Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500

by Brian Polking on October 6, 2012 @ 18:42:27 PDT

 


Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Practice speeds at Talladega Superspeedway can be a terrible predictor of which drivers will finish near the front on Sunday. After all, most drivers are on the track just to get a feel for the car in the draft, and some teams don't even run in both practices. More importantly, any race at Talladega is always going to be decided by which drivers avoid the big wrecks that inevitably occur. That being said, it doesn't hurt to take a look at the practice sheets and see which drivers were turning the fastest laps.

In the first practice of the afternoon, the honor went to Travis Kvapil. While it would be easy to dismiss his time considering he has done next to nothing in 2012, Kvapil could make a decent sleeper pick this weekend. He finished 16th at Talladega in the spring, and all three Front Row Motorsports cars finished in the top 20. For what it's worth, all three FRM cars ranked in the top 15 in the opening practice, and Kvapil's teammate David Ragan also cracked the top five. Ragan actually has a little more potential than Kvapil. His only Cup win came at a restrictor-plate race, and he finished seventh at Talladega earlier this year. It is an unconventional strategy for sure, but if the Front Row Motorsports trio all finish in the top 20 again Sunday, fantasy owners could certainly do a lot worse.

Two bigger names in the top five in the opening session were Brad Keselowski and Jeff Gordon. Gordon has some serious momentum on his side with five finishes of third or better in the last six races, and in the last 10 restrictor-plate races, he ranks fifth in points scored. Meanwhile, Keselowski has to be considered among the favorites for Sunday's race. Not only has he won two of three Chase races so far, but he won at Talladega in the spring. More importantly, he is a two-time winner at the track and has five top-10s in seven career starts.

Most teams opted for the safe approach in Happy Hour, choosing to turn only a few laps or to skip the session completely. Only 32 drivers took the track in the final session, and Marcos Ambrose was the only one to run more than 20 laps. Still, the driver at the top of the charts in the final session is one fantasy owners should pay attention to. Dale Earnhardt Jr. turned the fastest lap, and with five Talladega wins under his, he could be a factor for the win Sunday.

Other notable drivers that cracked the top 10 in Happy Hour included Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer. Of the group, Bowyer and Kenseth have to be considered two of the frontrunners heading into Sunday's race. Bowyer has won the fall race at Talladega two years in a row and has finished 12th or better in nine of his last 10 starts at the track, including six straight. Kenseth, on the other hand, has had an incredible year at the plate tracks. He won the Daytona 500, finished third at Talladega in the spring, and finished third at Daytona in July. Meanwhile, Edwards is more of a conservative pick, but he has been reliable at the plate tracks. He has scored the third-most points in the series in the last 10 plate races, and he has finished 17th or better in five of the last six races at Talladega.

Of course, fantasy owners shouldn't limit themselves to just the drivers near the top of the charts. For example, a guy like Kevin Harvick with a history of success at plate tracks is still a strong option this weekend, even if he didn't turn a fast lap in practice. The same goes for Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne, who both finished in the top 10 at Talladega in the spring.

Last but not least, fantasy owners have to have a few sleepers on their roster at a track like Talladega. If you aren't in a position to take a huge gamble and go with the Front Row Motorsports drivers, two other options are Trevor Bayne and Michael Waltrip. In addition to his Daytona 500 win, Bayne has finished in the top 15 in his last two starts at Talladega, and he finished eighth at the track in the spring. Waltrip finished ninth at Talladega last fall and cracked the top 20 earlier this year.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Make
Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
88
Chevrolet
Diet Mountain Dew "Paint the 88"/National Guard
197.598
48.462
18
2
51
Chevrolet
Phoenix Construction
197.521
48.481
12
3
99
Ford
Subway
196.053
48.844
13
4
17
Ford
Ford Ecoboost/National Breast Cancer Foundation
195.948
48.870
10
5
9
Ford
Dewalt
195.688
48.935
25
6
93
Toyota
Burger King/Dr Pepper
195.636
48.948
15
7
15
Toyota
5-Hour Energy Benefiting Avon Foundation for Women
195.317
49.028
10
8
24
Chevrolet
Drive to End Hunger
195.313
49.029
9
9
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
195.277
49.038
11
10
42
Chevrolet
Target/Gillette
194.959
49.118
10
11
30
Toyota
SwanEnergyInc.com
194.884
49.137
7
12
23
Chevrolet
North Texas Pipe
194.812
49.155
8
13
43
Ford
Gwaltney
193.193
49.567
9
14
36
Chevrolet
Golden Corral
193.026
49.610
9
15
16
Ford
3M/National Breast Cancer Foundation
191.570
49.987
11
16
21
Ford
Motorcraft/Quick Lane/Warriors in Pink
191.271
50.065
17
17
98
Ford
K-Love/Curb Records
190.757
50.200
7
18
20
Toyota
The Home Depot
190.753
50.201
9
19
55
Toyota
Charlie Loudermilk Aaron's Dream Machine
190.681
50.220
6
20
33
Chevrolet
Little Joes Autos.com
190.662
50.225
9
21
48
Chevrolet
Lowe's
190.544
50.256
10
22
22
Dodge
SKF
190.416
50.290
3
23
18
Toyota
M&M's
190.015
50.396
9
24
5
Chevrolet
HendrickCars.com
189.913
50.423
3
25
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
189.620
50.501
7
26
13
Ford
GEICO
189.343
50.575
16
27
38
Ford
Peanut Patch Boiled Peanuts/Margaret Holmes
188.786
50.724
3
28
83
Toyota
Burger King/Dr Pepper
188.463
50.811
7
29
97
Toyota
AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
188.437
50.818
6
30
87
Toyota
AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
188.148
50.896
3
31
26
Ford
MDS Transport
188.108
50.907
3
32
10
Chevrolet
CVP@TMone.com
186.550
51.332
3

