Fantasy NASCAR Practice Recap: Toyota-Save Mart 350

by Brian Polking on June 22, 2013 @ 09:49:01 PDT

 


Since joining the Cup Series in 2008, no driver has been more productive at the road courses than Marcos Ambrose, and he appears more than ready to continue the trend. He topped the charts in the opening practice at Sonoma and ranked eighth in Happy Hour. Ambrose has reeled off nine straight top-10 finishes at road courses, posting a 3.6 average finish during the stretch. He should make an excellent fantasy option in any format, and in survival-type leagues, this could be the week to use Ambrose.

Another driver that has excelled at road racing since joining the Cup Series is Juan Pablo Montoya, and he didn't disappoint in practice Friday at Sonoma. He cracked the top five in both sessions and posted the second fastest lap in the first practice to go along with the best 10-lap average speed in Happy Hour. Montoya is a former winner at Sonoma, and in six starts at the road course, he has logged four top-10s. He has an excellent chance to be a top-five fantasy pick this weekend.

Marcos Ambrose

While he doesn't have a reputation as a road course ace, Clint Bowyer is working on changing it. He is the defending winner of this weekend's race, and after ranking eighth in the first practice Friday, he topped the charts in Happy Hour. Bowyer's 9.7 average finish at Sonoma is the second best in the series, and in his last six starts at the track, he has five top-10s. Bowyer also has four finishes of fourth or better during the stretch, so his victory in 2012 is more likely a sign of things to come than a one-time occurrence. Either way, Bowyer looks like a top-five option this weekend for fantasy owners.

Kurt Busch also seems on track to contend for a top-five finish this weekend. He posted the fourth fastest lap in the first practice Friday, and he ranked seventh in the final session. Meanwhile, he won at Sonoma in 2011, and he followed up the victory with a third-place effort last season. The third-place run came while he was driving for an underfunded Phoenix Racing team, so Busch's road racing skills are legit.

He may not deliver a top-five finish this weekend, but Greg Biffle still deserves serious consideration from fantasy owners after posting the sixth fastest lap in both practices at Sonoma Friday. Granted, he has never won a road course race at the Cup level, but he has been rock solid at Sonoma. Biffle has cracked the top 15 in seven of his last nine starts at the track, including a seventh-place run last season. Given his practice times, another top-10 run seems likely.

Speaking of a top-10 finish, fantasy owners will be hard pressed to find a more reliable option this weekend than Jeff Gordon. He ranked 10th and 11th in the two sessions at Sonoma Friday, and more importantly, he is the most decorated road racer in NASCAR history. His five victories at Sonoma and nine road course wins overall are both series records. At Sonoma in particular, he also owns a series-best 8.6 average finish and has 16 top-10s in 20 starts, including seven straight. You can pencil Gordon in for a strong showing this weekend.

Gordon may be one of the safest options around, but one of the more intriguing fantasy plays is Jamie McMurray. He posted the fifth fastest lap in the first practice Saturday before jumping to second on the charts in Happy Hour. With just one top-10 finish in 10 starts at Sonoma, his career numbers don't jump off the page. That being said, McMurray has managed three top-15s in his last four starts at the track, and having a road course ace like Juan Pablo Montoya as a teammate is bound to lead to some improvement. At any rate, McMurray could have a big day for owners willing to overlook his pedestrian numbers at Sonoma to date.

Finally, fantasy owners looking for a sleeper option may want to take a chance on Casey Mears. After all, he posted the third fastest lap in the first practice Friday, and he ranked a solid 12th in Happy Hour. Perhaps more importantly, he finished 15th at Sonoma last year, proving he can produce decent results despite driving for a smaller team in Germain Racing. Don't be surprised if Mears lands solidly in the top 20 this weekend.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver Team
Best Time
Best Lap
Laps
1
15
Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota
75.765
94.556
16
2
1
Jamie McMurray Cessna Chevrolet
75.872
94.422
20
3
18
Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
75.906
94.380
20
4
99
Carl Edwards Aflac Ford
75.947
94.329
15
5
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
76.001
94.262
33
6
16
Greg Biffle 3M Ford
76.010
94.251
17
7
78
Kurt Busch Furniture Row Racing / Sealy Chevrolet
76.058
94.191
15
8
9
Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford
76.119
94.116
21
9
22
Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford
76.154
94.073
17
10
24
Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
76.164
94.060
11
11
56
Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
76.238
93.969
15
12
13
Casey Mears GEICO Ford
76.378
93.797
22
13
20
Matt Kenseth Home Depot / Husky Toyota
76.499
93.648
19
14
29
Kevin Harvick Rheem Chevrolet
76.573
93.558
16
15
2
Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford
76.654
93.459
23
16
14
Tony Stewart Mobil 1 / Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet
76.777
93.309
25
17
11
Denny Hamlin FedEx Freight Toyota
76.781
93.304
19
18
48
Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
76.864
93.204
29
19
43
Aric Almirola Farmland Ford
76.912
93.145
27
20
32
Boris Said Hendrickcars.com Ford
76.957
93.091
26
21
47
Bobby Labonte Kingsford Toyota
76.983
93.060
24
22
55
Jason Bowles RKMotorsCharlotte.com Toyota
77.011
93.026
7
23
38
David Gilliland Long John Silver's Ford
77.046
92.983
16
24
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet
77.109
92.907
18
25
5
Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet
77.114
92.901
22
26
34
David Ragan Taco Bell Ford
77.114
92.901
19
27
33
Ron Fellows Canadian Tire Chevrolet
77.163
92.842
9
28
27
Paul Menard Menards / MOEN Chevrolet
77.168
92.836
16
29
51
Jacques Villeneuve Tag Heuer Avant-Garde Eyewear
77.234
92.757
13
30
31
Jeff Burton Utility Trailers Chevrolet
77.522
92.413
15
31
7
Justin Marks GoPro Chevrolet
77.557
92.371
19
32
17
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford EcoBoost Ford
77.640
92.272
17
33
30
David Stremme Lean 1 / Raley's / Swan Energy Toyota
77.681
92.223
19
34
93
Travis Kvapil Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota
77.729
92.166
20
35
10
Danica Patrick GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
77.947
91.909
18
36
39
Ryan Newman HAAS Automation 30th Anniversary Chevrolet
77.986
91.863
23
37
35
Josh Wise MDS Transport Ford
78.250
91.553
18
38
83
David Reutimann Burger King / Dr Pepper Toyota
78.376
91.406
20
39
19
Alex Kennedy MediaMaster Toyota
78.571
91.179
16
40
36
Victor Gonzalez Jr. IMCA Dominican Republic Chevrolet
78.628
91.113
27
41
52
Paulie Harraka Hasa Pool Products Ford
78.871
90.832
7
42
87
Tomy Drissi TheWolverineMovie.Com Toyota
80.755
88.713
9

