Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: Quaker State 400

by Brian Polking on June 29, 2012 @ 18:03:27 PDT

 


Whatever setup Kyle Busch used at Kentucky Speedway last season still appears to be working. After winning the pole, leading the most laps and winning the inaugural Cup event at the track last year, Busch jumped right back to the top of the charts in the opening practice Friday afternoon. Coming off his dominant performance in 2011, fantasy owners have to like Busch's chances of staying perfect in the Bluegrass State.

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson ranked second and third in the session, and both drivers should make solid additions to fantasy rosters. They are tied for the series lead with 12 top-10s in 2012, and they ranked third and fourth in terms of average finish. Johnson is the slightly better fantasy option of the two, having finished third at Kentucky last season compared to a 30th-place run for Junior. Johnson also leads the series with nine top-five finishes this year.

Brad Keselowski

Another pair of teammates rounded out the top five, as Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. put two Michael Waltrip Racing cars near the top of the charts. Neither driver ran particularly well at Kentucky last season, but the 2012 season has been a banner year for MWR. Even though Bowyer is coming off a win last weekend at Infineon, Truex might be the smarter option this weekend. Bowyer has finished outside the top 10 at the last three races at 1.5-mile tracks, while Truex has three straight finishes of 12th or better, including a second-place run at Kansas.

When Happy Hour began, Jeff Gordon jumped to the top of the charts. He finished 10th at Kentucky last year, but more importantly, he has finally been able to shake the bad luck that has plagued him most of the year. Gordon enters Saturday night's race coming off back-to-back sixth-place finishes, and fantasy owners should feel free to welcome the four-time champ back to their rosters.

The second-fastest lap in the final session belonged to Brad Keselowski, and he was also responsible for the most bizarre moment of the session. He was spun out by Juan Pablo Montoya in the first practice and returned the favor with a couple of shoves to the rear bumper of the No. 42 in Happy Hour. Extracurriculars aside, Keselowski should be a strong pick this weekend. He finished seventh in last year's race at Kentucky, and only Kyle Busch led more laps in the race.

Greg Biffle, A.J. Allmendinger and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five, and an argument can be made for all three drivers to be owned in fantasy leagues. Biffle has finished in the top five in all four races at 1.5-mile tracks in 2012, including a win at Texas. Meanwhile, his teammate Edwards finished fifth at Kentucky last year, and he has 10 straight top-10s at 1.5-mile tracks. Allmendinger is the wild card of the group, but Penske Racing had a solid setup at Kentucky last year, putting both cars in the top 10. Allmendinger will have access to the organization's info this weekend, and he could benefit in a big way.

With most teams opting to focus on qualifying setups in the opening practice, not a single driver ran 10 consecutive laps. That changed in Happy Hour, and Denny Hamlin led the way. It is worth noting that Hamlin also posted the top 10-lap average speed in Happy Hour last weekend at Infineon, but he ended up finishing outside the top 30 for the second week in a row. He also failed to crack the top 10 at Kentucky last year.

Hamlin may have posted the best 10-lap average speed, but the rest of the drivers in the top five are the more attractive options. Heavy hitters Johnson, Gordon, Keselowski and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five, and all four should be on the short list of contenders after their stout practice sessions Friday. Junior should be thrown in the mix, as well, although he didn't run 10 consecutive laps in Happy Hour.

Perhaps the most concerning performance of the afternoon came from Matt Kenseth. Days after his shocking announcement that he will leave Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the year, he ranked 19th and 35th in the two sessions. On the plus side, Kenseth finished sixth at Kentucky last season and has scored the second-most points in the series during the past 10 races at 1.5-mile tracks. However, there is no way of telling how much of a distraction his announcement will be, and long term, it is hard to imagine Roush Fenway Racing giving Kenseth its full attention. Even if it means losing out on a potential title with Kenseth, Jack Roush might keep the big picture in mind and keep any new info in house.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Make
Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
24
Chevrolet
Drive to End Hunger
175.097
30.840
40
2
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
174.633
30.922
40
3
16
Ford
American Red Cross
173.958
31.042
34
4
22
Dodge
Shell/Pennzoil
173.572
31.111
45
5
99
Ford
UPS
173.494
31.125
25
6
13
Ford
Valvoline NextGen
173.310
31.158
36
7
88
Chevrolet
Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard
173.143
31.188
57
8
11
Toyota
FedEx Express
172.900
31.232
56
9
18
Toyota
M&M's Red, White & Blue
172.723
31.264
67
10
30
Toyota
172.596
31.287
10
11
98
Ford
Presbyterian Healthcare System
172.513
31.302
8
12
48
Chevrolet
Lowe's Dover White
172.480
31.308
58
13
19
Toyota
172.419
31.319
7
14
87
Toyota
AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
172.408
31.321
8
15
95
Ford
172.304
31.340
10
16
23
Chevrolet
North Texas Pipe
172.128
31.372
6
17
34
Ford
172.106
31.376
32
18
51
Chevrolet
Phoenix Construction Services
172.095
31.378
43
19
5
Chevrolet
Quaker State
172.073
31.382
42
20
39
Chevrolet
Tornados
171.931
31.408
47
21
29
Chevrolet
Budweiser Folds of Honor
171.925
31.409
41
22
26
Ford
MDS Transport
171.860
31.421
13
23
10
Chevrolet
Outsourcing in the USA@TMone
171.778
31.436
19
24
47
Toyota
Scott Products
171.767
31.438
28
25
20
Toyota
Dollar General
171.690
31.452
48
26
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
171.685
31.453
35
27
15
Toyota
5-hour Energy
171.663
31.457
53
28
27
Chevrolet
Menards/Sylvania
171.652
31.459
39
29
9
Ford
Mac Tools
171.592
31.470
38
30
36
Chevrolet
SealWrap
171.461
31.494
24
31
14
Chevrolet
Office Depot/Mobil 1
171.320
31.520
45
32
33
Chevrolet
Little Joes Autos.com
171.005
31.578
11
33
78
Chevrolet
Furniture Row
170.989
31.581
44
34
1
Chevrolet
McDonald's
170.962
31.586
42
35
17
Ford
Fifth Third Bank
170.767
31.622
22
36
43
Ford
Eckrich
170.551
31.662
38
37
49
Toyota
America Israel Racing/JPO Absorbents
170.309
31.707
10
38
31
Chevrolet
Caterpillar
170.197
31.728
37
39
83
Toyota
Burger King
170.031
31.759
40
40
38
Ford
Taco Bell
169.961
31.772
21
41
55
Toyota
Aaron's Dream Machine
169.950
31.774
34
42
93
Toyota
Burger King
169.625
31.835
48
43
42
Chevrolet
Target
169.348
31.887
38
44
52
Toyota
CrusaderStaffing.com
168.708
32.008
7
45
32
Ford
Federated Auto Parts
168.571
32.034
37

