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Statistically Speaking

Restricted Superspeedways

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

Plate racing is never predictable.

Some races will run start to finish without a "Big One" crash and minimal stoppages for minor incidents. Others are crash-filled carnage fests that destroy fantasy players’ lineups in a split second and can reduce half the field to rubble. Most of the names at the top of the average finishes chart last year were popular drivers that also were used on unrestricted, intermediate speedways, but there were some surprises.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. regained his reputation as the Pied Piper of the Plate Tracks. He won his Gatorade Duel in Daytona, then finished third in the 500. His next two plate races ended with victories at Talladega in the spring and Daytona in the summer. He capped off the year with a second-place finish in the CampingWorld.com 500 and might have won if a Kevin Harvick had not caused a caution on the final restart. His average finish of 1.75 was remarkable by any standard and will make him one of 2016’s top picks. Unfortunately, he is just as likely to get swept into a "Big One" at Daytona as anyone else and he has to be watched closely.

Jimmie Johnson was on pace to match Earnhardt’s performance with three consecutive top-five finishes in the first three plate races. In fact, he was second to Junior in Talladega’s spring event and Daytona’s summer race. He got shuffled out of the draft on a late restart and finished 18th in the CampingWorld.com 500. Johnson is less attractive from a fantasy standpoint, however, because he is so strong on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks. His success there is such that it raises his salary cap and that expense is hard to reconcile in a wild card race.

Like Johnson, Harvick was another marquee driver who entered the fall Talladega race with a great record. His worst result was an eighth in the spring event on that same course, but his engine soured at the end of the CampingWorld.com 500. On the final restart, he swerved into Trevor Bayne which drew a caution and allowed him to finish 15th once the field was frozen instead of falling to the back of the lead lap cars.

Joey Logano bookended his plate season with a pair of victories. He was the first driver to essentially lock himself into the Chase with a Daytona 500 win and he was fractions of an inch ahead of Earnhardt when Harvick drew the final ‘Dega caution, but those were his only successes. In the middle two restrictor-plate races he finished 33rd at Talladega in the spring and 22nd at Daytona in the fall.

Perhaps the most surprising driver overall was Paul Menard, however. His average finish on plate tracks of 12.5 was the fifth-best and would have been much better if not for a 25th in the Daytona 500. Fantasy players who held the faith in the Richard Childress Racing No. 27 were rewarded with top-10 finishes in both Talladega events and Menard was the best overall value at his price range in the GEICO 500. 

 

Driver

Avg. Finish

Talladega 2

Daytona 2

Talladega 1

Daytona 1

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

1.75

2

1

1

3

Jimmie Johnson

6.75

18

2

2

5

Kevin Harvick

7.25

15

4

8

2

Kurt Busch

9.00

10

5

12

 

Paul Menard

12.50

6

16

3

25

Denny Hamlin

13.25

37

3

9

4

Clint Bowyer

13.75

8

10

30

7

Kyle Busch

14.00

11

17

 

 

Joey Logano

14.25

1

22

33

1

Martin Truex Jr.

14.50

7

38

5

8

Sam Hornish Jr.

16.25

17

30

6

12

Ryan Newman

16.25

12

8

7

38

Austin Dillon

17.50

14

7

35

14

Casey Mears

19.00

31

11

28

6

Aric Almirola

20.00

16

34

15

15

Cole Whitt

20.50

22

25

13

22

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

20.75

9

19

26

29

Greg Biffle

21.75

20

20

37

10

Jamie McMurray

23.00

39

15

11

27

Kasey Kahne

23.50

19

32

34

9

AJ Allmendinger

23.50

36

21

17

20

Brad Keselowski

24.00

4

29

22

41

David Ragan

24.25

30

12

38

17

Tony Stewart

25.00

25

14

19

42

Michael Waltrip

25.00

13

 

36

26

Carl Edwards

25.25

5

41

32

23

Trevor Bayne

25.25

21

9

41

30

David Gilliland

25.75

32

40

20

11

Danica Patrick

26.00

27

35

21

21

Matt Kenseth

27.25

26

23

25

35

Ty Dillon

28.00

 

 

 

28

Ryan Blaney

28.67

43

 

4

39

Bobby Labonte

29.25

23

43

27

24

Josh Wise

29.75

29

31

10

49

Justin Allgaier

30.00

42

18

23

37

Alex Bowman

30.25

33

24

16

48

Michael Annett

31.00

45

37

29

13

JJ Yeley

31.25

38

33

14

40

Reed Sorenson

32.00

 

 

 

32

Landon Cassill

32.25

34

13

39

43

Michael McDowell

34.33

28

 

44

31

Kyle Larson

34.75

24

39

42

34

Brian Scott

43.00

 

42

43

44

Jeb Burton

43.00

44

36

45

47

Justin Marks

45.00

 

 

 

45

 

Road Courses 
Similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks 
Short Tracks 
Two-mile Tracks 
Flat Tracks 

 

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.