Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: Tums Fast Relief 500

by Brian Polking on October 29, 2011 @ 20:02:34 PDT

 


Mother Nature did her best to prevent the Cup Series drivers from practicing for Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway, but in the end, NASCAR managed to give teams one Saturday afternoon session to dial in their cars. While having just one practice means less data for fantasy owners to work with, one practice is a lot better than going into a race without any kind of data. For once, NASCAR officials deserve a pat on the back for rearranging the schedule of events to allow the drivers some track time. After all, a championship is hanging in the balance.

The surprising leader of the lone practice of the weekend was Michael McDowell. However, owners need to keep a few things in mind before adding him as a sleeper pick. Most importantly, McDowell is likely going to start and park Sunday and won’t even finish the race. As a result, he and a majority of the drivers outside the top 35 in points simply stayed in qualifying trim for the practice while the drivers guaranteed a starting spot were in race trim, accounting for McDowell’s seemingly fast lap.

Clint Bowyer

As for the serious contenders, Clint Bowyer led the way with the second-fastest lap of the session. He has been solid but not spectacular in his Martinsville career, but coming off a win last weekend, he could be a nice momentum play. He was followed by Martinsville ace Jimmie Johnson, and the six-time winner should be considered the top fantasy option for Sunday’s race. After all, he averages a top-five finish at the track.

Jamie McMurray ranked fourth in the session, while Scott Speed rounded out the top five. While Speed can be lumped in with McDowell in terms of fantasy value, McMurray could be a real sleeper. He has finished 11th or better in four of his last five Martinsville starts, including a seventh-place run earlier this year. Despite his overall struggles, he remained a top-10 option at the track in the spring race and could help owners again this weekend.

In terms of 10-lap average speeds, Johnson and McMurray paced the field. For Johnson, the fast average speeds only cement his status as an elite option this weekend. As for McMurray, the impressive 10-lap average should help ease any doubts fantasy owners may be having about his chances Sunday.

Johnson’s teammates Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. ranked third and fourth in the session, while Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top five. Like their Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Gordon and Junior have been impressive at Martinsville. Gordon is a seven-time winner at the track and has 12 top-five finishes in his last 13 starts. Meanwhile, Junior has six top-15 efforts in his last seven starts, including a second-place run in the spring. Owners may want to load up on the HMS stable this weekend.

Ambrose actually has some value as well. He has led more laps at Martinsville than any other oval track and has a pair of top-15 finishes in five starts. Granted, he is a long shot option for sure, but Ambrose does have some potential.

The big story of the session was the performance of title frontrunners Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart. All three ranked well outside the top 20 in terms of both fastest lap and 10-lap average speed. While it is possible that all three have simply missed the setup because of the lack of practice time, there is a good chance that all three worked on long run setups. After all, qualifying was rained out earlier in the day, setting the field by owner points. As a result, all three drivers already knew they were starting in the top five. Edwards and Kenseth aren’t the best fantasy options at Martinsville to begin with, but the chances of all three being as slow as their times indicate are slim.

Happy Hour Speeds (Sorted by Average Speed)

Rk Indicates Fastest Lap Standing

Rk
Car
Driver
Team
Best Lap
Best Time
Avg. Speed
Laps
4
1
McDonald's Chevrolet
95.709
19.785
94.459
85
10
88
Diet Mt. Dew Paint the 88/NationalGuard Chevrolet
95.554
19.817
94.046
101
12
00
Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
95.439
19.841
93.892
51
2
33
American Ethanol / Cheerios Chevrolet
95.782
19.770
93.855
62
13
43
AdvoCare Ford
95.410
19.847
93.814
89
17
56
NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
95.323
19.865
93.749
57
11
22
Shell Pennzoil Dodge
95.516
19.825
93.748
68
8
42
Target Chevrolet
95.588
19.810
93.728
66
25
29
Budweiser Chevrolet
95.094
19.913
93.727
65
21
47
Grilling.com Toyota
95.242
19.882
93.720
73
23
39
HAAS Automation Chevrolet
95.156
19.900
93.694
86
19
9
Stanley Ford
95.319
19.866
93.657
60
30
5
CARQUEST / GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
94.856
19.963
93.576
63
18
6
UPS My Choice Ford
95.319
19.866
93.570
102
9
24
Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
95.574
19.813
93.549
81
3
48
Mylowes Chevrolet
95.752
19.776
93.499
107
16
20
Interstate Batteries Toyota
95.347
19.860
93.404
78
27
78
95.056
19.921
93.378
76
32
14
Office Depot / Mobil 1 Chevrolet
94.799
19.975
93.355
86
7
30
95.593
19.809
93.351
22
6
27
Richmond / Menards Chevrolet
95.598
19.808
93.338
90
31
83
Red Bull Toyota
94.822
19.970
93.302
99
14
11
FedEx Ground Toyota
95.362
19.857
93.299
97
28
2
Miller Lite Dodge
94.979
19.937
93.093
71
36
55
94.453
20.048
93.092
14
35
7
SPEED Energy Dodge
94.680
20.000
93.085
5
22
4
Red Bull Toyota
95.194
19.892
93.078
73
33
13
GEICO Toyota
94.732
19.989
93.078
58
20
16
3M Filtrete Ford
95.266
19.877
93.054
76
24
17
Crown Royal Ford
95.103
19.911
93.047
72
15
18
M&M's Halloween Toyota
95.357
19.858
93.013
107
26
31
Caterpillar Chevrolet
95.089
19.914
92.838
66
29
99
Scotts Winterguard Ford
94.946
19.944
92.818
68
38
37
MaxQ Motorsports Ford
94.200
20.102
92.813
24
5
46
Green Smoke Ford
95.670
19.793
92.751
23
42
87
AMFMEnergyPellet&WoodStoves Toyota
93.590
20.233
92.614
6
34
51
PhoenixCnstrctn/ThankATchrToday Chevrolet
94.694
19.997
92.541
43
1
66
Victory Junction Toyota
95.893
19.747
92.350
40
37
36
Golden Corral Chevrolet
94.336
20.073
92.280
34
40
34
93.775
20.193
92.244
50
39
32
U.S. Chrome / Southern Pride Ford
94.120
20.119
91.710
47
41
38
Long John Silver's Ford
93.761
20.196
91.369
42
43
71
Home Smart Ford
92.883
20.387
90.666
42

10-Lap Average Speeds

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
48
88
97
95.322
2
1
52
61
95.234
3
24
66
75
95.174
4
88
35
44
95.065
5
9
41
50
94.898
6
18
51
60
94.878
7
47
39
48
94.841
8
27
33
42
94.783
9
43
67
76
94.782
10
42
34
43
94.780
11
22
57
66
94.738
12
00
4
13
94.720
13
20
64
73
94.654
14
6
82
91
94.646
15
29
21
30
94.602
16
56
31
40
94.573
17
39
54
63
94.507
18
11
25
34
94.504
19
16
67
76
94.426
20
31
33
42
94.380
21
78
61
70
94.361
22
13
45
54
94.332
23
33
29
38
94.326
24
5
31
40
94.313
25
2
45
54
94.248
26
14
34
43
94.101
27
83
24
33
94.077
28
4
33
42
94.035
29
17
40
49
93.953
30
99
29
38
93.851
31
66
6
15
93.471
32
51
4
13
93.241
33
30
13
22
92.849
34
32
38
47
92.360
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About Brian Polking

Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for Fanball.com. His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.

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