Fantasy NASCAR Practice Recap: Cheez-It 355 at The Glen

by Brian Polking on August 10, 2013 @ 00:00:00 PDT

 


Although he has never won a road-course race, Carl Edwards has quietly been one of the most consistent options at Watkins Glen in recent years. After posting the third-fastest lap in the first practice at the track Friday and topping the charts in Happy Hour, he could be ready for a breakout performance at the track. Edwards has finished in the top 15 in his last seven starts at The Glen, posting an 8.0 average finish during the stretch and cracking the top 10 five times. He was already one of the safer fantasy options heading into the weekend, and after his strong showing in practice, he definitely deserves heavy consideration this weekend.

Another driver who showed plenty of muscle throughout both practice sessions was Juan Pablo Montoya. He turned in the fourth-fastest lap in both practices, and in six starts at Watkins Glen, he has finished seventh or better four times. More importantly, he won at the track in 2010 and has two road-course wins at the Cup level. Montoya was also the pole-sitter at The Glen last year and had one of the best cars on the track until getting caught up in a wreck. Fantasy owners should consider him a top-five option for Sunday's race.

Kyle Busch is another former Watkins Glen winner who impressed during Friday's practices. He ranked sixth and seventh in the two sessions, and his seven straight top-10 finishes at the track make up the longest active streak in the series. During the stretch, he has posted a 5.6 average finish, and he won the 2008 event. Busch was also out front on the final lap of last year's race when he got into some oil put down by a lap car and slid back to seventh. A win isn't out of the question this weekend, and Busch is definitely a top-five fantasy option.

NASCAR driver Casey Mears
Mears smears comp at The Glen?

While he hasn't won a road-course race in the Cup Series yet, Brad Keselowski has come close in his last two starts at Watkins Glen. He was passed for the lead during a green-white-checkered finish in 2011, and he exchanged the lead with eventual winner Marcos Ambrose on the final lap of last year's race before again settling for second. After ranking ninth and fifth in the two practices Friday, he looks like a safe bet to contend for the win once again.

Fantasy owners should also put Kurt Busch on the short list of drivers who should be contenders for the win this weekend. He was solid in the practices Friday, ranking 10th and 11th. Meanwhile, he has finished 11th or better in four of his last six starts at Watkins Glen, finishing as high as second during the stretch. Busch was also very fast in the first road-course event of the year, overcoming two pit-road penalties to finish fourth at Sonoma. If he is anywhere near as fast this weekend and can avoid the penalties, he may run away with the race.

Two-time defending race winner Marcos Ambrose didn't turn great laps in both practices Friday, but after ranking second on the charts in the opening session, he could afford to focus on race trim in Happy Hour. Not to mention the fact that he has never finished worse than third in five starts at Watkins Glen. Ambrose should still be considered the favorite to three-peat at a track he has owned his entire career.

Like Ambrose, Martin Truex Jr. didn't wow in both sessions, but he didn't have to do so after pacing the opening practice. Meanwhile, an argument can be made that Truex is one of the up-and-coming road-course aces in the series. He has finished in the top 15 in five of his last six starts at Watkins Glen and has four top-10s during the stretch. He also went to victory lane at Sonoma earlier this year, and even if he doesn't complete the season sweep at the road-courses, Truex should deliver a top-10 finish.

Fantasy owners looking for a serious sleeper option this weekend may want to consider Casey Mears. After ranking fifth in the first practice Friday, he ranked 13th in Happy Hour. Perhaps more importantly, he has reeled off five straight top-20 finishes at Watkins Glen, including a 16th-place run last year. At the very least, Mears seems to be on tap to continue his streak of top-20 finishes at The Glen, and a top-15 certainly seems possible.

