Fantasy NASCAR race preview: Samsung Mobile 500

by Eric McClung on April 11, 2012 @ 13:07:24 PDT

 


Texas Motor Speedway is one of three 1.5-mile cookie-cutter tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule. The two others, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway, share the same length and corner banking. The wear of the racing surface on each track is unique, which causes the speeds to vary somewhat. Still, the similar configuration that these sites share makes for great comparisons when assembling your lineup for each of the five races these venues will host in total.

Practice sessions: Thursday, April 12 at 5:30 pm ET, Friday, April 13 at 3:00 pm ET
Qualifying: Friday, April 13 at 6:30 pm ET
Race: Saturday, April 14 at 7:00 pm ET
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Shape: Quad-oval
Length: 1.5 miles
Laps: 334
Turns 1-4: 24 degrees
Quad-oval: 18 degrees
Frontstretch: 5 degrees
Backstretch: 5 degrees

Drivers to keep an eye on

Greg Biffle | No. 16 3M Filtrete Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

Over the last seven races at Texas, Biffle has recorded an average running position of at least 12th in each start which all resulted in top-10 finishes, including five top-fives. He's also been strong in qualifying, starting third or better in three of four. The Biff is currently first in points highlighted by three third-place results to start the season and he has yet to finish worse than 13th. Over his career Biffle has rarely been this consistent so owners in allocation formats should not wait to start him down the road and ride the current momentum now.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. | No. 88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports

Since loop data was introduced in 2005, Earnhardt has held an average running position of at least 15th in 13 of 14 starts. Over the last two years he's collected three top-10 finishes at the site. Earnhardt has recorded a top-15 in each of the six races run this season and been very impressive over the last four races. He's held an average running position of at least eighth in those starts, including a season-high fifth two weeks ago, with more than 98 percent of the laps run in the top 15 in the last three.

Tony Stewart | No. 14 Mobil 1 Advanced Fuel Economy/Office Depot Chevrolet | Stewart-Haas Racing

Among all drivers Stewart's career average running position of 8.5 at Texas ranks as the best among the field. During last year's march to the championship Stewart won the fall race at Texas in dominating fashion. Smoke led 173 of 334 laps by running second, on the average, never falling below 13th at any point. The defending champ has already won twice this season, on the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway and 2.0-mile Auto Club Speedway. Given his prowess on these kinds of intermediate tracks, Stewart is an automatic start this week.

Matt Kenseth | No. 17 Best Buy Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

With an average finish of 8.7 in 19 career starts at Texas, no other driver boosts a better figure than Kenseth. He's totaled two wins, most recently last spring, eight top-threes, 10 top-fives and 13 top-10s. Like his fellow teammates at Roush, Kenseth is an excellent choice on most intermediate tracks. Since winning the Daytona 500, Kenseth has added two more top-five finishes but finished outside of the top 15 at LVMS and Fontana. Fear not, Kenseth is still a prime option at Texas.

Clinto Bowyer

Clint Bowyer | No. 15 5-hour Energy Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing

In eight starts at Texas since 2008, Bowyer has accumulated half a dozen top-10s. Despite the perceived downgrade from Richard Childress Racing to MWR during this past offseason Bowyer has been worth the investment. He's currently ninth in points with three top-10s and five finishes of 13th or better in six starts this year. Bowyer is a solid all-around driver on each type of track but owners should get in now on the early season consistency.

Carl Edwards | No. 99 Fastenal Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

Only three drivers had top-fives finishes in each event at Texas in 2011. To no one's surprise they were all under the Roush banner, including second and third-place results from Edwards. His three career wins are the most all-time in the 22 events held thus far at the site. While Edwards has yet to lead a lap this season he finished fifth at both LVMS and Fontana which bodes well for another strong result on an intermediate track.

Marcos Ambrose | No. 9 Stanley Ford | Richard Petty Motorsports

Last year was a big step forward in the development of Ambrose, a longtime road racer. After recording his first career top-10 finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2010, Ambrose added more career-best finishes at Texas and Charlotte Motor Speedway last year. The Tasmanian owns five straight top-20s at Texas, finishing sixth and 11th in 2011. While Ambrose has yet to score a top-10 this season, he's landed three top-15s and is a good sleeper given his improvements on 1.5-mile cookie cutters.

Mark Martin | No. 55 Aaron's Best of the Best Toyota | Michael Waltrip Racing

Despite struggling at Texas a year ago, his lame duck season at Hendrick Motorsports, Martin has been very reliable at the site over his career. From 2009 to 2010, Martin finished sixth or better in all four races at Texas. The 53 year old has competed in four of six races this season with three top-12 finishes. After this race Martin is scheduled to make 20 more starts so owners will want to double check the entry list each week for Martin's availability.

Temper your expectations

Ryan Newman | No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet | Stewart-Haas Racing

Two weeks ago a late wreck opened the door for Newman to win for the first time at Martinsville. He owns one victory at Texas from 2003 but has just two top-10s in the 15 starts since. Newman does own a streak of six straight top-20s at the site with four top-15s but it is not exactly stellar stuff given the impressive resumes throughout this field.

Kurt Busch | No. 51 Phoenix Construction Services Chevrolet | Phoenix Racing

Once upon a time the elder Busch brother was arguably the best driver on 1.5-mile cookie cutter tracks. Although he scored his first top-10 driving for James Finch recently at Fontana it came with an average running position of 20th and came as a result of staying out to catch the rain that ended the race prematurely. Busch is highly unlikely to be so fortune this week at Texas, where he scored a victory in 2009, in his lower-tier machine.

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About Eric McClung

Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a three-time award finalist. Over the years, he's made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts. He's also captured the fantasy football championship in the KFFL staff league twice.

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