Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: Pure Michigan 400

by Brian Polking on August 20, 2011 @ 13:53:04 PDT

 


Matt Kenseth

The setup for the practice sessions at Michigan was a little different than normal this weekend. Only two practices were held, with one happening before qualifying Friday and Happy Hour Saturday afternoon. Instead of two sessions post-qualifying, an extended 90-minute final practice was held. Fantasy owners looking to find out which drivers should be fastest on Sunday should focus their attention on the Happy Hour results since all drivers were in race trim.

That being said, it is worth noting that Matt Kenseth paced the opening session Friday. The two-time Michigan winner finished second at the track in June and has averaged a top-10 finish at MIS for the last decade. He was one of the favorites entering the weekend, and he only solidified his status by turning the best lap Friday.

He was followed by Ryan Newman and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle; both have won twice at MIS as well. Biffle is the more enticing fantasy option, considering he has led the most laps in the last two races at Michigan. Newman is more of a sleeper option after snapping a long top-10 drought at the track with a sixth-place run in June.

Mark Martin and David Ragan rounded out the top five, and Ragan's fast lap put three of the for Jack Roush cars in the top five spots. The organization has had a history of success at the track, and its current lineup boasts six victories. Ragan isn't included in that total, but that could change this weekend. Owners should consider him a solid sleeper option.

Although only one driver ran 10 consecutive laps in the first practice, it is a name owners should remember. Denny Hamlin was the lone driver, and he happens to be gunning for a season sweep at MIS this weekend. In fact, he has two wins and a second-place finish in his last three starts at the track, making him one of the top options for fantasy lineups in any format.

In Happy Hour Saturday, Mark Martin climbed to the top of the charts, creating a dilemma for fantasy owners. Martin has been mediocre at best this season, but he hasn't shown this much speed in months. He has won at MIS as recently as 2009, and he could deliver an excellent finish for those owners willing to absorb the risk. Owners looking to gain some ground this weekend in their fantasy leagues should strongly consider adding the veteran.

The red-hot Kyle Busch ranked second in the final session, and he has to be considered a weekly threat to win at this point. Jimmie Johnson posted the third-fastest lap as he looks for his first win at MIS, and Biffle and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five. All four drivers are strong fantasy options, but given the fact that Johnson hasn't been at his best at Michigan, owners may want to sit him in leagues that limit the numbers of starts per driver.

In terms of 10-lap average speeds, Paul Menard topped the charts. He was very good on long runs throughout both practices, and he finished a career-best fourth at MIS in June. He has to be considered among the top sleepers. Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch followed Menard, while Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five. Keselowski has to be on the short list of contenders despite his ugly record at Michigan. His No. 2 team has found something special in recent weeks, and Keselowski has been a top-five caliber driver for the last month.

One driver owners may to steer clear of is Kasey Kahne. The former MIS winner has a had a lot of strong runs at the track, but he didn't crack the top 15 in either practice. Concerns about the focus of both Kahne and his team as he prepares to leave after the year for Hendrick Motorsports and Red Bull Racing prepares to shut down are valid. No driver can succeed in the Cup Series without 100 percent effort.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Avg. Speed)

