Dan Beaver

Statistically Speaking

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16. Kurt Busch

Saturday, January 27, 2018


What should one do with Kurt Busch in 2018? The fiery driver has been hard to handicap most of his career, which typically leaves him profiled in this same range of about 15th. He is a strong driver and former champion, but his personality often gets in the way of his career. One year after winning the NASCAR Cup championship in 2004, he was fired from Roush-Fenway Racing. He lasted six years with Roger Penske before yet another career setback landed him in the moderately-funded ride of James Finch.

It appeared he would close his career with teams of that caliber until Gene Haas saw past his demeanor in 2014 and created a new ride with the recently created Stewart-Haas Racing organization. Now, Busch seems to have calmed down slightly, but that does not mean that he has become more predictable.

In 612 career starts, Busch has finished outside the top 30 nearly 20 percent of the time—most often because of crash damage. Busch has a tendency to push too hard when he is frustrated.

Last year, Busch did not improve in terms of predictability. He was the first driver to punch his ticket to the playoffs with a victory in the Daytona 500. He finished seventh the next week at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but then rolled underneath the checkers 24th or worse in five of the next six. Throughout the season, Busch had top-10 streaks only three times and none of them were more than three consecutive. For a driver of his caliber, that was not enough to offset his salary cap most weeks.

Scoring points with Busch often meant guessing right.

His average finish of 16.5 placed him in the top half of the field most weeks. Unfortunately, he lost five positions on average—the second worst on record to Ryan Blaney. When both factors were weighed, Busch was no more than an average fantasy value in the vast majority of races.

Busch entered the final 10 races with the most momentum of the season. He scored consecutive top-fives on three of the toughest tracks NASCAR visits: Bristol Motor Speedway, Darlington Raceway, and Richmond International Raceway. As soon as the playoffs began, he fizzled with a best of 19th in his next five races. Fantasy owners forgot about him and he was well off the radar at Kansas Speedway when he finished second. If one jumped on his bandwagon, they had a bumpy ride, however with three 20-something results in the final four races.

The 2018 forecast does not offer much relief. This four-car operation was divided last year with Kevin Harvick as the only true success story. Clint Bowyer and Busch were rarely more than opportunistic starters for fantasy players and Danica Patrick was—well, let’s just say “tough to handicap.” The addition of Aric Almirola in the No. 10 will help some, but not enough to make anyone except Harvick a place-and-hold driver.

2017 Victories: Daytona 500
Average Finish: 16.50
Top-fives: 6 (.167)
Top-10s: 15 (.417)
Top-15s: 18 (.500)

Track

3-Yr
Avg.
Fin

Career
Avg.
Fin

Career
Attempts

Career
Top-5s

Career
Top-10s

Race 1

Race 2

Atlanta Motor Speedway

5.50

15.62

26

6

12

7

 

Sonoma Raceway

6.33

14.06

17

7

9

7

 

Watkins Glen International

7.33

16.65

17

3

8

6

 

Richmond International Raceway

7.67

15.47

34

7

15

8

4

Kansas Speedway

8.50

16.38

24

3

8

19

2

Charlotte Motor Speedway

9.50

17.71

35

7

12

6

22

Talladega Superspeedway

10.83

15.88

34

7

18

6

25

Michigan International Speedway

11.00

19.47

34

5

11

12

11

Phoenix International Raceway

11.50

13.73

31

7

17

25

21

Texas Motor Speedway

11.50

15.07

30

3

17

10

9

Pocono Raceway

11.67

14.15

33

14

19

4

13

Chicagoland Speedway

11.67

15.65

17

2

9

19

 

Daytona International Speedway

13.40

16.88

34

13

17

1

28

Darlington Raceway

14.33

17.43

21

3

7

3

 

Kentucky Speedway

14.67

12.86

7

1

4

30

 

Bristol Motor Speedway

16.67

14.85

34

10

17

25

5

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

16.83

16.24

34

8

14

8

37

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

17.67

19.59

17

1

5

29

 

Auto Club Speedway

19.00

12.79

24

7

12

24

 

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

19.50

21.75

16

1

4

30

 

Dover Downs International

20.83

18.66

35

7

9

37

20

Martinsville Speedway

23.67

21.71

35

3

5

37

22

Homestead - Miami Speedway

14.33

19.21

14

3

5

22

 

Previous Kurt Busch Profiles

2017 
2016

2018 Top-25 Fantasy Values

17. Almirola, Aric 
18. Dillon, Austin 
19. Stenhouse Jr., Ricky 
20. Menard, Paul 
21. Bayne, Trevor 
22. Dillon, Ty 
23. Buescher, Chris 
24. Allmendinger, AJ 
25. Kahne, Kasey

 



Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.
Email :Dan Beaver



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