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Ryan Blaney finished second at Phoenix and secured his first Cup Series title. C.J. Radune breaks down the race and recaps a number of the impressive and disappointing seasons in 2023.
William Byron has been the most consistent driver throughout much of 2023 and has a chance at his first Cup Series title. C.J. Radune gives us his best DFS values and a pair of lineups to consider at Phoenix.
Kyle Larson is seeking his second Cup Series title at Phoenix against a trio of young stars looking for their first. Mark Taylor previews the championship race and gives his drivers to target in fantasy.
Ryan Blaney holds the last Championship 4 spot in points heading to Martinsville. C.J. Radune is eyeing the No. 12 at a great track for him and also provides some of the best DFS values for Sunday's race.
It's been a tough season for Josh Berry, but nobody in this field has more experience at Martinsville. Dane Shinault features the driver of the No. 8 in his optimal lineup for the Xfinity Series race Saturday.
Past Fantasy Outlooks
2021 was like a lost season for both Harvick and Stewart Haas Racing. It was clear that the stable didn't put a whole lot of tech into the old car before the arrival of the Next-Gen car. SHR seemed to fall way behind in terms of speed and potential to win. However, Harvick seemed to weather it better than the other drivers of this multi-car team. Last season was Harvick's first winless campaign since 2009, and his 217 laps led were his lowest total for a season dating back to 2009 as well. The veteran driver still managed to grab 24 Top-10 finishes, but his Top-5 totals were way down with just 10 for the season. Harvick and the No. 4 Ford team will hit the reset button in 2022. The new Next-Gen car will help level the playing field technologically. That's a huge advantage for a driver as talented as Harvick. He and crew chief Rodney Childers are two of the best in the business. It won't take long for 2014 Cup Series champion to rediscover his mo-jo. We should see multiple wins in the upcoming season and a serious bid for NASCAR's crown.
He may have come up short in the title chase last season, but Harvick's dominance is undeniable. The Stewart Haas Racing star hung nine victories on the wall and 20 Top-5 finishes last season. His past three seasons have seen the driver of the No. 4 Ford average seven wins and 27 Top 10s for those campaigns. Harvick is without question the most dominant and most productive driver in NASCAR's top division. While it may not equal championships due to NASCAR's playoff format, it does equal dominating production that can be relied on in fantasy racing leagues. Rodney Childers will continue to call the shots from the crew chief position and he will guide Harvick to another multi-win, championship-contending campaign in 2021.
The Stewart Haas Racing star nabbed four victories and 26 Top-10 finishes last season en route to a third-place finish in the driver standings. It was his third-straight season finishing third in the point standings. Harvick has been in the hunt for that second-career championship, but closing the deal has been problematic. Most of that issue rests squarely on the Chase for the Cup system. Harvick is a tremendous season-long performer, but has not had the best luck with the one-race, winner-take-all playoff format. The No. 4 Ford team and crew chief Rodney Childers will reload and fire again in 2020. Harvick was very strong down the stretch run last season. All four of his victories came in the second half of the campaign, and he finished the playoffs with a three-race Top-5 streak. The veteran driver should be poised again for a four-to-five win, and 26 Top-10 finishes season.
The Stewart Haas Racing star was equally impressive as Kyle Busch last season, racking up eight victories and 29 Top-10 finishes. Both were career-best marks. However, it would not be Harvick walking away with the championship after Homestead. Instead, the driver of the No. 4 Ford would walk away with his fifth Top-3 finish in the standings in the last six seasons. Harvick is like the Gibraltar Rock of NASCAR. He's had only one bad season in the last nine years, and he's stacked up tons of wins, Top 5s and Top 10s in the process. He and crew chief Rodney Childers will continue to flourish in one of the longest running and most successful driver/crew chief pairings of recent years. The only thing that prevented us from placing Harvick number one in these rankings was the newness of the Ford Mustang. The No. 4 team should adapt faster than most Ford stables, but a slow start to the season would not be that surprising.
Harvick didn't have a letdown season in 2017, but his lack of victories was very noticeable. His two wins were a season low since the 2012 campaign, and his 850 laps led were also a season low since 2013. Still, the Stewart Haas Racing star managed 23 Top-10 finishes and once again advanced to the final round of the championship at Homestead. The dominant speed just wasn't there for the No. 4 Ford team, but Harvick still made the best of it with a solid and consistent campaign. We expect a bit of a rebound for Harvick in the upcoming season. He should increase his win totals more in the three-to-four range, and he should be good for three or four more Top 10's. Harvick is now 42-years-old and still races at a very high level, but his window of opportunity to win a second championship is closing. You can expect to see that urgency in his racing this season.
Harvick had a bit of a slip in consistency last season, but he still posted monstrous numbers. His four-win and 27 Top-10 season was right on par with what we've seen in recent years for the No. 4 Stewart Haas Racing team. However, Harvick had some shocking power outages in the latter third of the season which led to his being punted prematurely from the Chase. The net affect caused his average finish over the season to balloon to 11.7, when it's been closer to 8 or 9 over the previous two years. Stewart Haas Racing makes the big change from Chevrolet to Ford in 2017. That could be some mixed news for Harvick. Over the long haul it could be a good move, but in the short term it could lead to some early-season struggles. However, make no mistake, Harvick is an elite class driver no matter the situation.
Despite falling short of the Sprint Cup Series championship in 2015, Harvick was once again the most dominant driver in the Sprint Cup Series. His failure to defend his title was more a function of the one-race-off luck of the Chase than anything else. He recorded three victories and career highs in top-5s and top-10s with 23 and 28, respectively. When you factor in the 13 runner-up finishes you can truly appreciate just how dominant the No. 4 team was last season. With crew chief Rodney Childers and the entire supporting cast returning in 2016, there's no reason to expect a downturn. If anything, Harvick will be hungrier than ever to win the crown.
It’s difficult to give any driver the “lame duck” label, and ones as gifted as Harvick it is even more difficult. Still, the Richard Childress Racing star is coming off one of his worst seasons in Sprint Cup Series racing. Were it not for some late-season magic and surprise win at Phoenix, he would have been locked out of victory lane in 2012. Harvick announced late last season that he will be heading to Stewart Haas Racing in 2014, making his upcoming season with RCR his last with team owner Richard Childress. Just how this affects the mindset of this team knowing that Harvick’s days are numbered at the No. 29 camp is anyone’s speculation, but it can’t be that good. Raw talent alone probably earns Harvick 13-15 Top-10 finishes in 2013, but making the Chase field and winning races seems highly unlikely.
Harvick has fallen short of expectations since his rookie season with RCR. He should be competing for championships, and it's not clear if it's the team, personell, or Harvick who's holding this team back. He's a high risk/reward driver in 2006.
More Fantasy News
Top-5 Finish at Pocono
Harvick finished fourth in the HighPoint.com 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway Sunday afternoon.
Top-5 Finish in New Hampshire
Harvick finished fourth in the rain-delayed Crayon 301 NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Monday.
Runner-up Finish at Darlington
Harvick finished second in the Goodyear 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway Sunday afternoon.
Top-5 Finish at Richmond
Harvick finished fifth in the Toyota Owners 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway Sunday afternoon.
Crash and DNF at Atlanta
Harvick crashed and finished 33rd in the Ambetter Health 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday afternoon.