Things just got real… All of the racing for a playoff spots is over. The field of 16 drivers competing for the championship has been set. It is now time to compete for 2019 MENCS trophy. It all begins in Sin City at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. To make it even better, NASCAR moved the race to under the NEON lights of Las Vegas. The South Point 400 can be seen Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.
One of the changes this season for the Driver Group Game is that your league commissioner has the ability to change to number of allocations for each driver and can place drivers into any group they choose. My picks will be based on the default settings (8 allocations per driver and the original group settings).
Here are my picks for Las Vegas…
Driver Group Game A Picks
Joey Logano (2): Logano entered the playoffs with some momentum after his 2nd place finish last week at Indianapolis. The No. 22 team kept the momentum going when they posted the fastest speed in final practice in race trim. My two picks (Kyle Busch and Joey Logano) set their cars up for the race and not for qualifying so they will start deep in the field. I am not using an allocation with Busch when he starts 20th so Logano gets the spot.
Group A Driver Rankings: 1) Kevin Harvick 2) Kyle Busch 3) Joey Logano 4) Chase Elliott 5) Brad Keselowski 6) Martin Truex Jr. 7) Kyle Larson
Driver Group Game B Picks
Qualifying was crazy Saturday. A lot of the best drivers will start in the back and a lot of the poor drivers qualified up front. For that reason I am saving my allocations with my top drivers in Group B and going with two drivers with a lot of upside potential this week. I plan to play a lot of my top drivers next week at Richmond because that track is more predictable.
Ryan Newman (7): Each season there is a surprise driver who advances in the playoffs. Everyone has already crossed off Newman for the Round of 12. He showed in practice that he is not ready to be eliminated yet. Newman posted the 10th fastest speed with the 8th quickest 10-lap average speed. I am not worried about his starting position because Newman always moves up 5-8 spots in the race. I will use an allocation with Newman while he still has a lot to race for.
Jimmie Johnson (5): Johnson said on MRN radio this week, “I never had the chance to play the spoiler role. I want to go out and be that guy who is not in the playoffs and wins a race.” Well, he has a car fast enough to run up front. Johnson posted the 13th fastest speed with the 9th fastest 10-lap average speed in final practice. He qualified in the top 10 and I think he can stay up there. I will use Johnson this week and save my top drivers for deeper in the playoffs.
Group B Driver Rankings: 1) Denny Hamlin 2) Clint Bowyer 3) Kurt Busch 4) Jimmie Johnson 5) Ryan Newman 6) Erik Jones 7) Daniel Suarez 8) Aric Almirola 9) Alex Bowman 10) William Byron
Driver Group Game C Picks
Chris Buescher (2): Buescher has been good on the 1.5-mile tracks this season and he has been really good (for a Group C driver) since the race at Kansas. Buescher has a 11th place average finishing position on the 1.5-mile tracks since the race at Kansas. He was only 28th fastest in final practice but do not worry about Buescher. He always practices mid-pack or further back. I am also not worried about his qualifying position. The No. 37 team sets up their car for the race, not qualifying. I will use one of my last allocations with Buescher Sunday night.
Group C Driver Rankings: 1) Chris Buescher 2) Matt DiBenedetto 3) Daniel Hemric 4) Bubba Wallace 5) Ty Dillon
Driver Group Game Team
Group A: Joey Logano (2)
Group B: Ryan Newman (7), Jimmie Johnson (4)
Group C: Chris Buescher (2)
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR
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Good luck this week!