DANIEL SUAREZ (JOE GIBBS RACING) TOYOTA
2018 DRIVER FANTASY RANKING: 12TH
2017 FANTASY NASCAR RANK: 18TH
2017 RECAP: Daniel Suarez was one of the drivers who impressed me the most in 2017. Carl Edwards announced his retirement in January and Suarez received the call from Joe Gibbs Racing that he would be driving the No. 19 car. The team and Suarez had no time to prepare for this change so expectations were low. Suarez proved that he was ready to race with the premier drivers in the sport. He had 12 finishes in the top 10 and one finish in the top five (Watkins Glen). Suarez ranked 18th in fantasy value and 20th in the point standings. The team probably would have performed better if they had more time to prepare for the 2017 season.
2018 Preview: I do not expect a sophomore slump from Suarez. He started to pick up a lot of momentum in the second-half of the season. I was impressed how Suarez always improved upon his finishing position whenever the series visited a track for the second time. That tells me Suarez is a quick learner and will be a lot better in 2018. Joe Gibbs Racing should have the fastest cars on the track early in the season. I plan to use as many of the drivers from this team as possible until Chevy and Ford are able to find speed for their cars.
INTERMEDIATE TRACK VALUE
Daniel Suarez did not set the track on fire at the Intermediate tracks (1.5-mile and 2.mile ovals) in 2017. Suarez ranked 18th in fantasy value at these tracks. His best races came at Kansas (finished 7th) and Charlotte (finished 6th). Suarez had a lot of success on the Intermediate tracks in the Xfinity Series. I expect him to be a lot better in 2018. He will be a good pick in Fantasy Live and DraftKings because his price should not be too high.
SUPERSPEEDWAY TRACK VALUE
Daniel Suarez did not perform too well in his first season on the Superspeedways (Daytona and Talladega). Suarez ranked 21st in fantasy value at these two tracks. Suarez did not finish any of the four races inside the top 15. Until he gets a little more experience in the draft, I would use another driver for your fantasy team.
FLAT TRACK VALUE
Daniel Suarez performed well in most of the races on the Flat tracks (Phoenix, Richmond, Martinsville and Loudon) in 2017. Suarez ranked 15th in fantasy value at these four tracks. Suarez finished both races at Loudon in the top 10, had a 9.5 average finishing position at Richmond and he had a 12.5 average finishing position at Phoenix. The only track he struggled at was Martinsville (he had a 23.5 average finishing position at the paperclip-shaped track). Suarez should be on your fantasy team at Loudon and he can be considered at Richmond and Phoenix. I would fade him at Martinsville until he gets more experience at the track.
STEEP TRACK VALUE
Daniel Suarez was great at Dover but struggled at Bristol and Darlington in 2017. Suarez ranked 13th in fantasy value at the Steep tracks (Bristol, Dover and Darlington). His top-15 ranking was a result of his two finishes in the top 10 at Dover. Suarez finished 15th and 18th at Bristol and he had his worst race of the season at Darlington (finished 38th). Suarez should be on all teams at Dover and I would fade him at Bristol and Darlington.
ROAD COURSE TRACK VALUE
Daniel Suarez was one of the biggest surprises at the Road Courses (Sonoma and Watkins Glen) in 2017. The general rule in Fantasy NASCAR is to fade the rookie drivers at these tracks. Suarez grew up racing go-carts on road courses and his experience paid off last year. Suarez had his best race of the year at Watkins Glen. He qualified 5th, led 14 laps and finished 3rd. It will be safe to use Suarez on the Road Courses in 2018.
Best Tracks to for Daniel Suarez: 1) Watkins Glen, 2) Dover, 3) Loudon, 4) Auto Club, 5) Charlotte
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