Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: GEICO 400

by Brian Polking on September 15, 2012 @ 10:36:39 PDT

 


Martin Truex Jr. has had his share of disappoint at 1.5-mile tracks this season. He led the most laps at Kansas Speedway earlier this year, only to wind up finishing second. Just a few weeks ago, he appeared to be heading to a win at Atlanta when a late caution and slow pit stop dropped him to third. After topping the charts in the opening practice at Chicagoland Friday, it looks like he could make another run at a win this weekend. Whether he seals the deal or not Sunday, Truex's history at 1.5-mile tracks says he should be an excellent addition to fantasy rosters.

Martin Truex Jr.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski followed Truex, and both drivers deserve consideration from fantasy owners. Junior finished third at Chicagoland last year, and Keselowski finished fifth in the same race. Throw in the fact that both have been having strong seasons, and they have plenty of fantasy value to offer this weekend.

Trevor Bayne and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five, and while Bayne could make a decent sleeper pick, Hamlin has to be viewed as one of the favorites. He has been on fire heading into Chicagoland, winning two of the last three races. More importantly, he has crew chief Darian Grubb calling the shots. Grubb was Tony Stewart's crew chief last year when Stewart went to Victory Lane at the track.

In terms of 10-lap average speed, Paul Menard led the way. However, his 26.6 average finish at Chicagoland makes him a risky pick. Clint Bowyer posted the second-best 10-lap average speed, and he is anything but a risky pick. Bowyer has finished in the top 10 in five of his six starts at the track, including three straight. Hamlin, Stewart and Truex rounded out the top five, and while Hamlin may have Stewart's old crew chief, Stewart has been dominating at the track for years. His 8.7 average finish at Chicagoland is the best in the series, and his three wins and eight top-five finishes are also the most at the track.

When Happy Hour began, Kyle Busch jumped to the top of the charts. Although he is a former winner, he has finished outside the top 15 in his last three starts at the track. The bigger concern is Busch's psyche after missing out on the Chase in heartbreaking fashion. There is no denying Busch's talent, and his Chase is probably going to go one of two ways; he is either going to dominate in the playoffs without the pressure of running for a title, or he is going to let the disappointment of missing the Chase ruin his final 10 races. It is safer to take a wait-and-see approach, but for fantasy owners that need to gain ground, gambling on Busch might not be a bad strategy.

Aric Almirola, Mark Martin, Carl Edwards and Hamlin rounded out the top five, and while Almirola is too inexperienced to trust for fantasy rosters, both Martin and Edwards deserve consideration. Martin has eight top-15s in 11 starts at Chicagoland, winning in 2009 and finishing in the top 10 last year. Edwards, on the other hand, has finished second and fourth in his last two starts at the track.

In terms of 10-lap average speeds, Kasey Kahne paced the field. He has four straight top-15 finishes at the track and has finished sixth or better in two of his last three starts. Kahne is also one of the best in the series when it comes to winning at 1.5-mile tracks. Seven of his 14 wins have come at 1.5-mile tracks, including a win at Charlotte earlier this year. He could open up the Chase with a bang this weekend.

One big name fantasy owners may want to avoid is Greg Biffle. He ranked 26th and 19th in the two practice sessions Friday, and his career numbers at Chicagoland are less than encouraging. Biffle has just one top-10 finish in nine starts at the track, and he has finished outside the top 25 in his last three starts. It could be a rough Chase opener for the regular season champ.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver Make Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
18
Kyle Busch Toyota Wrigley
181.507
29.751
40
2
43
Aric Almirola Ford Farmland
181.214
29.799
35
3
55
Mark Martin Toyota LG Partner of the Year / Aaron's
181.123
29.814
38
4
99
Carl Edwards Ford Fastenal
181.050
29.826
28
5
11
Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground
181.001
29.834
38
6
5
Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance
180.989
29.836
55
7
48
Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools
180.959
29.841
29
8
21
Trevor Bayne Ford Good Sam Club / Camping World
180.904
29.850
7
9
17
Matt Kenseth Ford Best Buy
180.904
29.850
34
10
24
Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont
180.808
29.866
53
11
78
Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American
180.662
29.890
31
12
27
Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / Libman
180.584
29.903
35
13
20
Joey Logano Toyota Dollar General
180.523
29.913
49
14
14
Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1
180.469
29.922
54
15
15
Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy
180.439
29.927
30
16
2
Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite
180.018
29.997
45
17
22
Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Shell / Pennzoil
179.629
30.062
58
18
1
Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's
179.551
30.075
44
19
16
Greg Biffle Ford Scotch Blue
179.015
30.165
40
20
13
Casey Mears Ford GEICO
178.766
30.207
35
21
95
Scott Speed Ford Jordan Truck Sales
178.518
30.249
7
22
98
Michael McDowell Ford Phil Parsons Racing
178.341
30.279
8
23
91
Reed Sorenson Chevrolet Plinker Tactical
178.330
30.281
9
24
51
Kurt Busch Chevrolet Phoenix Construction
178.241
30.296
28
25
56
Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts
178.177
30.307
62
26
34
David Ragan Ford Distraction.gov
178.177
30.307
32
27
30
David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports
178.171
30.308
7
28
83
Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King
178.094
30.321
45
29
9
Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley
177.977
30.341
28
30
37
J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Max Q Workforce / Bradley University
177.924
30.350
9
31
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / 7-Eleven / National Guard
177.889
30.356
64
32
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet Target
177.807
30.370
24
33
33
Cole Whitt Chevrolet Little Joes Autos.com
177.713
30.386
12
34
26
Josh Wise Ford MDS Transport
177.608
30.404
7
35
39
Ryan Newman Chevrolet Gene Haas Foundation Workshops For Warriors
176.806
30.542
68
36
87
Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
176.800
30.543
12
37
49
Jason Leffler Toyota Robinson-Blakeney Racing
176.499
30.595
7
38
31
Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar
176.361
30.619
75
39
19
Mike Bliss Toyota Plinker Tactical
175.988
30.684
8
40
47
Bobby Labonte Toyota Bubba Burgers
175.924
30.695
49
41
29
Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser Designate a Driver
175.873
30.704
71
42
23
Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe
175.353
30.795
12
43
36
Dave Blaney Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing
175.336
30.798
30
44
10
Danica Patrick Chevrolet GoDaddy.com
175.097
30.840
53
45
93
Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper
174.904
30.874
59
46
32
T.J. Bell Ford U.S. Chrome
173.110
31.194
36
47
38
David Gilliland Ford 1-800LoanMart
-
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10-Lap Average Speeds (must run 10 consecutive laps)

