Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: Federated Auto Parts 400

by Brian Polking on September 7, 2012 @ 19:05:18 PDT

 


With just four top-10s in 25 starts in 2012, it hasn't exactly been a banner year for Jeff Burton. It is no secret to fantasy owners that the once reliable veteran has been declining rapidly in recent years, but at least for one lap at Richmond during Friday's first practice, he was the best car on the track. Burton topped the charts in the session, and even though he has failed to crack the top 15 in his last three starts at the track, he at least has a sliver of fantasy potential for owners looking to gamble.

Jeff Burton

Of course, fantasy owners looking to keep things a bit more conventional have plenty of options, as well. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, Sam Hornish Jr. and Kevin Harvick all cracked the top five in the opening practice, and while Hornish could make a solid sleeper pick, the other three drivers should be strong additions to fantasy rosters. Junior is a three-time winner at the track, and he finished second at Richmond in April. Bowyer is also a former winner, and his 10.2 average finish is the third best among active drivers. Harvick is a two-time Richmond winner, and in his last 16 starts at the track, he has finished 12th or better 14 times.

In terms of 10-lap average speeds, Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose were a notch above the rest of the field. Keselowski has finished in the top 15 in four of his last five starts at Richmond, but he has never finished higher than ninth. Meanwhile, Ambrose has finished 11th or better in three of his seven starts at the track, but he has failed to crack the top 20 in his last three starts. Both drivers have been hot of late, but neither has an overwhelming resume at Richmond. They are more than capable of finishing in the top 10 Saturday night, but owners expecting a top-five run out of either driver could end up disappointed.

Two other drivers that ranked in the top five in terms of 10-lap average speeds that should pack more of a punch for owners are Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin. Johnson is a three-time winner at the track, and he has finished in the top 10 in four of his last five Richmond starts. Hamlin, on the other hand, is a two-time Richmond winner, and his 7.3 average finish is the second best among active drivers.

When Happy Hour came around, Carl Edwards made the biggest statement among the drivers hoping to claim the final spot in the Chase. He topped the charts in the final session, and based on his recent results at Richmond, he might just get the win he has to have in order to make the playoffs. Edwards has five straight top-10s at the track, and more importantly, he has three top-five finishes during the stretch. It is literally a must-win race for Edwards this weekend, and his effort should reflect it.

Johnson and Burton ranked second and third in Happy Hour, while Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top five. With a 24.4 average finish at Richmond and four straight finishes outside the top 20, Truex is probably too risky to trust. However, Gordon is a different story. He has finished 12th or better nine times in his last 11 starts at Richmond, and he has finished third or better three times in his last six starts at the track.

Edwards made it a clean sweep in Happy Hour, posting the best 10-lap average speed, as well. He was followed by Harvick, Bobby Labonte, and the Roush Fenway Racing teammates of Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle. That being said, fantasy owners need to think twice before going with Kenseth or Biffle. Kenseth has gone 10 straight races without cracking the top 10 at Richmond, and Biffle has gone 11 straight starts at the track without a top-10.

As I mentioned earlier, Hornish could end up being the sleeper of the race. After posting the fourth-fastest lap in the first session, he followed it up with the 10th-fastest lap in Happy Hour. Hornish also cracked the top 10 in terms of 10-lap average speeds in both sessions, as well. He actually has a pair of top-10s at Richmond in six career starts, and those finishes came during a point in his career when he was rarely competitive at the Cup level. Now that he is a much-improved driver, his potential definitely makes him worth a roster spot.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Make
Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
99
Ford
Kellogg's
122.321
22.073
33
2
48
Chevrolet
Lowe's
122.260
22.084
7
3
31
Chevrolet
Caterpillar
121.869
22.155
56
4
24
Chevrolet
Drive to End Hunger
121.797
22.168
41
5
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
121.583
22.207
32
6
29
Chevrolet
Budweiser
121.496
22.223
43
7
33
Chevrolet
Special Ops OPSEC
121.496
22.223
8
8
18
Toyota
M&M's
121.463
22.229
30
9
27
Chevrolet
Menards/Moen
121.343
22.251
26
10
22
Dodge
Shell/Pennzoil
121.299
22.259
33
11
16
Ford
3M/Owens & Minor
121.239
22.270
39
12
47
Toyota
Bush's Baked Beans
121.103
22.295
51
13
9
Ford
Mac Tools
121.082
22.299
21
14
17
Ford
Best Buy
121.011
22.312
36
15
20
Toyota
The Home Depot
121.011
22.312
2
16
88
Chevrolet
Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard
120.930
22.327
25
17
42
Chevrolet
Target
120.914
22.330
30
18
30
Toyota
120.611
22.386
8
19
20
Toyota
The Home Depot
120.503
22.406
46
20
26
Ford
MDS Transport
120.498
22.407
8
21
15
Toyota
5-hour Energy
120.444
22.417
6
22
5
Chevrolet
Quaker State
120.428
22.420
41
23
87
Toyota
AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
120.364
22.432
11
24
34
Ford
Taco Bell
120.315
22.441
24
25
11
Toyota
FedEx Express
120.310
22.442
45
26
43
Ford
Smithfield
120.176
22.467
35
26
19
Toyota
Plinker Tactical
119.564
22.582
11
27
91
Chevrolet
Plinker Tactical
120.027
22.495
64
28
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
120.016
22.497
10
29
37
Chevrolet
Max Q Workforce
119.963
22.507
33
30
55
Toyota
Aaron's Dream Machine
119.947
22.510
30
31
78
Chevrolet
Furniture Row/Farm American
119.936
22.512
29
32
51
Chevrolet
Phoenix Construction
119.931
22.513
37
33
32
Ford
Federated Auto Parts
119.681
22.560
29
34
1
Chevrolet
Bass Pro Shops/Allstate
119.596
22.576
12
35
23
Chevrolet
North Texas Pipe
119.564
22.582
11
37
83
Toyota
Burger King
119.485
22.597
32
38
39
Chevrolet
Quicken Loans
119.406
22.612
50
39
10
Chevrolet
Inc. 5000/@TMone 6-peat
119.263
22.639
24
40
93
Toyota
Burger King/Dr Pepper
119.048
22.680
23
41
14
Chevrolet
Office Depot/Mobil 1
118.959
22.697
42
42
36
Chevrolet
118.833
22.721
29
43
13
Ford
GEICO
118.822
22.723
14
44
38
Ford
Mossy Oak/Pursuit Channel
118.660
22.754
27
45
0
Toyota
Blue Ox
115.021
23.474
5

