Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: STP 400
It has been an uncharacteristically slow start to the season for Kyle Busch, and on paper, a trip to a Kansas track where he has just one top-10 finish and no top-five finishes doesn't seem like a light at the end of the tunnel. However, Busch got his weekend off to a strong start, topping the charts in the opening practice and giving hope to fantasy owners that he can finally get his season headed in the right direction.
Carl Edwards isn't exactly having a bad year, but as a preseason title favorite, he isn't quite living up to expectations. He can change that this weekend with a win, and after posting the second-fastest lap in the first practice at Kansas, he could be on his way to a statement victory. Edwards has five straight top-10 finishes at the track, including three straight finishes of sixth or better.
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. both cracked the top five in the session, along with Landon Cassill. Junior finished a career-best second at Kansas last June, and Kahne did the same in the fall event. After the strong showing from HMS at last weekend's 1.5-mile track in Texas, Junior and Kahne could be headed for top-10 finishes once again at Kansas. Meanwhile, Cassill could make a decent sleeper option. He finished a career-best 17th at Kansas last fall.
Busch also led the way in terms of 10-lap average speeds in the first session, and although only nine drivers ran at least 10 consecutive laps, fantasy owners should pay close attention to the top three. Busch was joined by Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, and both drivers have been stout at Kansas. Stewart and Gordon are both two-time winners at the track, and while Stewart has made the 1.5-mile tracks his personal playground of late, Gordon has five top-five finishes in his last six starts at Kansas.
In Happy Hour, Jimmie Johnson picked up where his teammates left off, posting the fastest lap. Johnson is the defending winner of the fall event at Kansas and has two wins at the track overall. He also had six straight top-10 finishes at Kansas and has finished second at both 1.5-mile tracks this season. Fantasy owners should expect another elite performance this weekend.
Michael Waltrip Racing teammates Mark Martin and Martin Truex Jr. ranked second and third on the charts in the final session. Both drivers finished in the top six last weekend at Texas, and both have been strong all year. Martin is a former winner at Kansas and has a much better record than Truex, and as a result, he is a safer fantasy play. That being said, Truex is having such a strong start to the year that he can't be ruled out.
Point leader Greg Biffle and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five, and Biffle is definitely the driver owners want to target out of the two. He leads all drivers with an 8.3 average finish at Kansas and has finished 12th or better in 10 straight starts at the track. Biffle also has six finishes of third or better at the track, including two wins. Coming off a win last weekend at Texas, he is basically a must play this weekend.
In terms of 10-lap average speeds, a lot of familiar names appeared atop the charts. Kahne led the way, and Martin, Edwards and Johnson also cracked the top five. Matt Kenseth also cracked the top five, and he is a driver fantasy owners should pay attention to. He has finished seventh or better in three straight starts at Kansas and has been a strong option at 1.5-mile tracks throughout his career.
One big name that owners might want to avoid is Clint Bowyer. The Kansas native didn't crack the top 10 in any of the practice sessions Friday, and he has just one top-10 finish in his last five starts at the track. Bowyer is a Kansas native, and he always seems to put a little too much pressure on himself at his home track. It has definitely had a negative impact on the normally consistent Bowyer, and owners should probably steer clear of him this weekend.
Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)
10-Lap Average Speeds (must run 10 consecutive laps)
First Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)
10-Lap Average Speeds (must run 10 consecutive laps)
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.Follow @kffl_racing
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