Fantasy NASCAR Practice Recap: STP Gas Booster 500

by Brian Polking on April 6, 2013 @ 17:05:57 PDT

 


It has been a relatively quiet year for last year's championship runner-up, but after delivering a clean sweep in both of Saturday's practice sessions at Martinsville Speedway, he could be ready to deliver the breakout performance fantasy owners have been waiting for. Not only did Bowyer post the fastest lap in both practices, but he posted the best 10-lap average speed in both sessions, as well. Signs of a potential breakout run at the track began to emerge last year when Bowyer finished 10th in the spring and fifth in the fall, posting an average running position of fourth or better in both races. A career run could be on tap for Bowyer Sunday, and fantasy owners should take advantage.

Jimmie Johnson

Of course, any driver that wants to win Sunday will likely have to deal with Jimmie Johnson. The seven-time track winner didn't disappoint Saturday during the practices. After posting the 11th-fastest lap and fifth-best average speed in the opening session, he surged to second on the charts in both categories during Happy Hour. As if starting on the pole and owning the series' best driver rating and average finish at Martinsville weren't enough, Johnson's stout practice times cement his status as the safest fantasy option available.

Two other big names that delivered impressive results Saturday were Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon. Busch posted the second-fastest lap in first practice to go along with the third-best 10-lap average speed, and although he slipped to 12th on the charts in Happy Hour, his 10-lap average speed actually jumped to second overall. Busch can be a bit of a wild card at Martinsville, but with four finishes of fourth or better in his last seven starts and a very fast car, Busch is worth the risk. Meanwhile, Gordon got started with the third-fastest lap and second-best 10-lap average speed in the opening session and also logged the sixth-best 10-lap average speed in Happy Hour. Throw in the seven career wins and 4.9 average finish at Martinsville in the last 20 races, and Gordon can pretty much be penciled in for a strong run.

While it was no surprise to see Johnson, Gordon and Busch near the top of the charts, the same can't be said for Roush Fenway Racing duo of Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. Edwards owns a 16.1 average finish at Martinsville and has just a single top-five finish while Biffle has a 21.4 average finish and has never finished in the top five at the track. However, both cracked the top five in Happy Hour Saturday, and both ranked seventh or better in terms of 10-lap average speeds. Fantasy owners looking for options outside the obvious favorites may want to take a chance on Edwards and Biffle. Both tend to salvage decent finishes even on bad days, and there is definitely some upside after the speed they showed in the final practice.

As far as sleeper options go, Brian Vickers tops the list as he tends to do whenever he gets a chance to drive. He put down the fourth-fastest lap and sixth-best 10-lap average speed in the early session and followed it up with the eighth-fastest lap and 11th-best 10-lap average speed in the final practice. Vickers is also starting third Sunday, and last fall at Martinsville, he started second en route to an eighth-place finish. Expect a similar top-10 effort this weekend.

Fantasy owners looking for a bit of riskier option that could pay off should consider Jeff Burton. In the first practice Saturday, he posted the eighth-fastest lap and the 15th-best 10-lap average speed. He improved on both in Happy Hour, logging the fifth-fastest lap and the 10-th-best 10-lap average speed. Granted, he had a rough year at Martinsville in 2012, but he did finish sixth at the track in the fall of 2011 and has a win and a15.0 average finish in 37 starts. Burton could be a sneaky source for a top-15 this weekend.

Unfortunately, there were also a couple of big names that disappointed during Saturday's practices, including Tony Stewart. After ranking 27th in the first practice Saturday, he only managed to climb to 26th on the charts in Happy Hour. Stewart did bump his 10-lap average speed from 22nd to 15th between the two sessions, but he never showed the speed that one would expect from a three-time Martinsville winner. Throw in the fact that he is having a miserable start to the 2013 season, and fantasy owners will probably want to pass on him again this weekend.