On the flip side, fantasy owners hoping that Max Papis would make a nice sleeper option as he replaces Tony Stewart in the No. 14 this weekend may want to go in another direction. Papis struggled in his first Cup action since 2010, ranking 27th and 30th in the two practice sessions Friday. At this point, fantasy owners shouldn't expect anything more than a top-25 finish out of "Mad" Max this weekend.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver Team
Best Time
Best Lap
Laps
1
99
Carl Edwards Kellogg's/Cheez-It Ford
68.693
128.397
8
2
35
Michael McDowell Dockside Logistics Ford
69.284
127.302
12
3
15
Clint Bowyer PEAK/Duck Dynasty Toyota
69.322
127.232
12
4
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
69.328
127.221
10
5
2
Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford
69.338
127.203
16
6
48
Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
69.391
127.106
18
7
18
Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
69.428
127.038
11
8
55
Brian Vickers Toyota Camry 30th Anniversary Toyota
69.432
127.031
9
9
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet
69.576
126.768
14
10
78
Kurt Busch Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet
69.590
126.742
10
11
16
Greg Biffle 3M/811 Ford
69.638
126.655
8
12
24
Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
69.653
126.628
10
13
13
Casey Mears GEICO Ford
69.675
126.588
8
14
29
Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet
69.685
126.570
10
15
11
Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota
69.704
126.535
14
16
27
Paul Menard Menards/Splash Chevrolet
69.720
126.506
14
17
9
Marcos Ambrose Stanley/CTC Jumpstart Ford
69.739
126.472
6
18
47
A.J. Allmendinger Scott Products Toyota
69.741
126.468
3
19
56
Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
69.742
126.466
13
20
51
Owen Kelly Phoenix Construction Chevrolet
69.770
126.415
11
21
43
Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford
69.945
126.099
14
22
33
Ron Fellows Canadian Tire Chevrolet
70.167
125.700
5
23
38
David Gilliland Long John Silver's Ford
70.220
125.605
10
24
34
David Ragan Taco Bell Ford
70.264
125.527
11
25
1
Jamie McMurray McDonald's/Monopoly Chevrolet
70.280
125.498
18
26
17
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Best Buy Ford
70.387
125.307
10
27
31
Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
70.390
125.302
14
28
5
Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet
70.396
125.291
4
29
20
Matt Kenseth Home Depot Husky Toyota
70.729
124.701
11
30
14
Max Papis Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet
70.731
124.698
15
31
22
Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford
70.828
124.527
18
32
39
Ryan Newman Haas Automation 30th Anniversary Chevrolet
71.072
124.100
11
33
10
Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet
71.420
123.495
10
34
30
David Stremme Genny Light Toyota
71.440
123.460
10
35
32
Boris Said U.S. Chrome Ford
71.465
123.417
12
36
19
Alex Kennedy Media Master Toyota
71.489
123.376
9
37
36
Victor Gonzalez Jr. Mobil 1/IMCA Chevrolet
71.690
123.030
9
38
7
Dave Blaney Chevrolet
71.708
122.999
9
39
93
Travis Kvapil Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
72.180
122.195
5
40
40
Landon Cassill Interstate Moving Services Chevrolet
72.584
121.514
7
41
83
David Reutimann Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
72.785
121.179
7
42
87
Tomy Drissi The Counselor Toyota
73.159
120.559
13
43
52
Brian Keselowski Star Coach Race Tours Toyota
74.700
118.072
8

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
27
Paul Menard
3
12
123.4060
2
1
Jamie McMurray
2
11
123.1880
3
43
Aric Almirola
1
10
122.6500

First Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver Team
Best Time
Best Lap
Laps
1
56
Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
69.319
127.238
18
2
9
Marcos Ambrose Stanley/CTC Jumpstart Ford
70.436
125.220
9
3
99
Carl Edwards Kellogg's/Cheez-It Ford
70.444
125.206
17
4
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
70.575
124.973
12
5
13
Casey Mears GEICO Ford
70.624
124.887
8
6
18
Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
70.700
124.752
14
7
47
A.J. Allmendinger Scott Products Toyota
70.756
124.654
13
8
15
Clint Bowyer PEAK/Duck Dynasty Toyota
70.793
124.589
16
9
2
Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford
70.829
124.525
11
10
11
Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota
70.891
124.416
14
11
78
Kurt Busch Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet
70.941
124.329
10
12
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet
70.973
124.273
13
13
24
Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
71.029
124.175
10
14
35
Michael McDowell Dockside Logistics Ford
71.057
124.126
12
15
16
Greg Biffle 3M/811 Ford
71.073
124.098
9
16
48
Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
71.083
124.080
13
17
27
Paul Menard Menards/Splash Chevrolet
71.085
124.077
13
18
22
Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford
71.098
124.054
14
19
31
Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
71.137
123.986
12
20
5
Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet
71.249
123.791
13
21
1
Jamie McMurray McDonald's/Monopoly Chevrolet
71.374
123.574
8
22
29
Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet
71.426
123.484
12
23
43
Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford
71.469
123.410
16
24
32
Boris Said U.S. Chrome Ford
71.479
123.393
13
25
33
Ron Fellows Canadian Tire Chevrolet
71.554
123.264
14
26
17
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Best Buy Ford
71.555
123.262
12
27
14
Max Papis Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet
71.563
123.248
12
28
39
Ryan Newman Haas Automation 30th Anniversary Chevrolet
71.576
123.226
12
29
34
David Ragan Taco Bell Ford
71.690
123.030
14
30
55
Brian Vickers Toyota Camry 30th Anniversary Toyota
71.691
123.028
11
31
20
Matt Kenseth Home Depot Husky Toyota
71.716
122.985
13
32
38
David Gilliland Long John Silver's Ford
71.735
122.953
9
33
83
David Reutimann Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
71.809
122.826
8
34
10
Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet
71.949
122.587
12
35
93
Travis Kvapil Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota
72.063
122.393
15
36
51
Owen Kelly Phoenix Construction Chevrolet
72.125
122.288
13
37
30
David Stremme Genny Light Toyota
72.371
121.872
8
38
36
Victor Gonzalez Jr. Mobil 1/IMCA Chevrolet
72.400
121.823
10
39
7
Dave Blaney Chevrolet
72.451
121.737
4
40
19
Alex Kennedy Media Master Toyota
73.167
120.546
14
41
40
Landon Cassill Interstate Moving Services Chevrolet
74.132
118.977
2
42
87
Tomy Drissi The Counselor Toyota
74.392
118.561
11
43
52
Brian Keselowski Star Coach Race Tours Toyota
76.504
115.288
5

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From
To
Avg. Speed
1
56
Martin Truex Jr.
3
12
123.293

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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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