Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: Kobalt Tools 400

by Brian Polking on March 10, 2012 @ 07:56:14 PDT

 


After a strong showing in qualifying for Sunday's race at Las Vegas, Hendrick Motorsports kept the momentum going in Saturday's first practice. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne posted the two-fastest laps in the session, and Jimmie Johnson joined them in the top five. Jeff Gordon was the slowest car in the HMS stable, and he ranked ninth on the leaderboard. The organization isn't off to a great start in 2012, but it looks like that could change this weekend.

A.J. Allmendinger and Kyle Busch also posted top-five laps in the practice, and Busch is the better fantasy play. The Nevada native is a former winner at his home-state track, while Allmendinger has yet to finish better than 19th in three career starts at LVMS. That being said, it is worth noting that Busch will be starting at the rear of the field Sunday after wrecking his primary car in Friday's practice session. Starting at the back doesn't erase Busch's fantasy value, but the wear and tear of getting to the front will take a toll on the No. 18 machine. A top-five finish is still reasonable, but winning the race definitely got a lot tougher.

Kyle Busch

Only 11 drivers ran 10 or more consecutive laps in the opening practice of the afternoon, and of those drivers, three separated themselves from the rest. Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Busch were a notch above the competition, and at a fast track like Vegas, being able to maintain speed throughout a run is crucial. Given Harvick's reputation of showing up at the front in the closing laps, his strong 10-lap average speed is a good indication that the No. 29 car is handling just how he likes it.

Johnson was also looking like a strong fantasy play following Saturday's first practice, but after wrecking on his first lap during Happy Hour, he will have to start at the rear of the field in a backup car. It raises quite a dilemma for fantasy owners, who appeared to have a slam dunk pick on their hands with the four-time Vegas winner. Wrecking in the final session gave Johnson little practice time with his backup car. He did manage to post the 24th-fastest lap in limited laps, but owners can no longer consider him a top-three pick for Sunday's race.

At the top of the leaderboard during the final session was Joey Logano. He has opened the 2012 season with back-to-back top-10s, and it doesn't look like he wants to slow down. With a pair of top-15 finishes in three starts at Vegas, Logano could make a strong sleeper play in fantasy leagues. After all, he finished sixth at the track in 2010.

Harvick continued his strong afternoon, posting the second-fastest laps in Happy Hour. Mark Martin, Marcos Ambrose and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top five, and owners can find plenty of firepower among the group. Martin is one of five drivers with top-10 finishes in both races this year, and he has always been one of the most consistent performers at Vegas. Meanwhile, Ambrose has improved in all three starts at the track, finishing a career-best fourth last season. He is much more than a road course ace these days, and he is a legitimate top-10 threat Sunday.

In terms of 10-lap average speeds, some familiar faces topped the charts. Kyle Busch led the way, followed by Martin and Johnson. For Johnson and his fantasy owners, the solid 10-lap average speed is a silver lining following the wreck earlier in the session. Jamie McMurray and Harvick completed the top five, but even in Happy Hour, only 19 drivers ran enough consecutive laps to be eligible. There could be a few sleeping giants lurking for Sunday's race that didn't show their stuff.

Owners looking for a dark horse may want to consider Aric Almirola. He delivered a solid 12-th-place finish at Phoenix last weekend, and he ranked sixth and 11th in the two practices Saturday. Almirola is in his first year as a full-time Cup driver, and owners need to keep him on their radar this weekend and going forward.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Make
Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
20
Toyota
Dollar General
182.970
29.513
38
2
29
Chevrolet
Budweiser
182.698
29.557
41
3
55
Toyota
Aaron's Dream Machine
182.698
29.557
39
4
9
Ford
Dewalt
182.617
29.570
29
5
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
182.617
29.570
40
6
51
Chevrolet
Tag Heuer Eyewear
182.451
29.597
35
7
17
Ford
Zest
182.328
29.617
25
8
5
Chevrolet
Farmers Insurance
182.266
29.627
35
9
15
Toyota
5-hour Energy
182.113
29.652
33
10
78
Chevrolet
Furniture Row/Farm American
182.100
29.654
42
11
43
Ford
Richard Petty Fantasy Racing Camp
182.020
29.667
43
12
1
Chevrolet
McDonald's
181.763
29.709
48
13
14
Chevrolet
Mobil 1/Office Depot
181.678
29.723
52
14
24
Chevrolet
DuPont 20 Years
181.592
29.737
37
15
16
Ford
3M/Meguiars
181.574
29.740
29
16
22
Dodge
Pennzoil
181.561
29.742
49
17
88
Chevrolet
National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew
181.458
29.759
39
18
31
Chevrolet
Caterpillar
181.202
29.801
31
19
18
Toyota
M&M's Ms. Brown
181.184
29.804
38
20
11
Toyota
FedEx Freight
181.020
29.831
33
21
47
Toyota
Kingsford/Bush's Beans
180.911
29.849
40
22
39
Chevrolet
Quicken Loans
180.880
29.854
28
23
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
180.850
29.859
35
24
48
Chevrolet
Lowe's/Kobalt Tools
180.832
29.862
20
25
21
Ford
Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center
180.777
29.871
35
26
42
Chevrolet
Clorox
180.656
29.891
22
27
93
Toyota
Burger King
180.614
29.898
26
28
83
Toyota
Burger King
180.355
29.941
26
29
99
Ford
Aflac
180.325
29.946
30
30
27
Chevrolet
Schrock/Menards
180.264
29.956
30
31
34
Ford
180.090
29.985
25
32
33
Chevrolet
South Point Hotel & Casino
179.946
30.009
35
33
30
Toyota
179.033
30.162
27
34
13
Ford
GEICO
178.974
30.172
20
35
32
Ford
Federated Auto Parts
178.814
30.199
31
36
36
Chevrolet
Ollie's Bargain Outlet
178.200
30.303
9
37
10
Chevrolet
Accell Construction
178.018
30.334
17
38
49
Toyota
America Israel Racing
177.596
30.406
22
39
38
Ford
176.471
30.600
14
40
37
Ford
Poynt.com
176.332
30.624
13
41
87
Toyota
AMFMEnergy.com/Pellet & Wood Stoves
176.143
30.657
12
42
98
Ford
Curb Records
175.867
30.705
27
43
26
Ford
1-800LoanMart
174.582
30.931
2

