It’s official: David Reutimann will pilot the 35 car for Front Row Motorsports (FRM) in the Sprint Cup series at Bristol this week. In a normal world—i.e., a non-fantasy world—this is yawner news, but in the fantasy world, it makes our week a bit more interesting.
Particularly in the Yahoo game’s C group. You see, Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon are not only the cream of the crop of this year’s full-time C drivers, they are the only cream. Then there’s Danica, the much weaker rookie herd in weaker equipment and the start-and-park gang. So, we get 18 combined starts from Larson/Dillon, which leaves us holding our nose and plucking 12 starts from the dregs (yes, there are 36 total races, but you can cheerfully run ringers at the two road course races and dregs at the four plate tracks).
Oh wait, what about part-time drivers such as Trevor Bayne, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jeff Burton, etc.? Yes, these above-average fellows will pop into C occasionally this year, and when they do, we must aggressively pursue them. Even if you intend to run Danica nine times (ugh!), you’ll need to find three more starts somewhere.
Which leads me back to Reutimann. Yes, he’s an average driver, and yes, FRM equipment is probably just a little above average, even by C standards. In my early Bristol rankings, I rank him well below Larson and Dillon, and pretty much dead-even with Danica.
But when I dig into my numbers a little deeper, I also see he offers roughly 16% less value than Larson, my top-rated C driver. That’s a big hit, but think of it this way. Maybe I lose 16% by running Reutimann over Larson now, but late in the year I’ll have an extra Larson start to spend. And if I spend that extra Larson start at a race in which I would’ve otherwise been forced to run, say, Danica for 22% less value, I’m 6% ahead. I’ve handicapped every race already this year, and the results say the above scenario is fairly likely.
Something to think about. I’ve got him on my Yahoo bench and will see how he looks in practice and qualifying. If he looks decent, or even just better than Danica, I’ll probably pull the trigger.