Tag Archives: Yahoo fantasy picks

Jeff Gordon’s Strong Second Half

When I put together this week’s early driver rankings for Homestead, part of the process included calculating the average Driver Ratings from all the loop data piled up over the past 15 races by every Sprint Cup driver. (I used the excellent stats wizard at Fantasy Racing Cheat Sheet to do this, and I excluded the data from the Talladega II and Watkins Glen races.) One thing jumped out at me: Jeff Gordon ranked #2 in this metric!

Here are the top 5: Continue reading

Race Preview Update: Homestead

Carl Edwards snagged a front-row starting spot Friday, and he's my pick up finish up front, too. (Photo Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The NASCAR Sprint Cup teams got in all three practice sessions and qualifying at Homestead Friday and Saturday. To handicap the race, I crunched the numbers from those prelim sessions to produce initial rankings, and then I merged those rankings with the historical rankings I produced earlier this week (weighting the results heavily toward the initial rankings). Finally, I tweaked the results per the 10-lap averages in practices 2 and 3.

I came up with this top six:

  1. Carl Edwards
  2. Jeff Gordon
  3. Jamie McMurray
  4. Jimmie Johnson
  5. Kyle Busch
  6. David Reutimann Continue reading

Race Preview: Homestead

Jimmie Johnson glides past the palm trees at Homestead in last year's race. (Photo Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Well, race fans, it’s that time: the last race of the season down at Miami at Homestead. Homestead is a 1.5-mile track with 20 degrees of banking, making it pretty similar to the so-called cookie cutter tracks at Texas, Charlotte and Atlanta (1.5 milers with 24 degrees of banking), Chicagoland (a 1.5 miler with 18 degrees of banking) and Las Vegas (a 1.5 miler with 20 degrees of banking). To handicap the race, I crunched the qualifying and practice data from the 2010 races at Las Vegas and Chicagoland, and the fall 2010 races at Texas, Charlotte, and Atlanta. I then compiled the loop data from those same races and merged the results of the two analysis to come up with the below rankings.

I did not look at the 2009 race at Homestead because that race was an entire year ago, and I just can’t see its data having much value. I also excluded the spring races at Texas, Charlotte and Atlanta because that older data also has diminished value, and I think that with all the other data on hand, I can be choosy (i.e., my data sample size is OK as is).

I came up with this top eight: Continue reading

Race Preview Update: Phoenix II

Edwards talks to crew chief Bob Osborne following Friday's practice. Edwards later went out and claimed the pole. (Photo Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The NASCAR Sprint Cup teams got in all three practice sessions and qualifying at Phoenix Friday and Saturday. To handicap the race, I crunched the numbers from those prelim sessions to produce initial rankings, and then I merged those rankings with the historical rankings I produced earlier this week (weighting the results heavily toward the initial rankings). Finally, I tweaked the results per the 10-lap averages in practices 2 and 3.

I came up with this top six:

  1. Carl Edwards
  2. Jeff Gordon
  3. Jimmie Johnson
  4. Kevin Harvick
  5. Joey Logano
  6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Edwards is the clear favorite to win. Continue reading

Race Preview: Texas II

This late-race crash in the spring Texas race took out the top two cars in the 24 and 14. (Photo Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

This week the Sprint Cup series returns to the lightning-fast cookie-cutter track known as Texas Motor Speedway (TMS). TMS is a 1.5-mile D-shaped track with progressive banking. The NASCAR tracks at Charlotte and Atlanta are almost identical, and the Las Vegas and Homestead tracks are pretty close, too.

Handicappers therefore have a wealth of historical data to review this week in the numbers from practice, qualifying and the race from each event at these tracks this year.

Handicapping Texas II
I examined the practice, qualifying and race data for the 2010 races at Charlotte, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Homestead and of course Texas to produce initial rankings. Then I crunched the numbers for the just the April race at Texas and merged those results with the initial rankings to bias the results toward the Texas numbers. In addition, for the first time I factored in the loop data from the 2010 races at the cookie cutter tracks. Finally, I tweaked the rankings after reading my race recap from the April race at Texas.

