Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: AAA 400

by Brian Polking on September 28, 2012 @ 17:23:43 PDT

 


In 2007, Martin Truex Jr. won his first-ever Cup Series race. The victory came in dominating fashion at Dover, and to date, it remains his only win at the Cup level. Off to a slow start in the Chase in what has been the best year of his career, this weekend's trip to Dover could be just what the doctor ordered for both his championship hopes and his winless drought. Truex topped the charts in the opening practice Friday, and after finishing seventh at the "Monster Mile" in June, a strong performance could be on tap. Even if Truex doesn't win, he is still looking like a solid addition to fantasy rosters.

Martin Truex Jr.

Truex's performance was part of an impressive showing from Michael Waltrip Racing in the session. His teammate Clint Bowyer posted the second-fastest lap, and Mark Martin made sure all three MWR entries ranked in the top four. Like Truex, Bowyer and Martin have a history of success at Dover. Bowyer has finished eighth or better in three straight starts, including a career-best fifth-place run earlier this year. Meanwhile, Martin has seven top-15 finishes in his last eight starts at Dover and has finished second twice during the stretch. Not to mention the fact that his 9.4 average finish in the last 20 races at the track is the fourth best in the series. MWR has already had dominating team performances on multiple occasions this season, and it is appears another one could be in the works. Don't hesitate to load up on the MWR guys this weekend.

The other two drivers to crack the top five in the first practice were Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle, and while both drivers are big names, they do come with some question marks. Hamlin has won three of the five races leading up to Dover, but his record at the track leaves a lot to be desired. In 13 starts, he has compiled a 20.5 average finish and has managed just four top-10s. Not to mention that he has failed to crack the top 15 in his last three starts at the track. Biffle, on the other hand, used to dominate at the concrete oval. He is a two-time winner at the track, and from 2006 to the summer of 2009, he ripped off seven straight finishes of eighth or better. However, he has failed to crack the top 10 in his last four Dover starts, finishing outside the top 15 three times during the stretch. If fantasy owners are going to take a chance on one of the two, Hamlin is probably the way to go. He has a ton of momentum, and now that he is in the thick of the championship battle, the No. 11 bunch will be doing whatever it takes to have a solid showing Sunday.

In Happy Hour, Jeff Gordon jumped to the top of the charts. Although a stuck throttle at Chicagoland has him buried in the standings, Gordon has finished third or better in four of his last five races. His numbers at Dover are mediocre, but he has finished 13th or better four times in the last five races at the track. As well as he has been running lately, Gordon could break back into the top 10 at Dover for the first time since 2009. Among the big names, he could make a nice under the radar option for owners this weekend.

Joey Logano and Jimmie Johnson followed Gordon on the charts, and while Logano could make a solid sleeper play with three top-10s in his last five Dover starts, Johnson has to be considered among the favorites. He won at the track in June and has seven Dover wins for his career. In his seven starts since the beginning of the 2009 season, Johnson has four wins and a second-place finish at Dover. The five-time champ is basically a must-have for fantasy owners this weekend.

While the rest of the faster laps were turned mainly by drivers outside the top 35 in points practicing in qualifying trim, Kyle Busch led the way in terms of 10-lap average speeds. He is a two-time winner at Dover, and he has finished sixth or better in four of his last five starts at the track. Despite missing the Chase, he has opened up the playoffs with a top-five finish and was on his way to a second top-five last weekend when he had an engine issue. Busch runs well at Dover, and he could be the first non-Chaser to score a playoff win in 2012.

Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski also cracked the top-five in terms of 10-lap average speeds, along with MWR teammates Martin and Truex. Kahne and Keselowski have been two of the hottest drivers in the series in the second half of the year, and they have remained hot to open the Chase. Both drivers are capable of having a strong showing Sunday, but with back-to-back top-10s at the track, Kahne has a slight edge between the two in terms of value this weekend.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of Friday's sessions was the horrible showing from Matt Kenseth. He ranked 44th in the first practice and 38th in Happy Hour, and even if he was only practicing in race trim, the times are still concerning. Kenseth is a two-time winner at Dover for his career, and he has finished in the top five in eight of his last nine starts at the track, including three straight. It's hard to imagine Kenseth suddenly becoming totally uncompetitive after such a hot streak, but it has happened at the track before with Tony Stewart. Unless Kenseth comes up with a fast lap in qualifying, fantasy owners may want to stay away from him this weekend despite his numbers at Dover.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Make
Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
24
Chevrolet
Drive to End Hunger
155.743
23.115
40
2
20
Toyota
The Home Depot
154.586
23.288
38
3
48
Chevrolet
Lowe's/Kobalt Tools
154.579
23.289
49
4
51
Chevrolet
Phoenix Construction
154.314
23.329
38
5
30
Toyota
153.263
23.489
13
6
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
153.250
23.491
56
7
95
Ford
Jordan Truck Sales
153.237
23.493
42
8
78
Chevrolet
Furniture Row/Farm American
153.237
23.493
12
9
47
Toyota
Kingsford
153.133
23.509
27
10
18
Toyota
Interstate Batteries
153.042
23.523
83
11
98
Ford
152.964
23.535
7
12
6
Ford
Cargill
152.951
23.537
33
13
5
Chevrolet
Farmers Insurance
152.925
23.541
53
14
16
Ford
Scotch-Brite
152.879
23.548
66
15
91
Chevrolet
Plinker Tactical
152.801
23.560
12
16
43
Ford
Super 8
152.795
23.561
42
17
11
Toyota
FedEx Office
152.775
23.564
58
18
83
Toyota
Burger King/Dr Pepper
152.736
23.570
39
19
34
Ford
Long John Silver's
152.724
23.572
31
20
23
Chevrolet
North Texas Pipe
152.659
23.582
14
21
22
Dodge
Shell/Pennzoil
152.568
23.596
54
22
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
152.562
23.597
81
23
42
Chevrolet
Target
152.342
23.631
47
24
87
Toyota
AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
152.265
23.643
13
25
26
Ford
MDS Transport
152.168
23.658
21
26
99
Ford
Fastenal
152.156
23.660
43
27
79
Ford
Bestway Disposal
152.117
23.666
10
28
55
Toyota
Aaron's 2000th Store/Bronx, NY
152.066
23.674
57
29
13
Ford
GEICO
151.963
23.690
26
30
37
Chevrolet
MaxQworkforce.com
151.745
23.724
9
31
27
Chevrolet
Menards/CertainTeed
151.719
23.728
45
32
15
Toyota
5-hour Energy
151.675
23.735
63
33
33
Chevrolet
Little Joes Autos.com
151.605
23.746
20
34
39
Chevrolet
U.S. Army
151.579
23.750
55
35
29
Chevrolet
Budweiser
151.560
23.753
76
36
10
Chevrolet
GoDaddy.com
151.400
23.778
31
37
9
Ford
Dewalt
151.362
23.784
61
38
17
Ford
Ford EcoBoost
151.241
23.803
47
39
1
Chevrolet
McDonald's
151.216
23.807
60
40
49
Toyota
150.988
23.843
16
41
88
Chevrolet
National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew
150.817
23.870
49
42
19
Toyota
Plinker Tactical
150.804
23.872
13
43
36
Chevrolet
Drive Sober, Drive Alive DE
150.678
23.892
25
44
14
Chevrolet
Office Depot/Mobil 1
150.464
23.926
37
45
31
Chevrolet
Caterpillar
150.275
23.956
24
46
38
Ford
Taco Bell
150.119
23.981
57
47
93
Toyota
Burger King/Dr Pepper
149.969
24.005
37
48
32
Ford
Greensmoke
148.828
24.189
32

