Comments: 2013 Preseason NASCAR Rankings
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Comments: 2013 Preseason NASCAR Rankings

It has only been a couple of months since Brad Keselowski outlasted Jimmie Johnson to claim the first Cup Series title of his young career, but cars are already back on the track at Daytona as the start 2013 season is just a couple of weeks away. Of course, this also means that fantasy NASCAR is set to return, and regardless of the type of league you play in, there is no substitute for being prepared and going into the year with a game plan. After all, it is much easier to win your league by getting off to a fast start than by trying to dig out of an early hole.

Unfortunately, there are always unknowns entering a new season, and that is especially true in 2013 as the Gen-6 car prepares to makes it debut. You also have Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano starting life with new teams and Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. beginning their full-time Cup careers. If you add it all up, there is plenty of uncertainty to go around. Fortunately, fantasy owners do have one sure thing amid all the questions, and it comes in the form of Jimmie Johnson. The guy has delivered the fantasy goods in all 11 years of his career, and he has more than earned the top spot in the rankings for the upcoming year.

Drivers listed in this article:
  1. Jimmie Johnson, Lowe's/Kobalt Tools
  2. Denny Hamlin, FedEx
  3. Kasey Kahne, Farmers Insurance/Quaker State
  4. Kyle Busch, Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries
  5. Brad Keselowski, Miller Lite
  6. Matt Kenseth, Husky/Dollar General
  7. Clint Bowyer, 5-Hour Energy
  8. Jeff Gordon, Drive to End Hunger/Axalta
  9. Carl Edwards, Fastenal/Aflac/UPS/Subway
  10. Tony Stewart, Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1
  11. Greg Biffle, 3M/Bondo
  12. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew
  13. Kevin Harvick, Budweiser/Jimmy Johns
  14. Martin Truex, Jr., Furniture Row
  15. Joey Logano, Shell-Pennzoil
  16. Ryan Newman, Caterpillar
  17. Paul Menard, Menards
  18. Mark Martin, Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1
  19. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Best Buy/Valvoline/Zest
  20. Kurt Busch, Haas Automation
  21. Marcos Ambrose, Stanley/Dewalt Power Tools
  22. Aric Almirola, Smithfield Foods
  23. Brian Vickers, Aaron's Dream Machine
  24. Jamie McMurray, McDonald's/Cessna
  25. Jeff Burton, PEAK BlueDEF
  26. Juan Montoya, Target
  27. David Ragan, CSX Transportation/Peanut Patch
  28. Bobby Labonte, TBA
  29. Danica Patrick, GoDaddy.com
  30. Trevor Bayne, Motorcraft/Quick Lane
  31. Travis Kvapil, Burger King/Doctor Pepper
  32. David Gilliland, Love's Travel Stops/A&W Restaurants
  33. David Reutimann, Burger King/Doctor Pepper
  34. Regan Smith, Guy Roofing
  35. A.J. Allmendinger, Kingsford/Clorox
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7 Comments

Is there any reason Casey Mears doesn't make your top 35? I would put him somewhere between 27 and 35 on your list.

Posted by:
Report Violation
Calicop5 02/18/13 07:03 PM
FFToolbox.com Writer

While I agree with you that Mears will probably land somewhere in that range as far as the real-life standings go in 2013, he isn't quite as useful in fantasy leagues. For one, only Dave Blaney had more DNFs than Mears' 11 last year among drivers in the top 35. In addition, Mears doesn't really have one type of track where his value is particularly high. Guys like David Ragan and David Gilliland for example have shown they can be above average sleepers at Daytona and Talladega while Allmendinger has above average flat track numbers.

Overall, part-time drivers like Trevor Bayne, Brian Vickers, Regan Smith and even a guy like Austin Dillon are going to be more productive on a per-race basis than Mears. Unless you are drafting one team for the entire season, there are just so many C-List-type options I would choose ahead of Mears. Again, Mears does have value simply because he will be in the field every week and will attempt to run the entire race. That being said, I don't see choosing Mears over any driver on this list in any format where I can alter my lineup on a weekly basis. There just isn't enough upside, especially if he is going to fail to finish a third of the races.

Posted by:
Brian Polking 02/19/13 06:26 AM

Thanks for the feedback. I decided to go with Kvapil over Mears based on your analysis. In my league I really just need to stay away from the Start and Parks.

