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Cap Considerations

Caps After Talladega (Spring)

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

The Geico 500 at Talladega SuperSpeedway was a chance for several drivers to shine who typically run well on restrictor-plate, superspeedways, but several "Big One" crashes had a serious impact on their performance.

That is not why most of those drivers were adjusted this week, however.

The big tracks are not representative of how a driver is going to run on unrestricted, intermediate speedways or short, flat tracks that dominate the schedule. That knowledge kept quite a few from being adjusted last week and now it is time to pay the piper as many of the downward movements reflect less than optimal performances at Richmond International Raceway as well as Talladega.

The Piper getting paid was not of the Pied variety, however. Last week Dale Earnhardt Jr. took a $1 bump to put him at the top of the order along with Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. The driver of the No. 88 made an unforced error in the Daytona 500, but that was considered out of the ordinary. There was still the little matter of his near-perfect record on this track type last year and most expected him to rebound. Instead, he and the crew made the same mistake of loosening up his car too much and he spun without contact for the second straight plate race.

This time his spin was not harmless as he collected teammate Kasey Kahne and Matt DiBenedetto. Earnhardt lost the $1 bump he earned plus another 25 cents and led a contingent of 23 drivers who experienced pay cuts following the Geico 500.

Many of the cuts came at the very top of the order and were minimal 25 cent adjustments to create some salary cap gaps. Values reflect a driver’s overall strength, but also point to his popularity in the game among the most experienced players. Busch has not been perfect in 2016, but after managing to stay out of trouble at Talladega, he has a clear track ahead of him until this July’s Coke Zero 400. That earned the No. 18 sole possession of the top of the cap ladder.

In order to bring the other drivers into their proper positions based on overall strength, Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, and Joey Logano each moved down the order slightly, which allowed the consistently strong Kurt Busch to add 25 cents to his cap and slot in as one of the five-most expensive drivers in the field.

The salary cap values in the NASCAR Fantasy Live are intended to make it difficult to top-load the roster with dominant drivers. Forced to look deeper in the field for dark horses makes the task of creating a perfect lineup more interesting, so about one dozen drivers started the season with caps greater than $25. Most of them remain in that range and have experienced relatively minor modifications. That is because the drivers expected to be strong at the beginning of the season have performed as expected (compared to their competition) during the first 10 races.

A few drivers have experienced big moved during the first 10 races of the year, however. Chase Elliott has easily been one of this year’s most pleasant surprises and since the Daytona 500, his value has jumped nearly $4 to $20.50. If he stays on this pace, he will be one of the greater-than-$25 racers before the series returns to Daytona for the Fourth of July classic. This week he increased in value by 75 cents.

Edwards has been another pleasant surprise with an improvement of $2, which has mostly come in the form of consistent 25 cent increases every week. If not for last week’s crash, he might be the most expensive driver in the field and depending on how he rebounds, he could still overtake teammate Busch.

Trevor Bayne was the other big mover this week among fulltime drivers. The Roush-Fenway Racing program seems to slowly be improving and most experts expected Greg Biffle to lead the charge. Instead, the Young Guns Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Bayne have shown the most promise. The No. 17 stalled in the past couple of weeks, but Bayne’s current streak of four races with results of 17th or better makes him a great value at slightly less than $18. 

 

Gainers and Losers this week

Driver

Diff

 |

This week’s Cap

Gainers

Chase Elliott

 $     0.75

 |

 $    20.50

Trevor Bayne

 $     0.50

 |

 $    17.75

Michael Waltrip

 $     0.50

 |

 $    15.50

Bobby Labonte

 $     0.50

 |

 $    10.50

Kurt Busch

 $     0.25

 |

 $    27.50

Jamie McMurray

 $     0.25

 |

 $    22.00

AJ Allmendinger

 $     0.25

 |

 $    14.75

Ty Dillon

 $     0.25

 |

 $    13.25

Danica Patrick

 $     0.25

 |

 $    12.75

Landon Cassill

 $     0.25

 |

 $      9.00

Matt DiBenedeto

 $     0.25

 |

 $      6.50

Losers

Carl Edwards

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    27.75

Kevin Harvick

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    27.50

Jimmie Johnson

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    27.00

Joey Logano

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    26.75

Denny Hamlin

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    25.75

Paul Menard

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    22.00

Ryan Newman

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    21.50

Kyle Larson

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    21.00

Greg Biffle

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    19.50

Aric Almirola

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    18.75

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    13.50

Brian Scott

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $    12.50

Regan Smith

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $      9.25

Michael McDowell

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $      8.00

David Ragan

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $      7.25

Michael Annett

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $      5.50

Chris Buescher

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $      5.25

Cole Whitt

 $    (0.25)

 |

 $      5.00

Kasey Kahne

 $    (0.50)

 |

 $    20.25

Clint Bowyer

 $    (0.50)

 |

 $    16.00

Casey Mears

 $    (0.50)

 |

 $    11.25

David Gilliland

 $    (0.75)

 |

 $      5.50

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

 $    (1.25)

 |

 $    26.75

 

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.