What, you don't play Fantasy NASCAR? Pick one and play! You can also join our private Yahoo Fantasy racing league at Skirts and Scuffs. (Group ID# 5550 and password is 2009).
The rules of each NASCAR Fantasy game vary, but basically the goal is to pick the drivers with the best results each week. Easy right? Not so fast. But, you too, can learn to wield fantasy NASCAR superpowers. It takes discipline and a blend of number crunching, a respect for momentum, and a sensitivity for that intangible gut feeling.
I have been playing Fantasy NASCAR for several years now. I've tried lots of versions, but my favorite is Yahoo Sports Fantasy Auto Racing. I love working through the week trying to get points for qualifying and then putting the best team together for the actual race.
As the name of this column indicates, I "fuse" pieces of information together to make my picks, namely past performance, qualifying and practices results and that intangible element - intuition. So strap yourself in and check back at NASCAR Fantasy Fusion for my picks and advice.
Carol's Fantasy NASCAR Tips
1. Don't pick for race winners. That may sound odd, but I can honestly say that over the course of a season I only have picked a handful of race winners. However, in almost every race where the drivers in my team are in the top 10-12, I usually win. Just like in actual NASCAR scoring, consistency is king.
2. Don't be blinded by your favorite drivers. We all cheer for particular drivers we want to see do well. Pick them only when you really feel they will perform well at that track or race. The easiest way to not be swayed is to draft your drivers on paper. For example, 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 check marks beside them – your likely standouts for a race.
3. Let the season unfold. Some players think they need to plot out the whole season because there is a limit to how many times you can use a driver. Each season plays out differently. This is a a team sport, so there may be bad calls or bad pit stops. Take each race as it happens and you will do better than if you try to predict the future based on the past only.
4. Track stats are guides, not Gods. Although I do review driver track stats, I only look at the past five years. Changes in the stock car and at the track with repaves can change how well a driver does at a particular track. More, higher quality drivers and race teams have also changed the sport. Looking five years back and trying to identify race team superiority at particular tracks is sufficient.
5. Don't discount the human factor. NASCAR racing is not about the cars, but the drivers who drive them and the teams that build them. When a team comes together, the driver performs better. Look for patterns of momentum and confidence. Sometimes when you listen to a driver or crew chief interview, there is something in his or her voice that tells you they will be hard to beat that weekend. When you are stumped about your picks, sometimes you just have to go with your gut.
Oh, and don't forget to have fun! Post your comments here or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.