Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: Pure Michigan 400

by Brian Polking on August 18, 2012 @ 12:45:51 PDT

 


He has been flying under the radar the last few months, but Greg Biffle is having one heck of a season. He sits second in points and is tied for the second-most top-five finishes in the series this season with nine. Not to mention that his 9.4 average finish leads all drivers. Still, Biffle's lone trip to Victory Lane came early in the year at Texas, and the lack of statement wins has kept his name off the short list of championship favorites. After clobbering the field in Saturday's first practice at Michigan International Speedway with a lap of over 200 mph, Biffle it appears is out to change that this weekend. The two-time MIS winner finished fourth at the track in June, and he has 11 top-10 finishes, eight of them top-fives, there in 19 career races.

Kyle Busch
Take a chance on Kyle Busch

Biffle wasn't the only strong fantasy option near the top of the leaderboard in the opening practice. Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top five, and all four drivers are former winners at Michigan. Martin and Edwards will share the front row when the field takes the green, and while Martin finished fourth at MIS last August, Edwards actually leads all drivers with an 8.4 average finish at the track. In fact, Junior is the only one of the four that didn't qualify in the top five for Sunday's race, but considering he delivered a dominating win in the June event at the track after starting 17th, fantasy owners shouldn't hold a mediocre qualifying effort against him.

Only five drivers ran at least 10 consecutive laps in the first session Saturday, but of the five, Kyle Busch was the fastest by a sizable margin. His luck has no doubt been terrible lately in every series, but there is no denying his potential. Busch is the defending winner of this weekend's race, and he has finished in the top three in two of his last three starts at Michigan. Fantasy owners looking to make up ground on some of the more conservative players in their leagues should definitely consider taking a chance on Busch.

In Happy Hour, Biffle left little doubt that he should be considered the favorite for Sunday's race as he topped the charts once again. He was followed by Jimmie Johnson, and although the five-time champ qualified third, he will start at the rear of the field after changing engines. Johnson has never won at Michigan, and starting at the back of the pack certainly won't make getting to Victory Lane easy. That being said, he has finished second and fifth in his last two starts at MIS, he has a fast car, and he still has a great pit stall to work with. Johnson is still capable of contending for the win this weekend, and he still deserves consideration from fantasy owners.

Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth and Martin rounded out the top five, and fantasy owners will definitely want to add Kenseth to the list of potential targets. He qualified fourth for Sunday's race, and he also ranked in the top 10 in the opening practice Saturday. More importantly, he has finished in the top 10 in four straight starts at Michigan, cracking the top five three times during the stretch.

Only Kahne and Martin ran at least 10 consecutive laps in the final sessions, but owners looking for a sleeper pick may want to consider Regan Smith. He ranked sixth in the first practice and 15th in the final session, and he did finish 13th at Michigan last August. Smith has also been on a bit of a roll lately, finishing ninth in the last two races. Granted, a road course and Pocono aren't exactly comparable tracks to MIS, but a little momentum can go a long way, especially when Smith also has a fast car.

The other big story in the final session was a wreck involving Earnhardt. He backed the car into the outside wall, and he will have to go to a backup car for Sunday's race. On the plus side, Junior's primary car was fast, and he has a strong setup to fall back on as he goes for the season sweep at Michigan this weekend. Still, he didn't get a chance to work on his backup car, and he will now have to start from the rear of the field. His fantasy value isn't completely diminished, but his ceiling likely went from a potential win to simply fighting for a top five.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver Make Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
16
Greg Biffle Ford 3M
198.878
36.203
32
2
48
Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's
198.221
36.323
26
3
20
Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot
197.960
36.371
32
4
17
Matt Kenseth Ford Fifth Third Bank
197.916
36.379
26
5
55
Mark Martin Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine
197.488
36.458
26
6
5
Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance
197.277
36.497
28
7
14
Tony Stewart Chevrolet Mobil 1 / Office Depot
197.158
36.519
32
8
99
Carl Edwards Ford Geek Squad
197.141
36.522
28
9
11
Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Office
197.098
36.530
31
10
9
Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley
196.737
36.597
26
11
15
Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy
196.673
36.609
32
12
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Diet Mountain Dew
196.576
36.627
17
13
56
Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts
196.426
36.655
30
14
29
Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Jimmy Johns
196.330
36.673
23
15
78
Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American
196.223
36.693
24
16
43
Aric Almirola Ford Eckrich
196.105
36.715
24
17
31
Jeff Burton Chevrolet Wheaties
196.062
36.723
33
18
22
Parker Kligerman Dodge Shell / Pennzoil
195.918
36.750
33
19
24
Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger / AARP
195.897
36.754
25
20
1
Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Mercury
195.870
36.759
24
21
39
Ryan Newman Chevrolet Wix Filters
195.748
36.782
24
22
2
Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite
195.743
36.783
28
23
51
Kurt Busch Chevrolet HendrickCars.com
195.626
36.805
20
24
27
Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / Pittsburgh Paints
195.551
36.819
25
25
83
Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper
195.223
36.881
22
26
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet Target
195.185
36.888
26
27
47
Bobby Labonte Toyota Clorox
195.064
36.911
25
28
93
Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper
195.021
36.919
26
29
21
Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center
194.868
36.948
21
30
38
David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell
194.684
36.983
26
31
34
David Ragan Ford Long John Silver's
193.851
37.142
19
32
13
Casey Mears Ford GEICO
193.804
37.151
15
33
98
Mike Skinner Ford Phil Parsons Racing
192.539
37.395
11
34
10
David Reutimann Chevrolet TMone.com
192.344
37.433
24
35
26
Josh Wise Ford MDS Transport
192.308
37.440
6
36
19
Jason Leffler Ford Plinker Tactical
191.954
37.509
5
37
30
David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports
191.934
37.513
4
38
32
T.J. Bell Ford Southern Pride Trucking / U.S. Chrome
191.551
37.588
27
39
36
Dave Blaney Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing
191.515
37.595
8
40
18
Kyle Busch Toyota Interstate Batteries
191.169
37.663
17
41
23
Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe
191.169
37.663
6
42
91
Reed Sorenson Ford Plinker Tactical
190.049
37.885
5
43
87
Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
189.733
37.948
3

