February 23, 2011
|Expert||Website||Pick to Win||Finish||Experts Avg|
|Josh Lobdell||Carl Edwards||28||20.5|
|Jerry Lagger||One and Done Game Winner||Carl Edwards||28||28.0|
|Dennis Michelsen||RaceTalkRadio.com||Carl Edwards||28||35.0|
|Steve Wronkowicz||On Pit Row||Carl Edwards||28||20.5|
|Eric McClung||KFFL||Jimmie Johnson||3||22.5|
|Eric McGuire||free agent||Carl Edwards||28||35.0|
|Dan Beaver||Fantasy Racing Games||Jimmie Johnson||3||15.5|
|Matt Mercer||On Pit Row||Carl Edwards||28||32.0|
|Adam Ansell||Roto Experts||Jimmie Johnson||3||10.0|
|Chris Leone||On Pit Row||Jeff Gordon||1||18.5|
|Bob Ellis||NASCAR Ranting and Raving||Jimmie Johnson||3||13.5|
|CharlieTurner||On Pit Row||Jimmie Johnson||3||15.0|
|Jordan McAbee||On Pit Row||Carl Edwards||28||22.5|
|Jon Rodgers||Gillette Young Guns Challenge Winner||Kyle Busch||2||11.5|
|James Jones||On Pit Row||Kyle Busch||2||3.5|
|Mike Wells||Racing4Glory.com||Jimmie Johnson||3||4.0|
|Darren Fauth||FantasyRacingCheatSheet||Jimmie Johnson||3||22.5|
|P J Walsh||FantasyNASCARPreview.com||Carl Edwards||28||35.0|
|Charles Rantz||ifantasyrace.com||Jimmie Johnson||3||22.5|
February 23, 2011
|Expert||Website||Pick to Win||Finish||Experts Avg|
|Josh Lobdel||Kevin Harvick||4||9.0|
|Jerry Lagger||One and Done Game Winner||Jimmie Johnson||3||13.0|
|Dennis Michelsen||RaceTalkRadio.com||Kasey Kahne||6||15.0|
|Steve Wronkowicz||On Pit Row||Dale Earnhardt Jr||10||23.5|
|Eric McClung||KFFL||Juan Pablo Montoya||19||12.5|
|Eric McGuire||free agent||Jimmie Johnson||3||10.5|
|Dan Beaver||Fantasy Racing Games||Ryan Newman||5||14.0|
|Matt Mercer||On Pit Row||Juan Pablo Montoya||19||14.5|
|Adam Ansell||Roto Experts||Ryan Newman||5||14.5|
|Chris Leone||On Pit Row||Regan Smith||34||17.5|
|Bob Ellis||NASCAR Ranting and Raving||Denny Hamlin||11||22.5|
|CharlieTurner||On Pit Row||Jimmie Johnson||3||10.5|
|Jordan McAbee||On Pit Row||Jimmie Johnson||3||4.5|
|Jon Rodgers||Gillette Young Guns Challenge Winner||Denny Hamlin||11||17.5|
|James Jones||On Pit Row||Jimmie Johnson||3||10.5|
|Mike Wells||Racing4Glory.com||Jimmie Johnson||3||8.5|
|Darren Fauth||FantasyRacingCheatSheet||Jimmie Johnson||3||13.5|
|P J Walsh||FantasyNASCARPreview.com||Joey Logano||33||25.5|
|Charles Rantz||ifantasyrace.com||Jimmie Johnson||3||6.5|
February 23, 2011
Sunday will be the final time a race will be held at Phoenix International Raceway before its repaving and reconfiguration, which will begin after the Subway Fresh Fit 500 is completed. When the Sprint Cup series comes back here in November, drivers will find a wider front-stretch and a reconfigured dogleg turn. PIR President has stated, ”We are thrilled with the design. … This race has always been pretty pivotal in crowning our Sprint Cup champion, and in this case, the notes from the previous races are not going to be worth much. It’s going to be a whole new game.” On Sunday, though, you can expect familiar faces up front.