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg Speed
1
42
Juan Pablo Montoya
23
32
92.291
2
5
Kasey Kahne
9
18
92.046
3
11
Denny Hamlin
10
19
92.019
4
43
Aric Almirola
18
27
91.771
5
48
Jimmie Johnson
17
26
91.488
6
13
Casey Mears
1
10
90.866
7
2
Brad Keselowski
6
15
90.624

First Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver Make Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
9
Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley
94.049
76.173
12
2
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet Target
93.890
76.302
17
3
13
Casey Mears Ford GEICO
93.535
76.592
17
4
78
Kurt Busch Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing / Sealy
93.430
76.678
21
5
1
Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Cessna
93.421
76.685
20
6
16
Greg Biffle Ford 3M
93.402
76.701
24
7
2
Brad Keselowski Ford Miller Lite
93.377
76.721
28
8
15
Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy
93.374
76.724
28
9
56
Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts
93.208
76.860
23
10
22
Joey Logano Ford Shell Pennzoil
93.091
76.957
27
11
24
Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger
92.898
77.117
30
12
29
Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Rheem
92.881
77.131
24
13
11
Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Freight
92.828
77.175
21
14
14
Tony Stewart Chevrolet Mobil 1 / Bass Pro Shops
92.818
77.183
21
15
27
Paul Menard Chevrolet Menards / MOEN
92.776
77.218
24
16
39
Ryan Newman Chevrolet HAAS Automation 30th Anniversary
92.714
77.270
17
17
20
Matt Kenseth Toyota Home Depot / Husky
92.610
77.357
23
18
18
Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's
92.561
77.398
22
19
99
Carl Edwards Ford Aflac
92.501
77.448
21
20
5
Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance
92.446
77.494
16
21
48
Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's
92.417
77.518
25
22
31
Jeff Burton Chevrolet Utility Trailers
92.407
77.527
23
23
93
Travis Kvapil Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper
92.368
77.559
18
24
47
Bobby Labonte Toyota Kingsford
92.366
77.561
23
25
43
Aric Almirola Ford Farmland
92.272
77.640
19
26
33
Ron Fellows Chevrolet Canadian Tire
92.145
77.747
13
27
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard
92.110
77.777
16
28
55
Jason Bowles Toyota RKMotorsCharlotte.com
91.988
77.880
22
29
17
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford EcoBoost
91.867
77.982
35
30
51
Jacques Villeneuve Chevrolet Tag Heuer Avant-Garde Eyewear
91.663
78.156
29
31
10
Danica Patrick Chevrolet GoDaddy.com
91.659
78.159
22
32
34
David Ragan Ford Taco Bell
91.628
78.186
17
33
38
David Gilliland Ford Long John Silver's
91.529
78.270
14
34
32
Boris Said Ford Hendrickcars.com
91.435
78.351
32
35
83
David Reutimann Toyota Burger King / Dr Pepper
91.421
78.363
12
36
35
Josh Wise Ford MDS Transport
91.157
78.590
24
37
19
Alex Kennedy Toyota MediaMaster
90.403
79.245
20
38
30
David Stremme Toyota Lean 1 / Raley's / Swan Energy
90.393
79.254
18
39
36
Victor Gonzalez Jr. Chevrolet IMCA Dominican Republic
90.131
79.484
26
40
7
Justin Marks Chevrolet GoPro
89.903
79.686
24
41
52
Paulie Harraka Ford Hasa Pool Products
89.596
79.959
8
42
37
J.J. Yeley Chevrolet TBD
88.588
80.869
3
43
87
Tomy Drissi Toyota TheWolverineMovie.Com
88.129
81.290
10

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
5
Clint Bowyer
18
27
92.404
2
48
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
17
26
88.753

 

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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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