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Fantasy NASCAR Rankings: STP 400
Kansas Speedway has always been full of surprises, and following Friday's qualifying session and Saturday's practice sessions, Carl Edwards moved to the top of the driver rankings for the first time in 2013. After disappointing fantasy owners throughout last season, Edwards has quietly been enjoying a strong year. This weekend, he is set to start on the outside of the front row at a track where he has had a lot of success. In his last 10 starts at Kansas, Edwards has tallied eight top-10 finishes. Meanwhile, his 9.7 average finish during the stretch is the third best in the series. It may still be too soon to say that Edwards is ready to rejoin the ranks of the fantasy elite on a regular basis, but he sure looks ready to deliver an excellent run at Kansas Sunday.
While Edwards was busy staking claim to the top spot, Greg Biffle and Martin Truex Jr. were busy moving into the top five. Both drivers were in or around the top 10 in practice and qualifying, and both have had success at Kansas. In fact, Biffle is a two-time winner at the track, and his 9.5 average finish is the second best in the series. Truex, on the other hand, is coming off a second-place run at Texas, and he finished second in both races at Kansas last year. Not to mention the fact that he has actually scored the third most in the series in the last 10 races at 1.5-mile tracks. Both should make strong additions to fantasy rosters this weekend.
Qualifying and practice were also kind to several sleeper drivers, including Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Aric Almirola. The two qualified third and sixth, respectively, and both drivers slid into the top 15 of the driver rankings after top-five times in practice. For Stenhouse, Sunday's race will mark his Cup Series debut at Kansas, but given the success of Roush Fenway Racing at the track, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him get off to a fast start. Meanwhile, Almirola is coming off a seventh-place run at Texas last weekend, and the last time the series visited Kansas, he led more than 60 laps. Both drivers should deliver useful results this weekend, and don't be surprised if at least one of them sneaks into the top 10.
Fantasy owners looking for a serious long shot may want to take a chance on Sam Hornish Jr. He will be making his Cup Series debut for 2013, but he showed little rust as he qualified fourth. Hornish also showed a lot of muscle on longer runs during practice. Keep in mind that he was a consistent top-20 driver when he took over for A.J. Allmendinger in the No. 22 last year, and Hornish has been enjoying his best-ever season in the Nationwide Series this year. He has definitely matured as a stock car driver, and he could be a sneaky source for a top-20 or even a top-15 finish this weekend at Kansas.
Headlining the list of drivers that have been struggling at Kansas is Jimmie Johnson. The two-time track winner boasts gaudy numbers, but he qualified and practiced outside the top 20. Granted, he only slid to sixth in the driver rankings because Johnson and Chad Knaus have been known to turn bad cars into top-five cars on race day. That being said, fantasy owners in survival-type leagues that were considering Johnson may want to save him for another week at the very least.
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