Fantasy NASCAR Practice Recap: Party in the Poconos 400

by Brian Polking on June 8, 2013 @ 12:55:00 PDT

 


Fresh off his penalty last weekend at Dover, Jimmie Johnson appears more than ready to put the controversy behind him. He topped the charts in the opening practice at Pocono Saturday, and followed it up with the second-fastest lap in Happy Hour. Johnson leads all active drivers with a 9.0 average finish at the track, and in 22 starts, he has finished outside the top 15 only once. He is also a two-time winner at the track and has finished seventh or better in the last five June races. Fantasy owners won't find a safer option this weekend.

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Junior: for those playing it safe

Carl Edwards also showed plenty of muscle during the practice sessions Saturday. He posted the second-fastest lap in the first practice and ranked third in Happy Hour. Meanwhile, Edwards is no stranger to solid finishes at Pocono. In addition to his two victories at the track, he has finished in the top 12 in five of his last six starts. Edwards was already a safe bet for a solid finish this weekend, and given his practice times, a top-five effort could be on tap.

A top-five finish could also be in the works for Kurt Busch this weekend. After posting the third-fastest lap in the first practice Saturday, he topped the charts in Happy Hour. Busch has been hitting his stride with his Furniture Row Racing team lately, having notched five top-15s in his last six starts. He also has a history of success at Pocono. Busch finished second and third in two starts at the track in 2011, and for his career, he has a pair of wins and four second-place efforts. After a rough patch, Busch is finally becoming a reliable fantasy option again.

Speaking of rounding back into form, last weekend's winner, Tony Stewart, appears ready to continue to make up for lost time. After a horrible start to the year, "Smoke" followed his Dover victory by ranking seventh and fourth in the two practices Saturday. Not to mention the fact that he has finished 11th or better in eight of his last nine Pocono starts and has finished in the top five six times during the stretch. Given his history of success at Pocono and history of heating up in the summer months, fantasy owners may want to jump on the Stewart bandwagon as early as this weekend.

For fantasy owners willing to sacrifice consistency for the chance at a win, Kyle Busch could make a nice pick this weekend. He has been boom or bust at Pocono, but he has finished third or better three times in his last six starts at the track. Busch also ranked sixth and 10th in the two practices Saturday, so it appears he has a car fast enough to deliver one of his better runs.

On the flip side, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. all appear to be quality options for fantasy owners who want to go with a more conservative approach. All three cracked the top 15 in both practices Saturday, and all three have put up consistent numbers at Pocono. Harvick has finished 16th or better in his last seven races at the track, and Junior has finished in the top 10 in three of his last four. Newman on the other hand has reeled off nine straight top-15s. All three could make excellent additions to fantasy rosters this weekend.

Meanwhile, fantasy owners looking for a big name to avoid may want to steer clear of Jeff Gordon. Despite an incredible record at Pocono that includes two wins in his last four starts, Gordon ranked 20th and 23rd in the two practice sessions Saturday. Granted, it's tough to discount what he has been able to do at Pocono, especially recently, but the No. 24 just seems to be lacking speed heading into Sunday's race. Owners with other quality options may want to use them.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver Make Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
78
Kurt Busch Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing
175.333
51.331
28
2
48
Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools
175.305
51.339
31
3
99
Carl Edwards Ford Kellogg's / Cheez-It
175.206
51.368
20
4
14
Tony Stewart Chevrolet Mobil 1 / Bass Pro Shops
175.159
51.382
20
5
39
Ryan Newman Chevrolet HAAS Automation
174.988
51.432
25
6
5
Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Hendrickcars.com
174.985
51.433
23
7
27
Paul Menard Chevrolet Quaker State / Menards
174.968
51.438
15
8
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard
174.832
51.478
22
9
98
Michael McDowell Ford Phil Parsons Racing
174.584
51.551
5
10
18
Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's
174.523
51.569
25
11
16
Greg Biffle Ford 3M
174.473
51.584
15
12
29
Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Rheem
174.446
51.592
23
13
11
Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground
174.425
51.598
20
14
55
Mark Martin Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine
174.392
51.608
12
15
22
Joey Logano Ford Shell Pennzoil
174.105
51.693
26
16
2
Brad Keselowski Ford Miller Lite
174.064
51.705
24
17
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet Target
173.977
51.731
15
18
20
Matt Kenseth Toyota Home Depot / Husky
173.896
51.755
20
19
56
Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts
173.886
51.758
17
20
24
Jeff Gordon Chevrolet AXALTA Coating Systems
173.832
51.774
10
21
93
Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper
173.802
51.783
18
22
51
A.J. Allmendinger Chevrolet Phoenix Construction Services
173.608
51.841
13
23
15
Clint Bowyer Toyota RKMotorsCharlotte.com
173.584
51.848
22
24
31
Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar
173.578
51.850
15
25
9
Marcos Ambrose Ford DeWalt
173.568
51.853
15
26
1
Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Banana Boat
173.504
51.872
16
27
17
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford Valvoline
173.501
51.873
20
28
43
Aric Almirola Ford Smithfield
173.217
51.958
18
29
10
Danica Patrick Chevrolet GoDaddy.com
173.077
52.000
27
30
13
Casey Mears Ford GEICO
173.014
52.019
18
31
47
Bobby Labonte Toyota Clorox
172.645
52.130
18
32
34
David Ragan Ford Taco Bell
172.137
52.284
19
33
35
Josh Wise Ford MDS Transport
172.045
52.312
11
34
7
Dave Blaney Chevrolet TBD
171.890
52.359
10
35
38
David Gilliland Ford Long John Silver's
171.733
52.407
16
36
83
David Reutimann Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper
171.664
52.428
14
37
30
David Stremme Toyota Lean 1 / Swan Energy
171.631
52.438
15
38
33
Landon Cassill Chevrolet LittleJoesAutos.com
171.034
52.621
8
39
87
David Stremme Toyota Lean 1
167.726
53.659
1
40
32
Timmy Hill Ford OXY Water
166.948
53.909
18
41
44
Scott Riggs Ford Brabble
165.761
54.295
6