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
5
Kasey Kahne
10
19
196.528
2
55
Mark Martin
1
10
195.670

Second Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver Make Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
16
Greg Biffle Ford 3M
200.362
35.935
23
2
5
Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance
198.588
36.256
30
3
99
Carl Edwards Ford Geek Squad
198.555
36.262
26
4
55
Mark Martin Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine
198.178
36.331
35
5
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Diet Mountain Dew
198.134
36.339
23
6
56
Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts
198.036
36.357
32
7
17
Matt Kenseth Ford Fifth Third Bank
197.482
36.459
32
8
78
Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row / Farm American
197.471
36.461
30
9
18
Kyle Busch Toyota Interstate Batteries
197.050
36.539
35
10
11
Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Office
197.012
36.546
29
11
29
Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Jimmy Johns
196.813
36.583
25
12
51
Kurt Busch Chevrolet HendrickCars.com
196.576
36.627
30
13
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet Target
196.549
36.632
19
14
39
Ryan Newman Chevrolet Wix Filters
196.442
36.652
28
15
24
Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger / AARP
196.405
36.659
17
16
14
Tony Stewart Chevrolet Mobil 1 / Office Depot
196.340
36.671
27
17
15
Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy
196.303
36.678
35
18
20
Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot
196.282
36.682
26
19
31
Jeff Burton Chevrolet Wheaties
196.121
36.712
28
20
9
Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley
196.030
36.729
36
21
2
Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite
196.025
36.730
33
22
93
Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper
195.908
36.752
19
23
27
Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / Pittsburgh Paints
195.876
36.758
34
24
13
Casey Mears Ford GEICO
195.801
36.772
18
25
83
Landon Cassill Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper
195.684
36.794
26
26
47
Bobby Labonte Toyota Clorox
195.291
36.868
29
27
48
Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's
195.122
36.900
5
28
43
Aric Almirola Ford Eckrich
195.059
36.912
31
29
1
Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Mercury
194.779
36.965
16
30
21
Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center
194.616
36.996
25
31
38
David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell
194.521
37.014
26
32
98
Mike Skinner Ford Phil Parsons Racing
193.877
37.137
15
33
22
Parker Kligerman Dodge Shell / Pennzoil
193.725
37.166
23
34
34
David Ragan Ford Long John Silver's
193.097
37.287
28
35
10
David Reutimann Chevrolet TMone.com
193.071
37.292
33
36
26
Josh Wise Ford MDS Transport
192.549
37.393
12
37
32
T.J. Bell Ford Southern Pride Trucking / U.S. Chrome
190.436
37.808
7
38
23
Scott Riggs Chevrolet North Texas Pipe
190.290
37.837
13
39
30
David Stremme Toyota Inception Motorsports
188.585
38.179
2
40
36
Dave Blaney Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing
188.102
38.277
9
41
87
Joe Nemechek Toyota AM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
187.115
38.479
2
42
91
Reed Sorenson Ford Plinker Tactical
185.701
38.772
2
43
19
Jason Leffler Ford Plinker Tactical
182.992
39.346
2

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
56
Kyle Busch
21
30
196.210
2
2
Brad Keselowski
23
32
195.127
3
27
Paul Menard
25
34
194.859
4
48
Bobby Labonte
19
28
194.245
5
55
David Reutimann
10
19
191.976
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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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