Fantasy NASCAR Practice Recap: Toyota Owners 400

by Brian Polking on April 27, 2013 @ 10:24:59 PDT

 


Earlier in the week, Denny Hamlin was hoping to be back behind the wheel of his No. 11 Toyota at Richmond International Raceway, and given his stellar record at a home-state track, fantasy owners were probably hoping for the same. Unfortunately for Hamlin, he was not cleared by doctors to return, but that may not matter for fantasy owners. His replacement Brian Vickers did a pretty good impersonation of Hamlin, cracking the top five in both practices. Keep in mind that Vickers has finished 11th or better in five of his last six short tracks starts, and he has two top-10s in his last four starts at Richmond. Hamlin may be sidelined, but the No. 11 car could still show up in the top 10 Saturday night.

Jeff Gordon

Another driver that delivered on the practice sheets was Carl Edwards. He was one of three drivers to crack the top 10 in both sessions, which is very encouraging considering his recent results at the track. He has finished in the top 10 in five of his last six starts at the track, logging three top-five finishes during the stretch. At the very least, Edwards look primed to add to his top-10 total at Richmond this weekend.

The other driver rank in the top 10 in both practices Friday was Juan Pablo Montoya. In fact, he ranked second on the charts in Happy Hour. Granted, it is still hard to have a lot of faith in Montoya given his 26.4 average finish in 2013. However, he has finished in the top 20 in six of his last seven starts at Richmond. If there was ever a week to take a chance on Montoya, this could be it. Even if he doesn't back up his practice times, recent history says he shouldn't kill your roster either.

Veteran Mark Martin made plenty of noise in the practices, as well. After topping the charts in the first session of the afternoon, he ranked fourth in terms of 10-lpa average speeds in Happy Hour. In addition to the consistency on both shorter and longer runs, Martin has a rock solid resume at Richmond. He has seven top-10s in his last 10 starts at the track, including three straight. In fact, he has improved his finishing position in his last four starts at RIR and was third at the track last fall. Fantasy owners probably shouldn't pencil in Martin for top-five, but he can certainly deliver a solid top-10.

Of the drivers with a history of success at Richmond, Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer both performed well Friday. Busch ranked third and 15th in the two sessions, and his numbers at the short track are second to none. His 5.4 average finish at Richmond is the best in the series, and in 16 starts, he has 13 finishes of sixth or better, including victories in the last four spring races. Bowyer on the other hand ranked ninth and 11th in the two practices, and he has been a model of consistency at RIR. In 14 starts, he has finished 12th or better 12 times. He has also finished seventh or better in five of his last seven starts at the track and won at the track for the second time in his career last fall. Both drivers are top-five fantasy options this weekend.

Kevin Harvick could also be an intriguing option. He ranked sixth in the first practice Friday and 12th in the final session and has been one of the more consistent drivers at Richmond for a while. He has finished 12th or better in 16 of his last 17 starts at the track, picking up a pair of wins during the stretch. Harvick provides a nice combination of reliability and upside this weekend, which is always a plus for fantasy owners.

As far as sleeper options are concerned, A.J. Allmendinger could be the top option. After ranking 13th in the first practice, he climbed to sixth in Happy Hour. Ironically, Allmendinger is only racing this weekend because of an injury to Ryan Truex, but fantasy owners might as well take advantage of his extra start. After all, he has finished 17th or better in his last five starts at Richmond, and he has a 13.3 average finish in three starts for Phoenix Racing in 2013. A top-15 finish seems well within reason for Allmendinger.

One big name that was missing from the top of the charts was Jimmie Johnson. In fact, he flat out struggled in the sessions, ranking 34th and 19th on the charts. The lack of speed is even more concerning because of Johnson's uneven record at Richmond. On one hand, he has three victories at the track. However, his 16.5 average finish at RIR is his fourth worst at any track on the schedule. Johnson knows how to make lemonade out of lemons as well as anyone, but at the very least, fantasy owners may want to save him for another week in league's that limit the number of times each driver can be used.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Best Lap
Laps
1
24
126.963
4
2
42
126.103
8
3
11
125.792
5
4
27
125.769
11
5
1
125.675
16
6
51
125.622
5
7
56
125.605
22
8
31
125.570
7
9
88
125.546
4
10
99
125.436
16
11
15
125.284
24
12
29
125.267
8
13
17
125.255
11
14
14
125.023
8
15
18
125.012
8
16
5
124.983
33
17
39
124.942
10
18
2
124.867
33
19
48
124.861
48
20
20
124.844
8
21
9
124.683
10
22
16
124.619
22
23
7
124.430
27
24
43
124.109
10
25
30
123.967
10
26
98
123.893
4
27
10
123.842
8
28
55
123.677
44
29
34
123.672
10
30
78
123.598
56
31
93
123.271
22
32
22
123.220
45
33
13
123.085
13
34
83
123.069
29
35
33
122.482
24
36
32
122.294
27
37
47
122.194
53
38
35
122.183
21
39
38
122.117
31
40
36
120.714
14
41
19
120.509
1
42
52
118.990
5

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

Rk
Car
Driver
Avg. Speed
1
48
123.222
2
78
122.593
3
2
122.535
4
55
122.380
5
15
122.289
6
1
122.244
7
5
122.117
8
56
121.934
9
22
121.533
10
38
121.365
11
47
121.329
12
33
121.259
13
7
121.035
14
93
119.803
15
16
119.130
16
32
118.214

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

Rk
Car
Driver
Avg. Speed
1
17
123.422
2
56
123.202
3
34
123.163
4
1
123.157
5
2
122.801
6
88
122.475
7
22
122.332
8
51
122.223
9
24
122.048
10
42
122.027
11
11
121.897
12
29
121.842
13
9
121.801
14
15
121.703
15
43
121.664
16
55
121.653
17
5
121.647
18
31
121.569
19
48
121.516
20
14
121.488
21
99
121.483
22
17
121.352
23
27
121.024
24
78
120.940
25
39
120.924
26
47
120.904
27
13
120.417
28
18
119.965
29
93
119.460
30
33
119.002

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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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