10-Lap Average Speeds (must run 10 consecutive laps)

Rank
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
18
2
11
179.626
2
55
30
39
179.490
3
48
7
16
179.365
4
1
33
42
179.298
5
29
14
23
179.248
6
20
21
30
179.167
7
14
40
49
179.040
8
5
23
32
178.921
9
24
25
34
178.890
10
78
29
38
178.845
11
43
29
38
178.692
12
21
23
32
178.514
13
51
25
34
178.500
14
22
39
48
178.405
15
31
13
22
178.399
16
39
18
27
178.336
17
15
11
20
178.299
18
33
9
18
178.200
19
11
23
32
177.603

Second Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Make
Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
88
Chevrolet
National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew
184.957
29.196
27
2
5
Chevrolet
Farmers Insurance
184.754
29.228
27
3
22
Dodge
Pennzoil
184.666
29.242
25
4
48
Chevrolet
Lowe's/Kobalt Tools
184.489
29.270
31
5
18
Toyota
M&M's Ms. Brown
184.187
29.318
46
6
43
Ford
Richard Petty Fantasy Racing Camp
184.099
29.332
29
7
16
Ford
3M/Meguiars
184.049
29.340
29
8
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
184.030
29.343
30
9
24
Chevrolet
DuPont 20 Years
183.886
29.366
22
10
14
Chevrolet
Mobil 1/Office Depot
183.817
29.377
36
11
39
Chevrolet
Quicken Loans
183.767
29.385
28
12
29
Chevrolet
Budweiser
183.699
29.396
33
13
99
Ford
Aflac
183.686
29.398
27
14
27
Chevrolet
Schrock/Menards
183.592
29.413
36
15
20
Toyota
Dollar General
183.536
29.422
35
16
9
Ford
Dewalt
183.524
29.424
31
17
42
Chevrolet
Clorox
183.424
29.440
21
18
31
Chevrolet
Caterpillar
183.212
29.474
34
19
51
Chevrolet
Tag Heuer Eyewear
183.175
29.480
35
20
15
Toyota
5-hour Energy
183.107
29.491
26
21
55
Toyota
Aaron's Dream Machine
182.952
29.516
23
22
1
Chevrolet
McDonald's
182.834
29.535
30
23
33
Chevrolet
South Point Hotel & Casino
182.760
29.547
34
24
17
Ford
Zest
182.667
29.562
26
25
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
182.630
29.568
21
26
21
Ford
Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center
182.525
29.585
29
27
78
Chevrolet
Furniture Row/Farm American
182.377
29.609
33
28
93
Toyota
Burger King
182.217
29.635
25
29
11
Toyota
FedEx Freight
182.051
29.662
11
30
13
Ford
GEICO
181.708
29.718
16
31
83
Toyota
Burger King
181.354
29.776
19
32
47
Toyota
Kingsford/Bush's Beans
180.693
29.885
35
33
10
Chevrolet
Accell Construction
180.554
29.908
12
34
32
Ford
Federated Auto Parts
180.186
29.969
25
35
36
Chevrolet
Ollie's Bargain Outlet
179.904
30.016
15
36
34
Ford
179.503
30.083
23
37
30
Toyota
179.307
30.116
16
38
38
Ford
178.986
30.170
17
39
26
Ford
1-800LoanMart
178.554
30.243
1
40
87
Toyota
AMFMEnergy.com/Pellet & Wood Stoves
178.042
30.330
18
41
37
Ford
Poynt.com
177.614
30.403
5
42
49
Toyota
America Israel Racing
176.783
30.546
7
43
98
Ford
Curb Records
176.361
30.619
3

10-Lap Average Speeds (must run 10 consecutive laps)

Rank
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
48
1
10
183.302
2
29
1
10
183.075
3
18
22
31
182.917
4
27
1
10
182.539
5
2
1
10
182.357
6
16
7
16
182.284
7
20
1
10
181.741
8
39
3
12
181.642
9
78
1
10
181.011
10
47
1
10
180.012
11
31
22
31
179.860
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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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