Fantasy NASCAR Practice Recap: Auto Club 400

by Brian Polking on March 23, 2013 @ 17:53:56 PDT

 


It has been a weekend of mixed emotions for Greg Biffle at Auto Club Speedway, but it got a little better Saturday when he topped the charts in the opening practice session. Although an engine change will force him to forfeit his starting spot on the front row, it appears that the former ACS winner may have a car capable of getting back to the front. Biffle has finished 11th or better in five of his last seven starts at the track, including a sixth-place run last season. Despite the engine change, fantasy owners shouldn't write off Biffle. He could still deliver a solid top-10 finish this weekend.

The second-fastest lap of the first practice belonged to A.J. Allmendinger, and the Phoenix Racing driver has done nothing but impress this year. After struggling mightily in the No. 51 at the end of last year, he has finished 11th and 13th in his two starts with the team in 2013. More importantly, Allmendinger has also cracked the top 15 in his last two starts at ACS. Another top-15 finish isn't out of the question, and owners should pencil him in as a solid sleeper option for Sunday.

Mark Martin

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin ranked third and fourth on the charts, and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five. Out of the three, the Busch brothers are the two most attractive options with Kyle a potential threat for the win and Kurt a solid sleeper pick. After all, Kyle is a former winner at ACS, and he has finished third and second at the track the last two years. Kurt is also a former, and he also managed one of his best finishes of 2012 at ACS when he came home ninth. Throw in the fact that both drivers have some momentum on their side after top-five finishes last weekend, and the Busch brothers could make a productive fantasy duo.

In Happy Hour, veteran Mark Martin surged to the top of the charts. He does have three finishes of sixth or better in his last five starts at ACS, but in his last two starts he has finished 12th and 20th. More importantly, Martin has made a habit of delivering fantastic practice times but only solid results recently. As a result, expecting more than a top-15 finish from Martin Sunday could leave you disappointed. On the other hand, he is a safe bet for a solid run so he does have a place on fantasy rosters.

Martin's Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Clint Bowyer ranked second in the final session, and he should also be a rock solid addition to fantasy rosters this weekend. Although he has just two top-five finishes in 12 starts at ACS, he has also finished inside the top 20 in every start. Overall, Bowyer has a 10.8 average finish at the track, and he should be good for a top-10 run Sunday.

Some serious heavy hitters followed the MWR duo as Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five. Johnson has been an absolute monster at his home-state track, compiling a series-leading 5.4 average finish. He has never finished worse than 16th in his 18 starts at ACS, tallying five wins and five second-place finishes along the way. Kenseth is a three-time winner at the track in his own right, and 10.3 average finish is the third best in the series. Keselowski on the other hand has actually been awful at ACS in four starts. However, it's tough to write off the defending champ when he has opened 2013 with four straight top-five finishes. Owners should feel very comfortable with all three drivers.

For the third week in a row, Tony Stewart tops the list of big names that could struggle. Even though he is the defending winner of Sunday's race and has won two of the last three races at ACS, he failed to crack the top 10 in the opening practice and slid to 27th in Happy Hour. Granted, Stewart is the type of driver that can turn it on in an instant, but it's worth noting that he was also the defending winner at Las Vegas a few weeks ago and managed only an 11th-place run after struggling in practice. The three-time champ is off to a slow start, and he could be playing damage control again Sunday.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Team
Best Time
Best Lap
Laps
1
55
Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
39.269
183.351
30
2
15
5-hour Energy Toyota
39.356
182.945
34
3
20
Dollar General Toyota
39.379
182.839
29
4
48
Lowe's/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet
39.470
182.417
32
5
2
Miller Lite Ford
39.479
182.375
40
6
5
Farmers Insurance Chevrolet
39.526
182.159
29
7
51
Phoenix Construction Chevrolet
39.528
182.149
37
8
16
3M Window Film Ford
39.530
182.140
26
9
1
Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet
39.562
181.993
23
10
42
Target Chevrolet
39.567
181.970
18
11
11
FedEx Express Toyota
39.581
181.905
26
12
56
NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
39.595
181.841
27
13
78
Furniture Row/Serta Chevrolet
39.702
181.351
20
14
99
SUBWAY Ford
39.788
180.959
19
15
22
AAA Southern California Ford
39.812
180.850
27
16
88
National Guard Chevrolet
39.837
180.737
34
17
29
Jimmy John's Chevrolet
39.860
180.632
35
18
27
Menards/CertainTeed Chevrolet
39.860
180.632
29
19
18
Interstate Batteries Toyota
39.879
180.546
36
20
43
Farmland Ford
39.942
180.261
27
21
13
GEICO Ford
39.950
180.225
23
22
9
MAC Tools Ford
39.975
180.113
19
23
39
WIX Filters Chevrolet
39.982
180.081
17
24
24
Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
40.016
179.928
28
25
17
NOS Ford
40.035
179.843
20
26
31
Caterpillar Chevrolet
40.142
179.363
36
27
14
Rush Truck Centers/MOBIL 1 Chevrolet
40.147
179.341
31
28
93
Burger King/Dr Pepper Toyota
40.165
179.261
24
29
7
SANY Chevrolet
40.387
178.275
14
30
83
Burger King/Dr Pepper Toyota
40.531
177.642
15
31
47
Charter Toyota
40.544
177.585
17
32
35
MDS Transport Ford
40.587
177.397
15
33
38
Long John Silver's Ford
40.620
177.253
18
34
33
Little Joe's Autos/Precon Marine Chevrolet
40.739
176.735
9
35
30
Swan Energy/Lean1 Toyota
40.771
176.596
15
36
10
GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
40.840
176.298
22
37
34
Ford
41.008
175.575
23
38
36
Accell Construction Chevrolet
41.077
175.281
18
39
32
OXY Water Ford
41.159
174.931
17
40
87
MaddiesPlaceRocks.com Toyota
41.178
174.851
9
41
19
G-Oil/Plinker Tactical/Doubletree Toyota
41.335
174.187
6
42
44
No Label Ford
41.517
173.423
12

