After a strong showing at Kansas a couple of weeks ago, I enjoyed across-the-board success in my fantasy leagues again last weekend at Charlotte. Kevin Harvick was the anchor of all of my teams, and he led 100 laps en route to a second-place finish. In NASCAR.com Fantasy Live, I teamed Harvick with race-winner Jimmie Johnson, and the two combined to lead 264 of the 400 laps. In FOX Fantasy Auto Racing, all five of my drivers finished in the top 15 with four finishing in the top 10. I also notched a top-20 finish with my C-List option, Trevor Bayne, in Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Auto Racing. Kasey Kahne was the only driver I used that underwhelmed a bit, and I can live with a 14th-place finish.
Vickers an invigorating pick
I'll try to continue the hot streak this weekend at Dover, and while the concrete oval can be a challenging track, I'm going to attempt to tame "The Monster Mile" by building my teams around Jimmie Johnson. He is an eight-time winner at Dover, and in addition to being the most consistent driver at the track, he also leads all racers in the majority of the scoring loop categories by a wide margin. The gap between Johnson's value at Dover and that of every other driver is sizeable, and I'm going to build my rosters accordingly.
This weekend's race at Dover is particularly important in the FOX Fantasy Auto Racing game because it is the final race of the first segment of the season. After Sunday's race, driver usage from the first 13 races will be reset, and you will be able to use every driver four more times during the 13-race second segment. With that in mind, make sure to take full advantage of any remaining starts from the top fantasy options this weekend. There is no reason to budget starts this weekend when you get to start with a clean slate next weekend at Pocono anyway. Go ahead and be aggressive.
Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Auto Racing
Jimmie Johnson (A): Maximizing each start from an elite option like Johnson is a must, and in the last 10 races at Dover, Johnson has been head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. His 5.3 average finish is nearly five spots better than any other driver, and he has five wins in the 10 races while no other driver has more than one. By anchoring my team with Johnson, I won't have to gamble much with the rest of my picks in order to put up a big score.
Ryan Newman (B): Consistency is rewarded is this format, and Newman has been a reliable option at Dover throughout his career. Since 2005, he ranks in the top 10 in driver rating, green flag speed, laps in the top 15 and laps led. He also ranks sixth in average running position. Newman should be a safe bet to challenge for a top-10 Sunday.
Brian Vickers (B): Vickers has quietly been one of the more dependable drivers in the series in 2014, and he heads to Dover ranked eighth in points with three top-10s in the last four races. He has also finished in the top 15 in his last three starts at Dover, including a 12th-place finish last fall. At worst, Vickers should be able to finish in the top 15 this weekend.
Austin Dillon (C): Without any useful part-time drivers in the field this weekend, my only productive C-List options are Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson. While Larson has more upside, I'm going with Dillon this weekend because I feel his consistency from lap to lap will work well at a rhythm track like Dover.
NASCAR.com Fantasy Live
Jimmie Johnson ($27.25): Picking the drivers that are going to lead a lot of laps and run the fastest laps is a must if you want to win in this format, and Johnson has paced more than half the laps run at Dover in the last 10 races, averaging 207 laps led per race. He has also run more than twice as many fast laps at Dover than any other driver since NASCAR installed scoring loops in 2005.
Kyle Busch ($27.25): He has finished seventh or better in seven of his last eight starts at Dover, and more important for the purposes of this format, he leads a lot of laps. Busch's 930 laps led since 2005 are the second most in the series, and his 660 laps led in the last 10 races at Dover are also the second most.
Kevin Harvick ($26.75): His loop data numbers at Dover don't really jump off the page, but Harvick has been dominant in 2014. He leads all drivers with 772 laps led and 414 fastest laps run in 2014, and those two categories make up a bulk of the scoring in this format. Meanwhile, his 10.0 average finish in the last 10 races at Dover is the second best in the series so it's not like he has been struggling at the track.
Michael Annett ($9.25): Annett's price tag is his asset this weekend, and his minimal salary helps me afford my trio of high-priced options. He also ranks in the top 30 in scoring in this format, and he has been particularly useful in recent weeks. Annett has been finishing in and around the top 30 most of the year, and while he has struggled in qualifying lately, his final results haven't changed much. As a result, he is picking up valuable points in this format with a positive place differential.
Landon Cassill ($8): Cassill remains my favorite value play in this format. His salary is among the lowest in the game, but he currently ranks 18th in points scored. You are going to win and lose in this format by picking the correct high-priced drivers each week, but Cassill provides a modest but steady amount of points each week while his price tag opens up cap a lot of cap room
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About Brian Polking
Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for Fanball.com. His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.
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