Fantasy NASCAR Awards for 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Season
The NASCAR Sprint Cup season is complete, and the series has crowned Jimmie Johnson its champion for the sixth time. The end of the NASCAR season also means the end of the fantasy NASCAR season. Hopefully, your fantasy team enjoyed the same success that Johnson did in 2013.
In order to win your NASCAR league, you had to rely on many different drivers to help get your team to the top. The same way Johnson needed crew chief Chad Knaus and the No. 48 team’s pit crew, your fantasy team needed a combination of drivers to create the perfect team.
Predicting which drivers will have success during the NASCAR season has become difficult. There are many more drivers who have the talent to win a race than there was in the past. The key to winning your fantasy league is to figure out which drivers will have a great season before your competitors do.
Here are my selections for the fantasy NASCAR awards for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Most Valuable Driver
Jimmie Johnson is my pick for the Most Valuable Driver for the 2013 season. The selection of Johnson for this award was much closer than people might have thought.
Although he ran away with the 2013 Championship, Matt Kenseth was almost just as good in fantasy NASCAR.
Johnson won six races, had three poles and finished in the top 10 in 24 of the 36 races. Kenseth finished the season with seven wins, three poles and 20 top-10 finishes.
What made this a close battle was Johnson’s slump from the August race at Michigan through the September race at Richmond. During this stretch of four races, he did not have any top-25 finishes. This let Kenseth expand his lead as the Most Valuable Driver in fantasy racing. Once the Chase began, Johnson ran away with the award.
Most Disappointing Driver
The Most Disappointing Driver award goes to Denny Hamlin.
Many fans thought 2013 could be the year Denny Hamlin won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. But his season was over nearly before it started.
Hamlin had a feud with former teammate Joey Logano, which led to a crash at Fontana. He missed many races due to a back injury, and his fantasy value was ruined. Hamlin was able to bounce back at the end of the season, but it was too late for fantasy owners who selected him as one of their drivers.
Tony Stewart also received much consideration for this award. Stewart performed well when he was on the race track, even winning the race at Dover. But his season ended in June after a wreck in Ohio at a sprint car race. Hopefully Stewart can be the Comeback Driver of the Year in 2014.
Mark Martin was the last driver considered for the award. When it was announced that he would take over for Stewart in the No. 14 car for Stewart Haas Racing, most fantasy NASCAR players thought his value would skyrocket. However, that didn't happen. Instead, Martin only had one top-10 finish as Stewart’s replacement.
Comeback Driver of the Year
The Comeback Driver of the Year award goes to Kurt Busch.
Many drivers where considered for this award, but the low expectations for Busch combined with his success on the race track won him this award.
Last season, he finished 25th in the point standings. This season, he was able to make the Chase and finish 10th. Although he did not win any races, he consistently ran in the top 10.
Joey Logano was also considered for this award. Logano finished the 2012 season 17th in the points. He won the race at Michigan and also made the Chase, proving that his move to Penski Racing was the right choice.
Rookie Driver of the Year
The Rookie of the Year award goes to Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Only two drivers were competing for this award, and they just happen to be dating each other. Danica Patrick started off the season with an impressive race at Daytona, but it was all downhill for her after that. Stenhouse ran away with the award and showed that he is worth his spot at Roush Fenway Racing.
Best Driving Performance of the Year
The Best Driving Performance of the Year award goes to Jimmie Johnson at Pocono.
Johnson started the race on the pole and led 128 of 160 laps (80 percent of the laps) on his way to Victory Lane. The win was his third win at the track.
Johnson’s victory at Martinsville was also considered for this award. He won the pole and led 346 of the 500 laps (69 percent of the laps) on his way to Victory Lane. Johnson should always be on your fantasy NASCAR team when the series races at Pocono or Martinsville.
Other great racing performances include Matt Kenseth at Kansas (he led 163 of 267 laps and got the win) and Kyle Busch at Texas (he led 171 of 334 and won the race).
Predictions for 2014
Most Valuable Driver: Kevin Harvick
Most Disappointing Driver: Jeff Gordon
Comeback Driver of the Year: Denny Hamlin
Rookie of the Year: Kyle Larson
Best Driving Performance: Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville