Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: Goody’s Fast Relief 500

by Brian Polking on March 31, 2012 @ 10:40:07 PDT

 


It has been a rough start to the 2012 season for Jeff Gordon. He enters Sunday's race at Martinsville Speedway 25th in the standings, and the four-time champ has never been lower after the first five races of a season in his career. That being said, there is reason for fantasy owners to be optimistic about his chances this weekend. He is a seven-time winner at the paperclip-shaped track, and he and got his weekend off to a fast start by topping the charts in Friday's opening practice.

Jeff Gordon

Gordon was followed by Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, and Hamlin is a strong option whenever the series visits Martinsville. He has a 6.5 average finish at the track, and three of his four career wins at the track have come in the last five races. Busch on the other hand is a boom or bust option this weekend. In his last 10 starts at Martinsville, he has five top-five finishes to go along with five finishes outside the top 20. If owners are debating between which JGR driver to roster this weekend, Hamlin is the way to go.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five, and both drivers are worthy of fantasy consideration. Junior has finished seventh or better in three straight starts at Martinsville, including a second-place effort last April when he came within four laps of winning. Meanwhile, Newman has top-10 finishes in four of his last six starts at the track.

In terms of 10-lap average speeds, Gordon again had the car to beat. However, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson wasn't far behind. Johnson is a six-time winner at Martinsville, and his 5.5 average finish at the track is the best in the series. Johnson has finished 11th or better in 19 straight starts.

Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle and Brian Vickers completed the top five, and even though he is the point leader, owners could be burned by Biffle. He has just two top-10 finishes in 18 career starts at Martinsville, and he has never finished in the top five. Vickers doesn't have a top-five at the track either, but he could make a nice sleeper pick. He is making just his second start of the season as a part-time driver for Michael Waltrip Racing, but in his first start of the year at Bristol a few weeks ago, he cracked the top five.

During Happy Hour, some of the drivers outside the top 35 in owner point stayed in qualifying trim, but a majority of the regulars spent time in race trim. Either way, Gordon remained the fastest car on the track, topping the charts again. Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski followed the No. 24, and of the two former teammates, Keselowski is the driver to target. He won the first short track race of 2012 and has a 14.5 average finish at Martinsville in four starts. Meanwhile, Busch has gone 12 straight races at the track without cracking the top 10.

Newman posted the fourth-fastest lap of the final practice, but seven of the nine drivers to follow him were in qualifying trim for most of the session, led by David Stremme. Juan Pablo Montoya was the next series regular on the charts, and as unpredictable as he has been, he does have a little value this weekend. Montoya finished fourth at Martinsville last April, and he has finished as high as third in his career. If he manages to stay out of trouble, which is a big if, Montoya has the potential to help fantasy teams.

Kevin Harivck topped the charts in terms of 10-lap average speeds, and he is name fantasy owners should know. Not only is he the defending race winner, but he has three straight finishes of fourth or better at Martinsville. Gordon and Dale Jr. posted top five times, as well, along with MWR teammates Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. While neither Bowyer nor Truex have outstanding numbers at Martinsville in their career, both drivers are off to strong starts. On momentum alone, fantasy owners may want to take a chance on one or both of the MWR guys.

One big name that struggled a bit was Tony Stewart. Granted, it's tough to write off a guy that has two wins in 2012 and won at Martinsville last fall, but his last four starts at the track do include three finishes of 24th or worse. Even in his victory last year, Stewart battled an ill-handling car in the early stages and rallied from a lap down. Stewart has been lights out to start the year, but he isn't a lock to deliver elite numbers this weekend.

