Fantasy NASCAR Practice Recap: Aaron's 499

by Brian Polking on May 4, 2013 @ 10:15:36 PDT

 


Thanks to the power-robbing restrictor plates that keep the field packed together, practice speeds at Talladega Superspeedway aren't always a great predictor of which drivers will be up front on Sunday. However, it might not be irrelevant that Brad Keselowski was solid on the time sheets during a pair of practices Friday during which he actually topped the charts in Happy Hour. After all, Keselowski is the defending winner of Sunday's race and a two-time winner at Talladega. Perhaps more importantly, he leads all active drivers with a 12.3 average finish at the track and has six top-10s in eight starts. Heading to one of the most unpredictable tracks on the schedule, he is a pretty good driver to start with when assembling fantasy rosters this weekend.

Brad Keselowski

Another driver that performed well during both sessions was Jeff Gordon. In fact, he posted one of the 10-fastest laps in both practices and had the third-best 10-lap average speed in the opening session. He also happens to lead all active drivers with six career wins at Talladega, and he has remained a threat to get to Victory Lane in recent years. Gordon finished third in the spring race at the track in 2011 and second last fall. He could make an excellent addition to fantasy rosters this weekend.

Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kasey Kahne was also stood out across both practices. After posting the ninth-fastest lap in the early session, he jumped to third in Happy Hour. More importantly for Kahne, he has been at his best at Talladega in recent years after struggling early in his career. He has a 7.3 average finish in his last three starts at the track compared to a 20.3 average finish for his career, and needless to say, his fantasy value is a lot higher than his career numbers suggest. Owners should feel very comfortable adding him to their rosters.

Among the other big names that flexed some muscle in at least one of the practices Friday were Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kenseth posted the sixth-fastest lap in the first practice and was happy enough with his car to sit out Happy Hour. Considering he finished third in the spring race and won the fall race at Talladega last year and leads all drivers in points scored at plate tracks dating back to last season, he should definitely be targeted by fantasy owners. Junior should be on high on the wish list of fantasy owners, as well. In addition to his five career wins at Talladega, he posted the best 10-lap average speed in the opening session. Throw in the fact that he has finished 11th or better in the last six spring races at Talladega, and there is good chance Junior will deliver an excellent finish even if he doesn't win Sunday.

Outside of the big names, Joey Logano was one driver that appeared to have his car handling the way he wanted. He ranked fourth and 13th in the two practices Friday, and he has had some success at Talladega in the past. In eight starts at the track, he has finished in the top 10 four times. Of course, he has also finished outside the top 20 four times, but despite the ups and downs, there is enough upside to make Logano worth considering.

Last but not least, fantasy owners looking for a serious sleeper may want to consider Michael Waltrip. When he isn't filming commercials or announcing, the veteran can still make a little noise when he gets behind the wheel, especially at the superspeedways. Friday at Talladega, he ranked in the top 15 in the first practice and posted the fourth-best 10-lap average speed in the same session. Keep in mind that Waltrip has four career wins at plate tracks and finished in the top 10 at Talladega as recently as the fall of 2011. More importantly, Waltrip nearly won the fall race last year before Tony Stewart took him out along with a dozen other drivers. Fantasy owners may want to take advantage of one of his few starts for the year because it could pay off to the tune of a top-10.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Team
Best Time
Best Lap
Laps
1
99
Miller Lite Ford
48.883
195.896
6
2
56
Lean 1 Toyota
48.971
195.544
8
3
9
Time Warner Cable Chevrolet
48.972
195.540
12
4
22
Gwaltney Ford
48.972
195.540
23
5
39
Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
48.996
195.445
15
6
20
Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet
49.016
195.365
31
7
11
Imron Elite Chevrolet
49.038
195.277
16
8
48
McDonald's Chevrolet
49.104
195.015
17
9
24
Clorox 100 Year Anniversary Toyota
49.134
194.896
7
10
5
Fastenal Ford
49.884
191.965
9
11
2
Love's Travel Stops Ford
49.995
191.539
4
12
88
Doublemint Toyota
49.999
191.524
10
13
18
Shell Pennzoil Ford
50.024
191.428
10
14
55
Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford
50.121
191.058
11
15
21
3M Safety Ford
50.200
190.757
14
16
27
Stanley Ford
50.292
190.408
23
17
16
C&J Energy Services Ford
50.342
190.219
14
18
43
Jordan Truck Sales/TrackingPoint Ford
50.360
190.151
7
19
34
Lowe's Chevrolet
50.410
189.962
4
20
15
Hendrickcars.com
50.495
189.643
7
21
17
Best Buy Ford
50.504
189.609
11
22
13
MDS Transport Ford
50.667
188.999
8
23
10
National Guard Chevrolet
50.740
188.727
4
24
29
CurbRecords/TheBobbyJonesShow Ford
50.746
188.705
7
25
14
SANY Chevrolet
51.096
187.412
14
26
35
Golden Corral Chevrolet
51.159
187.181
20
27
30
LittleJoesAutos.com Chevrolet
51.309
186.634
13

