Fantasy NASCAR Rankings: Kobalt Tools 400

by Brian Polking on March 9, 2013 @ 14:52:20 PDT

 


Tony Stewart
If you think the starting lineup for Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway looks a little familiar, you're right. Mother Nature stepped in and washed out Friday's qualifying session, forcing NASCAR to set the field by last year's owner points and putting defending series champ Brad Keselowski on the pole. Even though Las Vegas is a fast, 1.5-mile oval where passing should be somewhat easy, the drivers starting up front could have an edge Sunday. In the last eight races at the track, only one driver has started outside the top 20 and gone to Victory Lane. More importantly, six of the winners during the stretch have started inside the top 10, including four from the first two rows.

The rain handed a strong starting spot to a number of big names, including Jimmie Johnson. The five-time series champ will start third Sunday, and after a solid showing in Saturday's practice, he took over the top spot in the driver rankings. After all, he is a four-time winner at Las Vegas, and his 9.8 average finish at the track is the best in the series. Johnson also finished second at Vegas last year, and considering how strong he has been out of the gate in 2013, it is hard to imagine that he won't be a serious contender for the win Sunday.

Among the other big names that moved up into the top 10 in the rankings were Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne. Busch was one of the fastest cars in both practice sessions Saturday, and although he has struggled in his last three starts at Vegas, he did win at the track in 2009 and has three career finishes of third or better. Kahne in the other hand has gone six straight races at Vegas without a top-five, but he will roll off fourth with a car that was strong in both practices. Not to mention the fact that seven of his 14 Cup wins have come at 1.5-mile tracks.

As far as sleeper options go, Martin Truex Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. top the list. After solid showings in practice by both drivers, including a stellar effort from Truex, both jumped into the top 15 in the rankings. Truex also happens to be to have scored the most points of any driver in the last 10 races at 1.5-mile tracks while Stenhouse won five of his eight Nationwide races at 1.5-mile tracks. Stenhouse will also enjoy a top-10 starting spot because he inherited Matt Kenseth's points from last year when he took over the No. 17. Both drivers could provide fantasy owners with a top-15 finish Sunday, and Truex has serious upside based on his practice times.

On the flip side, defending race winner Tony Stewart was the big loser in the rankings. After opening at the top of the list, a terrible showing in the opening practice Saturday and a mediocre effort in Happy Hour bumped "Smoke" into the back half of the top 10. Granted, Stewart has led the most laps at Vegas in each of the past two seasons and leads all active drivers with seven wins when qualifying is rained out, but the practice times don't inspire much confidence.

Rk
Driver
Car No.
Make Sponsor Team
Starting Pos
1
Jimmie Johnson
48
Chevrolet Lowe's Home Improvement Hendrick Motorsports
3
2
Greg Biffle
16
Ford 3M Roush Fenway Racing
5
3
Carl Edwards
99
Ford Fastenal Roush Fenway Racing
16
4
Denny Hamlin
11
Toyota FedEx Joe Gibbs Racing
6
5
Kyle Busch
18
Toyota M&M's Joe Gibbs Racing
13
6
Brad Keselowski
2
Ford Miller Lite Penske Championship Racing
1
7
Tony Stewart
14
Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops Stewart-Haas Racing
9
8
Kevin Harvick
29
Chevrolet Budweiser Richard Childress Racing
8
9
Kasey Kahne
5
Chevrolet Farmers Insurance Hendrick Motorsports
4
10
Clint Bowyer
15
Toyota 5 Hour Energy Michael Waltrip Racing
2
11
Matt Kenseth
20
Toyota Dollar General Joe Gibbs Racing
18
12
Martin Truex Jr.
56
Toyota NAPA Auto Parts Michael Waltrip Racing
11
13
Jeff Gordon
24
Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger Hendrick Motorsports
10
14
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
88
Chevrolet Diet Mountain Dew Hendrick Motorsports
12
15
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
17
Ford Best Buy Roush Fenway Racing
7
16
Mark Martin
55
Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine Michael Waltrip Racing
15
17
Joey Logano
22
Ford Shell/Pennzoil Penske Championship Racing
21
18
Marcos Ambrose
9
Ford Stanley Black & Decker Richard Petty Motorsports
19
19
Paul Menard
27
Chevrolet Menard's Richard Childress Racing
17
20
Ryan Newman
39
Chevrolet Quicken Loans Stewart-Haas Racing
14
21
Aric Almirola
43
Ford Smithfield Richard Petty Motorsports
22
22
Trevor Bayne
21
Ford Motorcraft Wood Brothers Racing
36
23
Jeff Burton
31
Chevrolet Caterpillar Richard Childress Racing
20
24
Jamie McMurray
1
Chevrolet McDonald's Earnhardt Ganassi Racing
23
25
Kurt Busch
78
Chevrolet Furniture Row Furniture Row Racing
24
26
Juan Pablo Montoya
42
Chevrolet Target Earnhardt Ganassi Racing
25
27
Austin Dillon
51
Chevrolet Guy Roofing Phoenix Racing
27
28
David Ragan
34
Ford Detail Doctor Front Row Motorsports
29
29
Bobby Labonte
47
Toyota Kroger JTG Daugherty Racing
26
30
Casey Mears
13
Ford GEICO Germain Racing
30
31
Travis Kvapil
93
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
28
32
Danica Patrick
10
Chevrolet GoDaddy.com Stewart-Haas Racing
37
33
David Reutimann
83
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
32
34
Landon Cassill
33
Chevrolet Honey Nut Cheerios Richard Childress Racing
41
35
David Gilliland
38
Ford Love's Travel Stops Front Row Motorsports
31
36
Dave Blaney
7
Chevrolet Florida Lottery Tommy Baldwin Racing
33
37
Josh Wise
35
Ford Blockbuster.com Front Row Motorsports
43
38
David Stremme
30
Toyota Swan Racing Swan Racing
38
39
Scott Speed
95
Ford WRL Leavine Family Racing
40
40
Ken Schrader
32
Ford C & J Energy Services FAS Lane Racing
34
41
Michael McDowell
98
Ford Ambient Edge HVAC Phil Parsons Racing
39
42
J.J. Yeley
36
Chevrolet Golden Corral Tommy Baldwin Racing
35
43
Joe Nemechek
87
Toyota Florida DOT NEMCO-JRR Motorsports
42

 

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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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