Outside of Vickers, fantasy owners looking for a sleeper option may want to consider Joey Logano. He posted the seventh-fastest lap in the opening practice Friday, and he ranked in the top 10 in terms of 10-lap average speed in both sessions. Logano has a 13.8 average finish at Martinsville in six starts, and he has finished in the top 15 in four of his last five starts at the track.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Make
Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
24
Chevrolet
Drive to End Hunger
97.028
19.516
75
2
51
Chevrolet
Phoenix Construction Services
95.937
19.738
76
3
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
95.728
19.781
113
4
39
Chevrolet
Outback Steak House
95.549
19.818
76
5
30
Toyota
95.463
19.836
22
6
83
Toyota
Burger King / Dr Pepper
95.424
19.844
19
7
26
Ford
Morristown Driver's Service
95.405
19.848
22
8
42
Chevrolet
Target
95.185
19.894
43
9
23
Chevrolet
North Texas Pipe
95.161
19.899
10
10
43
Ford
Smithfield "Helping Hungry Homes"
95.156
19.9
74
11
74
Chevrolet
95.012
19.93
21
12
36
Chevrolet
Ollie's Bargain Outlet
94.984
19.936
38
13
98
Ford
Curb Records
94.979
19.937
15
14
29
Chevrolet
Budweiser is Back
94.96
19.941
83
15
87
Toyota
AMFMEnergy.com / Pellet & Wood Stoves
94.912
19.951
26
16
48
Chevrolet
MyLowe's
94.846
19.965
103
17
15
Toyota
5-hour Energy
94.827
19.969
101
18
88
Chevrolet
Amp Energy / National Guard
94.775
19.98
86
19
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
94.718
19.992
97
20
22
Dodge
Shell / Pennzoil
94.708
19.994
76
21
10
Chevrolet
Accell Construction
94.699
19.996
59
22
14
Chevrolet
Office Depot / Mobil 1
94.685
19.999
18
23
52
Toyota
Crusader Staffing Associates
94.685
19.999
63
24
27
Chevrolet
Libman / Menards
94.623
20.012
87
25
34
Ford
94.6
20.017
45
26
5
Chevrolet
HendrickCars.com
94.552
20.027
84
27
17
Ford
Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation / Gary Sinise Foundation
94.472
20.044
103
28
11
Toyota
FedEx Freight
94.472
20.044
83
29
18
Toyota
M&M's
94.416
20.056
116
30
20
Toyota
The Home Depot
94.378
20.064
63
31
49
Toyota
JPO Absorbents
94.336
20.073
24
32
99
Ford
Fastenal
94.322
20.076
70
33
16
Ford
3M
94.308
20.079
94
34
9
Ford
Dewalt
94.228
20.096
101
35
55
Toyota
RK Motors
94.223
20.097
64
36
19
Toyota
94.059
20.132
26
37
31
Chevrolet
BB&T
94.008
20.143
88
38
1
Chevrolet
Belkin
93.994
20.146
49
39
47
Toyota
Bush's Baked Beans
93.901
20.166
95
40
78
Chevrolet
Furniture Row / CSX "Play it Safe"
93.747
20.199
65
41
37
Ford
Poynt.com
93.71
20.207
29
42
33
Chevrolet
Anderson's Maple Syrup
93.65
20.22
36
43
38
Ford
Long John Silver's
93.59
20.233
74
44
13
Ford
GEICO
93.203
20.317
60
45
32
Ford
Federated Auto Parts
93.079
20.344
77
46
93
Toyota
Burger King / Dr Pepper
92.906
20.382
47

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
29
3
12
94.535
2
24
7
16
94.496
3
15
3
12
94.494
4
56
4
13
94.315
5
88
3
12
94.301
6
48
3
12
94.288
7
2
5
14
94.221
8
39
3
12
94.189
9
18
2
11
94.011
10
20
1
10
93.987
11
27
2
11
93.967
12
9
20
29
93.818
13
16
3
12
93.818
14
11
64
73
93.792
15
5
3
12
93.783
16
99
5
14
93.713
17
1
3
12
93.693
18
31
11
20
93.576
19
17
1
10
93.541
20
43
44
53
93.517
21
10
13
22
93.454
22
47
61
70
93.435
23
22
33
42
93.373
24
55
44
53
93.320
25
14
46
55
93.284
26
78
38
47
93.183
27
38
2
11
92.890
28
51
52
61
92.762
29
34
1
10
92.463
30
32
68
57
92.014
31
13
51
60
91.676

First Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Make
Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
24
Chevrolet
Drive to End Hunger
97.048
19.512
34
2
18
Toyota
M&M's
96.959
19.530
36
3
11
Toyota
FedEx Freight
96.835
19.555
36
4
88
Chevrolet
Amp Energy / National Guard
96.686
19.585
42
5
39
Chevrolet
Outback Steak House
96.376
19.648
50
6
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
96.362
19.651
48
7
14
Chevrolet
Office Depot / Mobil 1
96.337
19.656
64
8
5
Chevrolet
HendrickCars.com
96.332
19.657
39
9
15
Toyota
5-hour Energy
96.249
19.674
44
10
55
Toyota
RK Motors
96.219
19.680
50
11
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
96.190
19.686
52
12
29
Chevrolet
Budweiser is Back
96.166
19.691
34
13
78
Chevrolet
Furniture Row / CSX "Play it Safe"
96.112
19.702
49
14
9
Ford
Dewalt
96.034
19.718
42
15
20
Toyota
The Home Depot
95.995
19.726
47
16
47
Toyota
Bush's Baked Beans
95.820
19.762
42
17
13
Ford
GEICO
95.815
19.763
33
18
27
Chevrolet
Libman / Menards
95.791
19.768
47
19
1
Chevrolet
Belkin
95.709
19.785
49
20
99
Ford
Fastenal
95.685
19.790
27
21
16
Ford
3M
95.680
19.791
47
22
10
Chevrolet
Accell Construction
95.651
19.797
41
23
42
Chevrolet
Target
95.627
19.802
33
24
98
Ford
Curb Records
95.612
19.805
11
25
31
Chevrolet
BB&T
95.588
19.810
26
26
43
Ford
Smithfield "Helping Hungry Homes"
95.511
19.826
51
27
22
Dodge
Shell / Pennzoil
95.347
19.860
40
28
87
Toyota
AMFMEnergy.com / Pellet & Wood Stoves
95.256
19.879
18
29
23
Chevrolet
North Texas Pipe
95.223
19.886
13
30
17
Ford
Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation / Gary Sinise Foundation
95.199
19.891
32
31
34
Ford
95.156
19.900
51
32
32
Ford
Federated Auto Parts
95.146
19.902
38
33
74
Chevrolet
95.070
19.918
11
34
26
Ford
Morristown Driver's Service
95.051
19.922
18
35
30
Toyota
95.036
19.925
41
36
93
Toyota
Burger King / Dr Pepper
94.993
19.934
40
37
38
Ford
Long John Silver's
94.803
19.974
33
38
48
Chevrolet
MyLowe's
94.727
19.990
67
39
49
Toyota
JPO Absorbents
94.543
20.029
24
40
36
Chevrolet
Ollie's Bargain Outlet
94.510
20.036
41
41
52
Toyota
Crusader Staffing Associates
94.392
20.061
3
42
51
Chevrolet
Phoenix Construction Services
94.265
20.088
55
43
19
Toyota
94.246
20.092
24
44
83
Toyota
Burger King / Dr Pepper
93.868
20.173
45
45
37
Ford
Poynt.com
93.507
20.251
30
46
33
Chevrolet
Anderson's Maple Syrup
92.299
20.516
12

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
24
1
10
94.148
2
48
2
11
93.899
3
18
3
12
93.757
4
16
9
19
93.731
5
55
5
14
93.712
6
27
2
11
93.645
7
20
4
13
93.591
8
78
11
20
93.443
9
39
3
12
93.337
10
34
20
29
93.297
11
10
1
10
93.153
12
14
1
10
93.043
13
42
2
11
92.914
14
99
1
10
92.648
15
13
1
10
92.458
16
17
1
10
92.365
17
51
5
14
92.294
18
83
1
10
92.135
19
56
1
10
92.075
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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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