Jeff Gordon Will Go Out on Top at Homestead Miami
The Chase format changed in 2014, weeding out all but four drivers over nine playoff races in order to compete in a winner-take-all one race duel at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Based on a very small sample size – one whole race – Fantasy owners saw those four finalists mostly dominate the race. Kevin Harvick won the race and the Sprint Cup title, leading 54 laps. Ryan Newman finished a close second. Denny Hamlin led 50 laps. And Joey Logano didn’t do much en route to a quiet 16th-place finish. I’ll be the first to admit none of this is exactly revelatory. Telling Fantasy owners to roll the guys who have the most to lose and are at this point because they’re the best isn’t breaking any news. But it is something that bears a reminder. Don’t get cute. Don’t try to be an outlier. Not for this race.
To be clear, to win the Sprint Cup championship, one of the four drivers only has to finish ahead of the other three. However, the most likely scenario is for that to happen just go out and win. Last season in this event, Jeff Gordon ($9,700) wasn’t even competing for the title yet he came out guns blazing. He started from the pole and led a race-high 161 laps on his way to a respectable 10th-place finish. Gordon posted a victory at Miami back in 2012, leading 14 laps. In his last four starts at the site, Gordon has posted a solid place-differential of +14. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Gordon ranks second in Fastest Laps Run (170). He hasn’t been the best driver over the course of the season by a long shot. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that he’s here now. This is likely the last NASCAR fans and Fantasy owners alike see of Gordon on a stage this big. From a sentimental perspective, this would be an incredible way to see Gordon go out. From a Fantasy perspective, Gordon’s price point in DFS is incredibly welcoming and regardless of any personal opinions, he needs to be in all lineups heading into the final race of the season.
Martin Truex Jr. ($9,600) has been a quality Fantasy option at Miami dating back to his Michael Waltrip Racing days. Since 2006, he’s posted three Top 5s and seven Top 10s which leading at least three laps in five starts. In any other year that didn’t feature Jeff Gordon’s swan song, Truex Jr. would easily be the feel good story entering the finale. I’ve had him firmly entrenched in my Salary Cap lineup all season long, and that won’t change now. He will also be making an appearance in my Tiered/Grouping format and DFS lineup. I suggest Fantasy owners do the same.
Eventually, I was going to have to write about some drivers who aren’t competing for the title. Might as well starts with Carl Edwards ($9,200). There was a point when Edwards owned this track. From 2008-2011, Edwards posted two wins, three Top 2s and four Top 7s while leading at least 119 laps in three of those starts. And despite the recent drop-off from the aforementioned domination, he still leads all drivers in Fastest Laps Run (267). I like his DFS value, and any Fantasy owners with Tiered/Grouping format starts left, I recommend rolling Edwards in the season finale.
At his DFS unit rate, Ryan Newman ($6,900) is almost impossible to leave out of lineups. Despite not being in the same position as 2014, his success at this track last season and in the recent past can’t be ignored. Isolating the 2014 race, he finished second with a place-differential of +19. He also finished third with three laps led in 2012 and seventh-place in 2010. This is the quintessential week to go top heavy with your DFS lineups, making Newman a very low-risk budgetary option.
Paul Menard’s ($6,500) fourth-place finish in 2014 appears to be an outlier. In eight starts prior, he’s recorded zero Top 10s and finished 25th-or-worse four times. However, I’m willing to give him a pass for a couple of reasons. First, this season has been Menard’s coming out party. He’s shown flashes in the past, but this season the consistency he had been lacking has finally been there. Second, price point rules all. And coming in at 22 percent below average price per driver is too enticing to pass up. He’s another low risk DFS play to fill up top heavy lineups.
While the price for Ryan Blaney ($6,800) is too high in my frugal opinion, his performances this season warrant consideration anyway. In 15 starts this season, he’s put together nine Top 25s. My preference is to use Blaney in Tiered/Grouping formats. Just make sure he qualifies for the race before locking in your lineup.
Casey Mears ($6,100) on the other hand is priced very nicely to accommodate different DFS strategies. He finished 20th in this race last season and owns a 22.4 Average Finish at HMS with a place-differential of +4. He’s also been at his best in 2015 at 1.5-mile intermediate tracks, the track type Miami just so happens to be.
Justin Allgaier ($5,900) is coming off a 17th-place finish at Phoenix International Raceway. In 2014, he started 14th and finished 15th at Miami, very respectable numbers for the young driver. There’s a case to be made for using Allgaier across any of the major formats. It just depends on your strategy.
It’s been an amazing season. I want to thank the editors at RotoExperts.com as well as the incredibly loyal readers of the site for a great year. See you in 2016!
For the final time this year, here are my Fantasy NASCAR lineups for the week:
Martin Truex Jr.
NASCAR Fantasy Live
|Martin Truex Jr.|
Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing
|Jeff Gordon||Kevin Harvick|
|B-List||Martin Truex Jr.||Carl Edwards||Kurt Busch|
|C-List||Ryan Blaney||Justin Allgaier|
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