Dan Beaver

Statistically Speaking

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Weekend Update: Kansas

Saturday, May 12, 2018


Mother Nature continued to play havoc with a race weekend. Heavy rains in the morning forced a change in the one-day practice, qualification, and Truck program. The ripple effect of the lost time was the combination of two practices into one marathon session that was abbreviated by the need of cutting a channel in the track surface to allow water to seep from under the asphalt.

The tightened schedule might also have contributed to problems in tech line. Six drivers failed to get through the line in time to make a lap. Two others (Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray) had to rush their effort and suffered as a result.

Qualification

The dominance begins. Kevin Harvick posted the fastest time in the single practice session held on Friday. He was fastest in rounds two and three of qualification and leads the field to green Saturday night. In a time when the difference between cars is regularly in the thousandths of seconds, his lap of 188.811 mph was .150 seconds faster than Ryan Blaney and that is huge. Expect the same thing in race trim.

Blaney’s outside pole is significant as well. He has been far less consistent than Harvick, but he settles into the range of most other drivers who have been chasing Harvick and Kyle Busch. Fantasy NASCAR is not about picking the dominant drivers – which has become increasingly easy this season – but in finding other top-10 contenders on a given race.

At the beginning of the week, we said the battle would come down to Harvick and Busch. Nothing has happened to change our mind through practice and qualification. Busch qualified third and had the best 15-lap average in practice. If he can get a lead during the opening segment of the KC Masterpiece 400, he has the capability to stretch it with long run speed. He was also second on the 10-lap chart.

Six drivers failed to get through inspection this week in time to take a timed lap, The most significant of these were Clint Bowyer and Matt Kenseth, who are practically guaranteed to earn positive place-differential points. 

Practice

Kyle Larson was the other driver to standout in practice. While Harvick and Busch topped notable lists, Larson had the best 10-lap average and the second fastest speed. If not for a mistake in the second round of qualification, he would be lining up on one of the first two or three rows, but he got a little too high in turn four and spun his car. He officially qualified 22nd (Johnson and McMurray did not record a time), but that is not where he will start. Larson is going to have to drop to the back of the pack after making a tire change.

Since 10-lap averages are more important than single laps, that is where Fantasy NASCAR owners should be looking. Aric Almirola landed third on that list. He has also shown speed in single laps and qualified fourth. Returning to the race in which he was injured has to be an emotional experience for Almirola and he is facing that with determination. He finished ninth last fall in his first race back on the track and should easily be able to follow that up with a second consecutive top-10.

Bowyer was another driver with solid times in practice. We didn’t get a chance to see where he might have landed on the grid since his team could not clear inspection, but that means he is going to charge from the back with determination.



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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