By Jordan McAbee
It was nice to get a solid 339 point week in Atlanta last Sunday, and now we’re on to Las Vegas Motor Speedway this week for the Kobalt 400, which in theory should allow us to take some gambles with our Fantasy NASCAR rosters (ya know, since it’s Vegas). In reality, though, we typically see the same drivers end up toward the front here at LVMS. The good news is that lately a couple of those drivers have been some mid-tier options, which means we have plenty of “sleepers” to consider on Sunday. My initial Yahoo! strategy picks were posted earlier this week, and in case you missed that article you can view it here. Now we just have to decide on which drivers we’re going to start for the Kobalt 400.
Below you will find my final rankings for each driver grouping in the Yahoo! Auto Racing game for Las Vegas. I arrived at these by analyzing the test session results from Thursday as well as how the cars looked during practice on Saturday. Also, it’s somewhat important where you start at Las Vegas–well, at least more important than it was at Atlanta a week ago. Click here for Sunday’s starting lineup. Don’t forget to check out ifantasyrace.com for practice speeds and other great fantasy content. Over there you will also find my full Post Practice Predictions where I rank the top 25 drivers heading into Sunday!
Yahoo! A Group Final Rankings for Las Vegas
The Fantasy Racing Online team went with Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the A Group this weekend, as I wanted to prevent myself from using another Kevin Harvick start. With Phoenix coming up next week, it’s a virtual guarantee that he’s going to make my Yahoo! roster, and he’s probably going to get the start as well. Anyway, let’s look at Kenseth vs. Junior. The starting position advantage goes to Kenseth (3rd to Junior’s 20th) and the #20 Toyota looked better than the #88 Chevorolet most of the time when the cars were on track this week. Most importantly, Kenseth looked better on the long runs, posting the 2nd-best ten-lap average in Test Session #2, 4th-best in Practice #2, and 4th-best in Happy Hour. The Choice: Matt Kenseth
Final A Group Rankings: (1) Matt Kenseth, (2) Jimmie Johnson, (3) Kevin Harvick, (4) Kurt Busch, (5) Dale Earnhardt, Jr., (6) Joey Logano, (7) Brad Keselowski, (8) Kyle Busch, (9) Denny Hamlin,
Yahoo! B Group Final Rankings for Las Vegas
Here’s where things get tricky. Our four choices available in the B Group are Carl Edwards, Martin Truex, Jr., Ryan Newman, and Paul Menard. We have 8 starts left with Edwards and Truex and 9 left with Newman and Menard. Looking at the race weekend thus far, Edwards was doing well until he blew a tire in qualifying and wrecked his primary car. He will have to start from the rear of the field on Sunday, and while this isn’t a doom sentence, it isn’t ideal for fantasy owners. Yes, we saw Kyle Busch come from the back of the pack to finish 3rd last week at Atlanta, but that was Kyle Busch. Carl Edwards isn’t that aggressive. Also, we’re only racing 400 miles this week compared to 500 miles last week. Overall, the #19 Toyota looks like a top 10 car, but not a top 5.
Personally, I want to save Edwards starts for finishes closer to the latter, so he’s going to stay on the bench this week. Now that leaves narrowing the final three down to two. The clear start saving options are Ryan Newman and Paul Menard. Newman has finished 7th or better in four of the last five Las Vegas races and Menard 12th or better in each of the last five. Getting results like that from those two would be incredible, but I don’t want to miss out on a possible Truex win. So the question becomes, how good is the #78 Toyota this weekend? I think they have a top 10 car but that’s about it, and as I mentioned with Edwards, I want top 5 finishes out of these top B Group drivers. It’s a difficult decision and I’m still on the fence but as of now, the Choices: Ryan Newman and Paul Menard
Final B Group Rankings: (1) Martin Truex, Jr., (2) Austin Dillon, (3) Ryan Newman (4) Carl Edwards, (5) Paul Menard, (6) Kasey Kahne, (7) Kyle Larson, (8) A.J. Allmendinger, (9) Casey Mears, (10) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., (11) Danica Patrick, (12) Jamie McMurray, (13) Greg Biffle, (14) Aric Almirola, (15) Greg Biffle, (16) Clint Bowyer
Yahoo! C Group Final Rankings for Las Vegas
I really think you have to go with the driver of the #14 Chevrolet in the C Group for the time being. At the minimum he should be on your roster. I think we need to save Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott until later on in the season, unless of course they have a solid top 10 run like the latter did at Atlanta last week. I have Elliott and Brian Vickers on my Yahoo! roster this weekend, and while I do think that Chase Elliott is poised to have another solid run, I think Vickers is going to run well on Sunday as well. He probably should have qualified better than he did but starting 19th isn’t terrible. Also, Vickers has finished inside the top 15 in four of his last five starts at this track. I’m sticking with my start save strategy for now. The Choice: Brian Vickers
Final C Group Rankings: (1) Chase Elliott, (2) Brian Vickers, (3) Ryan Blaney, (4) Brian Scott, (5) Chris Buescher, (6) Landon Cassill, (7) Regan Smith (8) the rest