Rk indicates Best Lap standing

Rk
Car
Driver Team
Best Lap
Best Time
Avg. Speed
Laps
10
27
Paul Menard Duracell/Menards Chevrolet
186.693
38.566
181.721
43
13
33
Clint Bowyer Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
186.229
38.662
181.407
53
7
17
Matt Kenseth Kroger Ford
187.003
38.502
181.377
50
6
22
Kurt Busch Shell Pennzoil Dodge
187.086
38.485
181.310
48
2
18
Kyle Busch Interstate Batteries Toyota
187.417
38.417
181.249
53
20
29
Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Chevrolet
185.596
38.794
181.207
53
21
2
Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Dodge
185.562
38.801
181.198
60
32
13
Casey Mears GEICO Toyota
182.736
39.401
181.157
9
11
11
Denny Hamlin FedEx Freight Toyota
186.669
38.571
181.152
45
1
5
Mark Martin CARQUEST/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
187.642
38.371
181.081
52
12
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard/AMP Energy Chevrolet
186.596
38.586
181.064
39
4
16
Greg Biffle Pure Michigan Ford
187.393
38.422
181.041
54
25
9
Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford
184.914
38.937
180.929
51
19
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
185.682
38.776
180.740
35
26
1
Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet
184.814
38.958
180.729
43
29
21
Trevor Bayne JDRF/Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford
183.323
39.275
180.688
44
8
39
Ryan Newman WIX Filters Chevrolet
186.916
38.520
180.641
60
15
14
Tony Stewart Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet
186.047
38.700
180.632
47
5
24
Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet
187.246
38.452
180.575
47
17
31
Jeff Burton CAT Financial Chevrolet
185.811
38.749
180.542
44
22
43
A.J. Allmendinger Best Buy Ford
185.171
38.883
180.518
44
16
78
Regan Smith FurnitureRowRacing/FarmAmerican Chev
185.974
38.715
180.424
54
28
83
Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
184.620
38.999
180.401
49
18
4
Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota
185.806
38.750
180.282
45
14
99
Carl Edwards Aflac Ford
186.099
38.689
180.272
35
23
20
Joey Logano The Home Depot Toyota
185.114
38.895
180.222
48
24
00
David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
185.019
38.915
180.021
49
3
48
Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
187.407
38.419
179.901
68
9
6
David Ragan UPS Ford
186.901
38.523
179.900
49
42
87
J.J. Yeley NEMCO Motorsports Toyota
179.820
40.040
179.650
2
31
56
Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
183.024
39.339
179.541
45
33
47
Bobby Labonte Kingsford/Bush's Baked Beans Toyota
182.658
39.418
179.491
39
41
37
Tony Raines Front Row Motorsports Ford
180.032
39.993
179.204
8
38
66
Todd Bodine HP Racing Toyota
181.210
39.733
178.622
10
40
38
Travis Kvapil Long John Silver's Ford
180.796
39.824
178.525
31
34
36
Dave Blaney Accell Construction Chevrolet
182.057
39.548
178.495
25
30
51
Landon Cassill PhoenixCnstrctn/ThankATchrToday Chev
183.132
39.316
178.482
34
36
34
David Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford
181.342
39.704
178.190
37
27
30
David Stremme Inception Motorsports Chevrolet
184.762
38.969
178.153
18
37
32
Ken Schrader KOMA Unwind Ford
181.232
39.728
177.856
41
39
71
Andy Lally Interstate Moving Services Ford
181.032
39.772
177.592
45
43
60
Mike Skinner Big Red Toyota
179.789
40.047
177.290
17
35
55
J.J. Yeley Front Row Motorsports Ford
181.470
39.676
177.087
19

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
27
Paul Menard
1
10
183.837
2
18
Kyle Busch
1
10
183.616
3
22
Kurt Busch
1
10
183.610
4
33
Clint Bowyer
1
10
183.343
5
2
Brad Keselowski
1
10
183.153
6
39
Ryan Newman
1
10
182.950
7
16
Greg Biffle
27
36
181.439
8
17
Matt Kenseth
38
47
181.416
9
9
Marcos Ambrose
40
49
181.329
10
11
Denny Hamlin
22
31
181.037
11
14
Tony Stewart
14
23
180.920
12
83
Brian Vickers
18
27
180.763
13
24
Jeff Gordon
38
47
180.732
14
78
Regan Smith
17
26
180.711
15
5
Mark Martin
36
45
180.484
16
20
Joey Logano
17
26
180.057
17
48
Jimmie Johnson
47
56
180.007
18
56
Martin Truex Jr.
16
25
179.962
19
4
Kasey Kahne
36
45
179.376
20
6
David Ragan
24
33
179.103
21
34
David Gilliland
1
10
179.094
22
21
Trevor Bayne
34
43
178.967
23
71
Andy Lally
21
30
177.894
24
32
Ken Schrader
32
41
177.074

First Practice Speeds (sorted by Avg. Speed)

