Fantasy NASCAR rankings: GEICO 400

by Brian Polking on September 15, 2012 @ 13:15:40 PDT

 


Tony Stewart

While a strong qualifying run has become a precursor to success at many tracks these days, Chicagoland Speedway has remained one of the few exceptions. In 11 Cup races at the track, only four drivers have won after starting inside the top 10. Not to mention that just one race has been won by a driver that qualified in the top five. Meanwhile, three drivers have won after starting 25th or worse, including Tony Stewart just last season. History says that any driver with a fast car on race day can get to Victory Lane at Chicagoland, even if they start deep in the field.

Those numbers are good news for a number of big names, including Stewart and Kevin Harvick. Both drivers qualified outside the top 25 for Sunday's race, but fantasy owners shouldn't panic. For one, the two have combined for five wins in the 11 Cup races Chicagoland has hosted. More importantly, both qualified outside the top 25 in last year's event and went on to deliver a 1-2 finish on race day.

Of course, starting up front doesn't hurt a driver's chance of winning either, and Jimmie Johnson will lead the field to the green Sunday as he searches for his first win at Chicagoland. The fact that he is winless has been more a product of bad luck than bad cars, and Johnson actually has the top driver rating at the track. Matt Kenseth is another driver that is winless at Chicagoland that has had plenty of strong cars. He owns the third best driver rating at the track.

Other big names starting in the top 10 that deserve consideration from fantasy owners are Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kahne and Hamlin are as hot as any drivers entering the Chase, and while Hamlin went to Victory Lane the last time the series visited a 1.5-mile track, Kahne has seven wins at 1.5-mile tracks for his career. Meanwhile, Junior is a former winner at Chicagoland and finished third at the track last season.

Fantasy owners looking for a sleeper pick this weekend may want to consider Aric Almirola. He has never made a start at Chicagoland in the Cup Series, but he is off to a strong start. After putting down solid speeds in practice Friday, he backed up his times by qualifying second. Granted, Almirola is likely to slip a bit as the race progresses, but it appears he has a fast car and a decent feel for the track despite his inexperience. He could be a sneaky source for a top-15 finish Sunday.

Rk
Driver
Car No.
Make Plinker Team
Starting Pos
1
Denny Hamlin
11
Toyota FedEx Joe Gibbs Racing
8
2
Tony Stewart
14
Chevrolet Office Depot Stewart-Haas Racing
29
3
Kasey Kahne
5
Chevrolet Farmers Insurance Hendrick Motorsports
6
4
Jimmie Johnson
48
Chevrolet Lowe's Home Improvement Hendrick Motorsports
1
5
Clint Bowyer
15
Toyota 5 Hour Energy Michael Waltrip Racing
9
6
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
88
Chevrolet Mountain Dew AMP Energy Hendrick Motorsports
4
7
Kevin Harvick
29
Chevrolet Budweiser Richard Childress Racing
35
8
Brad Keselowski
2
Dodge Miller Lite Penske Championship Racing
13
9
Matt Kenseth
17
Ford Best Buy Roush Fenway Racing
3
10
Jeff Gordon
24
Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger Hendrick Motorsports
19
11
Martin Truex Jr.
56
Toyota NAPA Auto Parts Michael Waltrip Racing
18
12
Kyle Busch
18
Toyota M&M's Joe Gibbs Racing
21
13
Carl Edwards
99
Ford Subway Roush Fenway Racing
5
14
Greg Biffle
16
Ford 3M Roush Fenway Racing
22
15
Mark Martin
55
Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine Michael Waltrip Racing
15
16
Ryan Newman
39
Chevrolet U.S. Army Stewart-Haas Racing
20
17
Paul Menard
27
Chevrolet Menard's Richard Childress Racing
11
18
Joey Logano
20
Toyota Home Depot Joe Gibbs Racing
10
19
Aric Almirola
43
Ford Medallion Financial Richard Petty Motorsports
2
20
Regan Smith
78
Chevrolet Furniture Row Furniture Row Racing
7
21
Marcos Ambrose
9
Ford Stanley Black & Decker Richard Petty Motorsports
17
22
Sam Hornish Jr.
22
Dodge Shell/Pennzoil Penske Championship Racing
16
23
Jeff Burton
31
Chevrolet Caterpillar Richard Childress Racing
32
24
Kurt Busch
51
Chevrolet Tag Heuer Phoenix Racing
30
25
Jamie McMurray
1
Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing
12
26
Trevor Bayne
21
Ford Motorcraft Wood Brothers Racing
14
28
Juan Pablo Montoya
42
Chevrolet Clorox Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing
28
28
David Ragan
34
Ford 8-Hour Alert Front Row Motorsports
37
29
Bobby Labonte
47
Toyota Kingsford JTG Daugherty Racing
23
30
Danica Patrick
10
Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing Tommy Baldwin Racing
41
31
Casey Mears
13
Ford GEICO Germain Racing
27
32
Landon Cassill
83
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
26
33
David Gilliland
38
Ford MHP Front Row Motorsports
41
34
Travis Kvapil
93
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
39
35
Dave Blaney
36
Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing Tommy Baldwin Racing
43
36
T.J. Bell
32
Ford C&J Energy FAS Lane Racing
40
37
David Stremme
30
Toyota Inception Motorsports Inception Motorsports
31
38
Mike Bliss
19
Toyota Plinker Tactical Humphrey Smith Racing
34
39
Cole Whitt
33
Chevrolet LittleJoesAutos.com Richard Childress Racing
36
40
Michael McDowell
98
Ford Phil Parsons Racing Phil Parsons Racing
24
41
Scott Speed
95
Ford Jordan Truck Sales Leavine Family Racing
25
42
Josh Wise
26
Ford MDS Transport Front Row Motorsports
38
43
Joe Nemechek
87
Toyota AM FM Energy NEMCO Motorsports
33
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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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