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Fantasy NASCAR practice recap: Ford EcoBoost 400

By Brian Polking

Sunday's race at Homestead-Miami Speedway will mark an end to the 2012 season. It will also mark an end to Matt Kenseth's time at Roush Fenway Racing, and it looks like the 2003 champ plans on going out in style. Kenseth topped the charts in the first practice session Saturday as he tries for his third win of the Chase, and he just might pull it off. In his last seven starts at Homestead, he has five top-10 finishes, including a win in 2007 and a fourth-place run last fall. Kenseth is definitely a worth a roster spot in fantasy leagues.

Mark Martin

Fellow Roush Fenway Racing driver Greg Biffle posted the second-fastest lap of the session, but he also crashed his primary car in the session in a wreck that also collected Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano. Biffle hasn't been all that consistent at Homestead either, but he does have some upside. Biffle is one of just two drivers that have three wins at the track, and he is the only driver to have won three races in a row at Homestead. Owners looking for a sure top-10 probably don't want to go with Biffle, but for those looking to hit it big, he is more than capable of getting to Victory Lane this weekend.

Veteran Mark Martin ranked third on the charts while Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top five. Gordon has the best numbers of the three at Homestead with 10 top-10 finishes, including six top-five finishes, in 13 starts at the track. However, Busch is the most interesting option from a fantasy perspective. He has been terrible at Homestead, managing just one top-15 finish in seven starts. That being said, he has a ton of momentum heading into Sunday's race. Busch has scored the fourth-most points of any driver during the Chase and has finished third or better in each of the last three races. With many owners likely to avoid him because of his poor career numbers, adding Busch could be a great way to gain some ground if he stays hot and notches another top-five finish.

Of the 15 drivers that ran at least 10 consecutive laps, Kasey Kahne was heads and shoulders above the rest. Although he has never won at Homestead, he has definitely being making strides at the track in recent years. Kahne has finished seventh or better in three of his last four starts, including in each of the past two seasons. As well as he has run in the Chase, don't be surprised if he notches a top-five finish this weekend.

In Happy Hour, Kyle Busch climbed to the top of the charts, easing any doubts that he is headed for a strong run at a track that has given him trouble in the past. Meanwhile, Martin Truex Jr. posted the second-fastest lap, and he could make a nice addition to fantasy rosters. He has finished 11th or better in his last six starts at Homestead, including a third-place finish last fall. If you are looking for a dark horse candidate to get to Victory Lane Sunday, Truex is the guy.

Point leader Brad Keselowski also cracked the top five, along with teammates Kenseth and Biffle. For Biffle, the fast lap is a good indication that he could still be a factor even in a backup car. For Keselowski, posting a strong lap has to be a nice confidence builder as he closes in on the first Cup Series title of his career.

Gordon paved the way in the final session when it came to 10-lap average speeds. Many of the same names joined him in the top five as Martin, Truex and Busch followed Gordon. The one newcomer to the group was Clint Bowyer, and he could be another solid fantasy option. In six starts at Homestead, he has finished 12th or better five times. Bowyer also posted one of the 10-fastest laps in each session Saturday, showing both short and long-run speed.

Owners looking for some sleeper options may want to consider the Richard Petty Motorsports duo of Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola. Both drivers ranked in the top 15 in the first practice Saturday, and both ranked in the top 10 in Happy Hour. Throw in the fact that both qualified in the top five for Sunday's race, and it is safe to say that the RPM teams have found a setup that is working at Homestead.

One big name that owners may want to think twice about is Jimmie Johnson. He ranked just 21st and 18th on the charts in the two practices, and he wasn't overly strong in terms of 10-lap average speeds either. Johnson pretty much has to win Sunday's race at get a lot of help from Keselowski to have a shot at the title, and it kind of looks like the No. 48 bunch is struggling to find the perfect setup. History says Johnson will get things headed in the right direction when the race begins, but he doesn't appear to have a car capable of competing for a much-needed win.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Make
Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
18
Toyota
M&M's
168.476
32.052
33
2
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
168.182
32.108
27
3
17
Ford
Best Buy
168.167
32.111
27
4
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
168.161
32.112
39
5
16
Ford
3M/SP Richards
167.879
32.166
45
6
15
Toyota
5-hour Energy
167.879
32.166
27
7
5
Chevrolet
Farmers Insurance
166.842
32.366
40
8
43
Ford
Smithfield
166.785
32.377
36
9
31
Chevrolet
Caterpillar
166.754
32.383
29
10
9
Ford
Black & Decker
166.687
32.396
29
11
1
Chevrolet
Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats
166.610
32.411
37
12
24
Chevrolet
DuPont 20 Years 'Celebratory'
166.548
32.423
39
13
78
Chevrolet
Furniture Row
166.512
32.430
27
14
55
Toyota
Aaron's Dream Machine
166.502
32.432
47
15
99
Ford
Fastenal
166.497
32.433
39
16
20
Toyota
The Home Depot/redbeacon.com
166.497
32.433
29
17
51
Chevrolet
Phoenix Construction
166.384
32.455
37
18
48
Chevrolet
Lowe's
166.384
32.455
23
19
11
Toyota
FedEx Express
165.904
32.549
32
20
88
Chevrolet
National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew
165.883
32.553
38
21
29
Chevrolet
Budweiser
165.431
32.642
37
22
22
Dodge
Shell/Pennzoil
165.385
32.651
29
23
39
Chevrolet
U.S. Army
165.320
32.664
32
24
13
Ford
GEICO
165.264
32.675
22
25
27
Chevrolet
Menards/Duracell
165.229
32.682
31
26
47
Toyota
Clorox
164.800
32.767
31
27
14
Chevrolet
Office Depot/Mobil 1
164.714
32.784
28
28
6
Ford
Fifth Third Bank
164.659
32.795
22
29
42
Chevrolet
Target
164.649
32.797
27
30
21
Ford
Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center
164.484
32.830
33
31
93
Toyota
Burger King
164.329
32.861
27
32
30
Toyota
Swan Racing
163.498
33.028
21
33
83
Toyota
Burger King
163.349
33.058
31
34
34
Ford
CertainTeed/31-W Insulation
163.083
33.112
29
35
38
Ford
Long John Silver's
162.807
33.168
24
36
23
Chevrolet
North Texas Pipe
162.803
33.169
11
37
37
Chevrolet
C&C Audio Video & Appliance, Inc.
162.396
33.252
13
38
10
Chevrolet
TMone.com
162.201
33.292
14
39
36
Chevrolet
Florida Lottery
162.152
33.302
22
40
98
Ford
161.987
33.336
2
41
19
Toyota
Plinker Tactical
161.924
33.349
6
42
26
Ford
MDS Transport
161.672
33.401
10
43
32
Ford
Federated Auto Parts
160.800
33.582
22