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
18
62
71
151.329
2
55
1
10
151.075
3
5
29
38
151.013
4
2
2
11
150.912
5
56
66
75
150.781
6
29
67
76
150.672
7
11
38
47
150.473
8
22
33
42
150.159
9
43
23
32
149.890
10
9
34
43
149.800
11
78
26
35
149.780
12
15
41
50
149.775
13
39
38
47
149.698
14
24
11
20
149.579
15
51
21
30
149.477
16
27
35
44
149.283
17
14
28
37
148.861
18
38
34
43
148.721

First Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Make
Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
157.082
22.918
13
2
15
Toyota
5-hour Energy
156.597
22.989
13
3
11
Toyota
FedEx Office
156.563
22.994
17
4
55
Toyota
Aaron's 2000th Store/Bronx, NY
156.325
23.029
18
5
16
Ford
Scotch-Brite
156.311
23.031
20
6
18
Toyota
Interstate Batteries
156.230
23.043
20
7
39
Chevrolet
U.S. Army
156.196
23.048
21
8
5
Chevrolet
Farmers Insurance
155.797
23.107
21
9
29
Chevrolet
Budweiser
155.548
23.144
18
10
99
Ford
Fastenal
155.474
23.155
18
11
22
Dodge
Shell/Pennzoil
155.239
23.190
15
12
88
Chevrolet
National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew
155.179
23.199
18
13
27
Chevrolet
Menards/CertainTeed
154.739
23.265
17
14
9
Ford
Dewalt
154.050
23.369
15
15
14
Chevrolet
Office Depot/Mobil 1
153.971
23.381
21
16
31
Chevrolet
Caterpillar
153.518
23.450
18
17
20
Toyota
The Home Depot
153.420
23.465
37
18
42
Chevrolet
Target
153.178
23.502
13
19
13
Ford
GEICO
153.152
23.506
16
20
191
Chevrolet
Plinker Tactical
153.035
23.524
7
21
1
Chevrolet
McDonald's
153.035
23.524
18
22
98
Ford
153.022
23.526
6
23
6
Ford
Cargill
152.977
23.533
7
24
23
Chevrolet
North Texas Pipe
152.853
23.552
7
25
48
Chevrolet
Lowe's/Kobalt Tools
152.769
23.565
31
26
38
Ford
Taco Bell
152.762
23.566
9
27
36
Chevrolet
Drive Sober, Drive Alive DE
152.698
23.576
7
28
30
Toyota
152.678
23.579
6
29
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
152.523
23.603
24
30
26
Ford
MDS Transport
152.510
23.605
10
31
87
Toyota
AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
152.465
23.612
8
32
83
Toyota
Burger King/Dr Pepper
152.368
23.627
15
33
43
Ford
Super 8
152.246
23.646
32
34
95
Ford
Jordan Truck Sales
152.207
23.652
10
35
33
Chevrolet
Little Joes Autos.com
152.008
23.683
14
36
24
Chevrolet
Drive to End Hunger
151.976
23.688
22
37
34
Ford
Long John Silver's
151.854
23.707
7
38
49
Toyota
151.854
23.707
12
39
79
Ford
Bestway Disposal
151.790
23.717
5
40
19
Toyota
Plinker Tactical
151.771
23.720
10
41
78
Chevrolet
Furniture Row/Farm American
151.605
23.746
24
42
51
Chevrolet
Phoenix Construction
151.547
23.755
17
43
47
Toyota
Kingsford
151.528
23.758
34
44
17
Ford
Ford EcoBoost
151.420
23.775
17
45
93
Toyota
Burger King/Dr Pepper
151.394
23.779
30
46
37
Chevrolet
MaxQworkforce.com
150.150
23.976
29
47
32
Ford
Greensmoke
150.075
23.988
8
48
10
Chevrolet
GoDaddy.com
148.723
24.206
32

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
47
25
34
148.622
2
93
21
30
147.947

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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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