Fantasy NASCAR race preview: Samsung Mobile 500

by Eric McClung on April 14, 2010 @ 11:00:00 PDT


Texas Motor Speedway is one of three 1.5-mile cookie cutter tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule, each holding two races per season. In particular, Texas is in a prime spot for two big fantasy payoffs. The first race is held a few weeks after Atlanta Motor Speedway, one of its sister tracks. The second race is the last event to be held on this type of track and is scheduled just two races after the second event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. All three of these tracks share the same length and corner banking. The wear due to age and use of each track is unique, which causes the speeds to vary somewhat. Still, the similar configuration these tracks share make for great comparisons when assembling your lineups.

Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Shape: Quad-oval
Length: 1.5 mile
Laps: 334
Turns 1-4: 24 degrees

Drivers to keep an eye on

Joey Logano | No. 20 Home Depot Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing

Despite a poor 35th-place showing at Atlanta, Logano started the season off with two strong runs at other intermediate tracks. In the second week of the season, Logano finished fifth at the Auto Club Speedway, which was followed up with a sixth-place result at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In the Nationwide Series, Logano's highlights at Texas include a top-five in the 2008 fall race and a 12th-place finish in last year's spring race. Throw in a runner-up performance plus another top-10 over the last two races and momentum looks to be very much on Logano's side.

Mark Martin | No. 5 Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports

A crash ruined his day at Atlanta, but fourth-place finishes at Fontana and Las Vegas indicate Martin is capable of getting it right at Texas. Last year, Martin was among the best drivers in the Lone Star State, finishing sixth and fourth. He could be considered a risky start after his three straight finishes outside the top 20 before last week's race. However, Phoenix marked where Martin's resurgence began last year, and could do the same for him in 2010.

Kurt Busch | No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge | Penske Championship Racing

Kurt Busch, Penske Championship Racing
Boom or bust?

Speaking of risk, the older Busch brother may be this week's top example of a boom-or-bust selection. Last year at Texas, Busch finished eighth in the spring and won in the fall. For the second year in a row, Busch dominated the Atlanta spring race, which gives him wins in each of the last two races held on 1.5-mile tracks banked at 24 degrees. The only issue is how bad Busch's bad races are. In seven starts this season, Busch has four finishes outside of the top 20. If you like high-risk, high-reward drivers ride with the blue deuce.

Paul Menard | No. 98 Quaker State/Menards Ford | Richard Petty Motorsports

It took seven races, but Menard finally finished outside of the top 20. Don't jump ship just yet. Menard's best finish of the season, fifth, came at Atlanta. Also, Menard has a streak of three consecutive finishes inside the top 20 in the Texas spring race, ranging from 13th to 17th. As the top bottom-tier driver for much of the season, those that burned up starts on Menard in allocation formats may need to pass on him. For those that have starts to spare, Menard should be on your short list.

Juan Pablo Montoya | No. 42 Target Chevrolet | Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing

When bad luck has stayed out of his path, Montoya has been able to duplicate the type of success that made him last year's breakout driver. While those opportunities have been few, there's reason to strongly consider JPM this week. Earlier this season at Atlanta, Montoya finished a season-high third. He is also coming off a very strong fifth-place showing at Phoenix. Last year, Montoya finished seventh in the spring race at Texas, in addition to two other top 10s at the other 1.5-mile tracks banked at 24 degrees.

Temper your expectations

Carl Edwards | No. 99 Scott's Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

Coming into Texas with three consecutive top-10s, Edwards looks like a good pick on the surface, but there are a few flaws. While Edwards' 13th-place finish at Fontana and 12th-place finish at Las Vegas are decent, he was outperformed by two of his teammates, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle, in each event. Also, Edwards wrecked at Atlanta and in last year's fall race at Texas, giving him DNFs in the last two races held on 1.5-mile tracks banked at 24 degrees. If you are looking at a Roush driver this week, defer to one of his more successful teammates.

Jeff Burton | No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

With finishes of 20th or worse in three of his last four starts, exercise some caution when considering Burton this week. While he did finish ninth in both races last year at Texas, Burton was MIA last week at Phoenix, another track where he is typically very consistent. Add a disappointing 20th-place result at Atlanta and there are enough question marks around Burton to wait this one out. He may be sitting seventh in points, but a rash of up-and-down performances from this typically solid driver is puzzling.

Brian Vickers | No. 83 Red Bull Toyota | Red Bull Racing

Brian Vickers, Red Bull Racing
Which Vickers will show up?

For whatever reason, Vickers has been unable to carry his success at Atlanta to a strong performance at Texas. After finishing seventh a few weeks ago at Atlanta, Vickers now has five top-10s in the last six races there. At Texas, however, Vickers has failed to record a top-10 in any of his 11 career starts. In 2008, he finished 16th and 18th at Texas; last year was more of the same, finishing 16th and 26th. There are plenty of worse options than Vickers, but his history is far too vanilla to sample this week.

David Reutimann | No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing

Last year, Reutimann was very quietly among the most consistent drivers on intermediate tracks. In last year's spring race at Texas, Reutimann won the pole and went on to finish 11th. This year, the double zero has been plagued by equipment issues and bad performance. At Atlanta, overheating issues ended their day early. Without an extensive resume built on these tracks, pass on Reutimann for now. If things do go well, keep Reutimann in mind for future intermediates.

Kasey Kahne | No. 9 Budweiser Ford | Richard Petty Motorsports

Known as a threat to contend on most intermediate tracks, Kahne has struggled at Texas. Since winning the spring race back in 2006, Kahne has yet to record a finish better than 18th at the site. Even starting 10th or better in three of the last four races at Texas has not helped matters. While he did finish a season-high fourth at Atlanta, keep in mind Kahne has four finishes of 30th or worse this season. The announcement he'll be moving to Hendrick Motorsports for the 2012 season may become a distraction for his team, not that they've looked focused this season anyway.

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About Eric McClung

Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a three-time award finalist. Over the years, he's made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts. He's also captured the fantasy football championship in the KFFL staff league twice.

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