Daytona 500 Countdown: Do You Fantasize?

Adam AmickSenior Writer IFebruary 4, 2009

This marks part one in my 10-day countdown to the Great American Race – the 2009 Daytona 500. In this segment I’ll take a look at Fantasy NASCAR, and its relevance to race fans.

Fantasy sports have gone farther than anyone could have possibly imagined. Football alone affects national productivity as people analyze their lineups through the course of the week: checking stats; reading magazines; watching and listening to fantasy reports on ESPN and other outlets; and trying to find that one edge that will help them win. It’s become a multi-million dollar industry. It consumes people’s lives through the season.

I participated in a fantasy football league one year. It was fun, but wasn’t really my gig.

Fantasy NHL hockey, on the other hand, grasped me and wouldn’t let go…

It is one thing to have to set a roster each week. It is entirely another to have to set one every day. The league I was in was competitive as heck. There were rules about free-agents and roster changes, but there were loopholes as well. So if you were clever (and I was) then you could bounce players on and off your team to push for maximum points night in and night out.

Obsess much? Yes, thank you…

I don’t play fantasy hockey anymore. The therapy must have worked.

I have played fantasy NASCAR through several seasons, though I’ve sat out the past couple of years. At times I’ve found I neglect to set lineups, and the deeper into the season it is, a bad week lowers my interest. As is said in a number of situations, "Winning is contagious."

Mind you, I did have an impressive run a few years back, where I flirted with the top-50 in the overall Yahoo standings. I just wanted to see my name on that list. After the fall race at Talladega things slid backward,and I finished about number 600 in a league with 250,000-plus teams.

It was a thing of beauty, but victory in fantasy is fleeting, much like in the real world.

I haven’t tried other fantasy leagues, and would be curious to get feedback from readers on the likes and dislikes of their experiences.

I think Yahoo is pretty straightforward – pick two “A” list, four “B” list, and two “C” list drivers each week for qualifying, and get points if they wind up in the top-four. Then pick one, two, and one, respectively, for race day, and receive points based on finish position, and if they lead a lap or most laps. There's no money involved (as in buying your driver talent and such), so I liked that aspect of it.

The whole scene can suck you in. You're watching the race, and keeping track of your drivers. Has he led a lap? Yes! 10 bonus point for me!

The catch is that you can only use a given driver in nine races through the year. So it forces you to plan ahead. You want to save Jeff Gordon for the two road courses, Indy, and both Martinsville races, so that leaves four other times during the year to run the 24. My real gripe with the Yahoo system is that you can’t use a guy to qualify after you’ve run him the nine races, and I think you should.

The one other issue was keeping up with the scrubs – the “C” list, and who was entered in that weekend’s race. I think they put someone on that and kept it pretty straight a couple of years ago, so it helped players.


The biggest issue that I believe faces the fantasy owner is separating heart from head. As much as you may want to run Dale Earnhardt, Jr. every race because you bleed red…er, green, you can’t do it (at least you can’t in Yahoo). There are certain tracks he’s not that good at – historically speaking.

Then again the book was re-written in 2008 when his career began anew with Hendrick Motorsports. So now the “Green Machine” (as I like to call Junior Nation) has a better benchmark for the coming campaign.

Tony Stewart fans will be in a pickle this year, as will all the Ryan NEWMAN followers. Yes, the Hendrick machines will give them an edge, but will Stewart get back to being a weekly threat, and will Ryan return to qualifying well but sagging in result?

This year certainly poses a number of challenges to fantasy owners. With all the changes that have taken place, how will anyone perform? On the flip side, how will guys run where changes haven’t taken place, like Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth? Can Jimmy, Carl, and Kyle run away with the majority of the trophies?

Many question to be answered, grasshopper.

I’m contemplating forming a fantasy team for 2009. I wonder how many Bleacher Creatures would be interested in doing a dedicated BR Yahoo fantasy league, or if you’re in other leagues, and what your preferences are.

Do you obsess much about fantasy sports? Are you in a fantasy NASCAR league? Would you be interested in a BR-members only Yahoo (or other, if it’s not more time-intensive) Fantasy NASCAR league?

Speaking of “fantasy”…Tomorrow we’ll examine where 2008 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year Regan Smith’s fantasy ride at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. went awry, and the hill he’s looking to climb to stay in the series at Furniture Row Racing.