakes on the track, so they shouldn’t have trouble teaming up with other drivers to draft with.

Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle both race for Roush/Fenway Racing and they both had extremely fast race cars during Speedweek, but neither of them looked good in the draft last night. Daytona is all about drafting and if you can’t draft well, you will find yourself alone on the track. I am staying away from both of these drivers this week.

Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Danica Patrick are all driving for Stewart/Haas Racing, both Kevin and Kurt are in their first year with the organization and this is only Danica’s second full year in the Cup series. Both Danica and Tony lost engines earlier this week and that concerns me about all of these drivers this weekend. Kevin ran well in his Duel and finished second, but his car didn’t pass post-race inspection. Once again I am going to stay away from all of these drivers this weekend.

Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne are all part of the Hendrick Motorsports stable and every one of these drivers has had good cars this week. However, they have made multiple mistakes that have cost themselves, their teammates, and other drivers their original cars. The cars aren’t the big deal for the Hendrick teams, but they can’t make any more mistakes, because the next mistake ends their weekend.

That is the way that I see this weekend shaping up. Now I will give you my starting Yahoo lineup and predict the top five finishers in this week’s race.

YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  • Matt Kenseth

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Jamie McMurray
  • Marcos Ambrose
  • Denny Hamlin
  • Brad Keselowski

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Michael Waltrip
  • Austin Dillon

MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

  1. Denny Hamlin
  2. Matt Kenseth
  3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  4. Brad Keselowski
  5. Jimmie Johnson

Dark Horse: Jamie McMurray

Stay Away From: Tony Stewart

Categories
By The Numbers Fantasy NASCAR

2014 NASCAR Driver Finish Predictions

I got an email from Cliff DeJong this morning. Cliff is the creator of our exclusive AccuPredict weekly NASCAR Driver finish position predictor algorithm. He has worked with statistics his whole life and each off-season he pours back over the NASCAR numbers to learn how his computations can be modified to increase their accuracy. Cliff is and has been a great asset for me and all the subscribers at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet that use his AccuPredict data each week to help pick their weekly fantasy NASCAR drivers.

CLIFF HAS BEEN HARD AT WORK AGAIN

During this off-season Cliff examined the 2010 – 2013 NASCAR seasons and projected what he thinks will be the statistically likely finishes for the 2014 NASCAR season.

He used 2010 – 2012 to predict 2013, and then the same methodology with 2011-2013 data to predict 2014. As an interesting side-project he also looked at the last 10 years of notable rookies to estimate how Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Danica Patrick will do this year. As well as how well the rookies in general will do.

He is pretty happy with his results. Those of you that are really geeky into stats will get how exciting it is to have correlations of 0.88+. That is what Cliff was able to accomplish in this study.

ANY SURPRISES?

You bet.

Kevin Harvick is projecting to be the best average finisher in 2014. Matt Kenseth is second, and Jimmie Johnson will fall to third. Carl Edwards is in fourth, and Kyle Busch is just behind Carl in fifth. Cliff still is uncertain about how to predict who will be in the Chase with the new format, but right now he is comfortable to pick the top-twelve on his list almost for sure to be in.

Cliff shared that the major unknowns are how well Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart will bounce back after their respective injuries. Plus, he notes the performance of rookies Austin Dillon and Parker Kligerman are also only rough estimates. For all the #3 fans he says the Austin Dillon in particular could do much better than the forecast shows.

ON TO THE RESULTS

Without further ado, here is Cliff’s predictions for the 2014 NASCAR season.

Rank Driver Average Finish
1 Kevin Harvick 10.9
2 Matt Kenseth 11.4
3 Jimmie Johnson 11.7
4 Carl Edwards 12.3
5 Kyle Busch 12.4
6 Brad Keselowski 12.7
7 Clint Bowyer 13.1
8 Dale  Earnhardt Jr 13.4
9 Jeff Gordon 13.7
10 Tony Stewart 13.9
11 Kasey Kahne 14.1
12 Greg Biffle 14.3
13 Martin Truex Jr 15.1
14 Joey Logano 15.3
15 Ryan Newman 15.4
16 Kurt Busch 15.7
17 Paul Menard 17.0
18 Denny Hamlin 17.3
19 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 17.7
20 Brian Vickers 18.3
21 Marcos Ambrose 18.7
22 Jamie McMurray 18.8
23 AJ Allmendinger 19.3
24 Austin Dillon 19.6
25 Parker  Kligerman 22.7
26 Danica Patrick 24.3
27 David Ragan 24.8
28 Casey Mears 25.7
29 Kyle Larson 26.7
30 David Gilliland 27.2
31 David Reutimann 27.4
32 Dave Blaney 29.4
33 Justin Allgaier 29.5
34 Travis Kvapil 29.6
35 Landon Cassill 30.0
36 David Stremme 32.8
37 JJ Yeley 33.6
38 Michael McDowell 37.3

PHOTO CREDIT: NASCAR via Getty Images. PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Brendan Gaughan, driver of the #62 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona International Speedway on January 12, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Categories
Fantasy NASCAR

2014 NASCAR SEASON PREVIEW

Welcome back race fans! The new season is less than a month away, so it’s time to start thinking about fantasy NASCAR once again.

