Fantasy NASCAR Practice Recap: Subway Fresh Fit 500

by Brian Polking on March 2, 2013 @ 19:08:07 PDT

 


When Mark Martin finally decides to call it quits as a driver, he may want to retire to Phoenix. After all, he has made the track his home over the course of his career to the tune of a 9.1 average finish in 32 starts. The veteran is back at it this weekend, and after Martin grabbed the pole Friday, he followed it up by topping the charts in the opening practice session Saturday. Considering the only time he finished outside the top 20 at PIR was in the track's inaugural event back in 1988, Martin was already one of the safer fantasy options available. After spending the weekend lighting up the stopwatch, the two-time Phoenix winner could deliver a top-five and maybe more Sunday.

Kyle Busch put down the second-fastest lap of the session, and based on his recent runs at Phoenix, he could deliver a strong run for owners, as well. Busch has finished sixth or better in three of his last four starts at the track, including a third-place run on the new configuration last fall. Busch hasn't won at PIR since his rookie year, but with 10 top-15s and eight top-10s in his last 12 starts at the track, he is still worthy of a roster spot.

Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five, and of the three, Johnson and Harvick are the heavy hitters. After all, Johnson leads all drivers with four victories and a 6.7 average finish at Phoenix. Not to mention the fact that he has finished in the top five in 12 of his 19 starts at the track and has finished outside the top 15 only once. Meanwhile, Harvick is coming off a season when he finished second at Phoenix in March and won the fall. His three career wins at PIR are his most at any track at the Cup level.

Mark Martin

Johnson and Harvick were also two of three fastest cars that ran at least 10 consecutive laps in the session with Johnson posting the best average speed. The third driver to crack the top three was again Bowyer. He is an interesting fantasy option because of an unimpressive 17.7 average finish at Phoenix. That being said, the Michael Waltrip Racing cars appear to have plenty of speed this weekend, and Bowyer could be headed for one of his stronger showings at Phoenix.

In Happy Hour, Martin and Kyle Busch once again paced the field while defending series champ Brad Keselowski posted the third-fastest lap. He was rock solid at PIR last year, notching finishes of sixth and fifth. Plain and simple, the guy was a steady source of top-10s for more than half the season in 2012. While we are still getting a feel for which drivers will have success this season, there really isn't a safer pick than last year's most consistent driver, especially when he cracking the top five on the practice charts.

Carl Edwards and Bowyer rounded out the top five in the final session, and this weekend's race could tell fantasy owners a lot about what to expect from Edwards in 2013. After being arguably the biggest bust of last year, a strong showing at PIR would be a sign that he is ready to turn things around. He does have a history of success, winning once and finishing 11th or better in 12 of his 17 starts. The safe strategy would be to take a wait-and-see approach with Edwards this weekend, but if you want to be aggressive early in the year, taking a chance on Edwards could pay off big time.

Other drivers that came to life in Happy Hour included Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon. Kahne posted the eighth-fastest lap and the fourth-best 10-lap average speed, and with three finishes of sixth or better in his last three starts at Phoenix, he has top-five potential this weekend. Gordon on the other hand posted the second-best 10-lap average speed, and with finishes of second, first and eighth in the last three March races at Phoenix, owners should feel comfortable inserting him into their lineups this weekend.

Kurt Busch also had a solid showing in the final session, and his times may have been the most important. He was forced to go to a backup car after a wreck in qualifying, but he still managed to post the sixth-fastest lap and the third-best 10-lap average speed out of 24 cars. He may not be able to win the race starting from so deep in the field, but Busch could still provide a solid top-15 finish for owners.

The big loser of the afternoon was Denny Hamlin. The defending race winner has been one of the best in the business at Phoenix, compiling a 10.3 average finish and eight finishes of sixth or better in 15 career starts at the track. However, the No. 11 team made an engine change Saturday, and Hamlin will be forced to give up his top-10 starting spot and drop to the rear of the field. History says winning from the back will be next to impossible, and while he could still rally for a top-five finish, owners would probably want to save Hamlin for another day in survivor-type formats.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Team
Best Time
Best Lap
Laps
1
55
Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
26.816
134.248
7
2
18
M&M's Toyota
26.885
133.904
55
3
2
Miller Lite Ford
26.926
133.700
49
4
99
Subway Ford
26.946
133.601
37
5
15
5-hour Energy Toyota
26.961
133.526
44
6
78
Furniture Row/Beautyrest Chevrolet
26.971
133.477
35
7
14
Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet
27.003
133.319
56
8
5
Quaker State Chevrolet
27.015
133.259
40
9
56
NAPA Filters Toyota
27.021
133.230
33
10
16
3M/Novec Ford
27.049
133.092
33
11
51
Guy Roofing Chevrolet
27.049
133.092
40
12
43
Farmland Ford
27.056
133.057
37
13
9
DeWalt Ford
27.060
133.038
32
14
48
Lowe's Chevrolet
27.061
133.033
44
15
11
FedEx Ground Toyota
27.064
133.018
28
16
29
Jimmy John's Chevrolet
27.068
132.998
35
17
24
Pepsi MAX Chevrolet
27.076
132.959
46
18
22
Shell Pennzoil Ford
27.082
132.930
34
19
1
McDonald's Chevrolet
27.083
132.925
38
20
20
Husky Toyota
27.088
132.900
40
21
31
Cheerios Chevrolet
27.090
132.890
45
22
88
National Guard Chevrolet
27.109
132.797
31
23
39
Quicken Loans Chevrolet
27.116
132.763
40
24
42
Target Chevrolet
27.118
132.753
34
25
27
Menards/Serta Chevrolet
27.123
132.729
41
26
17
Best Buy Ford
27.137
132.660
43
27
38
Long John Silver's Ford
27.139
132.650
30
28
44
No Label Watches Ford
27.234
132.188
21
29
34
Ford
27.276
131.984
36
30
36
Accell Construction Chevrolet
27.295
131.892
35
31
47
Glad Toyota
27.308
131.830
27
32
13
GEICO Ford
27.371
131.526
28
33
7
Sany Chevrolet
27.379
131.488
26
34
10
GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
27.383
131.468
33
35
30
27.395
131.411
19
36
19
Plinker Tactical/Value Place Toyota
27.407
131.353
6
37
83
Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
27.471
131.047
25
38
35
Blockbuster.com Ford
27.507
130.876
15
39
33
Little Joe's Autos Chevrolet
27.547
130.686
20
40
87
MaddiesPlaceRocks.com Toyota
27.733
129.809
21
41
95
Surrender the Sponsor Ford
27.789
129.548
10
42
32
Safe Skies Locks Ford
27.923
128.926
22
43
93
Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
28.821
124.909
1

