Thursday, September 13, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Las Vegas playoff opener

By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s:
In the last 5 races
Both with 5 -  Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano
All with 3 - Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson

Driver Rating - Top 10 (Since 2015)
Factors in Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps and Lead-Lap Finish. A driver can score a maximum driver rating of 150 points per race. Updated prior to the 2018 race.
SOURCE: MRN.com

RankCarDriverHigh RatingAvg. Rating
148Jimmie Johnson140.5108.9
218Kyle Busch118.5103.4
34Kevin Harvick150.0100.6
422Joey Logano130.697.3
56Matt Kenseth135.896.3
612Ryan Blaney114.395.3
778Martin Truex Jr147.692.6
842Kyle Larson117.192.5
92Brad Keselowski134.692.4
109Chase Elliott116.391.7

2017 Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr.

Recent Pole Winners:
2017 Brad Keselowski
2016 Kurt Busch

The Likely Suspects:  Look for these Las Vegas elites to run well this weekend: Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick.

My 2 Cents: Las Vegas Motor Speedway could be renamed the Penske Playground. Brad Keselowski, who is on a two race winning streak, and his teammate Joey Logano run very well here. But since this is the playoff opener, no one is just going to hand them the win. My no-brainer pick this week is Brad Keselowski. My next choices are Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones and Aric Almirola. I will round out my team with Regan Smith, pitch riding for Kasey Kahne, and William Byron.

My Final Four: Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Paul Menard and Regan Smith

Second-chance driver: This week's second-look driver is Aric Almirola. Aric finished 10th in the March race and 14th in the race in 2017. Aric enters the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs 14th on the playoff grid. Last week's second-look driver Joey Logano finished 13th after starting in fifth, fighting a tight car most of the race as well as an incident with the #3 car.

Points to Ponder:
  • Although the Las Vegas track is Kyle Busch – and his older brother Kurt’s – hometown venue, it’s actually 15th-ranked Jimmie Johnson who boasts the best track record on the 1.5-mile oval. His four wins are most all time.
  • Among the Playoffs front four – both Harvick and Keselowski are two-time Cup winners at the track. Kyle Busch and Truex each have one win. 
  • Las Vegas native Kyle Busch became the first and only driver to win from the pole, in 2009. 
  • Eleven different Monster Energy drivers have won at LVMS, led by Jimmie Johnson with four (2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010).
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 8 a.m. EDT on Friday, September 14th, and your final picks by 3 p.m. EDT on race day Sunday, September 16th.

Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter at @purplecatpr.

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