Fantasy NASCAR Practice Recap: AAA Texas 500

by Brian Polking on November 2, 2013 @ 17:39:31 PDT

 


Brad Keselowski

Although he missed out on the Chase and a chance to defend his title, Brad Keselowski has made some noise in the playoffs, picking up his first win of the year a few weeks ago at Charlotte. If his practice times at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday are a sign of things to come this weekend, he might not be done winning. After turning the third-fastest lap and logging the second-best 10-lap average speed in the opening practice, he jumped to the top of the charts in Happy Hour and logged the second-best 10-lap average speed. Keselowski came within a few laps of winning at Texas last fall before settling for a career-best second-place finish at the track. Even if he doesn't seal the deal this weekend, he looks like a safe bet to provide a top-five finish.

Kyle Busch also looks like a safe bet to crack the top five this weekend. He turned the second-fastest lap in the opening practice Saturday, and he ranked fourth on the charts in Happy Hour. Busch also posted the sixth-best 10-lap average speed. He is going for a season sweep at Texas after winning the spring event, and he has a 5.0 average finish in his last three starts at the track. A trip to victory lane seems very possible, and he should be an elite fantasy option regardless.

Of course, no driver has been better at getting to victory lane at 1.5-mile tracks this year than Matt Kenseth, and he didn't exactly disappoint in practice Saturday. After cracking the top 15 in the first session, he turned the second-fastest lap in Happy Hour to go along with the best 10-lap average speed. Meanwhile, Kenseth has won a series-leading four races at 1.5-mile tracks in 2013, and his 8.5 average finish at Texas is the best among active drivers. Heck, he has a 4.7 average finish in his last six starts at the track, and he has cracked the top five in five starts during the stretch. Kenseth should be owned in every fantasy format this weekend.

Another driver that should be universally owned in fantasy circles is Jimmie Johnson. In addition to turning the sixth-fastest lap in the first practice at Texas Saturday, he was excellent on longer runs. Johnson logged the second-best 10-lap average speed in the opening session and the third-best 10-lap average speed in Happy Hour. He is also the defending winner of this weekend's race, and he has a 9.1 average finish at the track for his career, including a 3.0 average finish in his last three starts.

Outside of the big names, Martin Truex Jr. was without question the most impressive driver in practice Saturday. He notched the fourth-fastest lap in the first session of the afternoon to go along with the best 10-lap average speed. In Happy Hour, he turned the fifth-fastest lap to go along with the fourth-best 10-lap average speed. Meanwhile, Truex has quietly posted a 7.3 average finish in his last four starts at Texas, and he finished a career-best second at the track earlier this year. He definitely has top-five potential this weekend.

Other drivers that performed well in practice include Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards. Both drivers cracked the top five in both sessions Saturday with Biffle even cracking the top five in the first practice. Biffle also owns a series-leading 5.5 average finish in the last 10 races at Texas, while Edwards owns a series-leading three wins at the track in his career. Biffle is probably the safer of the two options this weekend, but both have plenty of upside and can help fantasy owners this weekend.

Kurt Busch is another driver with plenty of potential, and while his overall record at Texas hasn't been great, he is a former winner and could be a perfect option for fantasy owners that need to think outside of the box in order to make up ground in their leagues. Busch cracked the top-10 in both practices Saturday and finished in the top 10 at Texas last fall. Yes, he is a riskier pick than some other drivers that ran well in practice, but the reward could be well worth it.

In terms of sleeper options, Aric Almirola may have the most upside. After all, he cracked the top 15 in both practice sessions Saturday, ranking in the top 10 in the opening practice. Meanwhile, Almirola has finished 15th and seventh in his last two starts at Texas, so it isn't out of the question that he backs up his solid practice times with a solid outing Sunday.

