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Fantasy NASCAR Practice Recap: NRA 500

By Brian Polking
Edited by Cory J. Bonini

With both practice sessions at Texas Motor Speedway being held before qualifying, the results become a bit jumbled up because different teams run qualifying trim and race trim for varying amounts of time depending on the practice. The different strategies can lead to some vastly different rankings for certain drivers between the two practices, but one driver that was consistent throughout Friday's sessions was Martin Truex Jr. After topping the charts in the opening practice, he was fifth in Happy Hour. He also ranked in the top five in terms of 10-lap average speeds in both sessions. Throw in the fact that he finished eighth in the first race at a 1.5-mile track in 2013 and has 11 top-15 finishes in 15 starts at Texas, and fantasy owners shouldn't feel shy about adding him to their rosters this weekend despite a somewhat quiet start to the year.

Fantasy owners should also feel comfortable about adding Roush Fenway Racing teammates Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. Edwards leads all drivers with three wins at Texas, and he ranked in the top 15 in both sessions Friday, including sixth in the first practice. Biffle on the other hand ranked in the top 10 in both practices. Coincidentally, Biffle has finished in the top 10 in his last nine starts at Texas, winning the spring race last year and picking up six top-five finishes during the stretch.

Marcos Ambrose

Other big names showed some muscle in at least one of the practices, including Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson. In fact, Johnson put down the third-fastest lap in the first session to go along with the second-best 10-lap average speed in Happy Hour. He also has two wins and five second-place finishes at Texas in his career and finished second and first in the two races at the track in 2012. Meanwhile, Busch posted the second-best lap in Happy Hour and the sixth-best 10-lap average speed in the first session. He has also scored the most points in the series in the four races leading up to Texas. Fantasy owners should consider both drivers top-five options this weekend.

Outside of the usual suspects, fantasy owners may also want to consider adding Kurt Busch and Brian Vickers to their rosters this weekend. Busch had the fourth-best 10-lap average speed in the first practice and the fourth-fastest lap in Happy Hour. More importantly, the former Texas winner managed a pair of top-15 finishes at the track last year while driving for Phoenix Racing in the spring and Furniture Row Racing in the fall. Regardless of his equipment, Busch has shown he can deliver solid results at Texas. As for Vickers, Saturday's race marks his first in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11, and he got started by cracking the top 15 in both practices. Vickers has produced nothing but solid results the past year as a part-time driver for Michael Waltrip Racing, and as his practice times indicate, there is no reason to expect that change in his start for JGR.

In the sleeper department, Paul Menard and Aric Almirola appear to have the most upside. Menard ranked 12th and ninth in the two practices and also logged the best 10-lap average speed in the first session. With three top-15 finishes in his last five Texas starts, including a pair of top-10s, Menard could definitely deliver a useful run this weekend. Meanwhile, Almirola jumped from 14th in the first practice to third in Happy Hour. He also finished a career-best 15th at Texas last fall. Almirola has been hovering around the top 20 most of the year, and he could provide a top-15 finish for fantasy owners this weekend.

Two drivers that struggled during Friday's practices were Joey Logano and Kasey Kahne. Both failed to crack the top 15 in either session, and both ranked outside the top 30 in one of the practices. Of the two, Logano is definitely the bigger risk, and given his shaky record at Texas to begin with, he should probably be avoided. Kahne on the other hand is a former winner at the track, and he finished seventh in the spring race just last year. I probably wouldn't make him my pick in a survival-type league, but I wouldn't necessarily bench him in other formats.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Team
Best Time
Best Lap
Laps
1
9
DeWalt Ford
28.220
191.354
22
2
18
Interstate Batteries Toyota
28.274
190.988
7
3
43
Eckrich Ford
28.346
190.503
5
4
78
Furniture Row Racing/Serta Chevrolet
28.350
190.476
3
5
56
NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
28.383
190.255
26
6
42
Target/Kellogg's Chevrolet
28.413
190.054
28
7
31
Caterpillar Chevrolet
28.418
190.020
34
8
16
3M Ford
28.470
189.673
19
9
27
Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet
28.482
189.593
20
10
2
Miller Lite Ford
28.517
189.361
50
11
24
Cromax Pro Chevrolet
28.536
189.235
5
12
15
Gander Mountain Toyota
28.590
188.877
34
13
11
FedEx Office/March of Dimes Toyota
28.592
188.864
5
14
51
Bruce Lowrie Chevrolet/Realtree Chevrolet
28.595
188.844
3
15
99
Fastenal Ford
28.610
188.745
16
16
55
Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
28.652
188.469
43
17
14
Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet
28.659
188.422
16
18
21
Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford
28.681
188.278
7
19
22
Shell Pennzoil Ford
28.708
188.101
36
20
13
GEICO Ford
28.723
188.003
24
21
30
Lean 1/Swan Energy Toyota
28.777
187.650
18
22
39
Quicken Loans Chevrolet
28.788
187.578
21
23
10
GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
28.814
187.409
9
24
98
28.817
187.389
5
25
38
EZ Pawn/EZ Money Ford
28.834
187.279
18
26
34
Love's Travel Stops Ford
28.882
186.968
6
27
93
Dr Pepper Toyota
28.891
186.909
25
28
17
Best Buy Ford
28.895
186.884
23
29
33
Little Joe's Autos/Precon Marine Chevrolet
28.911
186.780
11
30
35
MDS Transport Ford
28.928
186.670
9
31
19
Plinker Tactical/MCM Elegante Toyota
28.959
186.471
4
32
5
Time Warner Cable Chevrolet
29.020
186.079
38
33
48
Lowe's Dover White Chevrolet
29.062
185.810
45
34
20
Dollar General Toyota
29.093
185.612
49
35
1
Bell Helicopter Chevrolet
29.097
185.586
55
36
83
Dr Pepper Toyota
29.117
185.459
33
37
29
Rheem Chevrolet
29.126
185.401
18
38
88
National Guard Chevrolet
29.226
184.767
55
39
7
SANY Chevrolet
29.291
184.357
24
40
95
Tracking Point/B&D Electrical Ford
29.391
183.730
7
41
44
JPO Absorbents Ford
29.471
183.231
12
42
32
OXY water Ford
29.472
183.225
7
43
36
Accell Construction Chevrolet
29.613
182.352
23
44
47
Bush's Beans Toyota
29.743
181.555
46
45
87
ATIgunstocks.com Toyota
30.018
179.892
1