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
5
Kasey Kahne
1
10
176.260
2
18
Kyle Busch
1
10
176.234
3
51
Kurt Busch
17
26
176.073
4
11
Denny Hamlin
25
34
175.896
5
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
54
63
175.767
6
20
Joey Logano
30
39
175.673
7
56
Martin Truex Jr.
1
10
175.668
8
22
Sam Hornish Jr.
36
45
175.639
9
14
Tony Stewart
37
46
175.601
10
55
Mark Martin
5
14
175.547
11
24
Jeff Gordon
44
53
175.524
12
2
Brad Keselowski
7
16
175.523
13
27
Paul Menard
25
34
175.455
14
43
Aric Almirola
1
10
175.245
15
48
Jimmie Johnson
1
10
175.084
16
15
Clint Bowyer
5
14
175.034
17
39
Ryan Newman
52
61
175.003
18
29
Kevin Harvick
60
69
174.722
19
78
Regan Smith
1
10
174.479
20
1
Jamie McMurray
32
41
173.961
21
10
Danica Patrick
42
51
173.822
22
47
Bobby Labonte
31
40
173.498
23
31
Jeff Burton
24
33
173.319
24
93
Travis Kvapil
48
57
172.708

First Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver Make Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
56
Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts
181.763
29.709
23
2
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / 7-Eleven / National Guard
180.681
29.887
36
3
2
Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite
179.784
30.036
34
4
21
Trevor Bayne Ford Good Sam Club / Camping World
179.695
30.051
29
5
11
Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground
179.623
30.063
45
6
1
Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's
179.623
30.063
19
7
55
Mark Martin Toyota LG Partner of the Year / Aaron's
178.926
30.180
44
8
31
Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar
178.855
30.192
26
9
99
Carl Edwards Ford Fastenal
178.719
30.215
40
10
39
Ryan Newman Chevrolet Gene Haas Foundation Workshops For Warriors
178.560
30.242
28
11
15
Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy
178.465
30.258
51
12
14
Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1
178.365
30.275
55
13
47
Bobby Labonte Toyota Bubba Burgers
178.230
30.298
23
14
34
David Ragan Ford Distraction.gov
178.018
30.334
16
15
27
Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / Libman
177.848
30.363
48
16
22
Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Shell / Pennzoil
177.719
30.385
64
17 83 Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King 177.655 30.396 39
18 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 177.649 30.397 36
19 30 David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports 177.602 30.405 7
20 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 177.538 30.416 39
21 51 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Phoenix Construction 177.462 30.429 31
22 98 Michael McDowell Ford Phil Parsons Racing 177.398 30.440 4
23 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser Designate a Driver 177.375 30.444 35
24 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance 177.334 30.451 43
25 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools 177.293 30.458 46
26 16 Greg Biffle Ford Scotch Blue 177.282 30.460 38
27 43 Aric Almirola Ford Farmland 177.276 30.461 44
28 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Wrigley 177.235 30.468 48
29 20 Joey Logano Toyota Dollar General 177.235 30.468 57
30 26 Josh Wise Ford MDS Transport 177.171 30.479 10
31 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 177.072 30.496 25
32 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Best Buy 176.922 30.522 41
33 33 Stephen Leicht Chevrolet Special Ops OPSEC 176.910 30.524 19
34 95 Scott Speed Ford Jordan Truck Sales 176.881 30.529 7
35 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper 176.811 30.541 27
36 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley 176.765 30.549 39
37 49 Jason Leffler Toyota Robinson-Blakeney Racing 176.678 30.564 7
38 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet Target 176.650 30.569 17
39 37 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Max Q Workforce / Bradley University 176.557 30.585 7
40 19 Mike Bliss Toyota Plinker Tactical 176.551 30.586 10
41 91 Reed Sorenson Chevrolet Plinker Tactical 176.546 30.587 10
42 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American 176.114 30.662 53
43 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves 175.896 30.700 11
44 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing 175.365 30.793 18
45 38 David Gilliland Ford 1-800LoanMart 175.365 30.793 36
46 32 T.J. Bell Ford U.S. Chrome 174.740 30.903 11
47 23 Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe 174.588 30.930 13

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

Rk Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg. Speed
1 27 Paul Menard 1 10 176.063
2 15 Clint Bowyer 38 47 175.513
3 11 Denny Hamlin 26 35 175.085
4 14 Tony Stewart 38 47 174.854
5 56 Martin Truex Jr. 7 16 174.832
6 20 Joey Logano 37 46 174.787
7 29 Kevin Harvick 14 23 174.141
8 48 Jimmie Johnson 12 21 174.125
9 24 Jeff Gordon 28 37 174.048
10 17 Matt Kenseth 10 19 174.021
11 38 David Gilliland 7 16 173.083
12 83 Landon Cassill 20 29 172.227
13 10 Danica Patrick 18 27 170.558
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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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