By Dan Beaver
Back-to-back races on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks means that fantasy players who chose not to change their rosters can still be successful if they had the winning hand at Kansas Speedway in the GoBowling.com 400. However, making precise modifications this week can earn even more points. That is what separates the sheep from the goats. Sleepers will not earn the most points this week, but the right one could still help win your league.
1. Martin Truex Jr.: With the Kansas win, Truex should be regarded as one of the favorites in the Coke 600. He won last year’s edition of this race as well, which was his third straight Charlotte top-five.
2. Brad Keselowski: Success on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks should be used to handicap this week’s performance. Keselowski is one of four drivers with a top-10 sweep of them in 2017.
3. Kyle Larson: With a finish of sixth in the GoBowling.com 400 at Kansas, Larson snapped a streak of second-place finishes on this track type. He is still one of the favorites to finish in the top five.
4. Kevin Harvick: Fantasy owners wanted to see if Harvick would rebound effectively from his accident at Talladega. He did and that third-place finish in Kansas is his fourth straight unrestricted top-five.
5. Joey Logano: Kansas got off to a rough start even before Logano shattered a brake rotor and collected Patrick and Almirola. It’s time to dust off and regain focus inside the cockpit of the No. 22.
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6. Jamie McMurray: Four races on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks have ended in a narrow band of results of seventh through 10th for McMurray. He won’t earn maximum points in the Coke 600, but he will be a great fantasy value.
7. Ryan Blaney: The worst struggle Blaney had on the “cookie-cutter” tracks ended in an 18th at Atlanta this spring. The remainder of his efforts landed in the top 15 including last week’s fourth at Kansas.
8. Clint Bowyer: Consistency is often more important than raw strength. Bowyer has finished between ninth and 11th in four similarly-configured, 1.5-mile track races this year.
9. Jimmie Johnson: The O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 victory at Texas restored players’ faith in Johnson again, but he did not carry that strength with him to Kansas. Questions were immediately raised once more.
10. Matt Kenseth: The problem with a changing of the guard is that it disrupts predictive patterns. Kenseth had a nine-race, top-10 streak going before he finished 16th at Texas. He was 12th at Kansas.
11. Kyle Busch: He can be great on this track, but Busch is prone to mistakes as well. His sixth in last fall’s Bank of America 500 snapped a three-race streak at Charlotte without a top-10.
12. Trevor Bayne: Teammate Stenhouse got the early season press with his Talladega win, but Bayne has been the better value on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks with a worst result of 13th this year.
13. Chase Elliott: There comes a time in a sophomore season when the exuberance of the sport turns to hardship. How Elliott performs in the coming weeks will say a lot about his entire career will go.
14. Ty Dillon: The younger Dillon brother has regularly beaten expectations this year and he could be the top performing rookie of the Coke 600.
15. Denny Hamlin: Before he blew an engine last fall at Charlotte, Hamlin was riding a four-race, top-10 streak. Now, he has 11 such finishes in his last 13 starts on this track.
16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Winning at Talladega was a dramatic event, but what makes this driver and team so strong is how they have improved in 2017. Stenhouse has three top-15s on “cookie-cutter” tracks.
[Copyright By Roto Arcade]