Fantasy NASCAR Sleepers and Busts: Duck Commander 500

by Eric McClung on April 2, 2014 @ 17:07:11 PDT

 


Texas Motor Speedway is one of three 1.5-mile cookie-cutter tracks on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule. The two others, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway, share the same length and corner banking. The wear of the racing surface on each track is unique, which causes the speeds to somewhat vary. Still, the similar configurations at these sites make for great comparisons when assembling your lineup for each of the five races in total these venues will host.

Practice sessions: Friday, April 4 at 6 p.m. EDT. Saturday, April 5 at 10:30 a.m. EDT
Qualifying: Saturday, April 5 at 3:10 p.m. EDT
Race: Sunday, April 6 at 3 p.m. EDT
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Shape: Quad-oval
Length: 1.5 mile
Laps: 334
Turns 1-4: 24 degrees
Quad-oval: 18 degrees
Frontstretch: 5 degrees
Backstretch: 5 degrees

Sleepers

Ryan Newman | No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

Since 2009, Newman has recorded eight finishes of 16th or better in 10 Texas starts, although he failed to record a top-five during that time. Over the last three, his results have improved from 12th to 10th to ninth. Following the Daytona 500, Newman recorded a pair of seventh-place finishes until three straight weeks of misfortune cost him possible top-10s. Newman continues to run well, so these recent calamites only shadow his potential for this race.

A.J. Allmendinger | No. 47 Bush's Beans Chevrolet | JTG Daugherty Racing

From the fall of 2009 through the spring of 2012, Allmendinger only placed outside of the top 15 once at Texas. During that span of six races he never finished outside of the top 20 and never held an average running position worse than 20th. After a lackluster start to the season, the Dinger is clicking over the last two weeks with an eighth-place finish at Auto Club Speedway and an 11th at Martinsville Speedway.

Clint Bowyer | No. 15 Willie's Duck Diner | Michael Waltrip Racing

Despite qualifying 26th for both Texas races last year, Bowyer placed 15th in the spring and 10th in the fall to give him seven consecutive finishes of 17th or better at the site, including five top-10s. Bowyer lost out on a podium finish at Fontana by suffering a cut tire in the closing moments. Last week, the No. 15 was in position for the win with 50 laps to go, only to place ninth after a poor pit stop. Bowyer is another driver performing well but undervalued due to missteps.

Aric Almirola | No. 43 Eckrich Ford | Richard Petty Motorsports

In last year's spring race at Texas, Almirola qualified third and finished seventh, with an average running position of 10th -- all career highs for him at the site. Almirola wasn't as sharp in the fall but is turning a few heads this season. He has recorded three top-15s in the six races held thus far, all with an average running position of 12th or better. Almirola is risky, however, since he has crashed twice and didn't finish on the lead lap in the other race.

Busts

Denny Hamlin | No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing

Since sweeping the Texas races in 2010, Hamlin finished 15th or worse in three of the next five. Last fall, he managed his only top-10 during that span, so things may not be all bad. However, Hamlin is coming off a disappointing 19th-place result at Martinsville, one of his very best tracks. Not all the issues were Hamlin's fault, but there are other top drivers running better at the moment.

Greg Biffle | No. 16 3M/Give Kids a Smile Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

No driver has recorded more points at Texas than Biffle over the last 10 races at Texas. During that span, his only finish outside of the top 10 was last fall's 12th. The concerns with The Biff this week aren't the track history, rather his recent performance. Over the last five races Biffle's average finish is just 21.8 with only one top-15.

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About Eric McClung

Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a three-time award finalist. Over the years, he's made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts. He's also captured the fantasy football championship in the KFFL staff league twice.

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