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
11
1
10
171.141
2
48
43
52
171.085
3
24
21
30
170.840
4
2
24
33
170.813
5
18
10
19
170.486
6
39
1
10
170.311
7
51
34
43
170.146
8
22
27
36
170.122
9
15
38
47
169.655
10
31
1
10
169.410
11
27
14
23
169.229
12
20
36
45
168.592
13
93
38
47
167.208

First Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Make
Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
18
Toyota
M&M's Red, White & Blue
177.801
30.371
13
2
88
Chevrolet
Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard
176.817
30.540
13
3
48
Chevrolet
Lowe's Dover White
176.540
30.588
7
4
15
Toyota
5-hour Energy
176.488
30.597
10
5
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
176.327
30.625
6
6
43
Ford
Eckrich
175.936
30.693
10
7
11
Toyota
FedEx Express
175.919
30.696
7
8
29
Chevrolet
Budweiser Folds of Honor
175.896
30.700
18
9
1
Chevrolet
McDonald's
175.890
30.701
8
10
9
Ford
Mac Tools
175.856
30.707
7
11
22
Dodge
Shell/Pennzoil
175.741
30.727
10
12
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
175.610
30.750
4
13
27
Chevrolet
Menards/Sylvania
175.524
30.765
11
14
39
Chevrolet
Tornados
175.456
30.777
13
15
51
Chevrolet
Phoenix Construction Services
175.376
30.791
6
16
24
Chevrolet
Drive to End Hunger
175.296
30.805
8
17
20
Toyota
Dollar General
175.199
30.822
15
18
78
Chevrolet
Furniture Row
175.154
30.830
15
19
17
Ford
Fifth Third Bank
175.029
30.852
15
20
16
Ford
American Red Cross
174.718
30.907
18
21
13
Ford
Valvoline NextGen
174.644
30.920
15
22
83
Toyota
Burger King
174.362
30.970
6
23
5
Chevrolet
Quaker State
174.255
30.989
18
24
14
Chevrolet
Office Depot/Mobil 1
173.723
31.084
21
25
99
Ford
UPS
173.689
31.090
13
26
26
Ford
MDS Transport
173.600
31.106
7
27
55
Toyota
Aaron's Dream Machine
173.421
31.138
8
28
95
Ford
173.405
31.141
6
29
23
Chevrolet
North Texas Pipe
173.399
31.142
4
30
42
Chevrolet
Target
173.227
31.173
5
31
87
Toyota
AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
173.071
31.201
7
32
31
Chevrolet
Caterpillar
173.055
31.204
9
33
93
Toyota
Burger King
172.353
31.331
9
34
19
Toyota
172.293
31.342
6
35
49
Toyota
America Israel Racing/JPO Absorbents
171.646
31.460
5
36
10
Chevrolet
Outsourcing in the USA@TMone
171.565
31.475
13
37
47
Toyota
Scott Products
171.554
31.477
20
38
30
Toyota
171.369
31.511
6
39
33
Chevrolet
Little Joes Autos.com
171.200
31.542
7
40
52
Toyota
CrusaderStaffing.com
170.611
31.651
6
41
34
Ford
170.519
31.668
9
42
36
Chevrolet
SealWrap
170.492
31.673
11
43
38
Ford
Taco Bell
170.105
31.745
7
44
98
Ford
Presbyterian Healthcare System
170.047
31.756
8
45
32
Ford
Federated Auto Parts
169.422
31.873
17
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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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