During The Last Race At Phoenix…Last November, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, and Jimmie Johnson were fighting for the championship with just two races to go. Carl Edwards started from the pole and stayed in the top five all day, getting the win and ending his 70-race winless streak. Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Greg Biffle, and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top five. Hamlin led the most laps that day but had to pit late for fuel, as did Juan Montoya when he was running 2nd.
My Recommendation To Fantasy Racers…Forget about last week. If you escaped Daytona with a solid week, good job. If most of your drivers wrecked, don’t worry: there’s a lot of people in that boat. Onto the next week. At Phoenix, make sure you pay attention to average practice speeds as well as who gets the pole. Only one driver outside of the top ten in average practice speeds last fall at Phoenix finished worse than 15th and two of the last three pole winners here have gone on to win the race.
Top Fifteen Ranking Entering The Subway Fresh Fit 500:
1. Jimmie Johnson – There is no reason that “The Champ” shouldn’t be near the top of everyone’s lists going into the race this weekend; Jimmie is the best driver here and this is his best track (statistically). Johnson has led more laps here than anyone in the series–including Mark Martin (who has raced in 13 more races at Phoenix than his Hendrick Motorsports teammate). JJ has an astounding average finish of 4.93 here (over 15 career races) with a worst finish of 15th. Surprisingly, “Five-Time” has only one pole win here, though. You can still expect Chad Knaus to give Jimmie a good car, though. Since 2006, Johnson hasn’t finished worse than 5th at Phoenix.
2. Carl Edwards – The Cup Series points leader is the most recent winner of this track and in the past three points-paying races (going back to last year) his finishes have been 2nd, 1st, and 1st. Over the past two years at Phoenix (four races), Cousin Carl hasn’t finished worse than 16th and has amassed three top tens. In his career, Edwards has 10 top tens in 13 races and an average finish of 11.9. In 2007, he won the pole and led 87 of the first 125 laps before his engine blew, giving him a finish of 42nd. There is no reason we shouldn’t see the 99 car up front again this week.
3. Mark Martin – First off, can you believe Mark came back from three laps down last week to get a top ten at Daytona? Me neither. Phoenix has been Martin’s second-best track over his career and he has finished outside of the top twenty just once in his 28 starts here (a DNF in 1988–his first start here). Since coming to Hendrick, Mark has had finishes of 1st, 4th, 4th, and 8th. Since 1989, Martin has completed all but one lap at Phoenix.
4. Jeff Gordon – Hendrick Motorsports teams are just pretty good at this flat track. You won’t see Gordon leading a bunch of laps (he has led in just one of his past seven starts here), but he has shown that he can get a solid finish. Gordon has 21 total top 20′s in his 24 career starts here, and 17 of those have been top tens. He also has the best average start in the Cup series at Phoenix.
5. Denny Hamlin - I’ve learned to keep Hamlin in my mind whenever the boys race at a flat track, and Phoenix has been a good track for him. As I stated before, Hamlin led the most laps last time at Phoenix but didn’t get the win because he had to hit pit road late so he didn’t run out of fuel. Denny has started eleven races in the Sprint Cup series at Phoenix, and has finished worse than 16th only twice. He has never won here, but Hamlin has finished 3rd four times at this track.
6. Kurt Busch – He didn’t accomplish the trifecta at Daytona, but Kurt Busch still left with a top five and a fourth-place points position. In his last five Phoenix starts, Busch has led laps in four of them (and earned top tens in those four races as well). He has only nine top tens in sixteen career starts here, but since 2008 it seems like Busch has figured this track out more and become more consistent. If he starts worse than 15th, though, I wouldn’t pick him (only one top ten in those five starts).
7. Jeff Burton – Burton’s last two finishes at Phoenix have been sub-par (19th and 25th), but he has still been very consistent here: since 1996 he has finished outside of the top 20 only once. Since 1998, Burton has finished on the lead lap in every races. You won’t see the 31 near the top of the starting grid on Sunday, but that hasn’t mattered over the years. With two wins at the track, Jeff definitely knows how to maneuver around this three-turn flat track.
