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FANTASY NASCAR: Denny Hamlin Will Deliver At The Paper Clip

Denny Hamlin is a four time winner at Martinsville. PHOTO CREDIT: NASCAR Media

*Leads all Active Drivers
DR = Driver Rating
ARP = Average Running Position

THE TOP 15

1. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson finally looked like the six-time champ at the Auto Club, leading 104 of 206 laps with a season-high DR of 127.4. Unfortunately, for Fantasy owners everywhere, Johnson blew a tire with six laps to go, ending what should have been a dominant day. Martinsville is another track the No. 48 owns. He has two wins (2012-13) and three Top 5s with an ARP of 3.0 in his last three Martinsville starts. He’s led at least 61 laps in each of his last six starts. In addition to the asterisks below, since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Johnson leads all drivers in Laps in the Top 15 (8,333) and Average Green Flag Speed (91.652 mph). A win is coming for Johnson, most likely this week. He’s the top Fantasy play across all formats.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
124.0* 5.8* 24 8* 17 21 3 5.3* 2,450

 

2. Jeff Gordon: Last weekend at Fontana, Gordon wasn’t great on pit stops, restarts or short-runs, but he was on point when the field was able to stay green. A late caution cost him a win, but the No. 24 arguably fielded the best car in the pack. He’s finished seventh, third and won the October 2013 contest in his last three Martinsville starts, and led at least 78 laps in two of them. Gordon leads all drivers in Fastest Laps Run (1,029) and Quality Passes (660). Fantasy owners should consider Gordon a Top 10 lock.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
121.1 6.2 42* 8* 27* 34* 7* 6.8 3,593*

 

3. Kyle Busch: Busch posted his first win of 2014 with a thrilling last-lap victory at Fontana. He’s now led at least five laps in all but one race this season. As for Martinsville, it’s one of the few venues where Busch has never won. Despite that, he’s posted two Top 5s in his last three starts. This is a more focused, more patient Kyle Busch Fantasy owners are seeing in 2014. He’s a high-end start in Salary Cap leagues.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
97.0 13.2 18 0 8 9 0 16.0 465

 

4. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin was a late-day scratch at Fontana due to a sinus infection, which has since been reported as a “small piece of metal in his eye”. Ouch. The good news is he’s been cleared to race at Martinsville. While last week may have left a bad taste in the mouths of Fantasy owners unable to adjust their lineups in time, Hamlin presents a solid value this weekend. He won three straight races from 2009-10 and has led at least 12 laps in nine consecutive races. He’s a very nice top-tiered value play in Salary Cap formats.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
111.4 8.8 16 4 9 13 3 8.1 1,153

 

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: The numbers may seem pedestrian, but Earnhardt Jr. overcame some serious adversity making his 12th-place finish at Fontana pretty impressive. He’s been a consistent force at Martinsville when it comes to logging Top 10s (five in his last seven starts). Combine that with the fact that he’s doing his finest work in years this season and Junior has a lot of upside this weekend.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
98.9 11.0 28 0 10 15 0 13.2 868

 

6. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has been a bonus-points machine in Tiered/Grouping formats this season. He’s figured out the new qualifying system, posting one pole and four consecutive Top 2 starts this season. He’s also led at least three laps in every 2014 event. Martinsville is a plus track for Kez, where he’s put up four straight Top 10s. There’s still very good Salary Cap format value here and as always a must-start in Tiered/Grouping formats.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
89.2 13.5 8 0 1 5 0 10.4 10

 

7. Tony Stewart: Smoke posted his second-straight Top 5 finish at the Auto Club, but it’s not quite as impressive as it sounds. He has ARPs of 15.7 (Bristol – finished fourth) and 18.8 (Fontana – finished fifth), meaning he’s either getting lucky or persevering. I’m inclined to go with the latter despite the struggles of Stewart-Haas Racing as a whole. There’s value here in all Fantasy formats, as Smoke is a nice bet to grind out a Top 10 this weekend.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
98.5 11.1 29 3 9 15 3 13.8 1,208

 

8. Kevin Harvick: It’s a good thing he logged a win at Phoenix – virtually guaranteeing him a spot in the Chase – because Harvick dropped his third-straight 35th-place-or-worse finish (36th to be exact) on Fantasy owners. As crushing as the final results may be, Harvick actually shows up at the track with a very good car, only to see mechanical problems bring him down. I doubt anyone is very keen on rolling the No. 4, meaning there is value to be mined here. He’s had success at The Paper Clip before and could pay dividends for Fantasy owners who believe in him.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
92.9 13.8 25 1 3 11 0 16.2 363

 

9. Matt Kenseth: He posted his best finish of 2014 last weekend (fourth) and has now led laps in each of his last three Cup starts. While Martinsville isn’t particularly one of Kenseth’s best tracks, he does have two Top 5s and four Top 15s in his last four appearances, including 202 laps led in October 2013. Staying with the theme of this week, there’s good value here across all formats thanks to all the focus Johnson and Gordon will draw.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
83.5 16.2 28 0 4 9 0 15.3 371

 