JOIN MY YAHOO! FANTASY LEAGUE

That also means that I will be running my Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing league once again this year and am inviting all of you to join me and see which of you can beat me in this league. Click on the link to get started. Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing. The Group ID is 1360 and the password in kenseth (all small letters). Make sure you get the appropriate number and word in the right box. I look forward to competing against all of this sites readers!

CHANGES AND PREDICTIONS FOR THE 2014 NASCAR SEASON

Now for some of the new things we will see on the track this year and some of my predictions for the upcoming season.

NEW QUALIFYING FORMAT

First off there is going to be a new qualifying format in all three of the top series. It will be very similar to the way NASCAR ran qualifying at the road courses last season with all of the cars or trucks on the track at the same time for a certain duration determined by the track length. There will be either two or three rounds and drivers will be eliminated by speed in each round. The number of rounds once again is decided by the length of the track. The only race that will not have this type of format is the Daytona 500, which will continue to use its’ very own unique qualifying with the top two spots determined by speed and the remainder of the field set by two separate races on the Thursday before the season begins.

THE #3 RETURNS

The second thing that is happening is the return of the #3 car with Austin Dillon as the full-time driver. This will be the first time the #3 car has been run in the Sprint Cup series since the death of Dale Earnhardt. I for one thought the number should have been retired, but it isn’t up to me.

DRIVER CHANGES

There are so many driver changes this year that I will only tell you about some of the more prominent names in the sport. Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch both move to Stewart-Haas Racing and will pilot the #4 and #41 cars respectively. I think it is kind of funny that Kurt will be driving the same numbered car as his arch enemy on the track, Jimmy Spencer, used to drive.

Ryan Newman moves to Richard Childress Racing and will replace Jeff Burton in the #31 car. Brian Vickers takes over the full-time ride of the #55 car for Michael Waltrip Racing if he is healthy and Martin Truex Jr. moves to Furniture Row Racing and takes over the ride of Kurt Busch from last season.

There will be eight Rookie of the Year candidates this season, which is an unprecedented number. These include #51-Justin Allgaier, #7-Michael Annett, #23-Alex Bowman, #3-Austin Dillon, #30-Parker Kligerman, #42-Kyle Larson, #83-Ryan Truex, and #26-Cole Whitt. I predict that Austin Dillon wins the award with Justin Allgaier coming in a close second.

CAN’T STOP JIMMIE JOHNSON

Once again I have to believe that Jimmie Johnson is going to win another championship and will continue to pile them up unless NASCAR can come up with a better way to run the Chase, which I also believe will happen in the near future. I also think that Matt Kenseth will close the gap on Jimmie this season, but he will still come up short.

I also predict that Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards, and Denny Hamlin will all make the Chase this season, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, and Greg Biffle will be on the outside looking in.

Once again, I want to thank all of you for coming back to the site and encourage you all to sign up for the Yahoo Fantasy Racing League. Come back after the Budweiser Duel races are over on February 20th and I will have all of my predictions for the Daytona 500 posted for all of you to read!

Categories
By The Numbers

NASCAR 2013 GEN-6 RACE CAR IN REVIEW

NASCAR invested over two years of development, wind tunnel and on-track testing to bring the biggest change in NASCAR since 2007 when the “Car of Tomorrow” (aka COT) was introduced. NASCAR’s Generation-6 (GEN-6) car rolled out on to the track in Daytona at the start of the 2013 NASCAR season and now has its first season under its belt.

The intent was that the GEN-6 car would continue to bring more competition to the races and move closer to identifying the manufacturers brand than the cars have in many years.

BY THE NUMBERS

Here is a look at some of the interesting numbers tallied looking back at a full NASCAR season of data.

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GREEN FLAG PASSES

The second highest total since the inception of Loop Data in 2005 – and 17,398 more passes than 2012.

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GREEN FLAG PASSES FOR THE LEAD

An increase from the 946 Green Flag Passes for the Lead in 2012.