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
99
1
10
119.734
2
29
1
10
119.562
3
47
1
10
119.338
4
17
1
10
119.325
5
16
1
10
119.311
6
27
1
10
119.228
7
5
25
34
119.125
8
18
1
10
119.124
9
22
1
10
118.961
10
11
1
10
118.952
11
2
1
10
118.861
12
55
11
20
118.843
13
31
43
52
118.594
14
24
28
37
118.572
15
20
26
35
118.360
16
83
20
29
118.224
17
39
3
12
118.140
18
43
15
24
118.121
19
1
17
26
117.801
20
93
1
10
117.471
21
14
14
23
116.743
22
51
19
28
116.473

First Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Make
Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
31
Chevrolet
Caterpillar
125.412
21.529
60
2
88
Chevrolet
Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard
125.313
21.546
48
3
15
Toyota
5-hour Energy
125.232
21.560
69
4
22
Dodge
Shell/Pennzoil
125.110
21.581
69
5
29
Chevrolet
Budweiser
125.040
21.593
53
6
11
Toyota
FedEx Express
124.948
21.609
66
7
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
124.821
21.631
54
8
16
Ford
3M/Owens & Minor
124.757
21.642
50
9
9
Ford
Mac Tools
124.757
21.642
61
10
24
Chevrolet
Drive to End Hunger
124.740
21.645
51
11
55
Toyota
Aaron's Dream Machine
124.688
21.654
68
12
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
124.648
21.661
81
13
20
Toyota
The Home Depot
124.527
21.682
56
14
39
Chevrolet
Quicken Loans
124.378
21.708
58
15
5
Chevrolet
Quaker State
124.275
21.726
56
16
17
Ford
Best Buy
124.252
21.730
53
17
99
Ford
Kellogg's
124.246
21.731
66
18
48
Chevrolet
Lowe's
124.155
21.747
49
19
83
Toyota
Burger King
124.138
21.750
30
20
27
Chevrolet
Menards/Moen
124.115
21.754
52
21
18
Toyota
M&M's
124.098
21.757
79
22
13
Ford
GEICO
124.041
21.767
48
23
78
Chevrolet
Furniture Row/Farm American
123.984
21.777
63
24
19
Toyota
Plinker Tactical
123.717
21.824
13
25
1
Chevrolet
Bass Pro Shops/Allstate
123.491
21.864
57
26
51
Chevrolet
Phoenix Construction
123.344
21.890
34
27
32
Ford
Federated Auto Parts
123.299
21.898
35
28
87
Toyota
AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
123.282
21.901
11
29
20
Toyota
The Home Depot
123.153
21.924
9
30
26
Ford
MDS Transport
123.074
21.938
12
31
23
Chevrolet
North Texas Pipe
123.035
21.945
15
32
30
Toyota
122.968
21.957
16
33
93
Toyota
Burger King/Dr Pepper
122.532
22.035
52
34
38
Ford
Mossy Oak/Pursuit Channel
122.510
22.039
26
35
47
Toyota
Bush's Baked Beans
122.316
22.074
51
36
42
Chevrolet
Target
121.913
22.147
37
37
43
Ford
Smithfield
121.726
22.181
38
38
10
Chevrolet
Inc. 5000/@TMone 6-peat
121.693
22.187
26
39
34
Ford
Taco Bell
121.687
22.188
38
40
33
Chevrolet
Special Ops OPSEC
121.605
22.203
28
41
36
Chevrolet
121.419
22.237
37
42
14
Chevrolet
Office Depot/Mobil 1
121.359
22.248
40
43
37
Chevrolet
Max Q Workforce
120.762
22.358
15
44
91
Chevrolet
Plinker Tactical
120.643
22.380
22
45
0
Toyota
Blue Ox
114.742
23.531
14

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
2
4
13
120.736
2
9
6
15
120.397
3
15
43
52
119.494
4
48
8
17
119.281
5
11
19
28
118.916
6
55
48
57
118.650
7
24
28
37
118.628
8
56
30
39
118.620
9
17
11
20
118.618
10
22
49
58
118.522
11
88
32
41
118.490
12
99
47
56
118.383
13
5
38
47
118.240
14
31
39
48
118.164
15
27
33
42
118.159
16
1
24
33
117.985
17
78
39
48
117.810
18
93
10
19
117.540
19
51
21
30
116.488

 

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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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