Fantasy NASCAR rankings: IRWIN Tools Night Race

by Brian Polking on August 24, 2012 @ 18:48:20 PDT

 


Matt Kenseth
It wasn't quite Trevor Bayne winning the Daytona 500 or Paul Menard winning the Brickyard 400, but seeing Casey Mears on the pole for Saturday night's Cup race at Bristol is pretty darn shocking. After all, he has made just one start from the top 10 all season and his average starting position is a dismal 27.6 in 2012. That being said, a fast lap in the opening practice followed by a little help from Mother Nature will allow Mears to lead the field to the green thanks to NASCAR's rain out procedure that sets the field by first practice speeds. Granted, his chances of winning the race are basically nonexistent, but with a good pit stall and great track position, Mears could make a nice sleeper pick.

Of course, the favorite for Saturday's race has to be Brad Keselowski. After all, he is starting second, he is the defending winner of the race, and he is going for a season sweep at Bristol after winning at the track in March. Yes, neither of those wins came on the track's current configuration, but considering he has been the hottest driver in the series the last two months and was fast in practice, it is tough to bet against a Bristol three-peat for Keselowski.

Other big names starting near the front that deserve special attention are Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch. In 19 starts at Bristol, Biffle doesn't have a win, but he does have 15 top-15s and six top-five finishes. Fresh off a win last weekend at Michigan, the point leader will roll off third Saturday as he tries to win his first race in Thunder Valley. Meanwhile, Busch is in desperation mode as he tries to win another race to bolster his chances of winning a wild card spot, and he couldn't come to a better track. Busch is a five-time Bristol winner, and he has won four of the last seven races at the track.

Two drivers that were burned by the rain were Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards. Although both are former winners at Bristol, neither was happy with their car during practice. As a result of failing to turn a fast lap, Edwards will have to start 26th Saturday night, and Johnson will start 37th. Both drivers will be facing an uphill battle to say the least, and their fantasy value is definitely shaky.

Based on what we saw in the Truck Series event when Timothy Peters led every lap on his way to the win, the reconfigured Bristol isn't really the one-lane track of old. The outside line is no longer usable, but there is a middle groove that still allows for side-by-side racing, and passing on the bottom is still next to impossible. As a result, track position is going to be crucial, and Mears, Keselowski and the rest of the drivers starting up front are going to start the race with a leg up on the competition. It also means that it could be a very long night for Johnson, Edwards and other drivers toward the back of the pack.

Rk
Driver
Car No.
Make Plinker Team
Starting Pos
1
Brad Keselowski
2
Dodge Miller Lite Penske Championship Racing
2
2
Matt Kenseth
17
Ford Best Buy Roush Fenway Racing
17
3
Kyle Busch
18
Toyota M&M's Joe Gibbs Racing
10
4
Kasey Kahne
5
Chevrolet Farmers Insurance Hendrick Motorsports
12
5
Greg Biffle
16
Ford 3M Roush Fenway Racing
3
6
Denny Hamlin
11
Toyota FedEx Joe Gibbs Racing
8
7
Clint Bowyer
15
Toyota 5 Hour Energy Michael Waltrip Racing
23
8
Martin Truex Jr.
56
Toyota NAPA Auto Parts Michael Waltrip Racing
15
9
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
88
Chevrolet Mountain Dew AMP Energy Hendrick Motorsports
16
10
Kevin Harvick
29
Chevrolet Budweiser Richard Childress Racing
13
11
Ryan Newman
39
Chevrolet U.S. Army Stewart-Haas Racing
19
12
Jeff Gordon
24
Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger Hendrick Motorsports
11
13
Carl Edwards
99
Ford Subway Roush Fenway Racing
27
14
Tony Stewart
14
Chevrolet Office Depot Stewart-Haas Racing
21
15
Jimmie Johnson
48
Chevrolet Lowe's Home Improvement Hendrick Motorsports
37
16
Brian Vickers
55
Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine Michael Waltrip Racing
22
17
Jeff Burton
31
Chevrolet Caterpillar Richard Childress Racing
6
18
Marcos Ambrose
9
Ford Stanley Black & Decker Richard Petty Motorsports
9
19
Paul Menard
27
Chevrolet Menard's Richard Childress Racing
7
20
Joey Logano
20
Toyota Home Depot Joe Gibbs Racing
4
21
Kurt Busch
51
Chevrolet Tag Heuer Phoenix Racing
20
22
Aric Almirola
43
Ford Medallion Financial Richard Petty Motorsports
5
23
Regan Smith
78
Chevrolet Furniture Row Furniture Row Racing
14
24
Jamie McMurray
1
Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing
26
25
Juan Pablo Montoya
42
Chevrolet Clorox Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing
28
26
Sam Hornish Jr.
22
Dodge Shell/Pennzoil Penske Championship Racing
29
27
David Gilliland
38
Ford MHP Front Row Motorsports
18
28
David Ragan
34
Ford 8-Hour Alert Front Row Motorsports
24
29
Bobby Labonte
47
Toyota Kingsford JTG Daugherty Racing
36
30
Travis Kvapil
93
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
41
31
Landon Cassill
83
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
33
32
Casey Mears
13
Ford GEICO Germain Racing
1
33
David Stremme
30
Toyota Inception Motorsports Inception Motorsports
31
34
Dave Blaney
36
Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing Tommy Baldwin Racing
25
35
Mike Bliss
19
Toyota Plinker Tactical Humphrey Smith Racing
34
36
Ken Schrader
32
Ford C&J Energy FAS Lane Racing
42
37
Danica Patrick
10
Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing Tommy Baldwin Racing
43
38
Michael McDowell
98
Ford TRAQM.com Phil Parsons Racing
30
39
Stephen Leicht
33
Chevrolet LittleJoesAutos.com Richard Childress Racing
37
40
Scott Riggs
23
Chevrolet North Texas Pipe R3 Motorsports
35
41
Josh Wise
26
Ford MDS Transport Front Row Motorsports
32
42
Jason Leffler
19
Toyota Plinker Tactical Humphrey Smith Racing
39
43
Joe Nemechek
87
Toyota AM FM Energy NEMCO Motorsports
40

 

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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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