Carl Edwards hadn't won since Week 2 at Phoenix International Raceway, and his recent engine failure at Bristol was no cause for fantasy owners to do back-flips over owning the No. 99. Yet Edwards still gained $0.25 entering Richmond.
Inquiring fantasy minds must have known Edwards was due for a win. In fact, his victory in the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway gave him the top score of the night in fantasy at 121.5.
Edwards compiled 47 of those points from his finishing position, but also got 25 from place differential and 23 from laps led. Owners who weren't scared off by Edwards qualifying 26th were rewarded for their good faith.
Unfortunately, for some of us who shall remain nameless, swapping out Edwards for Joey Logano was one of those last-minute moves we would have rather avoided. Logano seemed like a good choice coming in thanks to a hot streak that included six straight top-10s.
But Logano finished 22nd at Richmond and compiled just 9.5 fantasy points (37th-best for the week). For just $1 more owners could have had Edwards and 112 more fantasy points.
See how quickly fortunes can turn? And so it was with the end of the race, too. On a restart with three laps to go, Edwards got out quickly and beat runner-up Kurt Busch to the start/finish line when the checkered flag fell. On that same restart, Logano got the wave-around and finished just well enough to qualify for the Chase.
But Logano had a tough night, as he admitted after the race, and that $1 more an owner could have spent on Edwards turned out to be worth much more than the 99 pennies plus one. (See what I did there?)
And another thing to note was the strength of Edwards' pit crew that has come through time and time again for fantasy owners for bonus points in the NASCAR Fantasy Live game this year, and helped Edwards in the final moments at Richmond.
Key Fantasy Moment: Clint Bowyer was in 16th place with seven laps to go when he spun and brought out the caution flag. Bowyer ended up 25th, and his minus-21 fantasy points in place differential ruined what otherwise could have been a solid day. His 55 fantasy points ranked him 13th overall, and that wasn't the type of boost owners needed heading into the Chase.
Biggest Bargain: AJ Allmendinger represented $10 in fantasy well spent. His 60 fantasy points were 12th-best on the night and better than higher-cost options such as Bowyer, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Not bad for a driver who was filling in for the injured Bobby Labonte (rib fractures) in the No. 47 car.
Biggest Bust: The driver we highlighted in last week's column, Jimmie Johnson, was absolutely the biggest bust at Richmond. He's the most expensive driver in the NASCAR Fantasy Live game and he finished dead last in fantasy points with minus-15. It marked the fourth straight finish of 28th or worse for Johnson, so his fans are hoping moving into the Chase will turn the page on his recent run of bad performances.
Tip to take forward: According to NASCAR's Statistical Services, the following drivers lead in the significant fantasy categories at Chicagoland: Laps led, Johnson (479); quality passes, Jeff Gordon (271); fastest laps, Johnson (310); average finish, Brian Vickers (8.6). Tony Stewart has the best average finish at Chicagoland, but since he is injured, Vickers is the next on the list.
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