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Dan Beaver

Fantasy Power Rankings

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Power Ranking After Darlington

Tuesday, September 4, 2018


Brad Keselowski’s win last week at Darlington Raceway in the Southern 500 was a step in the right direction for drivers challenging NASCAR’s Big 3. He was the third different winner in the past four weeks to snatch a victory from Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr. – and it reveals a chink in their collective armor.

It was not quite enough to offset the troubles at Team Penske, but if Keselowski and Joey Logano can carry momentum to Indianapolis Motor Speedway next week, they could be gathering some momentum at the right time.

1. Kevin Harvick (Last week: 1)
Weeks in the top 10: 25
In the past 18 races, Kevin Harvick has scored top-10 finishes in 89 percent of his starts – top-fives in 72 percent. Still, the Big 3 seem to have lost a little bit of their dominance with three of the last four wins going to someone else. Harvick is essentially battling Busch and may Truex, however, and he could care less what the remainder of the field is doing.

2. Kyle Busch (Last week: 3)
Weeks in the top 10: 24
Kyle Busch finished seventh last week at Darlington – but that does not tell the whole story. He might have contended for a top-five if not for slight contact with Joey Gase midway through the Southern 500. That was the second consecutive race in which he made an unforced error as this team is going all out to earn bonus points before the playoffs begin in two weeks.

3. Chase Elliott (Last week: 4)
Weeks in the top 10: 10
Chase Elliott is not going to be a contender for the championship if he cannot learn how to contend for race wins. That might not make too much of a difference to fantasy players, however, because he has been consistently in the top five in recent weeks and enters with a six-race streak of top-10s. Three of his last four efforts were top-fives and that makes him one of the best values in recent events.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (Last week: 2)
Weeks in the top 10: 20
Martin Truex Jr.’s performance has not been up to snuff in recent weeks and now we know why. On Tuesday, Furniture Row Racing announced they will shut down at the end of the season and that is going to leave the driver and crew scrambling to find a place to race in 2019. Time will tell just how much it impacts their performance.

5. Erik Jones (Last week: 7)
Weeks in the top 10: 6
Individual tracks do not affect the Fantasy Power Rankings, but one still has to be thrilled with Erik Jones’ performance at Darlington last week. Earning his second top-10 in two starts on the Track Too Tough to Tame underscores just how great this Young Gun is going to be.

6. Kurt Busch (Last week: 5)
Weeks in the top 10: 26
After the race, Kurt Busch quipped to reporters about how the team has sixth- to 10th-place finishes down. They have finished between sixth and ninth in six of their last seven attempts with the one dissenting race being his Bristol Motor Speedway victory. Fantasy players will often give up the chance to finish among the top five for consistency, so Busch should be held on one’s roster until he stumbles.

7. Ryan Blaney (Last week: 9)
Weeks in the top 10: 19
Ryan Blaney may have been the worst finisher among Team Penske last week, but he has been better than his two teammates longer. The 15th he earned at Darlington was the lowest he has finished since the restrictor-plate, superspeedway of Daytona and with an average finish of 8.6 in that span of events, players can still find room for him in most salary cap games.

8. Kyle Larson (Last week: 8)
Weeks in the top 10: 23
Kyle Larson did not move up the rankings this week because his third-place finish in the Southern 500 replace his second-place finish to Kyle Busch at Chicagoland Speedway – but if Larson can maintain his momentum one more week, he should be able to climb a little higher. This is the first time all year that the driver of the No. 42 has scored back-to-back top-fives.

9. Clint Bowyer (Last week: 6)
Weeks in the top 10: 24
Clint Bowyer finished 36th last week at Darlington after slamming into the back of Ryan Newman while the No. 31 attempted to pit. He blamed poor visibility around lapped cars as the reason for his accident, but the fact remains that is the third time in the past 60 days that he finished outside the top 20.

10. Denny Hamlin (Last week: 10)
Weeks in the top 10: 21
Denny Hamlin lost an excellent opportunity to win last week. Darlington has been one of his best tracks during his career and it appeared he would be able to capitalize on that after winning the pole. As soon as he got in dirty air, he started falling back, however, and barely managed to score only his third top-10 in the past 60 days.

Big Movers outside the Top 10

14. Joey Logano (Last week: 17)
Weeks in the top 10: 19
Joey Logano was almost giddy in the media center following his second-place finish in the Southern 500. He crossed the finish line behind his Penske teammate Keselowski and that suggests the organization is finally starting to right their ship.

16. Jimmie Johnson (Last week: 11)
Weeks in the top 10: 5
Jimmie Johnson may not be ready to panic yet, but fantasy players gave up on trying to earn points with him several weeks ago. Bad pit strategy put him back in the Darlington pack and then a broken oil pump took away his last hope of scoring a decent finish at Darlington. One more misstep at Indianapolis Motor Speedway next week could keep him out of the playoffs if there is a unique winner outside the top 15 and his teammate Alex Bowman outperforms him.  

This Week

Driver

Power Average

Last Week

Difference

1.

Kevin Harvick

5.33

1

0

2.

Kyle Busch

6.98

3

1

3.

Chase Elliott

7.05

4

1

4.

Martin Truex Jr.

7.87

2

-2

5.

Erik Jones

8.46

7

2

6.

Kurt Busch

8.80

5

-1

7.

Ryan Blaney

8.88

9

2

8.

Kyle Larson

9.32

8

0

9.

Clint Bowyer

10.28

6

-3

10.

Denny Hamlin

12.38

10

0

 

11.

Brad Keselowski

12.82

12

1

12.

Ryan Newman

13.55

16

4

13.

Aric Almirola

13.59

14

1

14.

Joey Logano

13.61

17

3

15.

Alex Bowman

13.81

13

-2

16.

Jimmie Johnson

14.03

11

-5

17.

Daniel Suarez

15.48

15

-2

18.

Austin Dillon

16.10

18

0

19.

Jamie McMurray

16.81

21

2

20.

Trevor Bayne

16.82

26

6

21.

Brendan Gaughan

17.25

19

-2

22.

William Byron

17.87

20

-2

23.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

18.70

23

0

24.

Paul Menard

19.50

22

-2

25.

Chris Buescher

20.00

24

-1

26.

Matt Kenseth

21.00

25

-1

27.

DJ Kennington

21.33

27

0

28.

Kasey Kahne

22.41

28

0

29.

Michael McDowell

24.00

29

0

30.

David Ragan

25.00

32

2

31.

Ty Dillon

25.17

33

2

32.

Parker Kligerman

25.50

34

2

33.

AJ Allmendinger

25.64

31

-2

34.

Bubba Wallace

27.54

35

1

35.

Ray Black Jr.

27.67

36

1

36.

Matt DiBenedetto

29.54

37

1

37.

Joey Gase

30.80

30

-7

38.

Ross Chastain

31.17

39

1

39.

Jeffrey Earnhardt

32.00

40

1

40.

Josh Bilicki

32.75

42

2

41.

JJ Yeley

32.76

41

0

42.

Cole Whitt

33.75

43

1

43.

Kyle Weatherman

34.00

47

4

44.

Landon Cassill

34.14

46

2

45.

Blake Jones

34.17

44

-1

46.

Corey LaJoie

34.60

49

3

47.

Reed Sorenson

35.38

50

3

48.

BJ McLeod

35.74

53

5

49.

Garrett Smithley

35.86

51

2

50.

Spencer Gallagher

36.00

52

2

51.

Jesse Little

36.50

55

4

52.

Timmy Hill

36.59

56

4

53.

Gray Gaulding

38.88

54

1

 



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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