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
18
9
18
133.119
2
24
5
14
132.650
3
78
2
11
132.623
4
5
26
35
132.589
5
48
11
20
132.540
6
20
2
11
132.519
7
39
26
35
132.494
8
2
5
14
132.339
9
27
30
39
132.287
10
15
30
39
132.260
11
14
1
10
132.253
12
31
33
42
132.144
13
43
23
32
132.099
14
22
25
34
131.961
15
1
20
29
131.887
16
99
28
37
131.545
17
51
24
33
131.492
18
17
34
43
131.174
19
34
17
26
131.117
20
38
3
12
131.038
21
36
3
12
130.757
22
10
17
26
130.702
23
44
1
10
130.498
24
47
1
10
130.358

Second Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Team
Best Time
Best Lap
Laps
1
55
Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
26.578
135.450
31
2
18
M&M's Toyota
26.627
135.201
39
3
15
5-hour Energy Toyota
26.675
134.958
38
4
48
Lowe's Chevrolet
26.743
134.615
32
5
29
Jimmy John's Chevrolet
26.747
134.595
47
6
9
DeWalt Ford
26.754
134.559
38
7
99
Subway Ford
26.755
134.554
27
8
14
Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet
26.785
134.404
41
9
39
Quicken Loans Chevrolet
26.797
134.343
23
10
20
Husky Toyota
26.797
134.343
35
11
56
NAPA Filters Toyota
26.798
134.338
23
12
11
FedEx Ground Toyota
26.798
134.338
22
13
24
Pepsi MAX Chevrolet
26.801
134.323
27
14
2
Miller Lite Ford
26.810
134.278
40
15
42
Target Chevrolet
26.832
134.168
35
16
51
Guy Roofing Chevrolet
26.841
134.123
43
17
78
Furniture Row/Beautyrest Chevrolet
26.845
134.103
25
18
16
3M/Novec Ford
26.853
134.063
25
19
31
Cheerios Chevrolet
26.869
133.983
39
20
17
Best Buy Ford
26.871
133.973
26
21
27
Menards/Serta Chevrolet
26.873
133.963
35
22
5
Quaker State Chevrolet
26.880
133.929
21
23
88
National Guard Chevrolet
26.913
133.764
28
24
1
McDonald's Chevrolet
26.921
133.725
38
25
22
Shell Pennzoil Ford
26.923
133.715
38
26
13
GEICO Ford
26.984
133.412
29
27
43
Farmland Ford
27.011
133.279
22
28
44
No Label Watches Ford
27.040
133.136
12
29
93
Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
27.041
133.131
23
30
47
Glad Toyota
27.050
133.087
25
31
30
27.073
132.974
23
32
38
Long John Silver's Ford
27.084
132.920
27
33
34
Ford
27.090
132.890
17
34
19
Plinker Tactical/Value Place Toyota
27.133
132.680
3
35
10
GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
27.159
132.553
26
36
36
Accell Construction Chevrolet
27.208
132.314
38
37
35
Blockbuster.com Ford
27.239
132.163
10
38
33
Little Joe's Autos Chevrolet
27.274
131.994
17
39
83
Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
27.283
131.950
20
40
7
Sany Chevrolet
27.305
131.844
27
41
95
Surrender the Sponsor Ford
27.522
130.804
9
42
32
Safe Skies Locks Ford
27.673
130.091
22
43
87
MaddiesPlaceRocks.com Toyota
27.870
129.171
9

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
48
2
11
134.051
2
15
23
32
133.731
3
29
1
10
133.636
4
14
17
26
133.508
5
2
30
39
133.178
6
1
28
37
132.845
7
9
20
29
132.726
8
31
30
39
132.705
9
22
29
38
132.386
10
51
32
41
132.372
11
78
16
25
132.066
12
36
1
10
131.394

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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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