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NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES - ADAM ANSELL'S TOP 25 FOR PHOENIX
1. Carl Edwards: In 12 starts at the site, Edwards has four wins, eight Top Fives, 11 Top 10s and three poles. He's won three of the past five events at Phoenix International Raceway, with an Average Start of 1.6 in that span. Edwards has led at least 38 laps in five of his last six starts at the site. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Edwards ranks second in Driver Rating (122.9) and fifth in Average Running Position (6.1). He leads all competitors with 337 Fastest Laps Run, 568 Laps Led and ranks second in Laps in the Top 15 (2,184). After a quiet season debut at Daytona, Fantasy owners should expect a huge outing from Edwards.
2. Kevin Harvick: In 17 starts at the site, Harvick has one win (2006), 13 Top Fives, 14 Top 10s and one pole. He's posted a second-place finish in each of his last three starts at the site, with seven consecutive Top Fives. His Average Finish in his last 12 starts at Phoenix is 3.6. Since 2006, he's led laps (53) in just one event despite some incredible performances. Harvick ranks fourth in DR (116.6) and in ARP (5.4). He leads all drivers with 2,300 Laps in the Top 15. Harvick's expected to make just 12 starts in 2011, making him the premier Elimination format play this weekend.
3. Kyle Busch: In 11 starts at the site, Busch has three wins, five Top Fives, eight Top 10s and three poles. In his three wins, Busch averages 130.3 Laps Led. He's led at least eight laps in six of his last eight Phoenix starts. Busch hasn't started outside the Top Five since 2006, and holds an Average Starting position of 3.1 in that span. Busch ranks sixth in DR (114.1) and in ARP (8.7). He ranks second with 254 Fastest Laps Run, 442 Laps Led and 20 Average Quality Passes. As usual, Busch is an excellent play in all formats this weekend.
4. Joey Logano: In four starts at the site, Logano has two Top Fives, four Top 10s and one pole. He's led at least six laps in his last three starts at the site. Logano has never posted a DR of less than 106.7 in any of his four Phoenix starts. Logano ranks fifth in DR (115.3) and third in ARP (5.3). He leads all drivers in Average Green Flag Speed (124.954 mph) and in Average Quality Passes (20.8). Logano is an elite Nationwide driver, and needs to be in all lineups every time he competes.
5. Brad Keselowski: In eight starts at the site, Keselowski has four Top Fives - all four coming in his last four starts. In that span he's led laps (59) in just one start. Ignore Keselowski's poor performance a week ago at Daytona. Despite finishing 30th, he posted a 100.8 DR so Fantasy owners can chalk it up to some bad luck. Keselowski ranks 11th in DR (94.7) and 14th in ARP (11.7). The defending Series champ is a solid start in all formats, but there are safer options for this track.
6. Ryan Newman: In his lone start at the site, Newman posted a 36th-place DNF - though he did manage to lead four laps. Looking back to Cup Series exploits, Newman finished in first and second-place in both Phoenix events last year. He ranks 27th in DR (60.2) and in ARP (26.6). Newman is a great Elimination format option this weekend, and will be undervalued thanks to his weak Nationwide-outing back in 2007.
7. Reed Sorenson: In seven starts at the site, Sorenson has three Top Fives and five Top 10s. He's led just one lap (2006) for all his efforts. He hasn't started inside the Top 10 on the grid since 2006, so don't expect any bonus points via qualifying. What Fantasy owners can expect is a solid performance from a solid driver. Sorenson ranks seventh in DR (100.7) and in ARP (9.4). He's a quality Tiered/Grouping format start this weekend.
8. Justin Allgaier: In five starts at the site, Allgaier has two Top 10s. He finished 27th a week ago at Daytona, not the start to the season he was hoping for. If he's going to take another step forward and pass one of Keselowski, Edwards or Busch in the standings, he'll need to be good every week - not just some weeks. Allgaier ranks ninth in DR (92.0) and eighth in ARP (11.4).
9. Trevor Bayne: In three starts at the site, Bayne has zero Top 10s and two Top 15s. Bayne ranks 17th in DR (75.6) and 14th in ARP (16.8). Thanks to his Cinderella-like Cup Series win at Daytona last week his confidence is at an all-time high. Despite his new high-profile status, Bayne will forego a full-time Cup ride to pursue the Nationwide Series championship. That says everything you need to know about Bayne's motivations.
10. Elliott Sadler: In four starts at the site, Sadler has one Top Five (2005). His last start at the site came in 2007. In that event he finished in 14th with an 85.5 DR and 12.8 ARP. Sadler ranks 13th in DR (84.1) and 16th in ARP (17.4). Fantasy owners need to keep in mind he's taking a year off of the Cup Series to refocus himself on racing. He's totally committed to the Series and will get better with each race.
11. Brian Scott: In three starts at the site, Scott has two Top 15s with an Average Finish of 14th. 81.3 DR.
12. Aric Almirola: In three starts at the site, Almirola has one Top 10. 71.9 DR.
13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: In two starts at the site, Stenhouse Jr. has two Top 10s (both ninth-place). 84.3 DR.
14. Jason Leffler: In 13 starts at the site, Leffler has two Top Fives, four Top Fives and two poles. 87.0 DR.
15. Steve Wallace: In nine starts at the site, Wallace has two Top 10s. 71.9 DR.
16. Scott Wimmer: 82.2 DR
17. Mike Bliss: 80.2.
18. Ryan Truex: 66.1.
19. Danica Patrick: 45.6.
20. Morgan Shepherd: 41.9.
21. Eric McClure
22. Josh Wise
23. Joe Nemechek
24. Michael Annett
25. Jeremy Clements
Adam was a 2010 Fantasy Sports Writers Awards Association nominee for Racing Writer of the Year. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him @RotoExpertsAA.
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