Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: Kobalt Tools 500

by Brian Polking on November 12, 2011 @ 05:22:12 PDT

 


Practice sessions are always important, but Friday's practices at Phoenix International Raceway took on an extra importance. With the changes to the track layout and surface following the February race, drivers and teams had no idea of what to expect, especially in race-like conditions. As a result, fantasy owners will want to put even more stock into the practice times this weekend because past results may not be an accurate indicator of what to expect Sunday.

One driver that seemed to like the new surface was Jeff Burton, who topped the charts in the opening practice. He won a pair of races at Phoenix on the old configuration, and he does have some momentum on his side. He flirted with a fuel mileage win last weekend at Texas and has a pair of top-10 finishes in the three races leading up to PIR. Burton could be a solid play for owners.

Matt Kenseth

He was followed by Roush Fenway Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and David Ragan. Neither driver was great on the old track configuration, but a change of scenery could be just what the two needed. Given his better record at short tracks, Kenseth is probably the better fantasy play of the two.

Paul Menard and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five, and Newman has to get the nod as the smarter option. Menard never even cracked the top 15 on the old configuration, and while he may improve on the new surface, it is asking a lot for him to suddenly become a fantasy force. Meanwhile, Newman has finished in the top five in three straight starts at the track, and he showed no signs of slowing up in the opening practice.

In terms of 10-lap average speed, some big names rose to the top of the charts. Championship contenders Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards led the way, followed by Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Stewart and Edwards have been the class of the field during the Chase and warrant weekly consideration. Gordon is going for a season sweep at Phoenix, and Johnson a four-time winner at the track. All four deserve a spot on fantasy rosters this weekend.

Menard continued his surprising afternoon in Happy Hour, topping the charts. His horrible career record isn't comforting, but given the track changes and his practice times, he does have some value as a sleeper pick. He was followed by Edwards, who is anything but a sleeper this weekend. Edwards won at PIR last fall, and is averaging a top-five finish in the Chase.

Regan Smith, Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five, and Vickers and Busch are the two most attractive options. Vickers had a top-10 car at PIR earlier this year before getting caught up on a wreck. Busch finished second in the February race and is a former winner at the track. He will be starting at the rear of the field because of an engine change and has the drama surrounding his suspension at Texas, but at the end of the day, Busch gets the job done on the track more often than not.

Kasey Kahne led the way in terms of 10-lap average speed, and given his performance in recent weeks, fantasy owners have to consider riding the hot hand. Kenseth and Stewart continued strong afternoons, ranking second and third. Greg Biffle and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top five.

Overall, it appears that Roush Fenway Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing have the best handle on the layout. However, that should come as little surprise considering the performance of Edwards and Stewart throughout the Chase. These two organizations have the best equipment on the track right now, and it probably won't change in the final two weeks. Guys like Gordon, Johnson and Kahne are strong options as well, but owners will want to seriously consider riding Edwards, Stewart and their teammates the rest of the way.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Avg. Speed)

