Fantasy NASCAR: The Kobalt Tools 400
THE TOP 15
1. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson finished sixth at Phoenix and while he didn’t lead a lap, he posted an impressive Average Running Position (5.8). He’s led at least 18 laps in four of his last five starts at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Johnson leads all competitors in Fastest Laps Run (316) and Average Green Flag Speed (170.622 mph). He’s posted Driver Ratings of over 100.0 in both 2014 races so far. He’s the top play across all Fantasy formats.
2. Matt Kenseth: The defending champion of this race started 18 season ago. He’s led laps in each of his last four starts and at least one lap in seven of his last eight appearances at LVMS. He’s a high-upside Tiered/Grouping format play.
3. Kyle Busch: After a few off-races at LVMS, Busch finished fourth with 27 laps led in the 2013 event. He leads all drivers in Laps in the Top 15 (1,904) and Quality Passes (358). The hometown factor is nice, but it doesn’t play into the ranking. Busch typically performs and can be trusted in any format.
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: With a second-place finish at Phoenix a week ago to complement his Daytona win, Junior has a 2014 DR of 127.8. In previous seasons, Earnhardt Jr. was safe with low upside. Now his upside seems infinite. Add in the fact he’s logged three consecutive Top 10s at Las Vegas and he’s officially a must-start driver.
5. Brad Keselowski: The numbers at Vegas aren’t impressive by any stretch, but what has been very impressive are the two Top 3s Keselowski has posted to start 2014. He finished third in this race last year and makes a fine tiered/grouping format option.
6. Kevin Harvick: He’s within a fraction of a point off of a perfect DR (149.9) after his dominating (224 of 312 laps led) victory at Phoenix last weekend. He did post a Top 10 in this race last season, and Fantasy owners can expect about the same result with a higher ceiling.
7. Jeff Gordon: The No. 24 is quietly off to an amazing start with back-to-back Top 5s (fifth at PIR) to start the season. He’s finished outside the Top 10 in each of his last three LVMS starts, but it’s safe to say that trend won’t last. Fantasy owners can consider Gordon a solid value play in all formats.
8. Carl Edwards: Vegas has been very kind to Edwards as of late. He’s logged a win (2011) and three Top 5s in his last five starts. He’s only other driver besides Johnson to average a Top 10 finish. It’s been a solid start to 2014 for the No. 99 driver and his Fantasy arrow continues to point up. He’s a must-start provisional Tiered/Grouping format lineup option.
9. Kasey Kahne: While 2014 has not been as kind to Kahne as it has to some of the drivers listed higher than him, he did overcome a 19.3 ARP to finish 11 weekend at Phoenix. Last season at Vegas, Kahne led a race-high 114 laps and finished second, putting forth an incredible effort and coming up just short. He’s kind of off the Fantasy radar and will make a sneaky play in all formats.
10. Denny Hamlin: He led three laps in this race last season. His latest Top 10 at Vegas came back in 2011 (seventh). Hamlin’s upside remains high, but he’s no lock to post a Top 10 finish. Fantasy owners should consider him a boom-bust option for all formats this week.
11. Joey Logano: Logano has looked incredibly strong in 2014; leading laps in both races, posting DRs of over 100.0 in both races and most recently dropped an ARP of 3.0 at Phoenix. He finishes well at Vegas and he will be a Top 10 Fantasy option next week.
12. Kurt Busch: After another lost battle with luck, Busch finished 39 return to his home track will need to yield better results or this could be a very long season for the elder-Busch brother. He’s another boom-bust option in Tiered/Grouping formats.
13. Ryan Newman: It was great seeing Newman post such a quality finish (seventh with sixth laps led at PIR) with his new team this early in the season. He has two Top 5s in his last three Vegas runs and makes for an excellent Salary Cap format start.
14. Tony Stewart: He’s still shaking off some rust, but a 15 is a step in the right direction. Stewart is Fastest on Restarts (165.370 mph). He’s probably worth keeping garaged (Engel, S., 2007) in all formats until he scores a Top 10 finish.
15. Clint Bowyer
TOP 10 BEST VALUE PLAYS
1. Greg Biffle: The Biff has been just mediocre so far this season, but has an excellent track record at Vegas. He’s not getting the love he deserves in Tiered/Grouping formats and Fantasy owners should take full advantage.
2. Jamie McMurray: Ran a really solid race at Phoenix (10 through two events this season. Coincidentally, Jamie Mac has two Top 15s (13 and eighth) in his last two Vegas starts.
3. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: He won the 2012 Nationwide event at Vegas. Even though it’s only based on one start, he ranks eighth in Average Running Position. He knows this track.
4. Paul Menard: Back-to-back Top 10s and three Top 15s in his last three starts at Vegas. He even led three laps in the 2011 event. He’s a major value play who’s actually pretty safe.
5. Martin Truex Jr.: The learning curve for Truex Jr. at Furniture Row Racing might be the steepest one any driver on a new team will face this season. He has two Top 10s in his last three starts at Vegas.
6. Marcos Ambrose
7. Aric Almirola
8. Brian Vickers
9. A.J. Allmendinger
10. Bobby Labonte
TOP 5 SLEEPERS
1. Jeff Burton: His limited schedule with MWR (6-8 races) will put him atop this list
every time he gets behind the wheel of the No. 66. From 2006-09, Burton posted
two Top 5s and three Top 10s in four starts. He also led at least four laps in
three of those races.
2. Austin Dillon: Came back down to earth last weekend, starting and finishing
3. Casey Mears: Has two Top 15s this season. Posted back-to-back Top 10s at
Vegas in 2005-06. He drops another Top 15 this week expect to see him up in
4. Reed Sorenson: Not much more than a cheap Salary Cap option right now.
5. Kyle Larson: Has solid Tiered/Grouping format value for owners who want to
conserve Austin Dillon starts.
2014 NASCAR.com Fantasy Live Lineup for Las Vegas (Salary Cap)
Jimmie Johnson $28.00
Brad Keselowski $25.50
Denny Hamlin $23.25
Jeff Burton $15.00
Reed Sorenson $ 5.00
Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing Picks (Tiered/Grouping Format)
A-LIST Matt Kenseth Kasey Kahne
B-LIST Carl Edwards Tony Stewart Joey Logano Greg Biffle
C-LIST Jeff Burton Austin Dillon