NASCAR FANTASY LIVE PICKS, 2015 KANSAS, HOLLYWOOD CASINO 400

With the first race of the second round of the playoffs in the books, the second leg in Kansas offers different strategies for the teams remaining in the Chase. With the unpredictable nature of a restrictor plate tracking looming, teams will feel a lot of pressure to finish near the front of the field this week. You should front-load your lineup, and your roster decisions should reflect your standings in your league.

If you want to take a risk, take a driver like Kenseth or Junior who are behind in the standings. If you are near the top and want to minimize your risk, take Harvick or Carl Edwards since they will try to play it safe. There are only a few weeks left this season, and you need to make a push for the top of your lineup right now.

As a mainstay in my lineup, I will keep Kevin Harvick as the first driver in my lineup. In the May race, Harvick led 53 laps on his way to a 2nd place finish. He has seen success at the track recently, with three top-5 finishes in his last five Kansas races. His 371 laps led and 178 fast laps over the same stretch are good for best in the series. On large oval tracks in 2015, Harvick has seven top-10 finishes and the most laps led of any driver. Through 26 races in 2015, Harvick has seen 17 top-5 finishes and has led the most laps of any driver. With a combination of track success, track type success, and 2015 success, Harvick has a high probability for success in Kansas. Given his current standings in the playoffs, I expect the #4 team to have a conservative approach to the race. This will benefit lineups that are near the top of the standings.

Another driver who has helped fantasy NASCAR lineups to the top of the standings this season is Joey Logano. Logano ended up finishing 5th in the Kansas earlier this season, leading a handful of laps during the race. With four top-5 finishes in his last five Kansas races, starting Logano has a high probability to bring you success this week. In large oval tracks this year, Logano has eight top-10 finishes in nine races of this track type. After 26 races, Logano has passed Harvick for the best average finish position in the series in 2015. With 15 top-5 finishes and the 2nd most laps led in the series, Logano has been one of the most consistent drivers in the series. My only concern with Logano is that the team may take some risks now that they have qualified to the next round of the playoffs.

The third lineup recommendation started the season hot and cooled off slightly as the season continues. He joins my lineup due to his performance in Kansas earlier this season. Martin Truex Jr. led the most laps in the May race en route to a 9th place finish. Truex Jr. reminds me of Kenseth earlier in the season when it seems like he is always running in 9th place. While this is a good run by NASCAR standards, it does no benefit to a scoring system that rewards points for laps led and fast laps. Truex Jr. has three top-5 finishes in his last five Kansas races. He has the 10th best average finish position in 2015 and boasts 16 top-10 finishes through 26 races. I will keep an eye on practice and qualifying, and I am hoping the #78 team repeats their performance earlier this season. Truex needs another solid finish to remain in contention in the playoffs, and I expect a conservative setup from their team as well.

Sometimes recommending budget drivers can be challenging. This week, two drivers stood out from the pack. Michael Annett, due to his low salary cap number, has a tendency to show up at the bottom of my roster. I am usually rewarded with modest numbers that do not help or hurt me. Annett finished 23rd in the May race and has a 24th place average finish position at the track through three attempts. These numbers outperform his 2015 average finish position of 33.4. If Annett comes near his average, you will benefit from having him in your lineup. Matt DiBenedetto finished 25th place in the May Race with a plus-ten start-to-finish differential. This finish outperforms his value and is worth a risk at the bottom of your roster.

FANTASY NASCAR LIVE SALARY CAP

Fantasy Live uses a scoring system that combines fast laps, laps led, finish position, and start-to-finish differential. In order to prevent us from starting the best drivers each week, Fantasy Live uses a salary cap format. Our formula calculates the average points earned per race over the last five Kansas races. Next, we divide the average points by the salary figure for each driver to determine which drivers are likely to provide the most value this week. Jimmie Johnson won the Kansas race, but only led a handful of laps and missed the cut-off for my roster. As a consolation prize, we will use his numbers over the last five Kansas races to further illustrate the formula.

JIMMIE JOHNSON AT KANSAS

  • Average finish position last five Kansas races: 11.8 equals 32.2 Fantasy Live Points
  • Start-to-finish differential: Plus six equals 6 Fantasy Live points
  • Laps led: 49 equals 4.9 Fantasy Live points
  • Fast laps: 91 equals 9.1 Fantasy Live points
  • Average points per race: 52.2
  • Fantasy Live salary cap figure: $25.25
  • Fantasy Live points per race: 52.2 divided by $25.25 equals 2.07 points per dollar

Below are the points per race for each driver over the last five Kansas races. Please use this as a tool to give to an edge as the season winds down.

GROUP A ($25.00 or higher)

  • Kevin Harvick 3.22
  • Matt Kenseth 2.54
  • Joey Logano 2.31
  • Jeff Gordon 2.21
  • Jimmie Johnson 2.07
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1.65
  • Brad Keselowski 1.44
  • Carl Edwards 1.39
  • Denny Hamlin 0.71
  • Kyle Busch 0.48

GROUP B ($20.00 – $24.99)

  • Martin Truex Jr. 2.37
  • Kyle Larson 2.28
  • Kasey Kahne 2.08
  • Paul Menard 1.65
  • Clint Bowyer 1.38
  • Aric Almirola 1.33
  • Ryan Newman 1.16
  • Jamie McMurray 1.02
  • Kurt Busch 0.99

GROUP C ($15.00 – $19.99)

  • Greg Biffle 1.42
  • Sam Hornish Jr. 0.47

GROUP D ($10.00 – $14.99)

  • AJ Allmendinger 2.49
  • Austin Dillon 2.30
  • Danica Patrick 1.70
  • Cole Whitt 1.69
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1.65
  • Casey Mears 1.53
  • Trevor Bayne 0.91
  • Ryan Blaney 0.84
  • Tony Stewart 0.65
  • Justin Allgaier (-0.73)

GROUP E ($9.99 or lower)

  • Michael Annett 6.77
  • Matt DiBenedetto 3.87
  • Timmy HIll 3.10
  • Landon Cassill 2.75
  • Reed Sorenson 2.62
  • JJ Yeley 2.28
  • Brett Moffitt 2.21
  • David Gilliland 2.18
  • Reed Sorenson 2.00 *
  • Brian Scott 1.03 *
  • David Ragan 1.01
  • Alex Bowman 0.71
  • Jeb Burton (1.40)

* Driver has no track data, and we are using his 2015 numbers.

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