Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: Ford EcoBoost 400
Sunday's race at Homestead-Miami Speedway will mark an end to the 2012 season. It will also mark an end to Matt Kenseth's time at Roush Fenway Racing, and it looks like the 2003 champ plans on going out in style. Kenseth topped the charts in the first practice session Saturday as he tries for his third win of the Chase, and he just might pull it off. In his last seven starts at Homestead, he has five top-10 finishes, including a win in 2007 and a fourth-place run last fall. Kenseth is definitely a worth a roster spot in fantasy leagues.
Fellow Roush Fenway Racing driver Greg Biffle posted the second-fastest lap of the session, but he also crashed his primary car in the session in a wreck that also collected Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. Biffle hasn't been all that consistent at Homestead either, but he does have some upside. Biffle is one of just two drivers that have three wins at the track, and he is the only driver to have won three races in a row at Homestead. Owners looking for a sure top-10 probably don't want to go with Biffle, but for those looking to hit it big, he is more than capable of getting to Victory Lane this weekend.
Veteran Mark Martin ranked third on the charts while Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five. Gordon has the best numbers of the three at Homestead with 10 top-10 finishes, including six top-five finishes, in 13 starts at the track. However, Busch is the most interesting option from a fantasy perspective. He has been terrible at Homestead, managing just one top-15 finish in seven starts. That being said, he has a ton of momentum heading into Sunday's race. Busch has scored the fourth-most points of any driver during the Chase and has finished third or better in each of the last three races. With many owners likely to avoid him because of his poor career numbers, adding Busch could be a great way to gain some ground if he stays hot and notches another top-five finish.
Of the 15 drivers that ran at least 10 consecutive laps, Kasey Kahne was heads and shoulders above the rest. Although he has never won at Homestead, he has definitely being making strides at the track in recent years. Kahne has finished seventh or better in three of his last four starts, including in each of the past two seasons. As well as he has run in the Chase, don't be surprised if he notches a top-five finish this weekend.
In Happy Hour, Kyle Busch climbed to the top of the charts, easing any doubts that he is headed for a strong run at a track that has given him trouble in the past. Meanwhile, Martin Truex Jr. posted the second-fastest lap, and he could make a nice addition to fantasy rosters. He has finished 11th or better in his last six starts at Homestead, including a third-place finish last fall. If you are looking for a dark horse candidate to get to Victory Lane Sunday, Truex is the guy.
Point leader Brad Keselowski also cracked the top five, along with teammates Kenseth and Biffle. For Biffle, the fast lap is a good indication that he could still be a factor even in a backup car. For Keselowski, posting a strong lap has to be a nice confidence builder as he closes in on the first Cup Series title of his career. Â
Gordon paved the way in the final session when it came to 10-lap average speeds. Many of the same names joined him in the top five as Martin, Truex and Busch followed Gordon. The one newcomer to the group was Clint Bowyer, and he could be another solid fantasy option. In six starts at Homestead, he has finished 12th or better five times. Bowyer also posted one of the 10-fastest laps in each session Saturday, showing both short and long-run speed.
Owners looking for some sleeper options may want to consider the Richard Petty Motorsports duo of Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola. Both drivers ranked in the top 15 in the first practice Saturday, and both ranked in the top 10 in Happy Hour. Throw in the fact that both qualified in the top five for Sunday's race, and it is safe to say that the RPM teams have found a setup that is working at Homestead.
One big name that owners may want to think twice about is Jimmie Johnson. He ranked just 21st and 18th on the charts in the two practices, and he wasn't overly strong in terms of 10-lap average speeds either. Johnson pretty much has to win Sunday's race at get a lot of help from Keselowski to have a shot at the title, and it kind of looks like the No. 48 bunch is struggling to find the perfect setup. History says Johnson will get things headed in the right direction when the race begins, but he doesn't appear to have a car capable of competing for a much-needed win.
Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)
10-Lap Average Speeds (must run 10 consecutive laps)
Second Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)
10-Lap Average Speeds (must run 10 consecutive laps)
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.Follow @kffl_racing
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