No two NASCAR season are alike. It is easy to say that Martin Truex Jr. will win the championship and Toyota will dominate the races. That is what we just saw at the end of last season. But the chances of that happening again are slim. There are always driver who under perform and other drivers who exceed expectations. Here are some changes that will occur in the 2018 season that will have an impact on Fantasy NASCAR…
There have been times in NASCAR when a group of veteran drivers retired and a fresh set of young drivers took their place, but what is happening now is extreme.
The MENCS has seen Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle all leave the sport. These drivers will be replaced by Chase Elliott, William Byron, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez and Eric Jones. The list of young drivers also includes the drivers who came into the sport within the last four seasons: Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Ryan Blaney and Chris Buescher. That is a quite a list of young drivers entering the sport in short period of time.
The addition of these young drivers will affect Fantasy NASCAR in 2018 because they are very good and you can usually get some of them at a discounted price in salary cap games. Elliott, Larson and Blaney will still be highly priced, but Jones, Suarez and Austin Dillon should outperform their price early in the season. Byron and Bowman could be the biggest steals this year in DraftKings. Hendrick Motorsports will provide these young drivers cars fast enough to run in the top 10. Byron and Bowman have the talent to get the cars inside the top 10. Be sure to take advantage of these young drivers if they are at a discounted price at the beginning of the season.
Chevy Change to Camaro ZL1 Chassis
Does anyone remember how poorly the Toyotas ran in the first-half of the 2017 season? I doubt it. Toyota switched to a new Camry chassis and it took a while for teams to dial it in to generate the speed needed to win races. Toyota only won two races in the first-half of the season (both by Martin Truex Jr.). In the second half they won 14 of the 19 final races.
Chevy will have a new chassis in 2018. The Chevy teams (Hendrick Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing and Richard Childress Racing are the major teams) will use the Chevy Camaro ZL1. This car has a more pointed front nose and test show it is more aerodynamic than the Chevy SS (used last season).
Fantasy players should learn from what they saw last year. The drivers in the new Camaro ZL1 will probably start the season off slow and gain a lot of momentum after the All-Star race. It will be smart to use the Toyota drivers early in the season and start to focus on the Chevy drivers in the last half of the season.
Changes on Pit Road
NASCAR made two major changes to the way teams will pit their cars in 2018. Pit crews will be reduced from 6 members over the wall to only 5 members over the wall. Also teams will be required to use the same pit gun to replace lug nuts.
The change from 6 to 5 members over the wall is HUGE! Not only will teams be required to service the car with one less pit crew member, the fuel man is not allowed to do anything but fuel the car. This means he cannot add tape to the car, make a wedge adjustment or handle tires.
The second rule can be called the “Joe Gibbs Racing Rule.” There was a rumor that JGR was making pit guns that worked faster than the guns used by other teams. NASCAR decided to make each team use a pit gun made by Paoli. Since every team will have the same pit gun, this will take away any advantage that JGR “may” have had.
Joe Gibbs Racing has always been one step ahead of the competition when it comes to pitting their cars. I expect JGR to have an advantage early in the season until the other teams figure out what strategy they are using to make fast pit stops with one less crew member. I am not too worried about JGR losing time in the pits because of the new pit guns teams are required to use.
Charlotte Turned into Roval
The schedule will be different in 2018. The second race at Charlotte will now be run on a combination of the road course and the regular track. People are referring to this track as the “Roval Course”.
This will not be a big change for Fantasy NASCAR players but it will give you an opportunity to use a road course ace one more time in allocation games and save a start with your top drivers. This change will add to the value of AJ Allmendinger, Jamie McMirray and Clint Bowyer in 2018.
So when the MENCS visits Charlotte for the second time, be sure you are NOT looking at the results from the first race at Charlotte to select your team. Use the drivers who performed well in the test session at the track and the drivers who have a history of running well on the road courses (Or you can simply come back to FantasyRacingTips.com and see what drivers we like in the race).
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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