FANTASY NASCAR: CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
With hurricane Matthew bearing down on the lower part of the east coast, Nascar officials are hopeful to get Saturday nights race not only started, but completed this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. As of now it looks like they may get their wish as the rain should taper off by Saturday afternoon. The only thing in question could be that the final two practices that are scheduled for Friday could be rained out.
Last week in Dover was the final race of the first segment of The Chase, which saw Tony Stewart, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray and Chris Buescher not advancing into the second round. Twelve drivers will start the next three race segment with races at Charlotte this weekend followed by a trip out to Kansas and then finally back east to take on one of the fastest tracks on the circuit in Talladega, Alabama. Most of the talk so far has been trying to focus on this week as the drivers want to be in a good spot as they head into the third race at Talladega, where we all know anything can happen and usually does.
As mentioned above, Charlotte Motor Speedway is the site of the start of the second segment of The Chase as the twelve remaining drivers are set to do battle in the 57th Annual Bank of America 500. The track is a mile and a half of asphalt with 24 degrees of banking in the four turns while the straightaways are pretty flat at only five degrees of banking. By doing some simple math we can surmise that there will be 333 laps needed to complete the race. That is of course providing it isn’t rained out half way through or that the race doesn’t go into overtime. 333 laps is still a lot of bonus points to earn so let’s get down to the analysis for pricing over at DraftKings.
Martin Truex Jr. ($10,900) –By turning in two wins in the first round of The Chase there is no denying that the driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Toyota and crew have things dialed in. The only question now is can he keep it going? Truex has racked up three wins over the last five races and has not finished lower than seventh in any of them so it is probably safe to assume he will do well again this weekend barring any mishaps. Over the last ten races here at Charlotte Truex has done okay, but it wasn’t until a crew chief change in 2015 that he really starting firing on all cylinders. In those three races Truex has finished first, third and fifth while becoming the driver who has led the most laps in the last ten races here with 523 of them. The #78 car will start seventh Saturday night. The mantra here may be ‘buy high and watch him fly’.
Kevin Harvick ($10,700) – Harvick may be the luckiest of the twelve drivers battling for the Sprint Cup championship. Not only did he gain entry by winning the second race in New Hampshire, but the points reset to 3,000 for this round as well. His finishes of 20th and 37th in the other two races would surely put him behind the pack and if not for the win, maybe not even in The Chase at all. Fortunately that is all water under the bridge as the driver of the #4 Busch Hunting Chevrolet comes in as one of the favorites to win the 57th Annual Bank of America 500. Harvick has done well here at Charlotte in the past ten races by recording nine top ten finishes while leading 317 laps in those races. He is also the only driver with two wins here over that same time period. Harvick not only had the fastest lap in the first practice, he will be starting on the pole as well, which makes him a candidate to lead a lot of laps with a fast car.
Carl Edwards ($9,400) – After finishing 14th last week at Dover, Edward’s price has once again gone under the 10k mark. His sixth place finish two weeks ago was his only top ten finish in the last five races, but not to worry, he does have a decent history here at Charlotte. Over the last ten races here, the driver of the #19 Stanley Toyota has found the top ten eight times in his last ten starts with his only win coming back in 2015 in the 600 mile race. Edwards was ninth fastest in the first practice and improved on that to snag the eighth position on the grid for this weekend’s race. Look for him to be in the top ten for most of the day.
Denny Hamlin ($9,300) – Speaking of doing well here at Charlotte, Hamlin is the other driver that has recorded nine top ten finishes in his last ten starts here. Add that with the nine top ten finishes in the last ten races this season and you may just have a model of consistency on your hands. The driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota had the fifth fastest lap in the first practice and will start from the ninth position on the grid when the green flag drops Saturday night.
Chase Elliott ($8,900) – The rookie continues to impress as he racked up two third place finishes to go along with a 13th place finish in the first round of The Chase. As the field gets whittled away round by round the competition obviously gets tougher but I am not so sure that will affect the 20 year old from Dawsonville, Georgia. Under crew chief Alan Gustafson, the driver of the #24 3M Chevrolet was able to finish eighth in the Coca-Cola 600 back in May while starting from the 12th position. This tells me that he is a force to be reckoned with as it seems he has been making the right adjustments all year. Elliott had the 17th fastest lap in the first practice but was able to gain more speed to earn the third spot on the starting grid during qualifying. Elliott, like Hamlin, is very consistent but may lack the power to get up to the front and lead some laps.
Kasey Kahne ($8,500) – After finishing eight races higher that his starting position, DraftKings has finally bumped his price up to by $1,100 from last week. Kahne does have four top ten finishes in the last five races to his credit and also has six top ten finishes in his last ten starts here at Charlotte. Before we go getting all excited we must look further and realize the driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet hasn’t finished in the top ten here in the last four races, which means all six top ten finishes were from early 2014 and earlier. Usually I like Kahne because of price and starting position, but this week I like neither as he starts 12th, which means he probably only goes backwards from there.
Alex Bowman ($8,000) – It would appear that the youngster is starting to acclimate himself to all that horsepower that has been bestowed upon him. In his four races as interim driver for the #88 Axalta Chevrolet, Bowman has turned in two very impressive finishes over the last two races he has started, including his first top ten. He did not drive last week in Dover as Jeff Gordon took the wheel, as he has in a few races in the past filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Bowman however is this week’s driver and looks to have found quite a bit of speed as he was second fastest in the first practice and will start the race up front with pole sitter Kevin Harvick when the green flag drops Saturday night at 8pm. Bowman is a risky pick for sure but one that may pay off if he can sustain the speeds he has shown thus far.
Ryan Newman ($7,400) – Newman has been a hit and miss driver all season which is one of the reasons he fell just short of making the first round of The Chase. A few things here pop out at me as he was able to get a good amount of speed in the first practice by being the eighth fastest car of the session. The other good thing is that he starts from the 21st position. On the surface, this doesn’t make a lot of sense but if you can find a driver that can get some fast laps out of the car and starts in the lower half of the field, he may just be able to crack the top ten as well as have some of the fastest laps during the race. It’s always buyer beware when we get down to this pricing area but you could probably do worse.
Aric Almirola ($6,400) – As we dive down deeper into the cesspool that is drivers priced under $6.5K, we find Mr. Almirola. His price is actually up a bit from a few weeks ago thanks to finishing 16th and 17th while starting 27th and 26th in the last two races. He has also racked up 18 fastest laps between those two races so something is going on here. The driver of the #43 Smithfield Chevrolet had his best Charlotte finish a year ago where he finished tenth in a race he started ninth in. He won’t have that same luxury this weekend as he starts 33rd, which isn’t bad considering his latest finishes. Look for Almirola to finish somewhere in the mid to upper 20’s, which is good enough for me.
That will wrap up another week of Nascar analysis here at Fanvice.com. As always, follow me on twitter @elctrceye and good luck in your games this weekend.