Start your fantasy NASCAR engines, racing fans! It is time to take to the race track this year in fantasy NASCAR Sprint Cup action! KFFL.com's free fantasy auto racing coverage brings you driver-by-driver fantasy analysis to help you when selecting your fantasy NASCAR team this year.
|1 Juan Pablo Montoya, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing|
2 Matt Kenseth, Roush Fenway Racing
3 Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress Racing
4 Ryan Newman, Stewart-Haas Racing
5 Clint Bowyer, Richard Childress Racing
|6 Jeff Burton, Richard Childress Racing|
7 Joey Logano, Joe Gibbs Racing
8 David Reutimann, Michael Waltrip Racing
9 Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports
Pros: After placing 30th in the Autism Speaks 400, Montoya finished 12th or better in nine straight races. He endured a minor slump before the Chase started but placed fourth or better in five of the first six Chase races. Montoya has always been a talented driver - his talent just hadn't adapted to the stock car yet. His second-half stretch last year showed he is finally acclimatizing to the circuit.
Cons: Montoya's first two full seasons in NASCAR garnered just 20th- and 25th-place finishes, respectively, in the Sprint Cup standings. He had just one win, five top-fives and nine top-10s in 72 races during that stretch. Sure, he showed he could handle the car for part of last year, but he also finished in the 30s in three of the last seven races. It might be too soon to invest heavily in him.
Fantasy tip: As a No. 2 driver, Montoya is a great option. However, based off his run last year, he might be overvalued heading into the season. Don't get caught up in any hype surrounding the Colombian; we still want to see more from him before he jumps to the next tier.
Pros: Kenseth started off the 2009 season with two trips to Victory Lane. He is a former Sprint Cup winner (2003) and made the Chase in seven straight years before last year. His team is one of the strongest on the circuit, too. Last year was Kenseth's first with crew chief Drew Blickensderfer; another year of experience should help them, especially making adjustments during the race.
Cons: His two wins last year came in the first two races. He had just five top-fives after that and only 10 top-10s. Kenseth's final position in the Cup standings has decreased in each of the last three years. Last year's finish was his worst since 2000. The Roush team, while strong, stumbled with almost all their rides last year as their cars were simply not fast enough. We expect them to turn it around, but what if they don't?
Fantasy tip: The 37-year-old Kenseth is likely on the back end of his career. A couple of wins are a possibility, but it's tough to count on him as anything more than a mid-tier No. 2 driver. He could be poised for a big drop, too, if last season's form was any indication.
Pros: Harvick has alternated a fourth-place finish with a double-digit placing over the last four years. If that holds true this year, fourth place should be his this year. He clearly has the talent to win races as his 2006 season demonstrates: five wins, 15 top-fives, 20 top-10s. He'll need to win a few more this year, too, if he wants to find a decent ride next year. His contract with Richard Childress Racing expires at the season.
Cons: He hasn't won a pole and has only one win in the last three years, which came in the season-opening Daytona 500 in 2007. His 19th-place finish in last year's standings was his worst since 2002. He also managed just nine top-10s, his fewest since '02. The added pressure of racing for a contract could motivate him ... or it could cause him to just play out the string, especially if he locks up a new deal with a new team during the season.
Fantasy tip: There is definite upside with Harvick, but you'll want to pair him with one of the reliable No. 1 drivers (such as a Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon). Harvick has the talent, but there's too much uncertainty to warrant him being higher up our rankings.
Pros: Newman celebrated his first year with Stewart-Haas with a trip to the Chase. He finished ninth when all was said and done. It was Newman's fifth time qualifying for the Chase after finishing sixth or seventh in every year from 2002 to 2005. Stewart-Haas uses Hendrick motors and chassis, which are among the best in NASCAR.
Cons: He has won just one race in the last four years, and his form in the Chase last year left room for improvement (only two top-10s). Although it happened with his old team, there has to be an uneasy feeling considering Newman's 2006-08 form: He finished 17th or lower twice, won only one race, placed in the top five just 11 times and suffered 16 DNFs in 108 races during that time. He'll be working with a new spotter this year; it could take some time for them to be comfortable with each other.
Fantasy tip: Newman was able to capture some magic in a bottle last year; he just let it out of the bottle a bit too soon. At 32, he still has plenty of promise, especially on this team, but he's a slightly risky No. 2 driver.