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
43
2
11
188.526
2
33
1
10
172.648

First Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Team
Best Time
Best Lap
Laps
1
99
Fastenal Ford
47.958
199.675
30
2
56
NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
47.964
199.650
25
3
9
Stanley Ford
47.974
199.608
25
4
22
Shell Pennzoil Ford
47.977
199.596
21
5
39
Haas Automation Chevrolet
47.990
199.542
15
6
20
Home Depot/Husky Toyota
48.008
199.467
33
7
11
FedEx Express Toyota
48.044
199.317
29
8
48
Lowe's Chevrolet
48.067
199.222
38
9
24
Imron Elite Chevrolet
48.188
198.722
26
10
5
Time Warner Cable Chevrolet
48.202
198.664
29
11
2
Miller Lite Ford
48.216
198.606
29
12
88
National Guard Chevrolet
48.227
198.561
31
13
18
M&M's Toyota
48.242
198.499
28
14
55
Aaron'sDreamMachine/AlabamaNtlChmp Toyota
48.267
198.396
31
15
21
Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford
48.273
198.372
27
16
27
Menards/CertainTeed Chevrolet
48.289
198.306
21
17
16
3M Safety Ford
48.324
198.162
25
18
43
Gwaltney Ford
48.373
197.962
26
19
34
Farm Rich Ford
48.455
197.627
22
20
15
Peak Toyota
48.459
197.610
17
21
17
Best Buy Ford
48.474
197.549
21
22
13
GEICO Ford
48.500
197.443
23
23
10
GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
48.501
197.439
24
24
29
Budweiser Chevrolet
48.533
197.309
20
25
14
Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet
48.616
196.972
20
26
35
MDS Transport Ford
48.731
196.507
13
27
30
Lean 1 Toyota
48.772
196.342
14
28
1
McDonald's Chevrolet
48.778
196.318
28
29
31
Caterpillar Chevrolet
48.861
195.985
28
30
42
Clorox Chevrolet
48.892
195.860
24
31
38
Love's Travel Stops Ford
48.900
195.828
20
32
93
Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
49.012
195.381
19
33
78
Furniture Row/Beautyrest Chevrolet
49.083
195.098
12
34
51
Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet
49.280
194.318
15
35
83
Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
49.328
194.129
28
36
81
Doublemint Toyota
50.302
190.370
3
37
95
Jordan Truck Sales/TrackingPoint Ford
50.447
189.823
3
38
32
C&J Energy Services Ford
50.639
189.103
10
39
98
Curb Records/The Bobby Jones Show
50.655
189.044
3
40
47
Clorox 100 Year Anniversary Toyota
50.776
188.593
9
41
7
Sany Chevrolet
51.174
187.126
11
42
87
MaddiesPlaceRocks.com Toyota
51.295
186.685
7
43
33
LittleJoesAutos.com Chevrolet
52.585
182.105
2
44
36
Golden Corral Chevrolet
53.864
177.781
2

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
88
9
18
195.871
2
48
9
18
195.465
3
24
9
18
195.406
4
55
11
20
195.199
5
11
8
17
195.110
6
14
5
14
194.776
7
22
3
12
194.409
8
17
5
14
194.303
9
9
3
12
194.259
10
29
6
15
194.240
11
99
8
17
193.954
12
27
8
17
193.917
13
43
7
16
193.732
14
34
5
14
193.727
15
20
4
13
193.688
16
31
3
12
193.601
17
21
18
27
193.436
18
1
16
25
193.401
19
42
15
24
193.380
20
78
3
12
193.348
21
10
7
16
193.329
22
2
6
15
193.260
23
16
9
18
192.814
24
18
4
13
192.769
25
5
4
13
192.276
26
56
2
11
191.730
27
39
2
11
185.813
28
13
1
10
184.134
29
15
1
10
183.030
30
38
11
20
181.369
31
93
10
19
179.612
32
32
1
10
173.901
33
83
19
28
169.654

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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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