Thursday, November 8, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: ISM Raceway playoff closer

By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Both with 5 - Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano
All with 4 - Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Jamie McMurray

By Track
Kevin Harvick - 9
Kyle Busch - 7
All with 6 - Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin
Matt Kenseth - 4

Recent Pole Winners:
2017 Ryan Blaney
2016 Alex Bowman

Last Year's Race Winner: Matt Kenseth

The Likely Suspects: Sunday's race at ISM Raceway (Phoenix) is an elimination race to determine the three remaining drivers who will race for the championship at Miami-Homestead. Joey Logano has already punched his ticket. Although we were expecting drama, things just got hotter. Last week's winner, Kevin Harvick, was hit with a L-1 penalty which leaves the #4 team only three points above the cutline. In other words, Harvick will be on a mission this weekend as will a few other drivers who want to race for a championship or just win a race as a spoiler. When it comes to ISM, these are my go-tos: Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski.

My 2 Cents: Try not to overthink your picks this week. Yes, this race will dictate who will race for the championship, but in the end the traditional Phoenix elites will rule. If I had any Harvick starts left, he would be my no-brainer pick. Instead I will go with Kyle Busch.

My next choices are Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth. I will round out my team with Alex Bowman and William Byron. If you have any Chase Elliott starts left, pull Daniel Suarez.

My Final Four: Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray and Alex Bowman.

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Matt Kenseth, last year's race winner. In the last race nine races at ISM, Kenseth has scored two Top 5s and four Top 10s. Last week's second-look driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 11th at Texas Motor Speedway after starting 17th.

Points to Ponder:
  • Seven different drivers have won the Monster Energy Series Playoff races at ISM Raceway, led by Kevin Harvick with four Playoff wins (2006, 2012, 2013 and 2014), Jimmie Johnson (three: 2007, 2008, 2009), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (two: 2004, 2015), Kyle Busch (2005), Carl Edwards (2010), Joey Logano (2016) and Matt Kenseth (2017) each have one win. 
  • Four times the winner of the ISM Raceway Playoff race has gone on to win the title.
  • Three manufacturers have won Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races at ISM Raceway – Chevrolet (10 wins) Ford (two) and Toyota (two).
  • Kevin Harvick leads the series in Playoff race laps led at ISM Raceway with 744.
  • Of the 24 pole winners at ISM Raceway, 12 of them have won multiple poles, five are active: Ryan Newman (four), Jimmie Johnson (three), Kyle Busch (three), Denny Hamlin (two) and Martin Truex Jr. (two).
  • Kevin Harvick leads the series in wins at ISM Raceway with nine victories (’06 spring race and Playoff race, ’12 Playoff race, ‘13 Playoff race, ’14 spring race and Playoff race, ’15 spring race, ’16 spring race and ’18 spring race).
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at ISM Raceway with 10, followed by Roush Fenway Racing with seven.
  • Eight of the 44 (18.2%) Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at ISM Raceway have been won from the front row: five from the pole and three from second starting position. 
  • Chase Elliott (five starts) leads all active drivers in average finishing position at ISM Raceway with a 6.800.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 8 a.m. EST on Friday, Nov. 9th, and your final picks by 2:20 p.m. EST on race day Sunday, Nov. 11th.

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

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