Pros: We'll gloss over his 2009 season: About the only positive is that he finished all but one race. His final seven races offered some hope for 2010 as he managed six top-12 finishes in those races. It's something to build on. He has placed well in the past with third- and fifth-place finishes in the Cup standings in 2007 and 2008, respectively. The 30-year-old almost always crosses the finish line; his lone DNF last year was his only one since 2006.
Cons: Sure, he finishes most races, but Bowyer has just two wins in 145 starts on the Sprint Cup. He has won only two poles. He's safe and reliable (was reliable?), but there is nothing flashy about him. There won't be many victories, and his 15th-place finish last year put a fairly sizable dent in his reliability.
Fantasy tip: Bowyer could be a decent value this year; if you can grab him as a No. 2 driver he could provide a good return. However, you should be hoping for his 2007-08 form.
Pros: From 2006 to 2008, Burton made the Chase and averaged 18.67 top-10 finishes per season. Richard Childress Racing is still one of the strongest teams; they won't be carrying four drivers this year, as they did last year, which should allow them more time to devote to just three cars. Burton finished strong last year, too, with four straight top-10s, including second-place finishes in the final two races.
Cons: Like the rest of the Richard Childress Racing drivers, Burton failed to make the Chase. In fact, his 17th-place finish was his worst since 2005. He failed to win a race and managed just 10 top-10s. From May 9 to Oct. 25, he managed only one top-10 finish. He doesn't win many poles, either, with just four since 2001 (all in 2006). He also has just four wins since 2002.
Fantasy tip: Uncertainty is the big thing with Burton. If he hadn't finished this low before, it could be an aberration, but the 42-year-old Burton finished 18th in 2004 and 2005. He could easily place in the top eight, but its risky drafting him as anything more than a mid-level No. 2.
Pros: While not the breakout season many expected, it was still a promising year for the rookie driver. Only 19, Logano won the first race of his career while placing in the top-five three times and the top-10 seven times. Two of those top-fives came in the final six races. He is backed by one of the strongest teams, and with another year of experience, should be more comfortable in NASCAR's top circuit.
Cons: You'll have to judge when his breakout season might be (if it ever comes). Sure, the two top-fives were encouraging, but he also finished 19th, 21st and 24th, respectively, in his final three races. He led only 36 laps all season, so he still needs to learn how to get to the front. It would help if he could win a pole or two.
Fantasy tip: Logano most likely will be overvalued heading into the season - much as he was last year. He is the future of Joe Gibbs Racing, but he is still two years from being legally able to drink alcohol. In other words, be patient. Target him this year as a high-end No. 3 driver with fair expectations of solid No. 2 production. It's unlikely he'll last that long, though.
Pros: Reutiamn improved in almost all facets last year. He finished at his highest place in the final standings (16th), and he set career highs in poles (two), wins (one), top-fives (five) and top-10s (10). In addition, he finished every race.
Cons: And that is where it ends with Reutimann. Last year appears to be his ceiling. He'll turn 40 this year and doesn't drive for one of the top teams. He hadn't tallied a win or top-five in 63 races before 2009. He had just four top-10s entering last year. DNFs appeared to be the only category that he might lead the circuit in; he finished with 13 over the previous two years.
Fantasy tip: Too much is going against Reutimann to expect a repeat of his 2009 season. Sure, he'll probably turn in the odd top finish this year, but we fully expect him to take a step back in the final standings. Make this overvalued driver racer your No. 3 driver, if possible.
Pros: Junior has placed well during his career; he has finished the year in the top five three times. His 2004 season, especially was impressive as he won six races, placed in the top five 16 times and finished fifth. It should help having a full offseason with "new" crew chief Lance McGrew after the pair were forced to adjust on the fly last year. It also helps that he's in a Hendrick car, among the best in NASCAR, and he has plenty of experience working and driving with them.
Cons: The wheels fell off the car last year for Earnhardt. His 25th-place finish was his worst since running a full slate in the Sprint Cup. He failed to win a race for just the second time since 1999; his five top-10s tied a career low for a full season. Even after the midseason removal of his crew chief, Tony Eury Jr., Earnhardt failed to improve on his disappointing start; he managed only two top-10 finishes over his last 23 races.
Fantasy tip: If popularity earned you some points, Earnhardt would be headlining this list. However, you can't win races on name alone; Earnhardt has disappointed for three straight years. He'll likely be overvalued based on his name value; don't fall into that trap and take him ideally as a No. 3 driver with moderate upside.