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Cap Considerations

Caps After Michigan (Summer)

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

There was a lot of housekeeping at the top of the NASCAR Fantasy Live salary cap list this week as drivers with momentum chased down and passed those who were faltering.

Kevin Harvick maintained his designation as the most expensive driver in the game and he showed how greatly it was deserved with his eighth top-five in the past 11 races. Anyone who wondered when the No. 4 team would slow down can stop wondering because it seems like they will carry their strength and momentum into the Chase.

Beneath Harvick, however, there was a lot of movement. Joey Logano leapfrogged Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. surged past Jimmie Johnson, while Brad Keselowski and Matt Kenseth eased up the grid. There was plenty of movement further down the grid as well, and that provides a lot of opportunity for fantasy players.

Gainers

Logano is now the second-most expensive driver in the NASCAR Fantasy Live game and the honor is well-deserved. With the exception of the Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway, he has been in contention for a top-five every week and but for a little extra fuel in Pennsylvania, he would have two victories and four top-two finishes in the past six races. Last week’s seventh might not have allowed him to pass the No. 41 if not for a relatively poor showing by that team at Michigan.

When Kyle Busch ran out of gas on the final lap of the Windows 10 400 at Pocono, he lost the opportunity to score four consecutive wins and his fifth victory in six starts. He was back in top form at Watkins Glen International, but needed to run conservatively enough to get to the checkers. In some ways last week’s 11th may have been the most impressive because it showed some maturation on the driver’s part. He needs to run consistently strong to stay among the top 30 and make the Chase. If this team stop gambling, they will be more predictable.

In the past seven weeks, Paul Menard has increased in value by 75 cents and he still has some room to grow. If not for a 25th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the 5-Hour Energy 301 that stalled his progress, he would probably have an even bigger bump to his credit and so long as he keeps scoring top-15s, his natural level will be in the $23-$24 range instead of his current price tag of $22.50.

Losers

Kurt Busch’s 20th-place finish at Michigan might not have been all that problematic if not for another poor showing at Pocono two weeks previous. The Windows 10 400 result had crash damage as a contributory factor, but Busch’s meager result at Michigan came after he spent only about 25 laps in the top five and barely more than half the time in the top 10. To command a price of $27.50, he needs to go back to contending for top-fives in the next several races and even then he will increase only if Logano or his brother Kyle begins to lose momentum.

The No. 48 team may be experimenting with out-of-the-box setups like they did for the past several years at this stage of the season, but it is beginning to look like Hendrick Motorsports is running into trouble. For the third straight week, Johnson lost value and he is $1 less today than he was at the start of the Windows 400. He might not have found his natural level yet and could lose another 25 or 50 cents before the Chase begins. If that happens, fantasy owners might want to snap him up because this is a team that is at their best in the final 10 weeks of the season.  

Johnson’s teammate Jeff Gordon was the other big loser at the top of the order. It is no longer possible to handicap him on potential alone and an inability to gain positions on most restarts will plague him all the way to Homestead-Miami Speedway. Eventually he will find a perfect salary, but he may continue losing value for another four or five weeks until that happens. 

 

Gainers and Losers this week

Driver

Diff

 |

This week’s Cap

Gainers

Kyle Busch

 $     0.50

 |

 $    27.25

Joey Logano

 $     0.25

 |

 $    27.75

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

 $     0.25

 |

 $    27.00

Brad Keselowski

 $     0.25

 |

 $    26.50

Matt Kenseth

 $     0.25

 |

 $    26.25

Ryan Newman

 $     0.25

 |

 $    23.25

Paul Menard

 $     0.25

 |

 $    22.50

Carl Edwards

 $     0.25

 |

 $    21.75

Austin Dillon

 $     0.25

 |

 $    15.25

Sam Hornish Jr.

 $     0.25

 |

 $    14.50

Ryan Blaney

 $     0.25

 |

 $    13.75

Trevor Bayne

 $     0.25

 |

 $    13.75

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

 $     0.25

 |

 $    11.50

Cole Whitt

 $     0.25

 |

 $    11.50

Matt DiBenedeto

 $     0.25

 |

 $      7.25

Losers

Kurt Busch

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    27.50

Jamie McMurray

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    25.00

Clint Bowyer

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    23.75

Kasey Kahne

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    22.25

Tony Stewart

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    15.25

AJ Allmendinger

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    14.75

Casey Mears

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    13.25

David Gilliland

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $      9.50

Landon Cassill

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $      9.00

Brett Moffitt

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $      7.25

Jimmie Johnson

 $    (0.50)

 |

 $    26.50

Jeff Gordon

 $    (0.50)

 |

 $    24.75

Josh Wise

 $    (0.50)

 |

 $      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.