Posted by:
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Calicop5 02/19/13 05:29 PM

I've got a season long fantasy league, and I need to choose Kurt Busch or Marcos Ambrose for my lower tier driver. It is only based off of total race points. Who do you think holds the most upside between the 2?

Posted by:
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tone22 02/21/13 11:43 PM
FFToolbox.com Writer

As you could probably already tell by my rankings, I have these guys ranked just about even in 2013. Between the two, I would go with Kurt Busch to round out the roster. He showed me enough in his strong finish to 2012 with Furniture Row that he can be competitive in the No. 78. Four straight top-15s, including three straight top-10s, during the Chase is solid. In general, I just think he is a more consistent driver than Ambrose.

On the flip side, I think Ambrose has more potential if he could actually put it all together. For one, I think he is the more likely of the two to win a race this year because of his road course prowess. He also had a stretch in August of last season when he scored more points than any other driver for the entire month. Still, the oval track consistency hasn't been there, and as much as I like him as a driver, I'm not sure it is ever going to be there. If the switch suddenly flips and he gets it, I think Ambrose has better equipment than Busch and could outscore him.

Like I said, I'd go with Busch because I think he now has the equipment to at least compete for a top-15 finish on a weekly basis. I expect his consistency to win out against Ambrose's hot and cold stretches. If you are looking to swing for the fences and gamble on potential, I think the ceiling is higher with Ambrose. Personally, I just don't think he is going to reach it in 2013.

I hope that helps, and thanks for choosing FFToolbox for your fantasy advice. Feel free to fire away with any more questions throughout the season.

Posted by:
Brian Polking 02/22/13 08:52 AM

I am entering a large group nascar fantasy for the first time through my buddy. Theres over 100 people in the league. The setup is where you pick 1 driver from 7 different tiers for the entire season. Many of the tough choices i have involve drivers who are with new teams, or new full time drivers. To be honest ive put so much thought into it to where its become worse than getting teeth pulled...the point system is based on finish position in races where 1st gets 1 point, 43rd gets 43 points and does not race gets 45 points. so drivers who race full schedule is prefered...the drivers i have a hard time choosing between are (hamlin, kenseth), (logano, manard), (kurt busch, stenhouse jr), and bayne, gilliand) ive noticed many of these drivers are close in your rankings...any tips..or should i just go with my gut considering they are all so close? any help is appreciated!

Posted by:
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TFunk198 02/23/13 11:55 AM
FFToolbox.com Writer

I'll start with what is the easiest choice in my mind. Given the structure of your league, I think the fact that Gilliland should be in the field each week will trump Bayne's superior per-race production. I ran some numbers, and I gave Bayne a generous estimate of a 15th-place finish in all 16 of his starts. Based on that assumption: 15 x 16 plus the 20 x 45 for the races he will miss puts him at 1,140 points for the year. Meanwhile, I assumed Gilliland will only be able to average a 30th-place finish, but that will still only 1,080 points (30 x 36). I think I was generous with Bayne and a little harsh on Gilliland so I definitely think you will come out ahead with Gilliland in that one.

Looking at some of the other battles, I would go with Kenseth over Hamlin. Since it doesn't appear you get any bonus points for wins or leading laps, Kenseth becomes the more valuable driver in my mind. He has had a better average finish in each of the past three seasons than Hamlin, and that includes Hamlin's monster 2010 season. I actually think Hamlin's victories and bonus points will put him ahead of Kenseth, but since those don't matter for your league, I think Kenseth is the pick.

The Menard/Logano battle is a tough one. Personally, I think Menard is the safer pick. I think he is going to be in the top 20 on a consistent basis all year. However, I believe Logano's move to Penske could be just what he needs to get him on track. I would gamble on Logano's upside, but if your not a risk taker, you pretty much know what you are going to get with Menard.

I would also say the Busch/Stenhouse pick is kind of your preference. I definitely think Busch will have a better start to the year, but I think Stenhouse is a good enough driver with a good enough team to have a strong rookie year. If I was picking, I'd probably take Logano and then take Busch to balance potential and reliability. I would be a little leery of taking both Logano and Stenhouse in case both turn out to be b

Posted by:
Brian Polking 02/23/13 06:40 PM
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