Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: Showtime Southern 500

by Brian Polking on May 7, 2011 @ 09:01:57 PDT

 


Known as the "Lady in Black" by many in the NASCAR community, Darlington Raceway has been causing headaches for drivers since the early days of the sport. However, Mother Nature showed Friday that even the "Lady" can be conquered. Rain washed out half of the opening practice session at the track and all of Happy Hour. As a result, fantasy owners won't have a lot of data to go on when making their lineup selections this weekend.

Ryan Newman

When the cars were on the track, Ryan Newman was the man to beat. He paced the field with a lap of 176.816 mph, and he has the career numbers at Darlington to warrant serious consideration this weekend. Although he has yet to win at the track, Newman has managed eight top-10s in 11 starts, including six top-five runs.

He was followed on the charts by Carl Edwards, who was the only other driver to top 176 mph in the practice. Kurt Busch, defending race winner Denny Hamlin, and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-five. Edwards and Hamlin are the top fantasy options out of the group, especially Hamlin. No driver has a better average finish at Darlington than Hamlin, and he has never finished outside the top-15 at the track.

Despite the solid practice times, fantasy owners may want to avoid Kurt Busch this weekend. He cut a tire late in the session and slammed the wall. Busch will have to go to a backup car for Saturday's race, and with all the rain, the team didn't get a chance to dial in the new car.

Although fantasy owners can't completely ignore the practice speeds, the lack of track time means that many teams didn't get a chance to show their stuff. Some other big names that have had success at Darlington in the past that deserve to be considered are Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. All four are former winners at Darlington, and Gordon is riding a series-best seven straight top-five finishes at the track.

A few drivers that have struggled at the "Lady in Black" are Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer. Both drivers are enjoying a strong season, but both have been mediocre at best at Darlington. Fantasy owners will have to choose between their momentum and their history, but at a track as tricky as Darlington, momentum can be killed in a heartbeat.

Whenever rain washes out all or most of the practice session, teams are forced to fall back on previous setups. Drivers that have run well in recent years at Darlington should have an edge. Fantasy owners need to take that into account when setting their rosters.

First Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Team
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
39
Tornados Chevy
176.816
27.812
14
2
99
Aflac Ford
176.296
27.894
19
3
22
Shell/Pennzoil Dodge
175.654
27.996
20
4
11
Sport Clips Toyota
175.516
28.018
44
5
4
Red Bull Toyota
175.509
28.019
33
6
83
Red Bull Toyota
175.478
28.024
24
7
17
Wiley X Eyewear Ford
175.178
28.072
21
8
42
Target Chevy
175.153
28.076
17
9
29
Budweiser Chevy
174.892
28.118
18
10
20
The Home Depot Toyota
174.724
28.145
30
11
14
Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy
174.674
28.153
16
12
24
Drive to End Hunger/AARP Chevy
174.432
28.192
9
13
33
BB&T Chevy
174.358
28.204
14
14
78
174.235
28.224
21
15
9
Stanley Ford
174.037
28.256
15
16
6
UPS Ford
173.583
28.330
30
17
18
Wrigley Doublemint Toyota
173.534
28.338
30
18
46
Red Line Oil Chevy
173.045
28.418
5
19
00
Aaron's Outdoors Toyota
172.930
28.437
19
20
88
AMP Energy Sugar-Free/National Guard
172.541
28.501
26
21
56
NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
172.475
28.512
21
22
48
Lowe's/KOBALT Tools Chevy
172.445
28.517
22
23
16
3M Ford
172.414
28.522
22
24
27
Turtle Wax/Menards Chevy
172.366
28.530
35
25
66
K Love Toyota
172.287
28.543
6
26
13
GEICO Toyota
172.233
28.552
17
27
5
GoDaddy.com Chevy
172.209
28.556
36
28
50
Little Joe's Autos Toyota
172.185
28.560
12
29
2
Miller Lite Dodge
172.004
28.590
20
30
31
Caterpillar Chevy
171.998
28.591
30
31
30
EchoStor Technologies Chevy
171.932
28.602
5
32
60
Big Red Toyota
171.926
28.603
6
33
37
171.788
28.626
7
34
43
Best Buy Ford
171.399
28.691
14
35
1
Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevy
171.041
28.751
18
36
38
Long John Silver's Ford
170.910
28.773
15
37
81
170.780
28.795
5
38
09
Security Benefit/Thank a Teacher Today
170.768
28.797
31
39
47
Lance/Tom's Snacks Toyota
170.720
28.805
31
40
87
170.271
28.881
10
41
32
US Chrome Ford
169.783
28.964
21
42
36
Golden Corral Chevy
169.310
29.045
11
43
34
Taco Bell Ford
168.984
29.101
6
44
92
VoiceToday.org Dodge
167.779
29.310
11
45
71
Interstate Moving Services Ford
166.919
29.461
12
46
7
Fast Five/Speed Energy Dodge
0.000
0.000
0

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
4
2
11
171.805
2
11
32
41
171.223
3
27
21
30
171.030
4
5
20
29
170.799
5
09
12
21
168.111
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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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