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
55
1
10
179.257
2
15
1
10
178.867
3
2
1
10
178.767
4
51
25
34
177.549
5
18
26
35
177.494
6
29
23
32
176.735
7
48
23
32
176.676
8
31
12
21
176.467
9
88
25
34
175.842

Second Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Team
Best Time
Best Lap
Laps
1
16
3M Window Film Ford
38.657
186.253
37
2
51
Phoenix Construction Chevrolet
38.670
186.191
22
3
18
Interstate Batteries Toyota
38.847
185.342
31
4
11
FedEx Express Toyota
38.861
185.276
31
5
78
Furniture Row/Serta Chevrolet
38.864
185.261
19
6
15
5-hour Energy Toyota
38.878
185.195
19
7
55
Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
38.895
185.114
39
8
88
National Guard Chevrolet
38.896
185.109
30
9
56
NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
38.908
185.052
25
10
22
AAA Southern California Ford
38.983
184.696
28
11
20
Dollar General Toyota
39.122
184.040
31
12
1
Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet
39.203
183.659
35
13
48
Lowe's/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet
39.211
183.622
29
14
14
Rush Truck Centers/MOBIL 1 Chevrolet
39.223
183.566
30
15
24
Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
39.226
183.552
30
16
99
SUBWAY Ford
39.283
183.285
24
17
42
Target Chevrolet
39.308
183.169
25
18
2
Miller Lite Ford
39.346
182.992
29
19
29
Jimmy John's Chevrolet
39.355
182.950
31
20
13
GEICO Ford
39.357
182.941
29
21
9
MAC Tools Ford
39.448
182.519
30
22
31
Caterpillar Chevrolet
39.470
182.417
24
23
39
WIX Filters Chevrolet
39.475
182.394
30
24
27
Menards/CertainTeed Chevrolet
39.509
182.237
24
25
5
Farmers Insurance Chevrolet
39.527
182.154
30
26
17
NOS Ford
39.738
181.187
26
27
30
Swan Energy/Lean1 Toyota
39.765
181.064
17
28
43
Farmland Ford
39.782
180.986
26
29
93
Burger King/Dr Pepper Toyota
39.969
180.140
7
30
47
Charter Toyota
40.056
179.748
23
31
98
40.080
179.641
11
32
83
Burger King/Dr Pepper Toyota
40.118
179.471
10
33
35
MDS Transport Ford
40.146
179.345
15
34
7
SANY Chevrolet
40.209
179.064
13
35
34
Ford
40.371
178.346
16
36
38
Long John Silver's Ford
40.373
178.337
21
37
36
Accell Construction Chevrolet
40.433
178.072
18
38
10
GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
40.439
178.046
18
39
33
Little Joe's Autos/Precon Marine Chevrolet
40.440
178.042
3
40
32
OXY Water Ford
40.552
177.550
17
41
19
G-Oil/Plinker Tactical/Doubletree Toyota
41.002
175.601
7
42
87
MaddiesPlaceRocks.com Toyota
0.000
0.000
0

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
56
1
10
182.344
2
16
1
10
181.953
3
51
1
10
181.717
4
2
16
25
181.174
5
88
1
10
181.061
6
24
1
10
180.961
7
1
1
10
180.906
8
55
26
35
180.632
9
18
21
30
180.067
10
29
8
17
180.028
11
13
1
10
179.854
12
31
14
23
179.745
13
5
19
28
179.587

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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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