Kurt Busch quietly climbing board
After appearing to qualify on the front row for Sunday's race at New Hampshire, Jimmie Johnson was on track to grab the top spot in the final rankings. However, the three-time track winner's car ended up failing post-qualifying inspection, forcing him to start from the rear of the field and forcing him to settle for No. 2 in the final rankings. Instead, Denny Hamlin retains his spot atop the rankings after a top-10 qualifying effort on top of his incredible numbers at the track. Hamlin leads all drivers with a 7.9 average finish at New Hampshire is the best in the series, and he has finished sixth or better eight times in 14 starts, including four finishes of third or better in his last five starts.
While starting deep in the field isn't a death sentence for a driver's fantasy value, track position does count for something. As a result, Brad Keselowski slides into the top five in the final rankings following his pole-winning run Friday. Of course, he was already a legitimate fantasy option even before setting a new track record in qualifying. Keselowski has finished sixth or better in his last three starts at New Hampshire, posting a 4.3 average finish during the stretch. A similar performance appears to be on tap this weekend.
Kurt Busch is another driver that has impressed all weekend, and he moves up into the top 10 in the final rankings. After qualifying on the front row Friday, he topped the charts in practice Saturday. Keep in mind that Busch is already a three-time winner at New Hampshire, and he has finished sixth or better five times in his last six starts at the track. Throw in the fact that he has seven top-15s in the eight races leading up to New Hampshire, and there is a lot to love about Busch this weekend.
Another driver that jumps into the top 10 in the final driver rankings is Dale Earnhardt Jr. He qualified third for Sunday's race and continued to post solid time in practice Saturday. Meanwhile, he has finished in the top 15 in five of his last six starts at New Hampshire and has finished eighth or better three times during the stretch. Junior might not win this weekend, but he should make a solid addition to fantasy rosters in just about any format.
Outside of the top 10, Martin Truex Jr. is one driver that fantasy owners need to pay attention to. He lands in the top 15 of the final rankings, and despite a mediocre qualifying effort, his strong practice times are encouraging. Not to mention the fact that he has a 14.9 average finish at New Hampshire so he is no stranger to delivering decent finishes at the track. At worse, fantasy owners will probably get a top-15 finish out of Truex, and his practice times suggest an even bigger day could be in store.
As far as sleeper options go, Juan Pablo Montoya might have the most upside. He earns a spot in the top 20 of the final rankings, and he qualified and has practiced in the top 10 all weekend. Granted, his 20.2 average finish at New Hampshire isn't that impressive, but he has had a couple of top-10 finishes at the track and has had some success at flat tracks throughout his Cup career. Owners willing to gamble on Montoya could be rewarded a surprisingly strong finish.
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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