Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: FedEx 400

by Brian Polking on June 2, 2012 @ 13:16:30 PDT

 


Mark Martin

When he has been fast off the hauler, Mark Martin has been at his best this season. After topping the charts in the opening practice at Dover Friday, it appears Martin unloaded at the track with a fast car, and that could be good news for fantasy owners. Since the start of the 2002 season, Martin's 10.7 average finish at Dover is the fourth best in the series. He also finished second in the spring race at the track last season and has finished in the top 15 in 14 of his last 16 starts. Martin isn't the pre-race favorite to win, but he can certainly make a solid addition to any fantasy roster.

Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. ranked second and third in the first session, and while Dover has been one of Hamlin's worst tracks, Truex could be in for a big weekend. The lone win of his Cup Series career came at Dover in 2007, and last spring he finished a solid eighth at the track. Truex is enjoying the best season of his career, and heading to the only track on the schedule where he has visited Victory Lane has to be a confidence boost. The bubble may eventually burst on Truex's hot start, but it isn't likely to happen Sunday.

Heavy hitters Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle rounded out the top five in the early session, and fantasy owners should consider both drivers elite options this weekend. Busch is a two-time winner at Dover, and he has four straight finishes of sixth or better at the track and nine finishes of sixth or better in 14 career starts. He has also scored more points than any driver in the series in the six races leading up to Dover. Biffle is a two-time winner as well, and the point leader has been rock solid all season long. He has finished outside the top 15 only once in 2012 and leads the series with seven top-five finishes. At one of his better tracks, Biffle should deliver another strong run and contend for the win.

A majority of the teams focused on short runs in the first practice, and only three drivers ran 10 or more consecutive laps. Paul Menard was the fastest of the three drivers, but with such a small sample size, it's tough to put too much stock in the speeds. Throw in the fact that Menard has a 20.3 average finish at Dover, and his fantasy value is suspect to say the least.

In Happy Hour, Aric Almirola climbed to the top of the charts. Coming off his first career pole and a 16th-place finish in last weekend's Coca-Cola 600, the young driver has blossomed in the last month. He has three straight top-20 finishes and has climbed into the top 20 in points. For a guy in his first full year in the Cup Series, Almirola is exceeding expectations, and it appears he could be a solid sleeper option once again this weekend.

A trio of Hendrick Motorsports drivers followed Almirola, and Scott Speed rounded out the top five. For fantasy owners, the fact that Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson ranked second through fourth is a good indication that the organization is heading for a solid weekend. With six wins at Dover, including three in his last six starts, Johnson is the option to target. Junior could be worth a look, as well. He has finished in the top 12 in two of his last spring events at Dover, and his 8.2 average finish in 2012 ranks third in the Cup Series. Gordon has had success at the track over his career, but he has been mired in such a slump that it is tough to trust him until his luck turns.

Most of the full-time drivers spent a lot of time in race trim during the final session, and Martin posted the best 10-lap average speed. After posting the fastest lap in the opening practice, there is little doubt that Martin's car has the balance he is looking for. Fantasy owners should expect a top-10 finish and maybe more from the veteran this weekend. Truex, Johnson, Gordon and Biffle rounded out the top five, continuing a strong afternoon of practice for all four drivers.

Two other big names that showed some speed in Happy Hour were Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards. Edwards had the seventh-best 10-lap average speed, and Kenseth had the 12th-best average speed after posting the 11th-fastest lap in the opening session. Edwards leads all drivers with a 7.3 average finish at Dover and has finished 11th or better in 11 straight starts, notching six finishes of third or better during the stretch. Meanwhile, Kenseth has finished in the top five in seven of his last eight starts at the track and is the defending winner of this weekend's race. Neither driver topped the charts during practice Friday, but both should be factors on Sunday.