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[pie_chart type=’normal’ delay=’500′ title=’RUNNING AT FINISH’ percent=’83’ percentage_color=’#E91B23′ active_color=’#E91B23′ noactive_color=’#F1F1F1′] Percentage of cars that were running at the finish of races, up from 74.7% in 2012. [/pie_chart]

[pie_chart type=’normal’ delay=’500′ title=’FINISH ON LEAD LAP’ percent=’51’ percentage_color=’#E91B23′ active_color=’#E91B23′ noactive_color=’#F1F1F1′] Percentage of cars that finished on the lead lap, the highest percentage since 2009. [/pie_chart]

[pie_chart type=’normal’ delay=’500′ title=’MARGIN OF VICTORY UNDER 1-SECOND’ percent=’56’ percentage_color=’#E91B23′ active_color=’#E91B23′ noactive_color=’#F1F1F1′] Percentage of races that ended with a margin of victory under one second, up from 47% of races in the 2012 NASCAR season. [/pie_chart]

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TRACK QUALIFYING RECORDS BROKEN

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RACES WITH RECORD PASSES FOR THE LEAD

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AVERAGE NUMBER OF LEADERS PER RACE

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Categories
Fantasy NASCAR

2013 Homestead-Miami Speedway, Ford EcoBoost 400

Jimmie Johnson extended his lead over Matt Kenseth to twenty-eight points and still leads Kevin Harvick by thirty-four points as we head into the final race of the season next Sunday afternoon. All of the other drivers have been eliminated from contention and all Jimmie has to do is finish in the top twenty to secure his sixth championship. However, an accident, blown engine or some other catastrophic mishap could open the door for Matt or Kevin.

For the final week the series heads to Homestead-Miami Speedway for the running of the Ford EcoBoost 400. This track is another mile and a half track that has progressive banking in the corners. I think that we will see Matt and Kevin let it all hang out, while Jimmie might just play it safe to ensure himself the championship.

FORD ECOBOOST 400

Kevin Harvick: While Kevin has never won a race at this track, he has been one of the most consistent drivers here. He has finished in the top ten in ten of twelve races that he has run at this track and that includes five top five finishes also.

Matt Kenseth: Matt has won a race at this track during his career and we all know how good he has been on this type of track all season. He has nothing to lose by trying to win this race and I am sure that he is going to give it everything he has to give himself a shot at his second championship.

Jimmie Johnson: Like I said, Jimmie only needs to finish in the top twenty to win his sixth championship, but he has been very good at Homestead throughout his career. However, he hasn’t done that well the past two seasons finishing worse than thirtieth in both of those races and losing the rear housing of his car last year. Anything can still happen.

Carl Edwards: Carl has been the class of the field here during the nine races he has run at this track. He has won two of the past five races here and has finished in the top five in five of those nine starts he has had here. However, this team hasn’t been the greatest at this type of track this season.

Greg Biffle: Greg won three races in a row at Homestead from 2004-2006. He likes to race at this track and knows how to get around it in a hurry. However, like Carl Edwards this season, Greg hasn’t been very consistent, so I’m thinking that the Roush/Fenway drivers don’t quite have the new Gen 6 car figured out when it comes to these types of tracks.

Jeff Gordon: Jeff won this race last season and has really been good during the Chase this year. This team looks like they might be ready to compete for a championship once again next season and would love to win the last race of the year to keep their confidence up heading into next season.

Kasey Kahne: Kasey has never won a race at Homestead yet, but he has been very good almost every week early in the races. This team just needs to make the right adjustments towards the end of the race to give themselves a shot at visiting victory lane.

Martin Truex Jr.: Martin has had a disappointing season, but this is the type of track that he excels at and he has been very good here during his career with six top ten finishes in eight starts. This will be the last race he runs for MWR and I’m sure he would like to go out a winner.

Clint Bowyer: Clint started out having a great year, but that all went south for him during the Chase. He finished second in this race last season and is another driver in the MWR stable that should have a great car once again this weekend.

Kurt Busch: Kurt has fallen off a bit lately after having a superb year running on a one car team. He proved that he is still an elite driver and that he can get it done no matter how much backing his team has. I think that he could be a serious contender once again next season when he moves to Stewart/Haas Racing. He has finished in the top five in four of his twelve career starts at Homestead.

YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

Yahoo Driver Group A

  • Kevin Harvick
  • Matt Kenseth

Yahoo Driver Group B

  • Carl Edwards
  • Greg Biffle
  • Joey Logano
  • Martin Truex Jr.

Yahoo Driver Group C

  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr .
  • Elliott Sadler

MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Matt Kenseth
  3. Jeff Gordon
  4. Kasey Kahne
  5. Jimmie Johnson

Dark Horse: Joey Logano

Stay Away From: Brad Keselowski