10. Ryan Newman: Newman finished 20th at Fontana with three laps led. Consider his 2013 Martinsville appearances a write off (31st and 38th). He won this race in 2012, and is fully capable of posting a Top 10. He’s worth a hard look in Tiered/Grouping formats.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
87.4 15.2 24 1 7 11 3 15.3 194

 

11.Clint Bowyer: Ran his best race of 2014 at the Auto Club, but cut a tire late and finished 16th. His best finish this season is 13th (Phoenix). He’s finished inside the Top 5 in each of his last three starts at Martinsville.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
93.8 12.5 16 0 4 10 0 12.6 307

 

12. Kurt Busch: Another driver who ran his best race of 2014 at Fontana. He finished fourth and was in position to win on the final restart. A Top 15 is likely his ceiling, as he hasn’t exactly excelled at Martinsville of late.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
77.0 18.7 18 1 2 4 1 21.5 465

 

13. Carl Edwards: Showed some serious toughness last weekend at Fontana, as he grinded out a 10th-place finish. His Tiered/Grouping format starts are likely better suited for other venues.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
80.5 16.2 19 0 1 5 0 13.2 31

 

14. Joey Logano: Fought his way up from the rear of the field at Fontana only to encounter mechanical trouble on his backup car and ultimately finish 39th. I will be garaging him in all formats this weekend.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
78.4 17.1 10 0 1 2 0 15.9 0

 

15. Greg Biffle: Finished 40th at Fontana. His only Top 10 of 2014 came at Daytona.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
69.8 21.0 22 0 0 5 0 20.2 21

 

 

TOP 10 BEST VALUE PLAYS

 

1. Jamie McMurray: He’s quietly killing it this season. Posted a season-best sixth-place finish at Fontana and has a Top 15 in all but one 2014 race. Throw in his back-to-back Top 10s at Martinsville in 2013, and he’s a no-brainer Tiered/Grouping format option.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
84.2 15.9 22 0 1 11 1 16.2 117

 

2. Brian Vickers: Back-to-back Top 10s for Vickers is very impressive after a lousy start to the season. Even more impressive is the No. 55 had a car good enough to win at Fontana (finished seventh).

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
79.5 16.9 16 0 0 3 0 19.0 27

 

3. Paul Menard: Ran a really solid race at the Auto Club culminating in a ninth-place finish. Due to poor historical outputs, he’s strictly a value play in all formats.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
60.6 23.1 13 0 0 0 0 21.8 0

 

4. Kasey Kahne: He’s been very feast or famine this season with two Top 10s and two finishes of 31st-or-worse. Can be trusted every week once he shows some consistency. Has two Top 5s in his last three Martinsville starts.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
78.1 20.5 20 0 3 4 1 20.2 31

 

5. Aric Almirola: He finished dead last at Fontana. He did post a Top 5 in the October 2012 event at Martinsville. Shouldn’t be looked at anywhere but as a provisional start in Tiered/Grouping formats.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
61.9 25.2 10 0 1 2 0 25.6 56

 

6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
46.1 30.1 2 0 0 0 0 28.0 0

 

7. A.J. Allmendinger

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
69.0 22.0 11 0 1 2 0 21.4 25

 

8. Marcos Ambrose

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
66.9 22.1 10 0 0 1 0 21.0 41

 

9. Martin Truex Jr.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
70.4 22.0 16 0 2 4 0 22.3 1

 

10. Casey Mears

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
64.7 23.1 21 0 0 3 0 22.9 1

 

 

TOP 5 SLEEPERS

 

1. Kyle Larson: Finished tenth at Bristol and second at the Auto Club. These are simply not stats you see in back-to-back weeks from C-List level drivers. This kid is very legit and should be rolled in 100 percent of Tiered/Grouping formats.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
39.7 38.2 1 0 0 0 0 42.0 0

 

2. Austin Dillon: He continues to post quality finishes (11th at the Auto Club). He averages a Top 15 (14.2) on the season and is showing no signs of slowing down.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
N/A N/A 0 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

 

3. Danica Patrick: Gotta give respect when it’s due. Danica finished 14th last weekend, and has proven in her two Martinsville starts (12th and 17th) that she can be a Fantasy factor.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
68.7 24.2 2 0 0 0 0 14.5 0

 

4. Reed Sorenson: Need a Salary Cap format driver on the cheap? Like really cheap? Look no further.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
51.4 29.0 12 0 0 0 0 31.7 0

 

5. David Ragan: Posted a season-high 27th-place finish at Fontana. He finished eighth in this race back in 2011.

DR ARP Starts Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles Avg. Finish Laps Led
65.8 22.9 15 0 0 1 0 22.4 0

 

 

2014 NASCAR.com Fantasy Live Lineup for (Salary Cap)

DRIVER SALARY
Jimmie Johnson $27.75
Brad Keselowski $25.50
Denny Hamlin $23.25
A.J. Allmendinger $17.00
Reed Sorenson $ 5.00
TOTAL $98.50

 

 

Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing Picks (Tiered/Grouping Format)

A-LIST Jimmie Johnson Jeff Gordon
B-LIST Denny Hamlin Tony Stewart Jamie McMurray Ryan Newman
C-LIST Kyle Larson Austin Dillon

 

 

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