Rk indicates Best Lap standing

Rk

Car
Driver Team
Best Lap
Best Time
Avg. Speed
Laps
6
27
Paul Menard Chevrolet
187.990
38.300
187.282
7
3
16
Greg Biffle Ford
188.467
38.203
187.020
9
7
24
Jeff Gordon Chevrolet
187.926
38.313
187.007
5
4
5
Mark Martin Chevrolet
188.462
38.204
186.981
11
2
39
Ryan Newman Chevrolet
188.506
38.195
186.865
9
9
2
Brad Keselowski Dodge
187.754
38.348
186.856
7
13
22
Kurt Busch Dodge
187.412
38.418
186.734
9
10
9
Marcos Ambrose Ford
187.696
38.360
186.680
9
5
6
David Ragan Ford
188.260
38.245
186.634
9
19
21
Trevor Bayne Ford
187.037
38.495
186.420
9
23
43
A.J. Allmendinger Ford
186.790
38.546
186.243
8
20
83
Brian Vickers Toyota
186.994
38.504
186.051
10
26
48
Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet
186.640
38.577
185.609
9
25
56
Martin Truex Jr. Toyota
186.659
38.573
185.141
11
18
00
David Reutimann Toyota
187.062
38.490
185.043
9
32
13
Casey Mears Toyota
185.931
38.724
185.020
8
31
30
David Stremme Chevrolet
186.253
38.657
184.902
9
34
47
Bobby Labonte Toyota
185.577
38.798
184.884
9
35
55
J.J. Yeley Ford
185.405
38.834
184.784
7
33
38
Travis Kvapil Ford
185.922
38.726
184.757
9
11
18
Kyle Busch Toyota
187.607
38.378
184.459
18
38
66
Todd Bodine Toyota
184.620
38.999
184.217
5
22
33
Clint Bowyer Chevrolet
186.800
38.544
184.201
18
14
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet
187.359
38.429
184.096
12
36
36
Dave Blaney Chevrolet
185.376
38.840
183.999
7
39
87
Joe Nemechek Toyota
184.308
39.065
183.842
7
30
51
Landon Cassill Chev
186.413
38.624
183.762
9
8
1
Jamie McMurray Chevrolet
187.842
38.330
183.643
15
28
99
Carl Edwards Ford
186.495
38.607
183.206
11
24
31
Jeff Burton Chevrolet
186.678
38.569
183.181
11
27
29
Kevin Harvick Chevrolet
186.528
38.600
183.017
23
17
4
Kasey Kahne Toyota
187.135
38.475
182.979
25
43
32
Ken Schrader Ford
183.127
39.317
182.818
7
40
34
David Gilliland Ford
184.082
39.113
182.811
7
29
78
Regan Smith Chev
186.490
38.608
182.662
21
16
20
Joey Logano Toyota
187.266
38.448
182.348
23
1
17
Matt Kenseth Ford
188.813
38.133
182.277
24
15
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet
187.310
38.439
182.239
24
21
14
Tony Stewart Chevrolet
186.872
38.529
182.171
24
41
60
Mike Skinner Toyota
183.781
39.177
182.118
8
45
50
T.J. Bell Chevrolet
182.343
39.486
181.808
12
12
11
Denny Hamlin Toyota
187.437
38.413
181.571
27
44
46
Erik Darnell Ford
182.352
39.484
181.305
13
42
7
Johnny Sauter Dodge
183.192
39.303
180.789
7
46
37
Tony Raines Ford
181.626
39.642
180.721
12
37
71
Andy Lally Ford
184.696
38.983
179.394
20

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
11
Denny Hamlin
5
14
181.234

Combined Average Speeds (weighted by # of laps run in each session)

Car
Driver Team
Average Speed
Total Laps
13
Casey Mears Toyota
182.975
17
87
Joe Nemechek Toyota
182.910
9
27
Paul Menard Chevrolet
182.500
50
22
Kurt Busch Dodge
182.166
57
33
Clint Bowyer Chevrolet
182.115
71
5
Mark Martin Chevrolet
182.111
63
18
Kyle Busch Toyota
182.063
71
16
Greg Biffle Ford
181.895
63
9
Marcos Ambrose Ford
181.792
60
2
Brad Keselowski Dodge
181.789
67
29
Kevin Harvick Chevrolet
181.755
76
17
Matt Kenseth Ford
181.669
74
21
Trevor Bayne Ford
181.661
53
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet
181.512
63
1
Jamie McMurray Chevrolet
181.483
58
39
Ryan Newman Chevrolet
181.453
69
43
A.J. Allmendinger Ford
181.399
52
83
Brian Vickers Toyota
181.359
59
11
Denny Hamlin Toyota
181.309
72
4
Kasey Kahne Toyota
181.245
70
24
Jeff Gordon Chevrolet
181.193
52
14
Tony Stewart Chevrolet
181.152
71
31
Jeff Burton Chevrolet
181.070
55
78
Regan Smith Chev
181.051
75
99
Carl Edwards Ford
180.974
46
6
David Ragan Ford
180.945
58
20
Joey Logano Toyota
180.911
71
00
David Reutimann Toyota
180.800
58
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet
180.753
47
56
Martin Truex Jr. Toyota
180.641
56
48
Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet
180.568
77
47
Bobby Labonte Toyota
180.502
48
66
Todd Bodine Toyota
180.487
15
30
David Stremme Chevrolet
180.403
27
37
Tony Raines Ford
180.114
20
38
Travis Kvapil Ford
179.927
40
36
Dave Blaney Chevrolet
179.699
32
51
Landon Cassill Chev
179.587
43
55
J.J. Yeley Ford
179.159
26
34
David Gilliland Ford
178.925
44
60
Mike Skinner Toyota
178.835
25
32
Ken Schrader Ford
178.580
48
71
Andy Lally Ford
178.146
65
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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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