Fantasy owners looking for a sleeper candidate with more of an established record at Texas may want to consider Paul Menard. After ranking 16th on the charts in the first practice Saturday, he jumped to third on the charts in Happy Hour. Menard has also finished in the top 20 in five of his last six starts at the track and has three top-15s during the stretch. At the very least, he should land in the top 20 Sunday, and a top-15 finish is certainly within reason.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk Car Driver Team Best Time Best Lap Laps
1 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 28.506 189.434 48
2 20 Matt Kenseth Home Depot Let's Do This Toyota 28.506 189.434 35
3 27 Paul Menard Quaker State / Menards Chevrolet 28.545 189.175 36
4 18 Kyle Busch Snickers Toyota 28.582 188.930 45
5 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 28.599 188.818 58
6 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. AMP Energy Gold / 7-Eleven Chevrolet 28.688 188.232 54
7 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet 28.755 187.793 52
8 78 Kurt Busch Furniture Row / Denver Mattress Chevrolet 28.781 187.624 33
9 16 Greg Biffle 3M Hire Our Heroes Ford 28.824 187.344 37
10 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford 28.849 187.182 36
11 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford EcoBoost Ford 28.885 186.948 37
12 15 Clint Bowyer Sour Apple Extra Strength 5-hour Energy Toyota 28.904 186.825 37
13 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet 28.911 186.780 37
14 14 Mark Martin Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet 28.911 186.780 33
15 43 Aric Almirola Farmland Ford 28.918 186.735 34
16 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 28.920 186.722 37
17 13 Casey Mears GEICO Ford 28.922 186.709 36
18 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet 28.927 186.677 31
19 5 Kasey Kahne Time Warner Cable Chevrolet 28.975 186.368 33
20 29 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet 28.986 186.297 41
21 22 Joey Logano AAA Ford 29.036 185.976 45
22 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota 29.086 185.656 42
23 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 29.109 185.510 24
24 9 Marcos Ambrose MAC Tools Ford 29.123 185.420 34
25 55 Elliott Sadler Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 29.130 185.376 46
26 39 Ryan Newman Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet 29.146 185.274 38
27 51 Kyle Larson Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau Chevrolet 29.196 184.957 33
28 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet 29.240 184.679 32
29 33 Austin Dillon Boot Barn Chevrolet 29.274 184.464 31
30 93 Travis Kvapil Dr Pepper / Burger King Toyota 29.453 183.343 37
31 30 Parker Kligerman Swan Energy / Lean1 Toyota 29.459 183.306 25
32 47 Bobby Labonte Clorox Toyota 29.465 183.268 31
33 21 Trevor Bayne Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 29.490 183.113 34
34 83 David Reutimann Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota 29.498 183.063 29
35 34 David Ragan SaferCar.gov Ford 29.503 183.032 29
36 35 Josh Wise MDS Transport Ford 29.573 182.599 1
37 98 Michael McDowell Phil Parsons Racing Ford 29.611 182.365 1
38 38 David Gilliland Long John Silver's Ford 29.694 181.855 16
39 40 Landon Cassill Pirate Oilfield Services Chevrolet 29.881 180.717 20
40 32 Timmy Hill U.S. Chrome Ford 29.974 180.156 21
41 36 J.J. Yeley Accell Construction Chevrolet 29.997 180.018 30
42 7 Dave Blaney Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 30.026 179.844 21

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

Rk Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg. Speed
1 20 Matt Kenseth 1 10 185.323
2 2 Brad Keselowski 1 10 185.020
3 48 Jimmie Johnson 2 11 184.661
4 56 Martin Truex Jr. 41 50 183.932
5 5 Kasey Kahne 1 10 183.764
6 18 Kyle Busch 1 10 183.754
7 24 Jeff Gordon 1 10 183.604
8 11 Denny Hamlin 20 29 183.455
9 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 34 43 183.426
10 29 Kevin Harvick 1 10 183.311
11 22 Joey Logano 1 10 183.260
12 9 Marcos Ambrose 15 24 183.104
13 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 19 28 183.055
14 15 Clint Bowyer 24 33 183.013
15 99 Carl Edwards 22 31 182.720
16 31 Jeff Burton 25 34 182.014
17 27 Paul Menard 23 32 181.973
18 78 Kurt Busch 21 30 181.802
19 55 Elliott Sadler 29 38 181.744
20 51 Kyle Larson 18 27 181.584
21 39 Ryan Newman 26 35 181.529
22 43 Aric Almirola 23 32 181.215
23 21 Trevor Bayne 1 10 180.412
24 83 David Reutimann 1 10 180.294
25 13 Casey Mears 24 33 180.201
26 93 Travis Kvapil 1 10 180.144
27 34 David Ragan 19 28 179.993
28 36 J.J. Yeley 21 30 178.590

