Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: TUMS Fast Relief 500

by Brian Polking on October 27, 2012 @ 18:07:04 PDT

 


Brian Vickers

Earlier this week, Brian Vickers got a chance to celebrate when Michael Waltrip Racing announced that he will drive a part-time schedule in the No. 55 Toyota again in 2013. The way Vickers' weekend at Martinsville is going so far, he could have another reason to celebrate on Sunday. After qualifying second on Friday, he topped the charts in the opening practice session Saturday. In his seven starts for MWR in 2012, Vickers has four top-10s, including three top-five finishes. He may be a part-time driver, but Vickers appears poised to deliver big time results once again this weekend.

Two other drivers owners can expect big things from Sunday are Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Gordon posted the second-fastest lap in Saturday's first practice while Johnson ranked fourth. Gordon leads all active drivers with seven wins at Martinsville, and his 6.4 average finish in the last 20 races is the second best in the series. Meanwhile, Johnson's 4.3 average finish during the same stretch leads all drivers, and he ranks among active drivers with six wins. The two have been consistently dominant at the paperclip-shaped track, and both deserve a roster spot this weekend.

The other two drivers to crack the top five in the opening session were Juan Pablo Montoya and Kyle Busch. While both drivers have finished as high as third at Martinsville, neither has been reliable on a race-to-race basis. If fantasy owners are going to take a chance on one of them, Busch is probably the way to go. Granted, he has seven finishes outside the top 20 at Martinsville, but he also has six top-five finishes. Meanwhile, Montoya has had just two top-five finishes and has had his four worst finishes at the track in his last five starts.

In terms of 10-lap average speeds, Vickers again paced the field as Gordon and Busch also cracked the top five again. Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer were the new names that jumped to the top of the leaderboard, and both could help fantasy teams this weekend. Bowyer has seven top-10s in his last 10 starts at Martinsville and was three wide for the lead in the closing laps at the track earlier this year. Menard, on the other hand, is coming off a strong third-place showing last weekend at Kansas. It is no coincidence that his top-five run came in Slugger Labbe's first race back from suspension. Now that he has his crew chief back, Menard could go back to being the solid sleeper option he was before Labbe was sidelined for six races.

Vickers' stranglehold on the top spot continued in Happy Hour, and he was once again joined in the top five by Gordon and Busch. However, two other big names also joined the mix as Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin put down top-five lap times. Junior is back after missing two races with a concussion, but with four straight finishes of seventh or better at Martinsville, he could return with a bang. Meanwhile, Hamlin has been one of the best in the business at the track, logging a series-leading four wins since the start of the 2008 season. Not to mention the fact that he has finished sixth or better in 11 of his last 12 Martinsville starts.

Gordon, Menard, Johnson and Vickers had the four-best 10-lap average speeds in the final practice, while Ryan Newman rounded out the top five. Newman actually won at Martinsville earlier this year when a three-wide battle for the lead between Gordon, Johnson and Bowyer got physical, allowing Newman to slide from fifth to first in the closing laps. He probably won't pull off a season sweep this weekend, but with five top-10s in his last seven starts at the track, Newman can certainly be a solid addition to fantasy rosters this weekend.

Overall, Vickers and Menard are definitely the top sleeper options to target this weekend, but owners looking for a driver that wasn't quite as far up the charts that could have a solid day should consider Aric Almirola. He ranked 16th and 15th in the two practices Saturday, and he posted the 12th-best 10-lap average speed in both sessions, as well. Coming off an eighth-place finish at Martinsville earlier this year, Almirola's No. 43 seems to have a balanced setup this weekend. A top-15 finish isn't out of the question.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards are two big names that fantasy owners will want to avoid. Neither driver has a great record at Martinsville, and in 35 combined starts, the two have combined for just one top-five finish and seven top-10s. Throw in the fact neither Biffle nor Edwards managed to crack the top 15 during either practice session Saturday, and it is tough to find a lot of upside.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Make
Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
55
Toyota
MyClassicGarage.com
95.874
19.751
67
2
88
Chevrolet
Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard/AMP Energy
95.660
19.795
65
3
24
Chevrolet
Pepsi Max
95.660
19.795
62
4
18
Toyota
M&M's Halloween
95.501
19.828
62
5
11
Toyota
FedEx Express
95.492
19.830
63
6
48
Chevrolet
Lowe's
95.487
19.831
71
7
27
Chevrolet
Zecol /Menards
95.482
19.832
54
8
39
Chevrolet
Quicken Loans
95.410
19.847
61
9
17
Ford
Ford EcoBoost
95.400
19.849
57
10
15
Toyota
5-Hour Energy Benefiting Avon Foundation for Women
95.400
19.849
50
11
22
Dodge
Shell /Pennzoil
95.280
19.874
60
12
42
Chevrolet
Target
95.247
19.881
51
13
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
95.213
19.888
59
14
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
95.170
19.897
43
15
78
Chevrolet
Furniture Row/Farm American
95.151
19.901
51
16
43
Ford
Gwaltney
95.151
19.901
63
17
30
Toyota
95.137
19.904
9
18
16
Ford
3M
95.070
19.918
51
19
1
Chevrolet
McDonald's
95.046
19.923
60
20
99
Ford
Geek Squad
95.032
19.926
54
21
31
Chevrolet
Odyssey /EnerSys
94.998
19.933
67
22
14
Chevrolet
Office Depot/Mobil 1
94.970
19.939
71
23
93
Toyota
Burger King/Dr Pepper
94.955
19.942
61
24
51
Chevrolet
Phoenix Construction
94.922
19.949
58
25
20
Toyota
The Home Depot/redbeacon.com
94.908
19.952
53
26
5
Chevrolet
HendrickCars.com
94.879
19.958
63
27
47
Toyota
Pine Sol
94.851
19.964
51
28
29
Chevrolet
Rheem "Chasing the Cure"
94.760
19.983
60
29
13
Ford
GEICO
94.628
20.011
52
30
95
Ford
Jordan Truck Sales
94.590
20.019
14
31
83
Toyota
Burger King/Dr Pepper
94.585
20.020
41
32
91
Toyota
Plinker Tactical
94.571
20.023
24
33
9
Ford
Black & Decker
94.392
20.061
43
34
33
Chevrolet
Little Joes Autos.com
94.345
20.071
24
35
26
Ford
MDS Transport
94.237
20.094
23
36
87
Toyota
AM /FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
94.172
20.108
8
37
10
Chevrolet
@TMone Drive Sales Fast
94.083
20.127
25
38
34
Ford
Where's Waldo
94.026
20.139
50
39
36
Chevrolet
Mohawk Northeast/TMone Call Center
93.845
20.178
28
40
32
Ford
Southern Pride Trucking/U.S. Chrome
93.822
20.183
29
41
38
Ford
Long John Silver's
93.710
20.207
34
42
23
Chevrolet
North Texas Pipe
93.520
20.248
20
43
98
Ford
93.391
20.276
19