I came up with this top 10: Continue reading

Race Preview Update: Talladega II

Dale Jr. and crew chief Lance McGrew talk turkey during practice Friday. (Photo John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Practice and qualifying are in the books at Talladega, but unfortunately we still don’t have a great idea of how Sunday’s race will unfold because the prelim data’s value is extremely limited. If you look at the practice speed charts, the cars at the top are the cars that just happened to run fast while practicing running in the draft. Those numbers come from a relatively small number of laps and don’t provide much of a window into what will transpire during the 500 mile nail-biter. Qualifying helps give an idea which cars have the most total speed, but that’s probably the last time the cars will run solo this weekend. Plus, a number of drivers didn’t even get on the track in Happy Hour, and that throws the numbers way off.

That’s not to say the data is totally worthless, however. And if you add in the 10-lap averages, impressions gleaned from watching the prelim telecasts (including driver and crew-chief interviews), and the historical data, at least a fuzzy handicapping picture emerges.

That’s what I did, and I came up with this top 17: Continue reading

Race Preview: Talladega II

This late race bash-up took out nine cars at Talladega this spring. (Photo John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The series returns this week to the king-size track in Talladega, Ala., the track that provides the most unpredictability on the circuit (Daytona is a close second). NASCAR forces the teams to run a restrictor plate on the carburetor on this 2.66 mile, high-banked track because without it, drivers would reach speeds well over 200 mph, posing an unacceptable risk to everyone near the track.

The problem with capping horsepower, of course, is that it tends to bunch the cars up in packs, and packs increase unpredictability in two ways. First, they produce an intense form of drafting tactics in which the cars form lines two- and three-wide. To get up front, drivers must draft in line and shuffle between the lines to move forward. This means drivers with average skills and equipment have a greater chance running well than they do at non plate tracks. Continue reading

Race Preview Update: Martinsville II

Denny Hamlin watches his team work on the 11 car during practice yesterday. (Photo Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The NASCAR Sprint Cup teams got in all three practice sessions and qualifying at Martinsville Friday and Saturday. To handicap the race, I crunched the numbers from those prelim sessions to produce initial rankings, and then I merged those rankings with the historical rankings I produced earlier this week (thus weighting the results heavily toward the initial rankings). Finally, I tweaked the results by considering starting positions, 10-lap averages during practice and the opinions of another online expert.

The results feature the usual suspects, plus one significant exception:

  1. Denny Hamlin
  2. Clint Bowyer
  3. Jeff Gordon
  4. Jamie McMurray
  5. Jeff Burton
  6. Jimmie Johnson
  7. Marcos Ambrose
  8. Ryan Newman
  9. Greg Biffle
  10. Kevin Harvick Continue reading

Race Preview: Martinsville II

Denny Hamlin reclaimed the lead late in the spring Martinsville race after Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth got to beatin' and bangin'. (Photo John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The Sprint Cup series returns this week to Martinsville, Va., for another run on the .5 mile flat track known as “the paperclip.” Martinsville Speedway is like no other track on the circuit, but for handicapping purposes you can group it loosely with other short, flat tracks to increase the sample-size of practice, qualifying and race data you analyze.

For this race, I did just that. I examined the practice, qualifying and race data for the 2010 races at New Hampshire, Richmond, Phoenix and of course Martinsville to produce initial rankings. Then I crunched the numbers for the just the March race at Martinsville and merged those results with the initial rankings to bias the results toward the Martinsville numbers. Finally, I tweaked the rankings after reading my race recap from the March race at Martinsville and the opinions of other online handicappers.

I came up with this top 10: Continue reading

Race Preview Update: Charlotte II

Jimmie Johnson watches his team work on the 48 during practice Thursday. Surprisingly, he's not the favorite for tonight's race. (Photo Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The NASCAR Sprint Cup teams got in all three practice sessions and qualifying at Charlotte Thursday and Friday, including an all important Happy Hour Friday evening. The Happy Hour session occurred after dark, better mirroring the track conditions the teams will face in tonight’s race than the mid-day practices did.

To handicap the race, I crunched the numbers from those prelim sessions to produce initial rankings, and then I merged those rankings with the historical rankings I produced earlier this week (weighting the results heavily toward the initial rankings). Finally, I tweaked the results by considering starting positions, 10-lap averages during practice and the opinions of another online expert.

The results are pretty interesting. Several top-five regulars stumbled in the prelims, and a number of typically second-tier drivers ran really well. Check it out: Continue reading