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
2
1
10
183.489
2
48
18
27
183.349
3
20
27
36
183.281
4
56
14
23
183.043
5
5
29
38
182.987
6
15
19
28
182.947
7
88
39
48
182.895
8
9
1
10
182.850
9
1
32
41
182.738
10
29
1
10
182.468
11
39
1
10
182.059
12
22
16
25
182.003
13
55
28
37
181.978
14
83
1
10
180.719
15
17
10
19
180.191
16
38
6
15
179.737
17
47
16
25
179.315
18
31
19
28
179.264

First Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver
Team
Best Time
Best Lap
Laps
1
56
NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
28.104
192.143
36
2
88
National Guard Chevrolet
28.107
192.123
9
3
48
Lowe's Dover White Chevrolet
28.197
191.510
8
4
1
Bell Helicopter Chevrolet
28.221
191.347
7
5
29
Rheem Chevrolet
28.294
190.853
28
6
99
Fastenal Ford
28.314
190.718
45
7
31
Caterpillar Chevrolet
28.341
190.537
48
8
20
Dollar General Toyota
28.360
190.409
31
9
16
3M Ford
28.401
190.134
37
10
13
GEICO Ford
28.435
189.907
31
11
55
Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
28.515
189.374
21
12
27
Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet
28.536
189.235
43
13
78
Furniture Row Racing/Serta Chevrolet
28.568
189.023
66
14
43
Eckrich Ford
28.570
189.009
43
15
11
FedEx Office/March of Dimes Toyota
28.613
188.725
62
16
15
Gander Mountain Toyota
28.628
188.627
29
17
19
Plinker Tactical/MCM Elegante Toyota
28.671
188.344
6
18
5
Time Warner Cable Chevrolet
28.699
188.160
29
19
17
Best Buy Ford
28.738
187.905
40
20
18
Interstate Batteries Toyota
28.761
187.754
55
21
98
28.771
187.689
5
22
24
Cromax Pro Chevrolet
28.816
187.396
42
23
21
Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford
28.846
187.201
35
24
47
Bush's Beans Toyota
28.856
187.136
11
25
2
Miller Lite Ford
28.867
187.065
41
26
9
DeWalt Ford
28.868
187.058
30
27
14
Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet
28.900
186.851
39
28
51
Bruce Lowrie Chevrolet/Realtree Chevrolet
28.913
186.767
33
29
39
Quicken Loans Chevrolet
29.014
186.117
59
30
42
Target/Kellogg's Chevrolet
29.018
186.091
30
31
22
Shell Pennzoil Ford
29.029
186.021
30
32
7
SANY Chevrolet
29.046
185.912
23
33
87
ATIgunstocks.com Toyota
29.073
185.739
3
34
10
GoDaddy.com Chevrolet
29.110
185.503
32
35
30
Lean 1/Swan Energy Toyota
29.204
184.906
33
36
83
Dr Pepper Toyota
29.252
184.603
28
37
34
Love's Travel Stops Ford
29.275
184.458
24
38
38
EZ Pawn/EZ Money Ford
29.343
184.030
28
39
93
Dr Pepper Toyota
29.349
183.993
41
40
33
Little Joe's Autos/Precon Marine Chevrolet
29.351
183.980
18
41
35
MDS Transport Ford
29.367
183.880
27
42
95
Tracking Point/B&D Electrical Ford
29.405
183.642
11
43
36
Accell Construction Chevrolet
29.456
183.324
27
44
32
OXY water Ford
29.717
181.714
22
45
44
JPO Absorbents Ford
29.754
181.488
4

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

Rk
Car
Driver
From Lap
To Lap
Avg. Speed
1
27
1
10
185.944
2
2
1
10
185.907
3
24
1
10
185.506
4
78
1
10
185.094
5
56
6
15
184.987
6
18
32
41
184.467
7
83
1
10
183.669
8
14
25
34
183.496
9
29
16
25
183.439
10
31
36
45
183.404
11
39
36
45
182.198
12
35
1
10
182.097
13
17
29
38
181.413



 


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