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
51
2
11
193.795
2
56
2
11
193.753
3
88
2
11
193.647
4
42
1
10
186.430
5
99
1
10
185.734
6
17
1
10
185.507

First Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Make
Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
93
Toyota
Burger King/Dr Pepper
200.452
47.772
13
2
13
Ford
GEICO
200.322
47.803
26
3
24
Chevrolet
Drive to End Hunger
199.633
47.968
31
4
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
199.562
47.985
33
5
34
Ford
MHP/8 Hour Alert
199.554
47.987
14
6
11
Toyota
FedEx Freight
199.546
47.989
13
7
78
Chevrolet
Furniture Row/Farm American
199.131
48.089
22
8
99
Ford
Subway
198.421
48.261
21
9
55
Toyota
Charlie Loudermilk Aaron's Dream Machine
197.958
48.374
28
10
88
Chevrolet
Diet Mountain Dew "Paint the 88"/National Guard
197.888
48.391
31
11
5
Chevrolet
HendrickCars.com
197.794
48.414
31
12
18
Toyota
M&M's
197.627
48.455
21
13
47
Toyota
Scott/Kingsford/Bush Beans
197.537
48.477
16
14
16
Ford
3M/National Breast Cancer Foundation
197.496
48.487
23
15
38
Ford
Peanut Patch Boiled Peanuts/Margaret Holmes
197.460
48.496
14
16
22
Dodge
SKF
197.439
48.501
16
17
9
Ford
Dewalt
197.325
48.529
22
18
20
Toyota
The Home Depot
197.297
48.536
23
19
15
Toyota
5-Hour Energy Benefiting Avon Foundation for Women
197.175
48.566
20
20
27
Chevrolet
CertainTeed Insulation/Menards
196.948
48.622
15
21
1
Chevrolet
Bass Pro Shops/Allstate
196.907
48.632
24
22
17
Ford
Ford Ecoboost/National Breast Cancer Foundation
196.754
48.670
20
23
29
Chevrolet
Budweiser
196.750
48.671
6
24
14
Chevrolet
Mobil 1/Office Depot
196.705
48.682
25
25
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
196.657
48.694
25
26
42
Chevrolet
Target/Gillette
196.503
48.732
17
27
39
Chevrolet
U.S. Army
195.692
48.934
5
28
43
Ford
Gwaltney
195.568
48.965
25
29
51
Chevrolet
Phoenix Construction
195.488
48.985
14
30
83
Toyota
Burger King/Dr Pepper
195.289
49.035
10
31
10
Chevrolet
CVP@TMone.com
195.265
49.041
10
32
30
Toyota
SwanEnergyInc.com
193.310
49.537
14
33
31
Chevrolet
Caterpillar/DriveCat.com
192.734
49.685
17
34
21
Ford
Motorcraft/Quick Lane/Warriors in Pink
190.913
50.159
12
35
32
Ford
C&J Energy Services
189.831
50.445
20
36
97
Toyota
AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
189.827
50.446
3
37
48
Chevrolet
Lowe's
189.568
50.515
14
38
98
Ford
K-Love/Curb Records
188.962
50.677
3
39
87
Toyota
AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
188.052
50.922
3
40
36
Chevrolet
Golden Corral
187.853
50.976
3
41
26
Ford
MDS Transport
187.170
51.162
2
42
33
Chevrolet
Little Joes Autos.com
186.947
51.223
6
43
23
Chevrolet
North Texas Pipe
186.300
51.401
7

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
13
4
13
196.345
2
34
4
13
196.203
3
88
6
15
195.999
4
2
6
15
195.907
5
22
5
14
195.814
6
5
4
13
195.785
7
9
4
13
195.753
8
24
5
14
195.751
9
38
4
13
195.666
10
17
4
13
195.612
11
99
4
13
195.606
12
20
3
12
195.599
13
42
4
13
195.499
14
16
4
13
195.492
15
1
4
13
195.435
16
56
3
12
195.398
17
14
2
11
194.835
18
55
13
22
194.217
19
43
16
25
191.840
20
51
5
14
190.693
21
78
1
10
190.098
22
18
1
10
187.667
23
32
1
10
185.643

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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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