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
48
Jimmie Johnson
1
10
174.265
2
2
Brad Keselowski
2
11
173.301
3
18
Kyle Busch
8
17
172.929
4
10
Danica Patrick
17
26
171.699

First Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver Team
Best Time
Best Lap
Laps
1
48
Jimmie Johnson Lowe's / Kobalt Tools Chevrolet
51.257
175.586
22
2
99
Carl Edwards Kellogg's / Cheez-It Ford
51.391
175.128
15
3
78
Kurt Busch FurnitureRowRacing/DenverMattress Chevy
51.460
174.893
15
4
9
Marcos Ambrose DeWalt Ford
51.669
174.186
12
5
29
Kevin Harvick Rheem Chevrolet
51.699
174.085
19
6
18
Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
51.708
174.054
22
7
14
Tony Stewart Mobil 1 / Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet
51.709
174.051
17
8
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet
51.743
173.937
17
9
2
Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford
51.748
173.920
19
10
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
51.790
173.779
11
11
56
Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
51.791
173.775
13
12
31
Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
51.855
173.561
21
13
5
Kasey Kahne Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet
51.870
173.511
14
14
27
Paul Menard Quaker State / Menards Chevrolet
51.875
173.494
9
15
39
Ryan Newman HAAS Automation Chevrolet
51.949
173.247
15
16
20
Matt Kenseth Home Depot / Husky Toyota
51.964
173.197
18
17
22
Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford
52.005
173.060
19
18
51
A.J. Allmendinger Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet
52.122
172.672
18
19
55
Mark Martin Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
52.124
172.665
17
20
43
Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford
52.147
172.589
16
21
16
Greg Biffle 3M Ford
52.149
172.582
17
22
1
Jamie McMurray Banana Boat Chevrolet
52.174
172.500
14
23
24
Jeff Gordon AXALTA Coating Systems Chevrolet
52.193
172.437
14
24
10
Danica Patrick GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
52.217
172.358
20
25
15
Clint Bowyer RKMotorsCharlotte.com Toyota
52.263
172.206
18
26
11
Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota
52.292
172.110
15
27
13
Casey Mears GEICO Ford
52.345
171.936
13
28
17
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Valvoline Ford
52.405
171.739
21
29
47
Bobby Labonte Clorox Toyota
52.516
171.376
17
30
83
David Reutimann Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota
52.541
171.295
18
31
38
David Gilliland Long John Silver's Ford
52.567
171.210
6
32
30
David Stremme Lean 1 / Swan Energy Toyota
52.592
171.129
12
33
93
Travis Kvapil Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota
52.596
171.116
12
34
34
David Ragan Taco Bell Ford
52.713
170.736
11
35
98
Michael McDowell Phil Parsons Racing Ford
52.759
170.587
1
36
35
Josh Wise MDS Transport Ford
52.859
170.264
17
37
7
Dave Blaney Chevrolet
52.961
169.936
16
38
36
J.J. Yeley Chevrolet
53.524
168.149
8
39
19
Jason Leffler Plinker Tactical / Hampton Inn Toyota
53.615
167.863
6
40
33
Landon Cassill LittleJoesAutos.com Chevrolet
53.709
167.570
4
41
32
Timmy Hill OXY Water Ford
54.140
166.236
21
42
44
Scott Riggs Brabble Ford
54.779
164.297
10

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

No drivers eligible

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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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