The usually reliable Mark Martin was also unimpressive on the charts. Subbing for the injured Denny Hamlin, he posted the 17-th-fastest lap in the first practice and slipped to 20-th in Happy Hour in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11. More concerning was the fact that Martin ranked 26th and 27th in terms of 10-lap average speeds in the two practices. It would make sense that a quality driver like Martin would be able to join a team that has had a ton of success at Martinsville and immediately deliver great results, but there could also be a big difference between what Hamlin needed in a car at Martinsville and what Martin needs. There could also be a bit of an adjustment period as Martin and his crew chief develop the level of communication needed to adjust and dial in an ill-handling car. Whatever the reason, Martin doesn't appear to be in position to help fantasy owners this weekend.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Team
Best Time
Best Lap
Laps
1
15
RK Motors Toyota
19.518
97.018
84
2
48
Lowe's Chevrolet
19.665
96.293
63
3
99
Fastenal Ford
19.692
96.161
58
4
16
3M Ford
19.694
96.151
68
5
31
ChildressInstituteforPediatricTrauma Chevrolet
19.710
96.073
92
6
2
Miller Lite Ford
19.714
96.054
73
7
27
Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet
19.719
96.029
70
8
55
Jet Edge Toyota
19.734
95.956
78
9
88
Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet
19.740
95.927
55
10
29
Budweiser Chevrolet
19.743
95.913
70
11
22
Shell Pennzoil Ford
19.744
95.908
71
12
18
M&M's Toyota
19.747
95.893
68
13
9
Stanley Ford
19.750
95.879
81
14
39
Quicken Loans Chevrolet
19.778
95.743
54
15
43
Jani-King/STP Ford
19.778
95.743
61
16
24
Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
19.784
95.714
96
17
78
Furniture Row/Serta Chevrolet
19.795
95.661
75
18
42
Target Chevrolet
19.806
95.607
61
19
56
NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
19.808
95.598
66
20
11
FedEx Freight Toyota
19.821
95.535
75
21
33
Little Joe's Autos/Precon Marine Chevrolet
19.822
95.530
15
22
10
GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
19.823
95.525
71
23
5
Farmers Insurance Chevrolet
19.824
95.521
70
24
1
Novo Nordisk Chevrolet
19.826
95.511
71
25
34
Ford
19.831
95.487
46
26
14
Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet
19.845
95.420
54
27
20
The Home Depot/Husky Toyota
19.852
95.386
56
28
30
Widow Wax Toyota
19.854
95.376
44
29
51
Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet
19.880
95.252
57
30
13
GEICO Ford
19.882
95.242
59
31
47
Bush's Beans Toyota
19.912
95.098
68
32
32
Federated Auto Parts Ford
19.934
94.994
70
33
93
Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
19.939
94.970
47
34
38
Long John Silver's Ford
19.944
94.946
52
35
17
Fifth Third Ford
19.957
94.884
49
36
44
No Label Watches Ford
19.971
94.818
11
37
95
Surrender The Sponsor Ford
19.989
94.732
20
38
83
Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
20.012
94.623
62
39
35
MDS Transport Ford
20.035
94.515
29
40
36
United Mining Equipment Chevrolet
20.045
94.467
30
41
7
Sany Chevrolet
20.082
94.293
55
42
87
MaddiesPlaceRocks.com Toyota
20.292
93.318
29

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
15
62
71
95.828
2
48
36
45
95.724
3
18
3
12
95.518
4
27
50
59
95.328
5
99
7
16
95.255
6
24
71
80
95.112
7
16
43
52
95.112
8
39
9
18
95.109
9
29
44
53
95.108
10
31
9
18
95.103
11
55
53
62
95.034
12
5
3
12
94.936
13
78
36
45
94.917
14
22
49
58
94.892
15
14
38
47
94.865
16
47
40
49
94.821
17
56
37
46
94.791
18
20
31
40
94.776
19
34
6
15
94.710
20
1
47
56
94.703
21
2
39
48
94.695
22
51
31
40
94.623
23
9
53
62
94.579
24
42
43
52
94.534
25
10
41
50
94.443
26
93
31
40
94.320
27
11
44
53
94.316
28
83
37
46
94.286
29
38
5
14
94.229
30
88
37
46
94.209
31
43
31
40
94.200
32
13
9
18
94.032
33
17
13
22
93.974
34
44
1
10
93.944
35
7
33
42
93.884
36
33
2
11
93.837
37
36
8
17
93.799
38
30
10
19
93.632
39
35
1
10
93.216
40
32
61
70
91.943

