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Fantasy NASCAR Practice Recap: AdvoCare 500

By Brian Polking
Edited by Keith Hernandez

Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch has enjoyed a resurgent 2013 season with Furniture Row Racing, making the Chase and posting double-digit top-five finishes with two races to go. The only thing missing from his resume this season is a victory, but if his practice times at Phoenix Saturday were any indication, he could change that this weekend. Busch topped the charts in the opening session and logged the third-best 10-lap average speed. He also turned the third-fastest lap in Happy Hour. Meanwhile, Busch is a former winner at Phoenix, and he has seven top-15s in the last 10 starts at the track, including six top-10s. From a fantasy standpoint, he definitely has top-five potential this weekend.

Another driver with plenty of upside this weekend is Jeff Gordon. After ranking fourth in the first practice at Phoenix Saturday, he jumped to second on the charts in Happy Hour. Gordon has also finished 11th or better in five of his last seven starts at Phoenix, including a win in 2011. Given his practice speeds, it isn’t out of the question that he challenges for the win this weekend. At the very least, he should make a solid addition in all formats and provide fantasy owners with a top-10 finish.

Following his showing in practice Saturday, Kevin Harvick also looks like a safe pick. He turned the second-fastest lap in the opening session to go along with the second-best 10-lap average speed, and he cracked the top 10 in both categories in Happy Hour. By the way, Harvick is also the defending winner of this weekend’s race and a three-time winner at Phoenix overall. He also has six top-15 finishes in his last seven starts at the track. Harvick has the combination of reliability and upside that should makes him worthy of a roster spot in all formats.

Of course, one driver that has been a must-have throughout the Chase is current point leader Jimmie Johnson, and he didn’t disappoint in practice Saturday. He turned the third-fastest lap in the first session to go along with the best 10-lap average speed. In Happy Hour, he ranked 10th on the charts and logged the fourth-best 10-lap average speed. Throw in his four victories and series-leading 6.5 average finish at Phoenix, and Johnson is once again a must-start fantasy option.

Johnson’s top rival for the championship Matt Kenseth flexed plenty of muscle in his own right during practice Saturday. He ranked ninth on the charts in the opening session and jumped to fifth in Happy Hour while also logging the seventh-best 10-lap average speed. Granted, it has been 11 races since Kenseth has recorded a top-five finish at Phoenix, but with six top-15s in his last seven starts at the track, including a seventh-place run earlier this year, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the top-five drought end Sunday. He should deliver big results for fantasy owners this weekend either way.

Fantasy owners could also get a big performance from Dale Earnhardt Jr. this weekend. He turned the seventh-fastest lap in the opening practice Saturday, and he jumped to fourth on the charts in Happy Hour. Junior also posted the sixth-best 10-lap average speed in the first practice. In his last seven starts at Phoenix, Junior has five top-15s, including a fifth-place run earlier this year. He appears on track to at least challenge for another top-five finish this weekend.

Although neither driver cracked the top five during practice Saturday, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski could both make solid additions to fantasy rosters this weekend. Edwards ranked10th and ninth in the two sessions, and Keselowski ranked eighth and 11th while also posting one of the 10-best 10-lap average speeds in both practices. Edwards is also going for a season sweep at Phoenix after winning the March event while Keselowski has finished sixth or better in three straight starts at the track.

In terms of sleeper options, Marcos Ambrose and Jamie McMurray could deliver for fantasy owners. Both drivers cracked the top 15 in both sessions Saturday, and while Ambrose logged the fifth-best 10-lap average speed in the opening practice, McMurray posted the sixth-best 10-lap average speed in Happy Hour. Of the two, Ambrose has been a little better at Phoenix, logging eight top-20 finishes in 10 starts. However, McMurray has been solid during the Chase. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see either driver sneak into the top 15 Sunday.

