The news that Kurt Busch was suspended by NASCAR for his actions following the Nationwide series race at Dover International Speedway may not come as that big of a surprise given the attention it grabbed nationwide. It was a foolish moment at a time when discretion would have been the better part of valor.
The saddest part of the story is that he had the opportunity to race at a track where he excels. He will now miss the chance to prove to potential sponsors that he has what it takes to get the job done with a fraction of the budget. So what now for fantasy players?
Consider Ryan Newman. He has a top-5 and two top-10s in the last five Pocono races, and is coming off of back-to-back top-15 finishes after a string of poor runs in the No. 39. His career average finish on the Pennsylvania triangle is 12.7, and that includes 20 starts.
If you’re looking for a replacement this week for Busch, give Newman a serious consideration.
Fantasy owners now know that Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team have been hit by a heavy penalty by NASCAR for the team’s unapproved C-post. The car failed the Daytona 500 initial inspection, and then crashed out of the race just after the first lap was completed.
After the race, NASCAR announced sanctions against Johnson, the team and Crew Chief Chad Knaus. Essentially, Knaus was banned six weeks, fined $100,000, and docked the team 25 points.
What does this mean to Johnson’s fantasy value through the suspension? Not much. Hendrick Motorsports is appealing the decision, so Knaus stays with the team until the appeal is heard, and the team has been in this situation before. This is the third time that Johnson may have to compete without Knaus in the past six years. During the first suspension in 2006, Johnson won two of the first three races, including the Daytona 500.
The immediate impact is minimal since Knaus remains with the team, but the only place he won’t be present if the suspension is upheld, is the actual track. Knaus’ genius is in his organization and leadership, and NASCAR is banning neither of those.