8. Juan Montoya – If it wasn’t for a shortage of fuel, Montoya would be on a three-race streak of top tens at Phoenix. Last fall, while running 2nd, the 42 car had to pit under green to avoid running out of fuel. He ended up finishing a disappointing 16th. Juan has ended up in the top 20 in 75% of his starts at Phoenix International Raceway. In the April race in 2010, Montoya led 104 laps and came away with a top five.
9. Joey Logano – Sliced Bread’s first two starts at Phoenix yielded disappointing finishes (21st in both), but the young gun has gotten used to this track since then. Last year he got his first top ten here after starting sixth, and last fall Logano ended up 3rd. He has never led a lap here, but after this Sunday that could change.
10. Kyle Busch – Over the past four races at Phoenix, Rowdy has the third-best driver rating (behind Johnson and Martin). However, like at Daytona last week, he hasn’t been able to get the finish in those races. He hasn’t been terrible, but the finishes don’t match the driver rating. In the past four races, Kyle has finished 13th, 8th, 12th, and 17th. He has just two finishes outside of the top 20 in twelve career starts. Busch has won here before but usually finishes between 7th and 13th.
11. Greg Biffle – The Biff has been surprisingly consistent over the fast few years at Phoenix. He finihed 4th in the fall race last year after his sub-par 22nd in the spring race. Over the past eight races here, Biffle hasn’t finished worse than that 22nd last spring and has four top tens in those eight starts. He won’t run up front all day (he’s only led at least one lap in one of the past nine races) but you should expect him to finish on the lead lap.
12. Tony Stewart -Statistically, “Smoke” is the fifth-best driver at flat tracks with average finish of 11.4. At Phoenix, it isn’t much different as he has an average finish of 12th in 18 career starts. In his first start here, he won after starting 11th and went on to record seven top tens in the next eleven races at Phoenix. I will tell you to watch Stewart closely, though: his previous three finishes have been 17th, 23rd, and 25th.
13. Martin Truex, Jr. – If Truex is going to live up to the type that everyone has placed on him this year, he’s going to need to do good at his best tracks. Phoenix is his third best track statistically with an average finish of 15.6 in ten career starts. In the November 2008 race, he finished dead last after an overheating problem, but other than that his worst finish has been 22nd. While driving the #1 Chevy for Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing, Truex grabbed the pole and earned a 5th place finish in the November 2009 race at PIR.
14. Kevin Harvick – Happy probably isn’t too happy after blowing an engine at Daytona, but he should be able to get a decent finish this week. In sixteen career starts at Phoenix, Harvick has two wins and seven top tens. During his magical 2010 season, he finished 13th in the April race and 6th in the November race while challenging for the championship. He usually does better in the fall race here, so make sure you watch him in practice this weekend.
15. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – If Junior is going to prove to people that he can actually drive a car, he needs to start getting the finishes. At Daytona last week, he was near the front before having to pit and go to the back of the pack. He was then caught up in a wreck, ruining his chances of winning. Little E has won at Phoenix twice before, and last year he finished 12th and 14th. He’s usually hit-or-miss at Phoenix, so be careful if you are going to pick him. He has ten top 20s in 17 starts here, but five finishes of 30th or worse as well.
Underdogs Entering The Subway Fresh Fit 500:
Marcos Ambrose – Ambrose has been decent at Phoenix his whole career. He has two 11th place finishes to his credit, and hasn’t finished worse than 22nd in five starts here. He drives the 9 car for Richard Petty Motorsports, which is the same car that Aric Almirola qualified 9th with in the November race here at Phoenix.
David Reutimann – Reutty has two top tens at this track, and both came in 2009. His average finish here is 19.9, so don’t expect a top ten, but if he can get a good starting spot and find the right setup for the race, he could be a surprise come Sunday.
A.J. Allmendinger – Like Ambrose, Allmendinger has been very consistent at Phoenix. He has been pretty good at qualifying, too, starting 2nd and 1st in his past two starts here. In five starts at PIR, The Dinger has four finishes between 13th and 18th.
Bobby Labonte – He started off the first season with his new team with a great showing at Daytona, and he could get a solid top 20 this weekend with them. Labonte ended up 20th last year while driving the 09 car for Phoenix Racing and back when he drove for Petty has just one finish outside of the top twenty in six starts. With–arguably–his best equipment in years, Bobby could surprise people this year.