Happy Hour Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk
Car
Driver Make Sponsor
Best Lap
Best Time
Laps
1
15
Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy
134.862
26.694
40
2
24
Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Axalta
134.842
26.698
61
3
78
Kurt Busch Chevrolet Furniture Row/Denver Mattress
134.720
26.722
44
4
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard
134.710
26.724
43
5
20
Matt Kenseth Toyota Dollar General
134.559
26.754
48
6
22
Joey Logano Ford Shell Pennzoil
134.434
26.779
58
7
18
Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's
134.419
26.782
53
8
29
Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser
134.363
26.793
57
9
99
Carl Edwards Ford Fastenal
134.323
26.801
31
10
48
Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's/Kobalt Tools
134.303
26.805
55
11
2
Brad Keselowski Ford Miller Lite
134.298
26.806
52
12
56
Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts
134.278
26.810
40
13
9
Marcos Ambrose Ford DeWalt
134.253
26.815
43
14
1
Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Lexar
134.073
26.851
40
15
5
Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance
134.053
26.855
44
16
42
Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet Target
134.043
26.857
40
17
14
Mark Martin Chevrolet Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops
133.924
26.881
52
18
43
Aric Almirola Ford Smithfield
133.685
26.929
39
19
51
Justin Allgaier Chevrolet Brandt
133.630
26.940
43
20
27
Paul Menard Chevrolet Rheem/Menards
133.610
26.944
37
21
16
Greg Biffle Ford Scotch
133.566
26.953
33
22
31
Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar
133.511
26.964
70
23
55
Elliott Sadler Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine
133.462
26.974
50
24
17
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford RFR Driven
133.383
26.990
35
25
39
Ryan Newman Chevrolet Quicken /Salute To Veteran's Day
133.338
26.999
52
26
11
Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground
133.279
27.011
44
27
93
Travis Kvapil Toyota Dr.Pepper
133.249
27.017
38
28
47
Bobby Labonte Toyota Wounded Warrior Project/Clorox
133.146
27.038
42
29
10
Danica Patrick Chevrolet GoDaddy - It's Go Time
132.974
27.073
28
30
38
David Gilliland Ford Long John Silver's
132.817
27.105
24
31
83
David Reutimann Toyota Horizon
132.724
27.124
38
32
13
Casey Mears Ford GEICO
132.690
27.131
45
33
34
David Ragan Ford Taco Bell
132.348
27.201
20
34
30
Cole Whitt Toyota Lean 1
131.887
27.296
19
35
95
Reed Sorenson Ford Jetset Getset
131.863
27.301
26
36
36
J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Accell Construction
131.540
27.368
29
37
98
Michael McDowell Ford GunBroker.com
131.512
27.374
31
38
7
Dave Blaney Chevrolet Ultra Wheel
131.473
27.382
20
39
35
Josh Wise Ford MDS Transport
131.440
27.389
11
40
32
Timmy Hill Ford U.S. Chrome
131.162
27.447
27
41
87
Joe Nemechek Toyota NEMCO-JRR LLC
131.133
27.453
24
42
40
Landon Cassill Chevrolet Hillman Racing
130.440
27.599
24
43
33
Tony Raines Chevrolet Little Joe's Autos
129.725
27.751
19

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

Rk Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg. Speed
1 29 Kevin Harvick 1 10 133.709
2 24 Jeff Gordon 1 10 133.588
3 22 Joey Logano 1 10 133.582
4 48 Jimmie Johnson 2 11 133.561
5 18 Kyle Busch 1 10 133.447
6 1 Jamie McMurray 1 10 133.180
7 20 Matt Kenseth 2 11 133.180
8 42 Juan Pablo Montoya 27 36 133.126
9 2 Brad Keselowski 1 10 133.105
10 31 Jeff Burton 11 20 132.996
11 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 17 26 132.987
12 78 Kurt Busch 31 40 132.980
13 14 Mark Martin 37 46 132.893
14 56 Martin Truex Jr. 31 40 132.706
15 5 Kasey Kahne 8 17 132.666
16 9 Marcos Ambrose 26 35 132.652
17 39 Ryan Newman 34 43 132.628
18 51 Justin Allgaier 1 10 132.579
19 11 Denny Hamlin 29 38 132.283
20 13 Casey Mears 2 11 132.049
21 43 Aric Almirola 27 36 131.944
22 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1 10 131.730
23 55 Elliott Sadler 35 44 131.629
24 83 David Reutimann 28 37 131.070
25 98 Michael McDowell 16 25 130.156
26 87 Joe Nemechek 10 19 129.606

