Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: Crown Royal Presents the Curtiss Shaver 400
Since enduring a painfully slow start to his tenure with Hendrick Motorsports, Kasey Kahne has been on a tear the last few months. He has finished in the top 10 in 10 of his last 13 starts, picking up two wins along the way and looking like the championship contender everyone expected him to be. After topping the charts in the opening practice at Indianapolis Saturday, Kahne could be poised to make the biggest statement of his career. Eight drivers have won at Indy and gone on to win the title in the same year, and the way he has been running lately, Kahne could become the next to join the list.
Veteran Mark Martin ranked second in the session, and he is no stranger to running well at Indianapolis. He has finished 11th or better in seven straight starts at the track and in 12 of his 18 career starts. Martin finished second at Indy in both 1998 and 2009, and even though he runs a limited schedule, he could be a strong addition to fantasy rosters this weekend.
Heavy hitters Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson ranked third and fourth, respectively, in the practice, while Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five. Gordon leads all drivers with four wins at Indianapolis, and Johnson ranks second with three victories. Johnson has actually been a boom or bust option at the track, while Gordon has been one of the most consistent. Johnson has finished outside the top 15 in six of his last nine starts at the track but has won in his other three starts. Meanwhile, Gordon's 9.1 average finish at the track is the second best in the series. Keselowski can't be ruled out either. He picked up his first top-10 at Indy last year, and he has been one of the top drivers in the series the past two months.
Denny Hamlin was the one driver that ran 10 consecutive laps in session. He has been up and down at Indianapolis but has finished as high as third. Given his success at other flat tracks like Martinsville, Pocono and New Hampshire, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him have a strong run Sunday.
In Happy Hour, Greg Biffle jumped to the top of the charts, and he could be a serious factor for the win this weekend. He is the only driver to finish in the top 10 in all four races at Indianapolis since the Car of Tomorrow was introduced, and in two of the last three races at the track, he has finished in the top five.
Biffle's teammate Carl Edwards ranked second on the charts, and it appears that the crew chief swap could be paying some early dividends. Edwards has finished in the top 15 in seven of his eight starts at Indianapolis, and he has an 11.0 average finish at the track for his career. A big run at Indy could jumpstart what has been a slow season for last year's series runner-up.
Joey Logano, Kahne and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five, and while Kahne and Kenseth should be considered among the favorites, Logano could make a solid sleeper pick. Kenseth has finished 12th or better in six of his last seven starts at the track, including a fifth-place run last year. Logano has finished in the top 12 in two of his three starts at Indy, and he won at Pocono in June. Pocono has long been considered the one track that is somewhat comparable to Indianapolis, which could bode well for Logano's chances this weekend.
Only five drivers ran at least 10 consecutive laps, and of the five, Kyle Busch had by far the best speed. He was almost 2 mph faster than second-place Brad Keselowski. Busch has back-to-back top-10s at Indianapolis, and he has finished in the top 15 in six of his seven starts at the track. On the downside, Busch has managed just a single top-five finish at Indy.
Fantasy owners looking for a sleeper option this weekend may want to add Trevor Bayne to their rosters. He cracked the top 15 in both practice sessions, and the Ford drivers in general seemed dialed in. Bayne drives for Wood Brothers Racing, and the organization gets equipment from Roush Fenway Racing. All three RFR drivers ranked in the top five in Happy Hour, and while Bayne may not be a contender for the win. He could deliver a surprise top-15.
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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