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Cap Considerations

Caps After Las Vegas

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

The Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway confirmed the strength of several top contenders and created a lot of movement at the top of the charts.

The knock on Kyle Busch has always been his inability to sustain streaks. That has made him of limited use in games like NASCAR Fantasy Live where it is often best to place-and-hold drivers while they are rising in cap value and then correctly time when to dump them. His previous inability to string 10 top-10s together kept Busch from winning a championship before NASCAR devised the knockout-style format—but the short bursts of dominance required in the past two years played into his hands.

The open question is the sustainability of Busch’s current streak. He left Las Vegas with eight consecutive top-five finishes on unrestricted speedways and a chance to visit Victory Lane in his hometown track. His frustration in losing the lead, then second, and then third in the final six laps was palpable during his post-race interview and that could mean he is peaking. It is impossible not to make him the most expensive driver at $28 as a result of his strength, but one has to wonder if he can stay at the top.

Busch’s upward movement dislodged Kevin Harvick from the top spot. There can be room for only one king and Harvick is not consistently challenging for top-fives, so he dropped 25 cents to $27.75 this week. It has been a while since either he or Joey Logano occupied the most expensive spot in the game, but Busch and perhaps Brad Keselowski are beginning to challenge for supremacy.

Keselowski’s Vegas victory was his 13th consecutive top-10 on a similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track and that is the course type that dominates the NASCAR schedule. If Kez continues to run well, he could leapfrog Harvick and Logano after Phoenix International Raceway and be even more expensive before the next week’s race at Auto Club Speedway.

There are a couple of other key battles that fantasy owners need to watch because they will continue to impact cap considerations.

Third-year drivers Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson’s career will be inextricably linked for a time. They battled for Rookie of the Year honors in 2014 and have been door handle to door handle since. Toward the end of last season, it appeared that Larson was going to continue to have the upper hand after winning the freshman honors, but that is not how 2016 is starting. Larson ran well at Daytona International Speedway. Unfortunately that is not a predictive race for any other track and he’s struggled since. Dillon has narrowly missed sweeping the top 10, so he is on the rise. He jumped 50 cents while Larson dropped 50 cents. In a few weeks, both of them will probably stabilize around the $20 mark.

The current Rookie of the Year battle is also going to impact cap considerations. Both Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney have run incredibly well in the first few races. Elliott was well on his way to a second consecutive top-10 last week at Vegas on the heels of an eighth in Georgia. Even with a next-to-last-place finish in the Kobalt 400, Elliott scored the ninth-most points in the NASCAR Fantasy Live game, so his salary cap was unaffected.

Blaney had his difficulties in Atlanta, but rebounded nicely in Nevada. His sixth-place finish in the Kobalt 400 was well earned and came on the heels of a seventh last fall at Kansas Speedway, a 14th at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and a 17th at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The rookie battle will come down to the wire, and the pair of first-year drivers will chase one another up and down the salary cap grid. Both will be good values, but consistency and predictability will ultimately determine who is most expensive when the playoffs roll around. 

 

Gainers and Losers this week

Driver

Diff

 |

This week’s Cap

Gainers

Kyle Busch

 $     0.50

 |

 $    28.00

Austin Dillon

 $     0.50

 |

 $    19.50

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

 $     0.50

 |

 $    14.75

Brad Keselowski

 $     0.25

 |

 $    27.50

Jimmie Johnson

 $     0.25

 |

 $    27.00

Martin Truex Jr.

 $     0.25

 |

 $    26.25

Ryan Blaney

 $     0.25

 |

 $    16.50

AJ Allmendinger

 $     0.25

 |

 $    13.00

Casey Mears

 $     0.25

 |

 $    13.00

Losers

Kevin Harvick

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    27.75

Matt Kenseth

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    25.75

Ryan Newman

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    22.75

Jamie McMurray

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    22.50

Trevor Bayne

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    17.75

Brian Vickers

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    12.75

Danica Patrick

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    11.50

Chris Buescher

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $      7.25

Jeffrey Earnhardt

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $      5.50

Cole Whitt

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $      5.00

Josh Wise

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $      4.75

Greg Biffle

 $    (0.50)

 |

 $    21.50

Kyle Larson

 $    (0.50)

 |

 $    20.75

Clint Bowyer

 $    (0.50)

 |

 $    19.25

 

 

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.