Those To Avoid Entering The Subway Fresh Fit 500:
Regan Smith – He proved me wrong last week in Daytona, but you won’t find him on my rosters this week, either. In five starts at Phoenix, Smith hasn’t finished better than 23rd, but he has started in the top ten twice.
Paul Menard – If you are looking for a driver that will give you a mid-20′s finish, go with Menard, but don’t expect much more. He has eight starts at Phoenix International Raceway, but hasn’t finished better than 21st–or worse than 29th.
Brian Vickers – His return to racing didn’t go as well as he planned, and I don’t expect Vickers’ season to suddenly turn around at Phoenix. His past four starts here have produced three finishes of 38th or worse, and while he has one top fife here (in 2005), that is also his only top ten.
Brad Keselowski – BK has a 16th-place finish to his credit at Phoenix, but his other two starts ended in 42nd and 37th-place finishes. His 42nd came in last year’s fall race, where he hit the wall early and couldn’t recover.
February 22, 2011
Off to a rough start? Don’t worry you’re not the only one. Sure you dug yourself a hole at the start of the season, but now’s not the time to hit the panic button.
The NASCAR season is really LONG. Because it’s so long players need to approach the season patiently. In fantasy NASCAR players have 36 weeks to grind it out for the top spot. When I look at the schedule it says one thing to me, and that is play conservatively until the time is right.
If you find yourself in a hole don’t panic. Also don’t think you need to make it all up at once. Not every week is the week for you to “make the big move”. There’s a place for the “Hail Mary” but that isn’t every week. If you’re making the “big move” every week you may hit on something every once in a while (even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every once in a while) but most likely the odds are stacked against you.
Even if you are a fan of making the weekly “Hail Mary” play there’s no guarantee it will save you. Trust me I know. I’ve been the highest scorer in large games on the final week and do you know what happened? I still lost by one point.
The benefit of playing patiently (conservatively) is that it opens the door for others to make mistakes. The easiest way to get ahead is to let others beat themselves. When you have 36 races to work with I can guarantee you that door will eventually open.
Photo Credit: Glenn Bure for onpitrow.com
February 17, 2011
|Expert||Website||Pick to Win||Finish||Experts Avg|
|Josh Lobdell||David Ragan||14||14|
|Jerry Lagger||One and Done Game Winner||Joey Logano||23||23|
|Dennis Michelsen||RaceTalkRadio.com||Dale Earnhardt Jr||24||24|
|Steve Wronkowicz||On Pit Row||Marcos Ambrose||37||37|
|Eric McClung||KFFL||Juan Pablo Montoya||6||6|
|Eric McGuire||free agent||Jamie McMurray||18||18|
|Dan Beaver||Fantasy Racing Games||Joey Logano||23||23|
|Matt Mercer||On Pit Row||Mark Martin||10||10|
|Adam Ansell||Roto Experts||Dale Earnhardt Jr||24||24|
|Chris Leone||On Pit Row||Trevor Bayne||1||1|
|Bob Ellis||NASCAR Ranting and Raving||Michael Waltrip||40||40|
|CharlieTurner||On Pit Row||Jamie McMurray||18||18|
|Jordan McAbee||On Pit Row||Juan Pablo Montoya||6||6|
|Jon Rodgers||Gillette Young Guns Challenge Winner||Dale Earnhardt Jr||24||24|
|James Jones||On Pit Row||Jamie McMurray||18||18|
|Mike Wells||Racing4Glory.com||David Ragan||14||14|
|Darren Fauth||FantasyRacingCheatSheet||Dale Earnhardt Jr||24||24|
|P J Walsh||FantasyNASCARPreview.com||Jamie McMurray||18||18|
|Charles Rantz||ifantasyrace.com||Mark Martin||10||10|
February 17, 2011
|Expert||Website||Pick to Win||Finish||Experts Avg|
|Josh Lobdell||Tony Stewart||13||13|
|Jerry Lagger||One and Done Game Winner||Jeff Gordon||28||28|
|Dennis Michelsen||RaceTalkRadio.com||Kevin Harvick||42||42|
|Steve Wronkowicz||On Pit Row||Tony Stewart||13||13|
|Eric McClung||KFFL||Kevin Harvick||42||42|
|Eric McGuire||free agent||Kevin Harvick||42||42|