Second Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk Car Driver Team Best Time Best Lap Laps
1 15 Clint Bowyer Sour Apple Extra Strength 5-hour Energy Toyota 28.659 188.422 18
2 18 Kyle Busch Snickers Toyota 28.670 188.350 31
3 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford 28.707 188.107 34
4 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 28.742 187.878 36
5 16 Greg Biffle 3M Hire Our Heroes Ford 28.745 187.859 32
6 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 28.788 187.578 34
7 78 Kurt Busch Furniture Row / Denver Mattress Chevrolet 28.796 187.526 35
8 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford 28.829 187.311 24
9 29 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet 28.831 187.298 37
10 43 Aric Almirola Farmland Ford 28.841 187.233 26
11 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet 28.849 187.182 34
12 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota 28.880 186.981 33
13 22 Joey Logano AAA Ford 28.881 186.974 26
14 9 Marcos Ambrose MAC Tools Ford 28.883 186.961 33
15 20 Matt Kenseth Home Depot Let's Do This Toyota 28.888 186.929 36
16 27 Paul Menard Quaker State / Menards Chevrolet 28.888 186.929 33
17 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford EcoBoost Ford 28.945 186.561 26
18 14 Mark Martin Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet 28.945 186.561 31
19 5 Kasey Kahne Time Warner Cable Chevrolet 28.947 186.548 13
20 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. AMP Energy Gold / 7-Eleven Chevrolet 28.981 186.329 29
21 55 Elliott Sadler Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 29.009 186.149 34
22 39 Ryan Newman Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet 29.023 186.059 29
23 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet 29.025 186.047 44
24 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet 29.041 185.944 29
25 33 Austin Dillon Boot Barn Chevrolet 29.062 185.810 28
26 21 Trevor Bayne Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 29.077 185.714 26
27 13 Casey Mears GEICO Ford 29.114 185.478 32
28 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet 29.156 185.211 31
29 30 Parker Kligerman Swan Energy / Lean1 Toyota 29.221 184.799 24
30 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet 29.275 184.458 34
31 83 David Reutimann Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota 29.296 184.326 26
32 38 David Gilliland Long John Silver's Ford 29.330 184.112 19
33 34 David Ragan SaferCar.gov Ford 29.393 183.717 21
34 51 Kyle Larson Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau Chevrolet 29.508 183.001 17
35 47 Bobby Labonte Clorox Toyota 29.578 182.568 46
36 93 Travis Kvapil Dr Pepper / Burger King Toyota 29.627 182.266 36
37 40 Landon Cassill Pirate Oilfield Services Chevrolet 29.642 182.174 13
38 36 J.J. Yeley Accell Construction Chevrolet 29.831 181.020 6
39 87 Joe Nemechek NEMCO - JRR Toyota 29.839 180.971 15
40 7 Dave Blaney Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 29.966 180.204 17
41 32 Timmy Hill U.S. Chrome Ford 30.013 179.922 14

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

Rk Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg. Speed
1 56 Martin Truex Jr. 1 10 186.038
2 48 Jimmie Johnson 1 10 185.844
3 2 Brad Keselowski 2 11 185.478
4 20 Matt Kenseth 25 34 185.200
5 24 Jeff Gordon 1 10 184.713
6 27 Paul Menard 21 30 184.493
7 42 Juan Pablo Montoya 11 20 183.641
8 29 Kevin Harvick 21 30 183.349
9 55 Elliott Sadler 24 33 182.962
10 43 Aric Almirola 12 21 182.856
11 78 Kurt Busch 23 32 182.746
12 1 Jamie McMurray 19 28 182.458
13 31 Jeff Burton 11 20 181.934
14 47 Bobby Labonte 29 38 181.067
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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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