DeJong is a research scientist who says he’s been crunching numbers his entire life. He’s also a NASCAR fan, and he’s brought his mathematics and statistics skills to bear in the NASCAR handicapping game. The result: AccuPredict, an algorithm that uses traditional and loop data statistics to predict NASCAR driver finish positions. Continue reading
I recently stumbled across an online article that features a big list of clickable links to the Twitter accounts of a lot of NASCAR drivers and teams, and the Twitter accounts of bloggers/media, sponsors, NASCAR, racetracks, and various wives/girlfriends/family. If you’re into NASCAR and Twitter, it’s a good collection to visit just for fun. For fantasy NASCAR players and handicappers, I think there’s some value in checking driver accounts if you’re on the fence when evaluating a driver for a certain race.
For example, it was unclear how many laps Denny Hamlin would run at Phoenix this spring due to his recent knee surgery, or how effective he’d be in the car. Hamlin posted a few updates on Twitter suggesting his knee was bothering him a great deal, and that info was fairly valuable to fantasy NASCAR players debating whether to start him and handicappers debating whether to bet him.
I just learned of a blog called IFantasyRace.com. Run by Ryan Rantz, the blog features Rantz’ own race previews and other prediction-related articles for NASCAR fantasy players, and each week he also compiles links to a bunch of race preview-type articles written by folks around the Internet (including yours truly). If you’re in the mood to do a lot of race-preview reading, check it out.
Here’s the link to the link-compilation he posted today: Fantasy NASCAR from Around the Net: Texas.
In my Race Preview: Phoenix post, I rated Denny Hamlin really high but hedged by noting my concern for his surgically repaired knee. I’ve been keeping an eye out for any news I can get on his recovery/rehab, and what I’ve found so far isn’t promising.
First, here’s an article written today by Kenny Bruce on SceneDaily.com on Hamlin’s knee. In the second paragraph, the physician’s assistant who reportedly is overseeing Hamlin’s rehab is quoted as saying he’s optimistic Hamlin will be able to run a least some laps and that it’s just a matter of seeing how many laps he can run. In addition, Hamlin’s last two Twitter posts say “regardless of what you may read my plan is to start on saturday night. Beyond that i just don’t know,” and then “i would not wish this on anyone.. its one the hardest things ive ever had to do.” Continue reading
Over in the archive at FantasyNascarPreview.com, there’s a pretty good strategy article for Yahoo! Fantasy players. Titled “Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR Strategy,” it first explains how the Yahoo! game works, then goes into some tips and strategy. I agree with most of the author’s points, and his section on Group B strategy is really good.
I do have a couple of quibbles, though. First, while I agree that we should look for situations in which we can save a big gun’s starts for his top tracks (e.g., Jimmie Johnson on 1.5 milers), I think we should temper our start-saving aggressiveness early in a season. At this point in the 2010 season, for example, the series has run on only one short-flat track (Martinsville), and it’s not quite clear yet that the big guns and duds from last year on short-flat tracks will also be big guns and duds on those tracks this year. I’d hate to aggressively save 2010 short-flat starts for a 2009 short-flat master only to discover later this year he’s no longer a short-flat master. Continue reading
ThatsRacin.com‘s Jim Utter ran an article yesterday on driver Paul Menard titled “For Paul Menard, Steady as He Goes.” Utter notes the success Menard has had in the 98 car so far in this young season following the purchase of his former organization, Yates Racing, by Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) last year, and the switch by RPM to Fords.
For those of us in the Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR League, this isn’t news. It’s been apparent for a few weeks now that Menard has offered top value in in Yahoo!’s Group C, along with teammate A.J. Allmendinger. The question is, why? Have Menard’s driving skills dramatically improved? Is he giving more effort this year?
No and no. Well, maybe his wheel-man skills and ability to work with his crew chief to improve the car have improved some, but not enough to explain his resurgence (he simply wasn’t that bad before), and as he says in Utter’s article, he’s always given 100%.
It’s simple: He’s driving much better equipment than he was last year. If you played the Yahoo! game in 2008, you may remember that Menard returned good value in Group C. In fact, he ran well enough that he was bumped up to Group B for 2009. For the 2009 season, though, Menard left the solid cars of Dale Earnhardt Inc. for the relatively slow machines at Yates Racing, and his crummy results got him demoted back to Group C. With RPM, he’s once again in solid cars, and his results show it.
I also think Utter missed the bigger story: the uptick of not just Paul Menard, but RPM. The organization has undergone many big changes recently—the Yates purchase, the merger with Gillett Evernham Motorsports, the switch to Fords—and so far in 2010, it appears the drivers flying the RPM flag are stronger now than any Petty driver in recent years. Kasey Kahne looks to be a consistent top 10 threat on the non short tracks, and Allmendinger and Menard should rate at least in the top 20 throughout the year. Elliott Sadler hasn’t impressed yet, but that doesn’t diminish RPM’s return to respectability.
Of course, RPM remains far below the Hendricks Motorsports powerhouse in the NASCAR Sprint Cup pecking order. RPM isn’t even on par yet with Roush Fenway Racing or Richard Childress Racing (which is enjoying its own resurgence). RPM has improved, however, and if that trend continues, the RPM drivers will write some interesting story lines on the track this year.
