Fantasy NASCAR: Buschwhackers

by Eric McClung on February 11, 2010 @ 00:00:00 PDT

 


Last year, a total 13 drivers ran all 35 Nationwide Series races. Only three of them (Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski) are also full-time Sprint Cup drivers this season. Twelve others ran least 10 or more Nationwide races. In all, 25 drivers who figure to run the full Cup schedule this year were in a Nationwide car at least once last year. These Cup drivers are sometimes referred to as Buschwackers, a legacy nickname from when NASCAR's top developmental league was known as the Busch Series.

The Car of Tomorrow (CoT) will make a limited Nationwide Series debut at Michigan International Speedway, Richmond International Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway (formerly Lowe's Motor Speedway). The spoiler on the back of the Nationwide CoT could be replacing the wing currently on the Cup car. Such a change in aerodynamics could trigger more drivers to get behind the wheel in for testing and research.

On your side

Like an MLB superstar facing Triple-A pitching, Cup drivers often excel in these races. Eleven of the 12 different Nationwide race winners of 2009 will run Cup full-time in 2010. Last season, Busch was the only driver to win both Nationwide and Cup races on the same track, Richmond International Raceway, during the same weekend. Success in Nationwide does not always mean a great showing in the Cup race.

Below is a table shows drivers, then their average finishes in the following Cup race.

Driver
NW Wins
Avg Cup Finish
Kyle Busch*
9 (7)
8.0
Carl Edwards**
5 (2)
15.5
Joey Logano*
5 (3)
20.0
Brad Keselowski***
4 (2)
24.0
Greg Biffle
2
6.0
David Ragan
2
13.0
Kevin Harvick****
2
16.0
Clint Bowyer
2
22.0
Marcos Ambrose
1
2.0
Tony Stewart
1
8.0
Matt Kenseth
1
10.0

* Two NW wins came on non-Cup tracks
** Three NW wins came on non-Cup tracks
*** Won first Dover NW race but failed to qualify for the Cup race
**** Runner-up in second Atlanta Cup race

For 2010, Edwards and Keselowski will again run Nationwide full-time. The defending champ, Busch, plans to scale back to 22-24 races but could easily change his mind and run the entire schedule. Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth and Brian Vickers will run a partial Nationwide schedule.

A time-share between drivers is a common practice in Nationwide:

Fantasy NASCAR outlook

In the Camping World Truck Series, the next step down on the NASCAR ladder, Cup drivers also run strong. Busch ran 15 of the 23 truck races; he finished with seven wins, four runner-up finishes and a sparkling 4.3 average finish. Harvick ran six Truck races, all top-fives, with three wins. Newman finished fourth on both of his Truck starts. Keselowski had a DNF (engine) in lone attempt. Hamlin finished six in his only Truck race.

Clearly, Cup drivers have no problem in the lower ranks of NASCAR, but wins and strong results in those races do not automatically mean success in Cup races. For fantasy owners, those results are best used to gauge drivers with limited starts. However, a good run is an encouraging sign heading into the Cup race momentum is always a positive - but it should not be a make-or-break factor when deciding who to start and who to sit.

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About Eric McClung

Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a two-time award finalist. He's also made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts.

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