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ADAM ANSELL'S TOP 25 FOR TEXAS
1. Jimmie Johnson: In 14 starts at Texas Motor Speedway, Johnson has one win (November 2007), seven Top Fives and 10 Top 10s. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, he ranks third in Driver Rating (99.0) and second in Average Running Position (12.8). Texas is one of three cookie-cutter tracks (Atlanta, Charlotte) and because all are just about identical the rule of thumb is if a driver is good at one he's good at all of them. Outside of a 37th-place finish at Charlotte in May, Johnson's Average Finish at intermediate tracks this season is fifth. He finished second in the April event at Texas, leading 39 laps. His Average Finish in his last six Chase starts is an incredible 3.5. Johnson's lead at this point in the season is the slimmest it's ever been (14 points), but he's a closer and knows exactly what it takes to win. He'll be tops in Tiered/Grouping format ownership, but value won't be an issue when he takes the Checkered Flag in the Lone Star State.
2. Denny Hamlin: In 10 starts at the site, Hamlin has one win (April 2010), four Top Fives and seven Top 10s. He ranks sixth in DR (97.2) and fifth in ARP (11.9). Hamlin's inconsistency at 1.5-mile intermediate tracks this season (Average Finish of 17th) is the tiebreaker when comparing him to Johnson this weekend. He has a win, a dead-last finish (Atlanta) and everything in between. Hamlin's been spectacular overall and can't be written off for some minor bumps in the road, but loses the edge for this race. He has an Average Finish of 5.5 in his last four starts, leading at least one lap in three of them. This is Hamlin's shot to dethrone Johnson and despite the inconsistencies, he's a fine start in all formats.
3. Kevin Harvick: In 15 starts at the site, Harvick has three Top Fives and seven Top 10s. He ranks 15th in DR (83.0) and 16th in ARP (16.2). Excluding a 33rd-place finish at Atlanta his Average Finish on cookie cutters this season is 8.8, never higher than seventh and never below 11th. That's good, but it's not going to win him the Sprint Cup championship. The good news for Fantasy owners is he knows it. "You can't be conservative. You can't go
hoping for a Top 10 because as you've seen over the past few years, Top Fives, leading laps is what it's going to take," Harvick said recently. Funny, since that's what it's going to take to win Fantasy leagues, too. Good to see Harvick's on the same page as us. He'll come through in the clutch this weekend like he has all season long. Start him with complete confidence.
4. Kyle Busch: In 11 starts at the site, Busch has four Top Fives and five Top 10s. He ranks fourth in DR (98.3) and in ARP (11.7). Since finishing 25th at Atlanta back in March, Busch has an Average Finish of 3.25 on cookie cutters including four straight Top Fives. He led 217 laps at Charlotte in October, and is arguably the most consistent intermediate track driver this season. Busch's 2010 Chase has been a Jekyll and Hyde type story, with four Top 10s and three finishes outside the Top 20. With a 25th-place finish a week ago at Talladega, Dr. Jekyll will be back this weekend. Expect Busch to tack on a fifth straight Top Five cookie-cutter finish.
5. Carl Edwards: In 11 starts at the site, Edwards has three wins (November 2005, 2008 sweep) and four Top 10s. He ranks fifth in DR (97.8) and sixth in ARP (12.6). As the season has progressed, he's found more success at intermediate tracks with second (Atlanta) and 12th-place (Charlotte) finishes in his last two cookie-cutter starts. Edwards has been the most consistent driver this side of Harvick in the second half of the season, but has tailed off as of late. He has an Average Finish of 18th with just one Top 10 in his last four starts. Edwards has incredible upside despite his recent slide and is an excellent value play in Tiered/Grouping formats.
6. Kurt Busch: In 15 starts at the site, Busch has one win (November 2009), three Top Fives and 10 Top 10s. He ranks ninth in DR (94.5) and eighth in ARP (13.2). Busch has been awesome this season on cookie cutters, with two wins (Atlanta, Charlotte), three Top Fives and four Top 10s. But he has an Average Finish of 22nd with zero Top 10s in his last five Chase starts. This is crunch time, and momentum means everything. If not for his cold streak, Busch would be ranked much higher. Fantasy owners playing catch up should heavily consider Busch because of the potential upside and value associated with him. Front-runners should pass on him.
7. David Reutimann: In six starts at the site, Reutimann has one Top 10. He ranks 16th in DR (82.2) and 17th in ARP (16.5). Reutimann has one Top Five and three Top 10s in his last four Chase starts, and has led at least one lap in his last two. Known as a short-track driver, Reutimann has made a case for himself this season as an intermediate track specialist. He has an Average Finish of 10th in his last three cookie-cutter starts. Fantasy owners need to ignore his 37th-place finish at Texas in April because he ran that event at a 10.6 ARP. He'll come at a supreme value in Tiered/Grouping formats and is a must-start at Texas.
8. Jamie McMurray: In 13 starts at the site, McMurray has three Top Fives and six Top 10s. He ranks 20th in DR (77.7) and ARP (19.0). McMurray has been below average at Texas and Atlanta but dominant at Charlotte, finishing second in May and winning in October. Also keep in mind that McMurray barely missed the Chase and he's out to prove he belongs while driving with a chip on his shoulder. That kind of motivation and his success at Charlotte should be enough to make Fantasy owners forget about the dud he put up last weekend at Talladega. He'll bounce back in a big way at Texas.
9. Joey Logano: In four starts at the site, Logano has zero Top 10s with an Average Finish of 29th. He ranks 41st in DR (52.0) and 34th in ARP. And no, this is not a joke. Logano's Average Finish at Charlotte this season is 10th, but that's not why he's rated this high. He's collected three consecutive Top 10s for the first time in his career, and has an Average Finish of eighth in his last six Chase starts. He has a penchant for getting better at each track with experience, and that mixed with his hot streak makes him the ultimate sleeper pick. He'll come at a great value at Texas, and should be started in all Tiered/Grouping formats.
10. Tony Stewart: In 17 starts at the site, Stewart has one win (November 2005), four Top Fives, 10 Top 10s and one pole (April 2010). He leads all competitors in DR (105.7) and ARP (8.3). Smoke is another driver with no momentum right now. He has an Average Finish of 26th in his last three races, the best a 21st-place snoozer at Charlotte. Outside of winning at Atlanta, his Average Finish on the cookie cutters this season is 20th. Stewart has so much experience and talent that the inconsistencies and momentum may not mean anything. There are better options in Tiered/Grouping formats, but if Stewart's your guy he's safe enough to roll with.
11. Matt Kenseth: One win (April 2002), seven Top Fives and 10 Top 10s in 16 starts at the site. 101.6 DR.
12. Jeff Gordon: One win (April 2009), seven Top Fives, nine Top 10s and two poles in 19 starts at the site. 93.7 DR.
13. Jeff Burton: Two wins (April 1997 and 2007), three Top Fives and nine Top 10s in 19 starts at the site. 86.0 DR.
14. Clint Bowyer: Two Top Fives and four Top 10s in nine starts at the site.
15. Kasey Kahne: One win (April 2006), three Top Fives and one pole (April 2006) in 12 starts at the site. 81.5 DR.
16. Greg Biffle: 95.5 DR.
17. Martin Truex Jr.: 86.5.
18. AJ Allmendinger: 61.8.
19. Juan Pablo Montoya: 78.3.
20. Mark Martin: 88.1.
21. Ryan Newman:
22. Aric Almirola
23. Regan Smith
24. Brad Keselowski
25. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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