By KFFL Staff on April 28, 2011
The last two races in of the Sprint Cup season have served as a reminder that NASCAR is in fact a team sport. Only one driver gets to go to Victory Lane at the end of the day, but it isn't uncommon to see drivers from the same team run well at the same track. It is a trend that fantasy owners can definitely use to their advantage.
Take the race at Texas Motor Speedway for example. Roush Fenway Racing has had a history of success at the track, and all four drivers qualified inside the top 10. Owners that stacked their lineup with Roush drivers were rewarded in a big way. All four of the organization's drivers finished seventh or better, grabbing three of the top-four spots. Best of all, Matt Kenseth won the race.
It was more team dominance the next weekend at Talladega, with Hendrick Motorsports taking its turn as the class of the field. In fact, the four HMS driver grabbed the first four spots during qualifying, signaling the potential for a big weekend. Jimmie Johnson won the race, and all four HMS drivers finished eighth or better. Like RFR the week before, Hendrick Motorsports grabbed three of the top four spots as well.
Heading to Richmond International Raceway this weekend, there is the potential for a third organization to takes its turn as a fantasy goldmine. Last fall at the track, Joe Gibbs Racing placed all three drivers in the top-four spots. Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch delivered a 1-2 finish for JGR, and Joey Logano ran fourth. While there is no guarantee that the organization will repeat this weekend, it is definitely something owners will want to consider when setting their lineups.
More importantly, fantasy owners can use the team aspect to find some sleeper picks throughout the year. Take Ragan's performance at Texas. He hasn't provided fantasy owners with much production since 2008, but with the rest of his teammates running so well at Texas, there was at least a decent chance he could do the same. Ragan did just that, winning the pole, leading 11 laps and finishing seventh.
Almost all the big organizations have at least one driver that can be hit or miss. JGR has Logano, HMS has Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin and Richard Childress Racing has Paul Menard. All these drivers have the potential to run in the top 10 and even the top-five, but the hard part is predicting when they will deliver these quality performances. While momentum can play a factor, owners can also base their picks off the performance of their better known teammates.
The strategy isn't perfect, but its potential benefits are already apparent after only eight races in 2011. At the end of the day, every driver on the track is talented and more than capable of taking advantage of a fast car. Every now and then, it is smarter to pay attention to the name of the car owner rather than the driver.