Thursday, October 13, 2011

Welcome to NASCAR Fantasy Fusion

Welcome to the wild world of Fantasy NASCAR minutiae, Skirts & Scuffs style. Through this column I hope to help you get to the top of your chosen Fantasy league, and have some fun in the process. Number crunchers and highly analytic NASCAR fans beware: Fantasy NASCAR can be addictive. But there are worse things … So sharpen your pencil, get out some paper and let’s get started.

My road to Fantasy NASCAR

I’ve been playing Fantasy NASCAR since 2006. Although I’ve tried out a number of games I particularly like Yahoo’s Fantasy  (http://sports.yahoo.com/nascar) league. I got started when I received my first game as a Valentine’s Day gift. Don’t laugh, I loved it!

So I play in a private league with Union Insulators from around the country with big burly team names like Amp in the Can, Bagger and Sludge. Although I only met a couple of the guys, I assume all the players are men. I always name my team after my business Purple Cat. I wonder how it feels to be defeated by a Purple Cat? Hmm.

My Philosophy for the Picks

As the name of the column implies my picks result from a fusion of stats, qualifying and practice results and that non-tangible, unquantifiable thing – intuition. Contrary to popular belief I do not approach each week thinking I need to pick the winner to do well. In fact you actually do better by focusing on top 10 finishers and any bonus points your Fantasy game offers. Think consistency just like the racing teams do. Oh I should also mention that the rookie mistake in Fantasy NASCAR is being swayed by loyalty to your favorite driver. Don’t sabotage your picks.

So here’s the really fun part … the analysis and number crunching.

The Tools

Each game will specify when you need to pick drivers or make final selections. In my case I need to pick before qualifying and then do final picks before the green flag drops. By Thursday of each week I get started with some initial analysis. I literally take a piece of paper and prioritize drivers by previous pole winners, race and track stats, expertise predictions and loop data. Loop data ranks drivers by track by analyzing a variety of stats.

I write down driver names and note trends. So say the race is at Dover if Mark Martin, my favorite driver, shows up a previous pole winner and then he ranks high in top 10 finishes he gets a check by his name. If he factors well in loop data he gets another check, and so on. You end up with a list of names, some of which have checkmarks beside them – your likely standouts for a race. This method has served me well. In fact this season I am ranking in the top 2% of Yahoo’s Fantasy NASCAR teams and #1 in my private league.

Favorite for initial analysis:
Pole Winners - www.motorracingnetwork.com. Under Race Center click on Past Pole Winners.
Pull up this week’s race and go down the Top 10 column and note the 5-6 drivers with the most top 10 finishes.
The final analysis

By using qualifying and practice stats easily accessible through NASCAR.com (under Schedule, then the series name) I can narrow down final picks. At this point I also factor in the concept of momentum and perhaps commentary from crew chiefs and drivers from qualifying or practice.

There are some really good head to head driver analysis tools when the picking gets tough. Below of two of my favorites. Remember you don’t have to pick the race winner, just drivers who will finish and do well.

Two-driver comparison:
Four-driver comparison:
Oh, and Have Fun!

Remember Fantasy NASCAR is a game, and you are supposed to have fun … so have at it!

Post your comments here or email me at ssfanatsyracing@gmail.com.

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