Yahoo! Fantasy Considerations
It’s looking like Kahne will return good value at a lot of tracks this year. Don’t start aggressively saving his allocations just yet—it’s still too early for that. But do think twice before burning his starts at Daytona and Talladega.
Elliott Sadler, on the other hand, hasn’t shown anything this year, and he hasn’t been on my radar screen for any of the races. Perhaps that will change, but for now he’s got a well-worn spot on my bench.
It seems likely Allmendinger and Menard will provide top value at just about all tracks this year, and the best part is, you have 18 starts between them so you don’t have to aggressively save their allocations (for now). As with Kahne, think twice before you run them at the restrictor-plate tracks, but other than that, ride those horses.
I’ve picked up another excellent info source from the forums over on FantasyNascarPreview.com: Mark Garrow at ESPN SportsNation Chats. According to his bio, Garrow has had a lengthy career reporting on NASCAR stretching back to 1984. Each week, he apparently starts a chat session a few hours before the NASCAR Sprint Cup race. He fields many questions from fantasy players looking for advice on their picks, and the kind of downright wacky stuff you get in live chat with the masses (e.g., “yo blondie will you marry me”).
But he also shares his crew chief notes during these chat sessions, and that’s the real treat for us fantasy players and handicappers. In Sunday’s session, I counted notes on 12 chiefs/teams/drivers, and each note typically quotes the chief’s opinion on not only their driver’s car, but which of the other cars he likes as well.
Click here to see last Sunday’s chat, and scroll down to his post at 10:38 AM to see the first crew chief note. I plan to head back there just prior to the upcoming race in Phoenix to see his notes before the green flag waves. If you’re having last-minute trouble picking between a couple drivers, Garrow’s crew chief notes might give you the info you need.
Sprint Cup teams wrapped up their testing of the new spoiler this afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and while just how significant an impact it will have remains unknown, the general consensus seems to be that it won’t be a big impact. I’ve seen several informative articles on the topic, and I’ll list some of the better ones below:
“Spoiler Testing Underway at Charlotte Motor Speedway,” by Jim Utter at ThatsRacin.com;
“Gordon: Spoiler Not a Big Change,” by Mike Hembree at SpeedTV.com;
“Drivers Take Spoiler for a Spin at Charlotte,” by David Newton at ESPN.com;
“Spoiler Impact Unpredictable,” by Mike Hembree at SpeedTV.com;
Note: I found most of these articles via Nascapper.com‘s NASCAR News forum.
In my never-ending quest to get better at identifying which Sprint Cup drivers will run well each week, I’ve been reading up on the tires Goodyear provides the race teams and trying to figure out if and how I should add a tire factor into my weekly analysis. I’m kinda stumped, and unfortunately I don’t have access to someone like Chad Knaus to turn to for enlightenment. So, I figure I’ll turn to you, the readers, and see if we can get a discussion going. To that end, I’ve posted two questions below.
It seems clear changes in tire construction and compounds affect a NASCAR Sprint Cup car’s handling. Just changing the air pressure in a tire changes the handling–that’s actually a primary set-up tuning tool. The question is, how much does a new/different-type tire affect the handling?
Let’s say you take the exact car Kyle Busch won with at last year’s Bristol race on a clear, 70-degree F day and run 50 laps at Bristol with a fresh set of the tires he won during that race. Then, without changing a thing (including the weather), you bolt on a fresh set of the tires the series will run this weekend (they’re different, correct?) and run another 50 laps. How much differently will the car run? Slower through all 50 laps? Faster through all 50? Maybe the same at first, but then fall off quicker?
I imagine there are a zillion variables that play into this, but if we can get at least some sense of how significant a tire change is, we’ll gain a better understanding of how much a tire change decreases a race’s predictability.
How can the fan, blogger, fantasy player, etc., figure out if Goodyear is indeed bringing a tire to a race that differs from the tire used in the previous race at that track? I get the impression it happens just about every race, but that’s based soley on what I hear from Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds, etc., during the practice telecasts. Are there any reliable, consistent NASCAR tire information sources out there?
2 Recent Tire Articles
This week I came across two tire-related articles I found pretty interesting. The first, “Goodyear Gets a Grip in Cup Series” by David Newton at ESPN.com, discusses the strides Goodyear has made since the tire debacle at the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Indianapolis. The second, “Goodyear Finally Has a Grip… Or Do They?” by Bryan Davis Keith at Frontstretch.com, provides some counterpoint to Newton’s piece, and raises the alarm that perhaps Goodyear has not learned its lesson.
I’d love your feedback, thoughts, etc., on the questions and/or the articles.
I constantly work on improving my ability to predict NASCAR Sprint Cup race results, and when I read an article by Christopher Harris on ESPN.com a while back, I made a big leap forward in my understanding of this sport. Titled “NASCAR: Track and Driver Guide,” the article discusses how the tracks on the circuit vary and what the fantasy league player should take into consideration when trying to identify who will run well at a particular race. Harris even includes a table that lists the length and banking of each track.
You can get to the article by clicking here.