Plate races are rarely more than lotteries, but fantasy owners now have the added stress of buying their ticket in a high-crime area where muggers lurk outside a poorly-lit convenience store.
The Coke Zero 400 is the final restrictor-plate, superspeedway regular season race. For many of the drivers outside the top 16 in points it represents the best opportunity to qualify for the playoffs, so at a conservative estimate 38 percent of the field will be hanging out the rear end of their cars to try and get to the checkers first.
Taking chances is always dangerous. Driving a loose car can be critical and it bit a driver with the undeniable skill of Dale Earnhardt Jr. in both plate races this year. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Trevor Bayne, and Danica Patrick have far less in their personal arsenal and they are going to be in the middle of a frantic pack along with all of the relevant racers.
Every desperate driver will have had six days to fantasize about Stewart’s’ success. They will have visualized their duties in promoting the Chase, basked in the coming adulation of the crowd, spent the bonus checks that undoubtedly come with a berth, and whipped themselves into a frenzy.
Then they will climb behind the wheel of a 3,500-pound stock car and wield it like an angry sword.
There is no strategy this week that will protect your lineup. Spread the money around—avoid the very bottom of the grid because they will have shown that their engines are not as strong as the competition’s—and do not exhaust racers in Pick ‘Em games who will be more predictable later in the season.
Good luck and may God Bless.
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