Fantasy NASCAR Practice Recap: STP 400

by Brian Polking on April 20, 2013 @ 20:03:46 PDT

 


In his brief Cup Series career, Aric Almirola has never won a race and has only had two of three legitimate chances to do so. However, one of those chances came last fall at Kansas when he led more than 60 laps with a very fast but very loose racecar before ultimately spinning out and ruining his day. Well, the series returns to Kansas this weekend, and after looking at the practice speeds, it appears Almirola is prepared to try to finish what he started at the 1.5-mile track last fall. After posting the third-fastest lap in Saturday's first session, he ranked second in Happy Hour. Granted, I'm not suggesting that Almirola should be considered the favorite this weekend by any means, but as far as sleeper options go, he has top-10 potential.

Saturday's practice sessions were actually kind to some other potential fantasy sleepers, including Juan Pablo Montoya and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Montoya topped the charts in the first practice and ranked third in Happy Hour. Despite his struggles the past couple of years, he did finish 12th and 16th in two starts at Kansas last year. Montoya is a risky option for sure, but a top-15 run isn't out of the question. Meanwhile, Stenhouse will be making his Cup Series debut at Kansas this weekend, and while he doesn't have much personal experience to fall back on, he does drive for a Roush Fenway Racing organization that has been excellent at the track. Don't be surprised if Stenhouse debuts at Kansas with a bang Sunday.

Martin Truex Jr.

Creeping into the bigger names, Martin Truex Jr. is definitely a driver to strongly consider. He ranked sixth and seventh in the two practice sessions, and he is coming off a banner year at Kansas. Truex finished second in both races at the track, leading a race-high 173 laps in the spring event. It is also worth noting that he is coming off a second-place finish at Texas last weekend, and in the last 10 races at 1.5-mile tracks, Truex has scored the third-most points of any driver. Make no mistake about it, Truex has top-five potential this weekend.

As for the household names, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne were among the standouts. Kenseth ranked 15th in the opening practice and topped the charts in Happy Hour. More importantly, he is on the pole Sunday and has finished seventh or better in his last five starts at Kansas, including a win at the track last fall. Kahne, on the other hand, ranked 12th in the opening session and jumped to fifth in Happy Hour. He also has four straight top-15s at Kansas, including finishes of second, eighth and fourth in his last three starts. Keep in mind that Kenseth and Kahne finished first and second in the first race of 2013 at a 1.5-mile track.

Greg Biffle is another big name that deserves a lot of attention after ranking fourth on the charts in the first practice and 13th in Happy Hour. He has also compiled one heck of a resume at Kansas; His 9.5 average finish at the track is the second best in the series, and he has finished in the top 12 in 11 of his last 12 starts. During the stretch, he has finished in the top three six times, picking up a pair of victories. Biffle offers huge upside with very little risk, making him a great addition to any fantasy team.

While there were plenty of surprise names at the top of the practice charts Saturday, the big names that were absent were arguably even more surprising. Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski both followed poor qualifying runs with unimpressive showings in both practices. Both drivers failed to crack the top 20 in both sessions, and Keselowski actually ranked outside the top 25 in both practices. Granted, we are talking about the two drivers that have been the most consistent fantasy options dating back to the middle of last year, and both have excellent records at Kansas. However, the poor times aren't exactly comforting. I wouldn't recommend benching either driver if they are part of your regular lineup, but in formats that limit the number of times that each driver can be used, saving Johnson and Keselowski for another day may be the smartest strategy.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver Team
Best Time
Best Lap
Laps
1
20
Matt Kenseth The Home Depot/Husky Toyota
28.615
188.712
31
2
43
Aric Almirola STP/Farmland Ford
28.639
188.554
30
3
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
28.641
188.541
30
4
78
Kurt Busch Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet
28.646
188.508
24
5
5
Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance 85th Anniversary Chevrolet
28.648
188.495
31
6
31
Jeff Burton American Ethanol Chevrolet
28.661
188.409
29
7
56
Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
28.673
188.330
30
8
17
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Zest Ford
28.699
188.160
27
9
9
Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford
28.704
188.127
21
10
29
Kevin Harvick Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet
28.716
188.048
43
11
12
Sam Hornish, Jr. SKF Ford
28.734
187.931
25
12
55
Mark Martin Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
28.739
187.898
34
13
16
Greg Biffle ACE Brand Ford
28.751
187.820
36
14
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet
28.752
187.813
26
15
1
Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet
28.800
187.500
36
16
14
Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet
28.832
187.292
31
17
13
Casey Mears GEICO Ford
28.852
187.162
28
18
81
Elliott Sadler ALERT Energy Gum Toyota
28.866
187.071
16
19
11
Brian Vickers FedEx Freight Toyota
28.880
186.981
36
20
99
Carl Edwards Aflac Ford
28.881
186.974
29
21
38
David Gilliland Long John Silver's Ford
28.891
186.909
31
22
39
Ryan Newman Code 3 Associates Chevrolet
28.892
186.903
36
23
18
Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
28.894
186.890
41
24
27
Paul Menard Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet
28.927
186.677
34
25
15
Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota
28.949
186.535
31
26
2
Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford
28.951
186.522
39
27
93
Travis Kvapil Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
28.958
186.477
30
28
48
Jimmie Johnson Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet
28.967
186.419
44
29
51
Regan Smith Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet
28.978
186.348
18
30
83
David Reutimann Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
29.032
186.002
19
31
47
Bobby Labonte Pine Sol Toyota
29.070
185.759
30
32
22
Joey Logano AAA Ford
29.092
185.618
35
33
30
David Stremme Swan Racing Toyota
29.125
185.408
27
34
34
David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford
29.129
185.382
20
35
24
Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
29.135
185.344
21
36
36
J.J. Yeley Accell Construction Chevrolet
29.178
185.071
29
37
19
Mike Bliss Plinker Tactical Toyota
29.180
185.058
12
38
10
Danica Patrick GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
29.197
184.951
31
39
7
Dave Blaney Sany Chevrolet
29.212
184.856
24
40
32
Timmy Hill OXY Water Ford
29.227
184.761
25
41
33
Landon Cassill KCI Chevrolet
29.292
184.351
14
42
98
Michael McDowell Phil Parsons Racing Ford
29.326
184.137
16
43
35
Josh Wise MDS Transport Ford
29.423
183.530
22