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
5
10
19
196.528
2
55
1
10
195.670

Second Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Make
Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
55
Toyota
MyClassicGarage.com
95.966
19.732
51
2
24
Chevrolet
Pepsi Max
95.898
19.746
70
3
42
Chevrolet
Target
95.796
19.767
42
4
48
Chevrolet
Lowe's
95.777
19.771
61
5
18
Toyota
M&M's Halloween
95.728
19.781
69
6
15
Toyota
5-Hour Energy Benefiting Avon Foundation for Women
95.680
19.791
60
7
27
Chevrolet
Zecol /Menards
95.641
19.799
61
8
88
Chevrolet
Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard/AMP Energy
95.559
19.816
47
9
78
Chevrolet
Furniture Row/Farm American
95.453
19.838
45
10
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
95.448
19.839
47
11
11
Toyota
FedEx Express
95.338
19.862
66
12
14
Chevrolet
Office Depot/Mobil 1
95.309
19.868
63
13
30
Toyota
95.304
19.869
21
14
5
Chevrolet
HendrickCars.com
95.271
19.876
57
15
43
Ford
Gwaltney
95.256
19.879
54
16
22
Dodge
Shell /Pennzoil
95.237
19.883
67
17
17
Ford
Ford EcoBoost
95.228
19.885
59
18
20
Toyota
The Home Depot/redbeacon.com
95.228
19.885
63
19
16
Ford
3M
95.223
19.886
43
20
39
Chevrolet
Quicken Loans
95.199
19.891
60
21
31
Chevrolet
Odyssey /EnerSys
95.113
19.909
69
22
47
Toyota
Pine Sol
95.051
19.922
48
23
1
Chevrolet
McDonald's
95.036
19.925
47
24
87
Toyota
AM /FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves
94.941
19.945
6
25
99
Ford
Geek Squad
94.855
19.963
38
26
29
Chevrolet
Rheem "Chasing the Cure"
94.832
19.968
53
27
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
94.827
19.969
52
28
9
Ford
Black & Decker
94.760
19.983
43
29
91
Toyota
Plinker Tactical
94.708
19.994
26
30
23
Chevrolet
North Texas Pipe
94.689
19.998
27
31
51
Chevrolet
Phoenix Construction
94.661
20.004
54
32
13
Ford
GEICO
94.637
20.009
53
33
95
Ford
Jordan Truck Sales
94.585
20.020
10
34
34
Ford
Where's Waldo
94.529
20.032
43
35
93
Toyota
Burger King/Dr Pepper
94.500
20.038
48
36
32
Ford
Southern Pride Trucking/U.S. Chrome
94.444
20.050
40
37
10
Chevrolet
@TMone Drive Sales Fast
94.444
20.050
40
38
83
Toyota
Burger King/Dr Pepper
94.331
20.074
47
39
98
Ford
94.228
20.096
33
40
26
Ford
MDS Transport
94.172
20.108
26
41
36
Chevrolet
Mohawk Northeast/TMone Call Center
93.915
20.163
25
42
38
Ford
Long John Silver's
93.673
20.215
34
43
33
Chevrolet
Little Joes Autos.com
93.520
20.248
20

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
24
4
13
95.417
2
27
2
11
95.277
3
48
5
14
95.236
4
55
4
13
95.191
5
39
2
11
95.052
6
15
33
42
95.017
7
88
4
13
94.991
8
18
3
12
94.977
9
11
4
13
94.965
10
56
6
15
94.894
11
17
4
13
94.893
12
43
5
14
94.805
13
99
3
12
94.740
14
1
3
12
94.720
15
42
2
11
94.691
16
2
3
12
94.668
17
14
43
52
94.647
18
78
2
11
94.510
19
5
3
12
94.496
20
29
7
16
94.493
21
20
2
11
94.361
22
31
7
16
94.354
23
47
31
40
94.344
24
51
5
14
94.332
25
22
11
20
94.205
26
93
6
15
94.181
27
13
34
43
94.148
28
16
8
17
94.019
29
10
8
17
93.828
30
9
5
14
93.758
31
91
1
10
93.613
32
36
9
18
93.443
33
34
15
24
93.358
34
38
4
13
93.188
35
95
1
10
92.998
36
32
2
11
92.965
37
26
1
10
92.653
38
98
2
11
91.942

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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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