Loading scores...
Cap Considerations

Caps After Atlanta

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

When Kyle Busch’s qualification attempt was disallowed for being out of skew, it was one of the best things that ever happened to NASCAR Fantasy Live players. His official starting position of 39th guaranteed that he would earn positive place-differential points—and that they would be massive. It contributed to his being one of the top-five fantasy earners at Atlanta.

Last year’s winner Jimmie Johnson came from the back of the pack in 2015 and won from his 37th-starting position. So Busch’s task was only slightly tougher, and while he did not win, he climbed all the way to third. He advanced through the field quickly enough score the 11th-best average running position. If not for a steep salary cap already, he probably would have earned more than a 25 cent increase to $27.25. In fact, if not for the Hendrick Motorsports’ brigade, he might have won the Folds of Honor QuickTrip 500.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s bad finish at Daytona International Speedway—after a mistake of his own making—caused the salary cap manager to lose a little confidence in him and drop him all the way back to his pre-Daytona level. Last year, he got off to a strong start on this track type, but faded in the fall. An open question remained as to if his late-season momentum from 2015 or early-season malaise from 2016 remained, but a late-race surge that allowed him to claim the second-place position in the QuickTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Johnson’s victory also bumped him a quarter and brought him closer to the marquee drivers. He has been uneven in recent years on various track types, but consistently strong on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile courses. With last week’s Atlanta victory, he has now won six of the past 12 races on this course type. This week the series rolls back onto a similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track.

Both Penske Racing teammates struggled throughout the weekend, but it was most notable with Joey Logano. He qualified deep in the field and recorded an average running position that was only 12th best. He salvaged a top-15 finish, but that is not what was expected of one of 2015’s strongest drivers, so he had to take a pay cut and drop to $27.50. Unless this team figures out the new low-downforce package, expect even more decreases in their future.

Matt Kenseth is another highly touted driver that does not seem to be at the top of his form at the momentum. His average running position at Atlanta was outside the top 15 and he finished there as well. He fell to $26 and needs a solid run in Las Vegas to keep from dropping more.

HScott Motorsports entered the season with high hopes. They finally have a driver who can push the car to its limit, but the equipment and resources are not what Clint Bowyer is accustomed to. He might carry the car on his shoulders a time or two on drivers’ courses, like the short, flat tracks, but salary caps get set mostly for the long runs and with a predominance of unrestricted, intermediate speedways, Bowyer is not going to be a very good value often during the season.

 

Gainers and Losers this week

Driver

Diff

 |

 2465 cap

Gainers

Kurt Busch

 $     0.25

 |

 $    27.25

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

 $     0.25

 |

 $    27.00

Jimmie Johnson

 $     0.25

 |

 $    26.75

Carl Edwards

 $     0.25

 |

 $    26.00

Martin Truex Jr.

 $     0.25

 |

 $    26.00

Chase Elliott

 $     0.25

 |

 $    17.00

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

 $     0.25

 |

 $    14.25

Ty Dillon

 $     0.25

 |

 $    12.25

Cole Whitt

 $     0.25

 |

 $      5.25

Losers

Joey Logano

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    27.50

Matt Kenseth

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    26.00

Jamie McMurray

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    22.75

Kasey Kahne

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    22.25

Kyle Larson

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    21.25

Clint Bowyer

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    19.75

Brian Scott

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    14.75

AJ Allmendinger

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    12.75

Regan Smith

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $      9.75

Landon Cassill

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $      7.25

Jeffrey Earnhardt

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $      5.75

 

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.