Rk indicates Best Lap standing

Rk
Car
Driver
Team
Best Lap
Best Time
Avg. Speed
Laps
15
7
SPEED Energy/MAPEI Dodge
138.905
25.917
138.485
9
14
46
Green Stuff Absorbent Ford
138.953
25.908
137.958
9
20
66
HP Racing Toyota
138.323
26.026
137.555
19
18
84
138.589
25.976
137.268
23
2
99
Aflac Ford
140.724
25.582
137.190
37
22
30
138.222
26.045
137.054
17
34
37
MaxQ Motorsports Ford
137.410
26.199
136.749
8
4
83
Red Bull Toyota
139.974
25.719
136.553
56
25
55
Aloft Hotels Ford
137.794
26.126
136.507
23
26
87
AM FM Energy Pellet & Stoves Toyota
137.778
26.129
136.388
21
19
2
Miller Lite Dodge
138.504
25.992
136.188
50
1
27
Peak/Menards Chevrolet
141.121
25.510
135.924
37
35
56
NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
137.368
26.207
135.738
66
3
78
140.362
25.648
135.691
61
13
24
DuPont Chevrolet
138.969
25.905
135.633
46
10
29
Budweiser Chevrolet
139.055
25.889
135.620
67
36
14
Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet
137.179
26.243
135.614
91
12
48
Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet
139.023
25.895
135.479
60
30
39
U.S. Army Veterans Day Chevrolet
137.630
26.157
135.443
63
17
34
Aloft Hotels Ford
138.755
25.945
135.398
28
28
31
Caterpillar Global Mining Chevrolet
137.736
26.137
135.369
83
37
23
North Texas Pipe Toyota
137.143
26.250
135.347
25
38
17
Crown Royal Ford
137.138
26.251
135.341
78
33
16
3M/Meguiar's Ford
137.468
26.188
135.336
84
7
6
UPS My Choice Ford
139.190
25.864
135.254
70
31
4
Red Bull Toyota
137.499
26.182
135.222
94
32
22
Shell Pennzoil Dodge
137.473
26.187
135.218
87
5
18
Interstate Batteries Toyota
139.855
25.741
135.217
85
27
5
GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
137.752
26.134
135.179
67
9
33
USO/Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
139.082
25.884
135.169
30
11
9
DeWalt Ford
139.028
25.894
135.162
59
29
13
GEICO Toyota
137.673
26.149
135.158
36
41
20
The Home Depot Toyota
136.981
26.281
135.153
79
8
11
FedEx Freight Toyota
139.157
25.870
135.139
68
21
51
Phoenix Construction Chevrolet
138.254
26.039
135.053
38
42
43
WIX Filters Ford
136.825
26.311
135.033
99
6
1
McDonald's Chevrolet
139.421
25.821
134.986
59
23
35
Golden Corral Chevrolet
138.106
26.067
134.883
23
16
42
Target Chevrolet
138.878
25.922
134.721
43
40
00
TUMS Toyota
137.038
26.270
134.663
74
24
88
Retro Diet Mt. Dew/National Guard Chevrolet
137.973
26.092
134.325
41
39
71
137.065
26.265
134.223
17
44
47
Wounded Warrior/Clorox/Kleenex Toyota
136.013
26.468
133.728
80
45
32
Veterans United Home Loans Ford
135.603
26.548
133.378
46
43
38
Vampt Ford
136.768
26.322
132.789
38
46
36
Luke & Associates Inc. Chevrolet
135.349
26.598
132.185
38

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
4
30
39
136.644
2
17
49
58
136.429
3
14
73
82
136.325
4
16
49
58
136.166
5
1
41
50
136.165
6
39
29
38
136.145
7
31
68
77
136.035
8
56
34
43
136.000
9
00
43
52
135.938
10
29
39
48
135.896
11
27
16
25
135.767
12
43
8
17
135.758
13
48
45
54
135.720
14
5
42
51
135.627
15
18
42
51
135.560
16
22
63
72
135.544
17
11
46
55
135.298
18
78
1
10
135.169
19
20
1
10
135.017
20
9
2
11
134.892
21
33
7
16
134.708
22
47
3
12
132.495

First Practice Speeds (sorted by Avg. Speed)