One big name fantasy owners will want to avoid is Tony Stewart. He hasn't had a top-five finish at Dover since 2004, and he has finished outside the top 20 in his last three starts at the track. Stewart endured a miserable set of practices, ranking 21st and 37th on the speed charts. He also ranked 22nd out of 27 eligible drivers in terms of 10-lap average speeds in Happy Hour. It looks like Stewart is headed for another long afternoon at Dover this weekend.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver Make Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
43
Aric Almirola Ford Jani-King / Smithfield
157.205
22.900
51
2
24
Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont
156.958
22.936
48
3
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / Diet Mtn. Dew / National Guard
155.966
23.082
35
4
48
Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's Madagascar
155.952
23.084
38
5
79
Scott Speed Ford Team Kyle / Koma Unwind
154.772
23.260
11
6
1
Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Allstate
154.679
23.274
46
7
98
Michael McDowell Ford Phil Parsons Racing
154.447
23.309
4
8
51
Kurt Busch Chevrolet Phoenix Construction Services
154.380
23.319
45
9
87
Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
154.314
23.329
12
10
49
J.J. Yeley Toyota America Israel Racing / JPO Absorbents
154.248
23.339
8
11
13
Casey Mears Ford GEICO
154.024
23.373
30
12
56
Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts
153.938
23.386
66
13
30
David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports
153.912
23.390
14
14
26
Josh Wise Ford MDS Transport
153.813
23.405
13
15
83
Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper
153.721
23.419
40
16
5
Kasey Kahne Chevrolet HendrickCars.com
153.708
23.421
70
17
2
Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite
153.643
23.431
75
18
39
Ryan Newman Chevrolet Quicken Loans
153.616
23.435
75
19
16
Greg Biffle Ford 3M / Heilind (EMD)
153.557
23.444
81
20
27
Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / Pittsburgh Paints
153.525
23.449
51
21
19
Mike Bliss Toyota Humphrey Smith Racing
153.492
23.454
16
22
99
Carl Edwards Ford Subway
153.479
23.456
49
23
23
Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe
153.472
23.457
11
24
20
Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot
153.459
23.459
57
25
17
Matt Kenseth Ford Best Buy
153.433
23.463
58
26
18
Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's
153.413
23.466
71
27
15
Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy
153.335
23.478
67
28
74
Cole Whitt Chevrolet Turn One Racing
153.322
23.480
13
29
55
Mark Martin Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine
153.178
23.502
76
30
29
Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Jimmy Johns
153.022
23.526
50
31
11
Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight / Autism Speaks
152.983
23.532
55
32
22
A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Shell / Pennzoil
152.964
23.535
65
33
31
Jeff Burton Chevrolet BB&T
152.879
23.548
73
34
78
Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / CSX "Play it Safe"
152.620
23.588
63
35
10
David Reutimann Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing
152.594
23.592
43
36
9
Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley
152.581
23.594
49
37
14
Tony Stewart Chevrolet Mobil 1 / Office Depot
152.491
23.608
61
38
33
Stephen Leicht Chevrolet Little Joes Autos.com
152.400
23.622
18
39
34
David Ragan Ford MHP / 8 Hour Alert
152.381
23.625
44
40
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet Target
151.956
23.691
37
41
93
Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper
151.528
23.758
42
42
47
Bobby Labonte Toyota Scott Products
151.451
23.770
42
43
38
David Gilliland Ford Autism Speaks
151.413
23.776
46
44
36
Dave Blaney Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing
150.200
23.968
14
45
32
Reed Sorenson Ford FAS Lane Racing
150.106
23.983
40

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
55
Mark Martin
1
10
152.319
2
56
Martin Truex Jr.
41
50
152.266
3
48
Jimmie Johnson
26
35
152.261
4
24
Jeff Gordon
22
31
152.170
5
16
Greg Biffle
1
10
152.142
6
43
Aric Almirola
42
51
151.942
7
99
Carl Edwards
35
44
151.792
8
5
Kasey Kahne
54
63
151.790
9
22
A.J. Allmendinger
6
15
151.763
10
9
Marcos Ambrose
19
28
151.731
11
29
Kevin Harvick
25
34
151.688
12
17
Matt Kenseth
46
55
151.686
13
39
Ryan Newman
56
65
151.603
14
31
Jeff Burton
64
73
151.566
15
18
Kyle Busch
30
39
151.546
16
27
Paul Menard
42
51
151.530
17
11
Denny Hamlin
41
50
151.529
18
15
Clint Bowyer
53
62
151.430
19
51
Kurt Busch
30
39
151.344
20
2
Brad Keselowski
26
35
151.185
21
83
Landon Cassill
1
10
151.050
22
14
Tony Stewart
1
10
150.964
23
38
David Gilliland
1
10
150.613
24
20
Joey Logano
48
57
150.570
25
47
Bobby Labonte
33
42
150.372
26
78
Regan Smith
49
58
150.196
27
1
Jamie McMurray
36
45
149.760

First Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver Make Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
55
Mark Martin Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine
159.201
22.613
21
2
11
Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight / Autism Speaks
158.926
22.652
23
3
56
Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts
158.527
22.709
28
4
18
Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's
158.444
22.721
22
5
16
Greg Biffle Ford 3M / Heilind (EMD)
158.367
22.732
27
6
39
Ryan Newman Chevrolet Quicken Loans
158.054
22.777
22
7
9
Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley
157.563
22.848
28
8
5
Kasey Kahne Chevrolet HendrickCars.com
157.535
22.852
31
9
27
Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / Pittsburgh Paints
157.522
22.854
36
10
29
Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Jimmy Johns
157.453
22.864
30
11
2
Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite
157.329
22.882
34
12
17
Matt Kenseth Ford Best Buy
157.315
22.884
31
13
15
Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy
157.143
22.909
26
14
48
Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's Madagascar
157.109
22.914
31
15
78
Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / CSX "Play it Safe"
156.972
22.934
20
16
99
Carl Edwards Ford Subway
156.794
22.960
30
17
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet Target
156.481
23.006
16
18
51
Kurt Busch Chevrolet Phoenix Construction Services
156.467
23.008
24
19
20
Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot
156.209
23.046
30
20
38
David Gilliland Ford Autism Speaks
156.135
23.057
8
21
14
Tony Stewart Chevrolet Mobil 1 / Office Depot
156.135
23.057
31
22
47
Bobby Labonte Toyota Scott Products
155.844
23.100
25
23
31
Jeff Burton Chevrolet BB&T
155.568
23.141
24
24
34
David Ragan Ford MHP / 8 Hour Alert
155.467
23.156
19
25
79
Scott Speed Ford Team Kyle / Koma Unwind
155.353
23.173
8
26
10
David Reutimann Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing
155.079
23.214
20
27
98
Michael McDowell Ford Phil Parsons Racing
154.872
23.245
6
28
24
Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont
154.786
23.258
48
29
26
Josh Wise Ford MDS Transport
154.786
23.258
13
30
30
David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports
154.652
23.278
7
31
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / Diet Mtn. Dew / National Guard
154.639
23.280
38
32
22
A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Shell / Pennzoil
154.573
23.290
45
33
43
Aric Almirola Ford Jani-King / Smithfield
154.520
23.298
31
34
23
Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe
154.480
23.304
10
35
36
Dave Blaney Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing
154.367
23.321
6
36
87
Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
154.361
23.322
10
37
49
J.J. Yeley Toyota America Israel Racing / JPO Absorbents
154.275
23.335
7
38
93
Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper
154.195
23.347
22
39
13
Casey Mears Ford GEICO
153.965
23.382
25
40
74
Cole Whitt Chevrolet Turn One Racing
153.728
23.418
10
41
33
Stephen Leicht Chevrolet Little Joes Autos.com
153.656
23.429
15
42
83
Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper
153.453
23.460
29
43
1
Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Allstate
153.198
23.499
30
44
19
Mike Bliss Toyota Humphrey Smith Racing
152.355
23.629
8
45
32
Reed Sorenson Ford FAS Lane Racing
151.745
23.724
20
46
52
Mike Skinner Toyota CrusaderStaffing.com
146.562
24.563
1

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
27
Paul Menard
1
10
153.924
2
2
Brad Keselowski
1
10
153.770
3
22
A.J. Allmendinger
18
27
153.385
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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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