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ADAM ANSELL'S TOP 25 FOR KANSAS
1. Jimmie Johnson: A lot has been made of Johnson limping into the Chase, but he's walking just fine now. In eight starts at Kansas Speedway, Johnson has one win (2008), two Top Fives, six Top 10s and three poles (2003, 2007-08). He's led at least one lap each of his last five starts at the site. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Johnson leads all competitors in Driver Rating (122.6), Average Running Position (6.3), Laps in the Top 15 (93.0 percent), Fastest Laps Run (204), Quality Passes (217) and Average Green Flag Speed (162.394 mph). For all the Tiered/Grouping format Fantasy owners out there who have been banking their Johnson starts, it's time to break open the vault. He'll take the Chase lead with a win at Kansas.
2. Tony Stewart: Since his win at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Stewart has an Average Finish of 17th with zero Top 10s in the three subsequent races. In nine starts at Kansas, Smoke has two wins (2006, 2009), four Top Fives and six Top 10s. He ranks fifth in DR (99.0) and sixth in ARP (11.0). His Loop Data figures at the site are skewed downwards thanks to 39th and 40th-place finishes in 2007-08. Take those races out of the equation and his 120.7 DR and 4.9 ARP are easier for Fantasy owners to swallow. He's currently 162 points behind the Chase leader and sits in 10th place. Stewart will bounce back from a disappointing 21st-place finish at Dover a week ago and cash in a Top Five.
3. Jeff Gordon: Gordon sits eighth in the Chase standings and 83 points out of top spot, well within striking distance. He's taken a lot of heat for his failure to hit Victory Lane, but he's still producing on a Fantasy level and that's all that matters. In nine starts at Kansas, Gordon has two wins (2001-02), six Top Fives and seven Top 10s. His Average Finish at the site is 8.9. He ranks third in DR (104.7) and in ARP (9.5). He's only led laps in three of his nine Kansas starts, but has three consecutive Top Fives at the site, so Fantasy owners can let that one slide. Gordon is likely to come at a discounted value in Tiered/Grouping formats this weekend. If that's the case, Fantasy owners need to take advantage.
4. Carl Edwards: Since the July event at Daytona, Edwards boasts an Average Finish of sixth. He's finished inside the Top 12 in every one those races. He's just 73 points off the pace in the Chase, and quietly going about his business. In six starts at Kansas, Edwards has two Top Fives, four Top 10s and an Average Finish of 13th. He ranks sixth in DR (94.2) and seventh in ARP (13.9). Edwards' ownership is well below where it should be in Tiered/Grouping formats, and he is the perfect start for Fantasy owners needing to mount a comeback in their leagues.
5. Denny Hamlin: Every analyst has predicted Johnson would break out of his funk at some point, but what hasn't gotten enough press is how Hamlin would respond when the No. 48 dragon reared his ugly head. In five starts at the site, Hamlin has one Top Five. He ranks 16th in DR (80.9) and in ARP (18.4). Hamlin is considered an elite driver, but doesn't have the sort of Chase experience Johnson does. What he does have is guts. The numbers at Kansas aren't great, but Hamlin is. He'll trump history and turn in a quality performance this weekend, putting himself neck-and-neck with Johnson until Homestead.
6. Kurt Busch: Busch has been incredible at 1.5-mile intermediate tracks this season, and yes, Kansas Speedway is a 1.5-mile track. The issue here is the tracks at Atlanta, Charlotte and Texas are quad-ovals. Kansas is a D-shaped oval. The banking is something to keep in mind, but shouldn't stop Fantasy owners from taking a chance on Busch, who finished in the Top Five at Dover, his first since Watkins Glen International. In nine starts at the site, Busch has two Tops 10s. He ranks 14th in DR (82.0) and 17th in ARP (18.8). Busch will surely be near the bottom in ownership this weekend, presenting extraordinary value for Fantasy owners with the cojones to start him.
7. Greg Biffle: Biffle has managed to have success on a consistent basis at Kansas Speedway, no easy feat. In eight starts at the site, he has one win (2007), five Top Fives and an Average Finish of ninth. He ranks second in DR (119.6) and in ARP (6.3). The only drawback is Biffle's recent cold streak. He has an Average Finish of 26th in his last four Cup starts with zero Top 10s and zero laps led. Biffle will come around eventually and if it turns out to be this weekend, it'll come at a supreme value in Tiered/Grouping formats. He's another solid option for Fantasy owners playing from behind.
8. Matt Kenseth: In nine starts at the site, Kenseth has two Top Fives, three Top 10s and one pole (2005). He ranks seventh in DR (93.7) and ninth in ARP (14.5). He's led at least one lap in four of his last five Kansas starts. From 2005-08, he qualified inside the Top Four three times with an Average Start of 3.5. Sitting 11th in the Chase standings, he's got a long road ahead if he plans on contending for the championship. That bodes very well for Fantasy owners.
9. Kevin Harvick: In nine starts at the site, Harvick has three Top 10s. He ranks 15th in DR (81.2) and 14th in ARP (16.4). He's averaging a 10th-place finish through the first two Chase races. No driver has been more consistent this season than Harvick, so Fantasy owners should look past the weak Loop Data stats in this case. The number of Harvick Tiered/Grouping format starts Fantasy owners have left should determine whether or not he's in starting lineups at Kansas. Fantasy owners that are light on Harvick starts might want to save them for upcoming Chase events.
10. Jeff Burton: He's arguably the safest option on the board. Burton bounced back from a fuel gaffe at Loudon that cost him a possible second-place finish at Dover. In nine starts at the site, Burton has one Top Five and two Top 10s. He ranks 21st in DR (73.0) and 23rd in ARP (21.1). At the very least, he should be in all Tiered/Grouping format provisional lineups.
11. Kyle Busch: One Top 10 and an Average Finish of 23rd in six starts at the site. 74.4 DR.
12. Clint Bowyer: Lost his appeal to reverse his penalty, and did not respond well to the distractions at Dover. 93.4 DR.
13. Martin Truex Jr.: He's led at least two laps in each of his last three starts at the site. 84.7 DR.
14. Mark Martin: Won the pole at Kansas last season; started second on the grid in 2008. 100.1 DR.
15. David Reutimann: Won the Chicagoland event in July, the track that most resembles Kansas. 71.9 DR.
16. AJ Allmendinger: 80.1.
17. Jamie McMurray: 66.1
18. Brad Keselowski: 93.4.
19. Juan Pablo Montoya: 72.6.
20. Kasey Kahne: 83.9.
21. Joey Logano
22. Ryan Newman
23. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
24. Marcos Ambrose
25. Paul Menard
Wanna talk some track? E-mail Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org. The RotoRacing Show is back! Get up to speed on everything fantasy NASCAR, Tuesday nights at 9PM!
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