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
24
1
10
164.728
2
55
1
10
164.683
3
56
1
10
164.532
4
18
1
10
164.494
5
15
1
10
164.475
6
5
29
38
164.458
7
2
1
10
164.441
8
48
1
10
164.305
9
99
1
10
163.870
10
1
1
10
163.758
11
31
20
29
163.731
12
17
17
26
163.618
13
43
1
10
163.489
14
11
22
31
163.475
15
20
19
28
163.386
16
6
13
22
163.135
17
27
21
30
162.980
18
22
20
29
162.963
19
29
26
35
162.496
20
13
1
10
162.422
21
14
17
26
162.043
22
83
21
30
161.640
23
39
7
16
161.486
24
34
10
19
160.329

Second Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Make
Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
17
Ford
Best Buy
169.279
31.900
26
2
16
Ford
3M/SP Richards
168.660
32.017
23
3
55
Toyota
Aaron's Dream Machine
168.287
32.088
39
4
18
Toyota
M&M's
168.203
32.104
49
5
24
Chevrolet
DuPont 20 Years 'Celebratory'
168.125
32.119
43
6
11
Toyota
FedEx Express
168.062
32.131
13
7
15
Toyota
5-hour Energy
167.717
32.197
33
8
99
Ford
Fastenal
167.266
32.284
28
9
5
Chevrolet
Farmers Insurance
167.141
32.308
40
10
20
Toyota
The Home Depot/redbeacon.com
167.095
32.317
11
11
88
Chevrolet
National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew
167.043
32.327
33
12
9
Ford
Black & Decker
167.012
32.333
30
13
43
Ford
Smithfield
166.945
32.346
27
14
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
166.893
32.356
23
15
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
166.451
32.442
23
16
31
Chevrolet
Caterpillar
166.261
32.479
39
17
27
Chevrolet
Menards/Duracell
166.256
32.480
26
18
22
Dodge
Shell/Pennzoil
166.169
32.497
39
19
29
Chevrolet
Budweiser
166.092
32.512
18
20
1
Chevrolet
Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats
165.781
32.573
44
21
48
Chevrolet
Lowe's
165.538
32.621
18
22
14
Chevrolet
Office Depot/Mobil 1
165.345
32.659
36
23
39
Chevrolet
U.S. Army
165.340
32.660
33
24
6
Ford
Fifth Third Bank
165.133
32.701
33
25
13
Ford
GEICO
165.112
32.705
27
26
21
Ford
Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center
164.825
32.762
39
27
36
Chevrolet
Florida Lottery
164.820
32.763
20
28
78
Chevrolet
Furniture Row
164.624
32.802
29
29
51
Chevrolet
Phoenix Construction
164.288
32.869
25
30
42
Chevrolet
Target
164.159
32.895
27
31
47
Toyota
Clorox
164.124
32.902
21
32
38
Ford
Long John Silver's
164.054
32.916
20
33
83
Toyota
Burger King
163.557
33.016
26
34
34
Ford
CertainTeed/31-W Insulation
163.428
33.042
27
35
30
Toyota
Swan Racing
162.621
33.206
25
36
10
Chevrolet
TMone.com
162.553
33.220
21
37
98
Ford
162.411
33.249
27
38
26
Ford
MDS Transport
162.177
33.297
18
39
23
Chevrolet
North Texas Pipe
161.866
33.361
16
40
93
Toyota
Burger King
161.861
33.362
26
41
32
Ford
Federated Auto Parts
161.812
33.372
27
42
19
Toyota
Plinker Tactical
161.430
33.451
13
43
37
Chevrolet
C&C Audio Video & Appliance, Inc.
161.363
33.465
17

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
5
21
30
163.455
2
55
18
27
162.906
3
13
2
11
162.395
4
15
20
29
162.315
5
31
21
30
162.112
6
88
20
29
161.840
7
39
21
30
161.632
8
24
15
24
161.482
9
17
13
22
161.477
10
14
26
35
160.917
11
18
13
22
160.885
12
21
20
29
160.660
13
93
17
26
160.020
14
98
1
10
159.412
15
30
15
24
159.384



 


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