By Travis Reinsch
PSDC NASCAR Correspondent
I will focus on the fantasy racing game on Yahoo because that is the one I play. I will try to keep my tips general enough for folks who play in different games also. You can also tweet me questions and I’ll try to answer them all. I like the Yahoo game because it’s pretty simple, free to play and fun. The downside to this game is that you MUST check your team at least once a week to even stand a chance to be competitive. So it’s definitely geared towards die-hard fans who don’t mind keeping up with things on a daily basis. There is no smart phone app yet for some reason but I’m hoping it gets added soon.
There are three separate groups of drivers to choose from, these groups will not change at all during the season. Each week you start a driver from Group A, two from Group B and another from Group C. You are also allowed the same amount of drivers in each group on your bench. You only accumulate race points from the drivers in your starting lineup however, with the exception of qualifying where your whole team is eligible to earn points if they qualify in one of the top four spots. The most interesting part of this game is that you can only use each driver in nine total races during the season.
Your team always locks in before qualifying and most of the time before any practices too. So it can be hard to get a read on how good of a car each driver has until your team is already assembled. You are allowed to move drivers from your bench into your starting lineup and back right up until race time each week.
The teams won’t lock until race time this weekend and no qualifying points are given for the Daytona 500 in order to give people time to sign up, so you’re not too late. There is a race preview each week which can be helpful and lets you know how drivers have done historically on which tracks and the Yahoo experts make their picks weekly too.
Group A Thoughts:
This week I’m basically trying to save my real studs for later in the season. I just hope whomever I pick in this group doesn’t get wrecked, a top 5 or top 10 would be terrific. Finishing out of the top 25 would be a tough way to start the season.
Group A Picks:
Dale Earnhardt Jr – He’s the obvious choice not only because he’s so good at Daytona but smart owners will want to save many of the other Group A choices for less treacherous tracks later in the year.
Kurt Busch – He finished third in his duel and Stewart-Haas has had good superspeedway cars recently. I’m a little nervous about him being too aggressive, but that same aggressiveness could also get me top 5 finish out of driver I probably won’t use much the rest of the year.
Group A Sleeper:
Jeff Gordon – He’s another guy I don’t think I will use much during the season out of this top group but he could easily score a top 10.
Group B Thoughts:
You have to pick two drivers from this group each week, but you get 18 to choose from with plenty of solid choices. My strategy for Group B is a mixed bag. My first pick is from the same line of thinking I used with Group A and the other three are almost the exact opposite approach (trying to pick the race winner).
Group B Picks:
Paul Menard – It’s doubtful I will use him much at all this year, but I’m giving him serious thought here because of the track and his RCR ride.
Brad Keselowski – He’s very good on restrictor plate tracks and might have won his duel if it wasn’t for a foolish speeding penalty on pit road. He’s a real threat to win this race.
Tony Stewart – Winning the Daytona 500 is about the only thing that’s missing from his NASCAR resume. He didn’t run great in his duel, but he might have just been trying to save his car for Sunday.
Denny Hamlin – I hate the thought of him winning this race while sitting on my bench, but I think that’s where he might be as I try to save his starts. It’s going to be a last minute gut decision for me, which usually means I’ll screw it up.
Group B Sleeper:
Martin Truex Jr. – He has to go to a backup car now, so I’m not as high on him as I was earlier in the day. He could still make some noise because he was quick all through speed weeks.
Group C Thoughts:
This group is actually not that bad for this race. It’s all the other tracks where it will be harder to find decent options as the season wears on. A good rule of thumb for your Group C driver is anything inside the top 20 is good, at Daytona/Talladega that benchmark moves up to top 15 for me.
Group C Picks:
Michael Waltrip – He doesn’t race much anymore, but he’s a bargain down in this group with his history on the restrictor plate tracks.
Austin Dillon – He’s on the pole with a really fast car and he could actually win this race. I’m a bit leery of starting a rookie at this race, especially one who I will more than likely use all nine starts from this year.
Group C Sleeper:
Brian Scott – He’s a rookie, but is driving for RCR Sunday and was fast in practice and even ended up fifth in the first duel.
This race can be heaven or hell fantasy wise and usually has the widest range of drivers selected. Just make sure you have your lucky rabbit’s foot handy because if you catch some breaks and all four of your drivers finish on the lead lap, you will be off to a good start. Don’t get too discouraged if you have a couple of DNFs either, it’s a long season. In fantasy racing, the Daytona 500 is all about survival and saving your best drivers, anything more than that is a boon. Good luck this week everybody!
Follow Travis on Twitter: @stackhouse33