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
1
Jamie McMurray
26
35
185.592
2
12
Sam Hornish, Jr.
1
10
185.462
3
27
Paul Menard
19
28
185.437
4
56
Martin Truex Jr.
17
26
185.356
5
16
Greg Biffle
2
11
185.094
6
48
Jimmie Johnson
2
11
185.043
7
29
Kevin Harvick
25
34
184.957
8
55
Mark Martin
1
10
184.746
9
2
Brad Keselowski
27
36
184.646
10
22
Joey Logano
23
32
183.180

Second Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver Team
Best Time
Best Lap
Laps
1
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
28.321
190.671
35
2
17
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Zest Ford
28.402
190.127
23
3
43
Aric Almirola STP/Farmland Ford
28.411
190.067
20
4
16
Greg Biffle ACE Brand Ford
28.415
190.040
26
5
99
Carl Edwards Aflac Ford
28.438
189.887
20
6
56
Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
28.468
189.687
34
7
18
Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
28.472
189.660
40
8
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet
28.521
189.334
35
9
27
Paul Menard Menards/Pittsburgh Paints Chevrolet
28.522
189.328
32
10
39
Ryan Newman Code 3 Associates Chevrolet
28.532
189.261
36
11
55
Mark Martin Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
28.539
189.215
35
12
5
Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance 85th Anniversary Chevrolet
28.539
189.215
35
13
1
Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet
28.596
188.838
36
14
29
Kevin Harvick Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet
28.603
188.791
29
15
20
Matt Kenseth The Home Depot/Husky Toyota
28.603
188.791
28
16
9
Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford
28.608
188.758
30
17
15
Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota
28.614
188.719
31
18
13
Casey Mears GEICO Ford
28.640
188.547
30
19
11
Brian Vickers FedEx Freight Toyota
28.642
188.534
33
20
78
Kurt Busch Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet
28.674
188.324
31
21
48
Jimmie Johnson Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet
28.674
188.324
30
22
31
Jeff Burton American Ethanol Chevrolet
28.682
188.271
38
23
12
Sam Hornish, Jr. SKF Ford
28.695
188.186
32
24
93
Travis Kvapil Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
28.756
187.787
34
25
51
Regan Smith Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet
28.847
187.195
31
26
14
Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet
28.894
186.890
35
27
38
David Gilliland Long John Silver's Ford
28.906
186.812
18
28
2
Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford
28.919
186.728
36
29
32
Timmy Hill OXY Water Ford
28.933
186.638
27
30
81
Elliott Sadler ALERT Energy Gum Toyota
28.939
186.599
25
31
22
Joey Logano AAA Ford
28.940
186.593
25
32
30
David Stremme Swan Racing Toyota
28.954
186.503
32
33
36
J.J. Yeley Accell Construction Chevrolet
28.957
186.483
16
34
83
David Reutimann Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
29.010
186.143
20
35
47
Bobby Labonte Pine Sol Toyota
29.012
186.130
30
36
34
David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford
29.016
186.104
18
37
10
Danica Patrick GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
29.019
186.085
32
38
24
Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
29.110
185.503
12
39
35
Josh Wise MDS Transport Ford
29.204
184.906
20
40
7
Dave Blaney Sany Chevrolet
29.328
184.124
27
41
19
Mike Bliss Plinker Tactical Toyota
29.329
184.118
14
42
33
Landon Cassill KCI Chevrolet
29.363
183.905
14
43
98
Michael McDowell Phil Parsons Racing Ford
29.418
183.561
13

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
1
Jamie McMurray
23
32
187.162
2
12
Sam Hornish, Jr.
1
10
186.795
3
39
Ryan Newman
2
11
186.445
4
43
Aric Almirola
2
11
186.078
5
2
Brad Keselowski
23
32
185.840
6
20
Matt Kenseth
1
10
185.809
7
55
Mark Martin
26
35
185.696
8
11
Brian Vickers
2
11
185.450
9
29
Kevin Harvick
1
10
185.294
10
31
Jeff Burton
1
10
185.046
11
13
Casey Mears
2
11
184.973
12
27
Paul Menard
3
12
184.865
13
93
Travis Kvapil
2
11
184.106
14
30
David Stremme
1
10
183.386

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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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