Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: Kobalt Tools 400

by Brian Polking on March 5, 2011 @ 03:34:17 PDT

 


Heading into Sunday's Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Matt Kenseth is pitching NASCAR's version of a perfect game. He led the opening practice session Friday, followed it up by winning the pole, and he topped the charts in the final practice session Saturday. Winning the race is all that stands between Kenseth and a perfect weekend. Based on the speeds, the No. 17 Ford appears to be more than capable of getting the job done tomorrow.

He paced the final session with a lap of 184.112 mph and was the only driver to eclipse the 184 mph mark. Kenseth is a two-time winner at Vegas, and he has scored more points than any other driver in the last 10 races at the track. Given the weekend he is having and his past success, he is a virtual must start in all fantasy formats.

Matt Kenseth

His primary competition could turn out to be Nevada native Kyle Busch, who ranked second in the final session. Busch is a former Vegas winner as well, and his 6.8 average finish in the last five races at the track is the best in the series. No driver has been better at 1.5-mile tracks the last three seasons than Busch, and the point leader should add to that impressive resume in tomorrow's race.

Third on the charts was Ryan Newman, followed by Kenseth's Roush Fenway Racing teammates Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. Edwards won at Vegas in 2008, and Biffle has finished in the top-10 in his last three starts at the track. The Roush drivers have been fast all weekend, and fantasy owners will want to seriously consider loading up on “Roushcateers” for Sunday's race.

In terms of 10-lap average speeds, Busch was the class of the field. Edwards and Kenseth weren't far behind, and those three drivers should be considered the favorites this weekend. A.J. Allmendinger and Paul Menard posted the fourth and fifth-best 10-lap average speeds, and both drivers have sleeper potential for fantasy owners.

Allmendinger has quietly climbed to third in points, finishing 11th and seventh in the first two races of the year. Menard is sitting 11th in the standings and has recorded career-best finishes at Daytona and Phoenix so far in 2011. He had five of his six top-10 finishes last season at 1.5-mile tracks, and LVMS has a layout that plays to his strengths.

Two big names missing from the top of the leaderboard were Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. While neither driver had great practice times Saturday, fantasy owners should keep in mind that neither driver practiced well last weekend either before Gordon won the race and Johnson finished third. Considering Johnson has won four of the last six races at Vegas and Gordon led the most laps at the track last season, owners shouldn't shy away from either driver.

It has been a relatively clean weekend so far. Bill Elliott did spin during Happy Hour, but he didn't damage his No. 09 Chevy. There aren't any drivers dropping to the rear of the field for tomorrow's race.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Avg. Speed)

Rk indicates best lap standing

Rk
Car
Driver Team
Best Lap
Best Time
Avg. Speed
Laps
4
99
Carl Edwards Scotts/Kellogg's Ford
183.630
29.407
181.965
37
5
16
Greg Biffle 3M Post-it Ford
183.511
29.426
181.613
40
16
27
Paul Menard Moen/Menards Chevrolet
182.753
29.548
181.193
46
8
14
Tony Stewart Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet
183.069
29.497
181.004
45
2
18
Kyle Busch Snickers Toyota
183.717
29.393
180.980
61
1
17
Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Ford
184.112
29.330
180.894
41
7
56
Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Toyota
183.312
29.458
180.791
50
17
43
A.J. Allmendinger Best Buy Ford
182.655
29.564
180.780
55
6
00
David Reutimann TUMS Toyota
183.349
29.452
180.683
55
24
21
Trevor Bayne Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford
181.928
29.682
180.665
37
22
31
Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
182.149
29.646
180.493
58
11
9
Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford
182.908
29.523
180.464
55
19
4
Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota
182.562
29.579
180.321
38
3
39
Ryan Newman Haas Automation Chevrolet
183.680
29.399
180.262
55
14
5
Mark Martin GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
182.840
29.534
180.258
54
9
20
Joey Logano Home Depot Toyota
182.989
29.510
180.179
48
13
22
Kurt Busch Shell/Pennzoil Ultra Dodge
182.859
29.531
180.179
40
18
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Clorox Chevrolet
182.580
29.576
180.094
38
12
6
David Ragan UPS Ford
182.859
29.531
180.050
56
15
48
Jimmie Johnson Lowe's / KOBALT Tools Chevrolet
182.797
29.541
180.049
37
27
29
Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet
181.574
29.740
179.969
32
28
33
Clint Bowyer Wheaties Fuel Chevrolet
181.117
29.815
179.840
47
26
78
Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet
181.775
29.707
179.654
44
31
13
Casey Mears GEICO Toyota
180.614
29.898
179.479
24
25
2
Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Dodge
181.781
29.706
179.452
49
30
47
Bobby Labonte Kingsford Toyota
180.711
29.882
179.367
42
29
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet
180.814
29.865
179.148
38
23
83
Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
182.100
29.654
179.049
42
34
87
Joe Nemechek NEMCO Motorsports Toyota
179.880
30.020
179.039
4
32
34
David Gilliland Taco Bell Ford
180.409
29.932
178.855
26
33
7
Robby Gordon SPEED Energy Dodge
180.204
29.966
178.849
18
21
24
Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet
182.377
29.609
178.650
42
10
11
Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota
182.964
29.514
178.350
49
20
1
Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet
182.426
29.601
177.433
45
39
32
Mike Skinner Southern Pride Trucking Ford
178.589
30.237
177.325
25
36
09
Bill Elliott Rydex Chevrolet
179.480
30.087
177.278
32
35
71
Andy Lally Eco-Fuel Saver Chevrolet
179.635
30.061
176.980
38
38
60
Landon Cassill Big Red Toyota
178.950
30.176
176.855
34
40
46
J.J. Yeley Darlington Raceway Chevrolet
177.901
30.354
176.518
13
37
36
Dave Blaney Accell Construction Chevrolet
179.325
30.113
175.893
26
43
38
Travis Kvapil Long John Silver's Ford
176.517
30.592
174.879
23
41
37
Tony Raines Race Fuel Energy Drink Ford
176.887
30.528
174.855
16
42
66
Michael McDowell HP Racing, LLC Toyota
176.603
30.577
174.212
20

10-lap average speeds (must run 10 consecutive laps)

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
18
1
10
182.451
2
99
1
10
182.419
3
17
1
10
182.163
4
43
1
10
182.001
5
27
1
10
181.979
6
39
1
10
181.796
7
00
1
10
181.783
8
22
1
10
181.386
9
9
1
10
181.327
10
5
24
33
180.399
11
31
31
40
180.336
12
78
1
10
180.325
13
20
20
29
180.317
14
14
36
45
180.117
15
33
11
20
180.102
16
1
19
28
180.048
17
11
23
32
180.022
18
34
1
10
179.017
19
24
32
41
177.966
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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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