Rk indicates Best Lap standing

Rk
Car
Driver
Team
Best Lap
Best Time
Avg. Speed
Laps
8
4
Red Bull Toyota
139.292
25.845
135.557
46
2
17
Crown Royal Ford
139.925
25.728
135.550
39
23
29
Wounded Warrior/Clorox/Kleenex Toyota
137.599
26.163
135.541
31
13
56
NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
138.595
25.975
135.444
29
7
43
WIX Filters Ford
139.346
25.835
135.355
43
1
31
Caterpillar Global Mining Chevrolet
140.067
25.702
135.222
30
4
27
Peak/Menards Chevrolet
139.605
25.787
135.112
52
24
1
McDonald's Chevrolet
137.279
26.224
135.056
56
3
6
UPS My Choice Ford
139.616
25.785
135.033
42
21
87
AM FM Energy Pellet & Stoves Toyota
137.620
26.159
134.856
14
20
55
Aloft Hotels Ford
137.688
26.146
134.774
17
16
16
3M/Meguiar's Ford
138.313
26.028
134.765
50
5
39
U.S. Army Veterans Day Chevrolet
139.540
25.799
134.758
37
15
5
GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
138.366
26.018
134.751
36
14
11
FedEx Freight Toyota
138.557
25.982
134.730
40
17
20
The Home Depot Toyota
138.084
26.071
134.719
53
12
78
138.894
25.919
134.690
30
31
66
HP Racing Toyota
136.872
26.302
134.690
19
36
33
USO/Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
136.245
26.423
134.684
39
34
99
Aflac Ford
136.576
26.359
134.665
61
10
22
Shell Pennzoil Dodge
139.109
25.879
134.622
46
11
14
Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet
138.969
25.905
134.605
54
26
9
DeWalt Ford
137.164
26.246
134.443
30
35
46
Green Stuff Absorbent Ford
136.245
26.423
134.431
13
19
2
Miller Lite Dodge
137.773
26.130
134.383
57
18
83
Red Bull Toyota
137.825
26.120
134.371
39
38
24
DuPont Chevrolet
135.834
26.503
134.305
59
9
42
Target Chevrolet
139.254
25.852
134.271
48
29
88
Retro Diet Mt. Dew/National Guard Chevrolet
136.934
26.290
134.104
39
28
30
136.945
26.288
134.002
18
6
00
TUMS Toyota
139.384
25.828
133.954
39
40
18
Interstate Batteries Toyota
135.277
26.612
133.926
23
33
48
Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet
136.602
26.354
133.887
59
39
13
GEICO Toyota
135.389
26.590
133.659
41
43
34
Aloft Hotels Ford
134.725
26.721
133.555
18
42
23
North Texas Pipe Toyota
134.882
26.690
133.376
9
41
35
Golden Corral Chevrolet
135.257
26.616
133.273
37
22
47
Budweiser Chevrolet
137.599
26.163
133.018
27
30
84
136.887
26.299
132.919
36
32
51
Phoenix Construction Chevrolet
136.664
26.342
132.700
27
25
37
MaxQ Motorsports Ford
137.253
26.229
132.478
15
37
32
Veterans United Home Loans Ford
136.034
26.464
132.477
34
46
36
Luke & Associates Inc. Chevrolet
134.378
26.790
131.961
39
44
71
134.635
26.739
131.165
41
45
38
Vampt Ford
134.590
26.748
130.796
32
27
7
SPEED Energy/MAPEI Dodge
137.038
26.270
130.391
24

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
14
30
39
135.611
2
99
47
56
135.436
3
24
40
49
134.478
4
48
44
53
134.271
5
42
22
31
134.142
6
22
31
40
134.115
7
27
1
10
133.737
8
20
2
11
133.272
9
78
1
10
132.786

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

Car
Driver
Team
Average Speed
Total Laps
66
HP Racing Toyota
136.123
38
46
Green Stuff Absorbent Ford
135.874
22
87
AM FM Energy Pellet & Stoves Toyota
135.775
35
55
Aloft Hotels Ford
135.770
40
83
Red Bull Toyota
135.657
95
56
NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
135.648
95
99
Aflac Ford
135.618
98
29
Wounded Warrior/Clorox/Kleenex Toyota
135.595
98
30
135.484
35
27
Peak/Menards Chevrolet
135.450
89
17
Crown Royal Ford
135.411
117
78
135.361
91
4
Red Bull Toyota
135.332
140
31
Caterpillar Global Mining Chevrolet
135.330
113
14
Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet
135.238
145
2
Miller Lite Dodge
135.226
107
39
U.S. Army Veterans Day Chevrolet
135.190
100
6
UPS My Choice Ford
135.171
112
43
WIX Filters Ford
135.131
142
16
3M/Meguiar's Ford
135.123
134
5
GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
135.029
103
1
McDonald's Chevrolet
135.020
115
22
Shell Pennzoil Dodge
135.012
133
11
FedEx Freight Toyota
134.988
108
20
The Home Depot Toyota
134.979
132
18
Interstate Batteries Toyota
134.942
108
9
DeWalt Ford
134.920
89
33
USO/Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
134.895
69
24
DuPont Chevrolet
134.887
105
23
North Texas Pipe Toyota
134.825
34
48
Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet
134.690
119
34
Aloft Hotels Ford
134.677
46
84
134.614
59
42
Target Chevrolet
134.484
91
00
TUMS Toyota
134.418
113
13
GEICO Toyota
134.360
77
88
Retro Diet Mt. Dew/National Guard Chevrolet
134.217
80
51
Phoenix Construction Chevrolet
134.076
65
37
MaxQ Motorsports Ford
133.964
23
35
Golden Corral Chevrolet
133.890
60
47
Budweiser Chevrolet
133.549
107
32
Veterans United Home Loans Ford
132.995
80
7
SPEED Energy/MAPEI Dodge
132.598
33
36
Luke & Associates Inc. Chevrolet
132.072
77
71
132.061
58
38
Vampt Ford
131.878
70
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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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