Second Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Team
Best Time
Best Lap
Laps
1
15
RK Motors Toyota
19.586
96.681
40
2
18
M&M's Toyota
19.617
96.529
52
3
24
Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
19.652
96.357
44
4
55
Jet Edge Toyota
19.658
96.327
43
5
39
Quicken Loans Chevrolet
19.687
96.185
32
6
1
Novo Nordisk Chevrolet
19.698
96.132
47
7
16
3M Ford
19.699
96.127
29
8
31
ChildressInstituteforPediatricTrauma Chevrolet
19.703
96.107
44
9
56
NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
19.722
96.015
36
10
29
Budweiser Chevrolet
19.735
95.951
43
11
48
Lowe's Chevrolet
19.737
95.942
39
12
20
The Home Depot/Husky Toyota
19.755
95.854
62
13
42
Target Chevrolet
19.757
95.845
43
14
2
Miller Lite Ford
19.761
95.825
41
15
22
Shell Pennzoil Ford
19.771
95.777
51
16
5
Farmers Insurance Chevrolet
19.773
95.767
44
17
11
FedEx Freight Toyota
19.777
95.748
56
18
51
Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet
19.778
95.743
49
19
87
MaddiesPlaceRocks.com Toyota
19.781
95.728
9
20
33
Little Joe's Autos/Precon Marine Chevrolet
19.786
95.704
14
21
27
Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet
19.787
95.699
38
22
17
Fifth Third Ford
19.789
95.690
46
23
99
Fastenal Ford
19.795
95.661
32
24
78
Furniture Row/Serta Chevrolet
19.796
95.656
56
25
9
Stanley Ford
19.801
95.632
50
26
30
Widow Wax Toyota
19.802
95.627
30
27
14
Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet
19.809
95.593
49
28
88
Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet
19.820
95.540
54
29
10
GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
19.824
95.521
42
30
93
Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
19.840
95.444
34
31
38
Long John Silver's Ford
19.840
95.444
27
32
43
Jani-King/STP Ford
19.875
95.276
39
33
13
GEICO Ford
19.876
95.271
33
34
47
Bush's Beans Toyota
19.876
95.271
28
35
83
Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
19.943
94.951
38
36
98
19.949
94.922
20
37
35
MDS Transport Ford
19.967
94.837
30
38
7
Sany Chevrolet
20.013
94.619
37
39
36
United Mining Equipment Chevrolet
20.027
94.552
26
40
34
Ford
20.069
94.355
35
41
32
Federated Auto Parts Ford
20.118
94.125
36
42
95
Surrender The Sponsor Ford
20.215
93.673
15

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

Pos
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
15
3
12
95.897
2
24
4
13
95.884
3
18
4
13
95.812
4
56
2
11
95.539
5
48
4
13
95.467
6
55
4
13
95.436
7
88
4
13
95.333
8
20
2
11
95.310
9
22
30
39
95.252
10
51
5
14
95.208
11
29
2
11
95.202
12
42
22
31
95.147
13
99
3
12
95.136
14
39
3
12
95.080
15
31
26
35
95.044
16
16
2
11
94.973
17
10
23
32
94.971
18
5
3
12
94.946
19
78
42
51
94.868
20
43
1
10
94.845
21
27
21
30
94.783
22
14
25
34
94.758
23
2
2
11
94.752
24
17
3
12
94.725
25
9
32
41
94.534
26
11
25
34
94.505
27
1
1
10
94.407
28
47
2
11
94.399
29
83
2
11
94.386
30
33
3
12
94.331
31
7
2
11
94.094
32
34
3
12
94.014
33
35
2
11
93.840
34
93
1
10
93.555

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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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