Second Practice Speeds (sorted by Best Lap)

Rk Car Driver Make Sponsor Best Lap Best Time Laps
1 78 Kurt Busch Chevrolet Furniture Row/Denver Mattress 136.065 26.458 39
2 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser 135.491 26.570 46
3 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's/Kobalt Tools 135.481 26.572 41
4 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Axalta 135.394 26.589 44
5 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 135.384 26.591 40
6 14 Mark Martin Chevrolet Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops 135.338 26.600 38
7 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard 135.287 26.610 43
8 2 Brad Keselowski Ford Miller Lite 135.247 26.618 48
9 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota Dollar General 135.074 26.652 29
10 99 Carl Edwards Ford Fastenal 135.059 26.655 25
11 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Lexar 135.049 26.657 44
12 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 5-hour Energy 135.014 26.664 33
13 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford DeWalt 135.003 26.666 34
14 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Rheem/Menards 134.988 26.669 39
15 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 134.847 26.697 40
16 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 134.816 26.703 41
17 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet Farmers Insurance 134.731 26.720 23
18 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Chevrolet Target 134.700 26.726 33
19 22 Joey Logano Ford Shell Pennzoil 134.680 26.730 40
20 16 Greg Biffle Ford Scotch 134.600 26.746 27
21 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 134.519 26.762 35
22 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet GoDaddy - It's Go Time 134.308 26.804 39
23 83 David Reutimann Toyota Horizon 134.303 26.805 38
24 43 Aric Almirola Ford Smithfield 134.278 26.810 29
25 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Ford RFR Driven 134.243 26.817 26
26 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Quicken Loans 134.158 26.834 39
27 51 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet Brandt 134.058 26.854 49
28 93 Travis Kvapil Toyota Dr.Pepper 133.963 26.873 31
29 55 Elliott Sadler Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 133.784 26.909 34
30 13 Casey Mears Ford GEICO 133.665 26.933 27
31 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Wounded Warrior Project/Clorox 133.496 26.967 43
32 38 David Gilliland Ford Long John Silver's 133.427 26.981 30
33 34 David Ragan Ford Taco Bell 133.180 27.031 29
34 30 Cole Whitt Toyota Lean 1 132.998 27.068 24
35 36 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Accell Construction 132.930 27.082 22
36 95 Reed Sorenson Ford Jetset Getset 132.734 27.122 14
37 35 Josh Wise Ford MDS Transport 132.368 27.197 7
38 32 Timmy Hill Ford U.S. Chrome 131.984 27.276 25
39 40 Landon Cassill Chevrolet Hillman Racing 131.873 27.299 14
40 7 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Ultra Wheel 131.834 27.307 18
41 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota NEMCO-JRR LLC 131.253 27.428 15
42 33 Tony Raines Chevrolet Little Joe's Autos 130.534 27.579 12

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

Rk Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg. Speed
1 48 Jimmie Johnson 1 10 134.768
2 29 Kevin Harvick 2 11 134.656
3 78 Kurt Busch 1 10 134.554
4 14 Mark Martin 25 34 134.369
5 9 Marcos Ambrose 3 12 134.312
6 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 3 12 134.288
7 18 Kyle Busch 22 31 134.091
8 2 Brad Keselowski 2 11 133.955
9 31 Jeff Burton 29 38 133.919
10 15 Clint Bowyer 23 32 133.865
11 27 Paul Menard 2 11 133.827
12 22 Joey Logano 28 37 133.432
13 1 Jamie McMurray 31 40 132.943
14 55 Elliott Sadler 11 20 132.912
15 47 Bobby Labonte 31 40 132.722
16 93 Travis Kvapil 1 10 132.596
17 51 Justin Allgaier 4 13 132.596
18 10 Danica Patrick 3 12 131.657


 


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