It wasn’t all that long ago that Joey Logano celebrated his first career championship, but the 2019 Daytona 500 and the start of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season is already less than a month away.
With DraftKings and Fanduel now both offering DFS NASCAR to go along with the wide-ranging variety of season-long options at numerous sites, there are plenty of ways to satisfy your appetite for fantasy NASCAR. NASCAR.com, FantasyGames4U.com, Fantasy Racing Online and Fantrax.com offer some of my favorite contests.
Of course, no matter what contests and leagues you pursue this season, you need to be prepared. Some big names have switched teams this offseason, and while Ford will make the switch to the Mustang, Chevy will be going into year No. 2 with the Camaro. NASCAR is also implementing a new rules package at the mile-and-a-half tracks that could really level the playing field between all the teams.
In order to get you up to speed on everything that has gone on since last year’s finale at Homestead and get you ready to dominate in 2019, I’ve ranked my Top 30 drivers for the upcoming NASCAR season. I’ll start with the bottom half and reveal the Top 15 options shortly after.
The worst kept secret in the garage was confirmed recently, and Suarez will officially pilot the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 in 2019. Despite flirting with a couple of wins in his two seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing, he was never able to become a weekly threat, making it an easy decision to replace him in the No. 19 with Martin Truex Jr. The good news for Suarez is that he will still have elite equipment to work with at SHR and another chance to prove he can deliver at the highest level. Suarez has a great chance to become a steady Top 15 performer and set a career high in Top 10s, but I don’t see him winning races or providing many dominator points just yet.
His rookie season has to be classified as a disappointment as he logged just four Top 10s compared to nine DNFs. That being said, it is easy to forget that he was just 21 years old and that Hendrick Motorsports struggled as a whole to one of the organization’s worst seasons in recent memory. Another year of experience for Byron, the addition of crew chief Chad Knaus and more time for HMS to perfect the Chevy Camaro should all add up to a better 2019 for Byron. I still expect peaks and valleys for the youngster, but I’d also look for more strong runs out of him as he starts his ascent up the ranks. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Byron become a weekly Top 15 performer by the end of the year.
Dillon dumped Aric Almirola on his way to a win in the Daytona 500, but his 2018 was modest, at best, as he finished with just eight Top 10s. Granted, four of those Top 10s came during the playoffs, and Dillon managed seven Top 15s in those last 10 races. The late momentum is promising, but we’ve seen late surges from Dillon before, only to watch him fail to back it up the next season. I’ll believe Dillon can take the next step when I actually see it, and I’d look for 2019 to be another year of mid-pack runs for him.
Stenhouse has established himself as a fantasy force at the plate tracks and Bristol, but his inconsistent performance at just about every other track prevents him from taking the next step. As long as he stays with Roush Fenway Racing, I don’t see that changing. Take advantage of him at his best tracks, but Stenhouse will be a high-risk option most weeks.
20.Paul Menard, #21 Menards/Motorcraft, Wood Brothers Racing
The move to Wood Brothers Racing gave a little life to his racing career, and Menard emerged a steady Top 20 driver with Top 15 upside at the mile-and-a-half tracks. The muscle the Ford teams showed at the intermediate ovals bodes well for his chances of another decent season in 2019. He’s not flashy, but Menard can be an underrated fantasy asset in most formats.