|Dan Beaver||Fantasy Racing Games||Jeff Gordon||28||28|
|Matt Mercer||On Pit Row||Jeff Burton||36||36|
|Adam Ansell||Roto Experts||Clint Bowyer||17||17|
|Chris Leone||On Pit Row||Jeff Burton||36||36|
|Bob Ellis||NASCAR Ranting and Raving||Dale Earnhardt Jr||24||24|
|CharlieTurner||On Pit Row||Jimmie Johnson||27||27|
|Jordan McAbee||On Pit Row||Clint Bowyer||17||17|
|Jon Rodgers||Gillette Young Guns Challenge Winner||Denny Hamlin||21||21|
|James Jones||On Pit Row||Kurt Busch||5||5|
|Mike Wells||Racing4Glory.com||Kurt Busch||5||5|
|Darren Fauth||FantasyRacingCheatSheet||Kevin Harvick||42||42|
|P J Walsh||FantasyNASCARPreview.com||Kevin Harvick||42||42|
|Charles Rantz||ifantasyrace.com||Kevin Harvick||42||42|
February 16, 2011
The start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season is just around the corner and that can mean only one thing: it’s time to go racing at Daytona! The 53rd “Great American Race” will take place Sunday afternoon on Fox after an entire week of racing–from the Budweiser Shootout last Saturday, to the Gatorade Duels on Thursday, to practice sessions before race day. The Daytona 500 has the most pre-race information (practice and short races), yet it is one of the most difficult to predict in terms of fantasy racing.
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Gordon grabbed the front row in qualifying on Sunday for the big race. Junior has never started from the pole for a points-paying race at Daytona, but started from the pole last Saturday in the Shootout (finishing 19th) as well as the Gatorade Duel #2 last year (finishing 21st). The rest of the starting lineup for the Daytona 500 will be determined on Thursday by the results of the Twin-125 Gatorade Duels.
My recommendation to fantasy racers: Watch the Twin-125 races and see how the cars race; practice speeds are pretty much useless at Daytona when determining how the race will end up. Once you pick your drivers, submit them and enjoy the race. Restrictor-plate races are so unpredictable that it is better to look forward to next week in terms of fantasy games.
Top Fifteen Ranking Entering The Daytona 500:
1. Kevin Harvick – “Happy” is the favored driver to win the big race this year and for good reason: he’s the most recent winner here and has three top tens in the past four races at the track. Harvick finished 7th in the Bud Shootout, but don’t let that worry you: he kept hitting his rev limiter, a problem which he has stated is fixed. With one DNF in 19 Daytona starts, it’s hard to go against Kevin Harvick at the plate tracks, and he was one of the best in 2010.
2. Clint Bowyer – Richard Childress Racing has been favored all week (and it was a surprise to many when one of their four drivers didn’t get the pole). Bowyer has made ten starts at Daytona, and while his highest finish has been 4th, Clint has never finished lower than 29th–resulting in 0 DNFs. Over the past two years, Bowyer has recorded two 4th-place finishes in the Daytona 500.
3. Matt Kenseth – Kenseth might not be the first driver you think of at Daytona, but over the past two years he has been the best. Over those four races, he has an average finish of 8th has finished outside of the top ten only once (15th in last season’s July race). He won’t be fighting for the lead every lap, but Kenseth usually stays out of trouble and gets a good finish at Daytona.
4. Kurt Busch – New car, new year. Kurt started off 2011 right by winning the Budweiser Shootout, but don’t expect a win in the “Great American Race”: the last time the Bud Shootout winner went on to win the following Sunday was in 1997 (Jeff Gordon). Still, Busch should be expected to finish up front. He’s had the best average driver rating over the past four Daytona races and has finished outside of the top ten only once in the past seven.
5. Carl Edwards – Roush-Fenway Racing really started to perform as expected during the second half of the year in 2010, and Carl Edwards ended last season winning the final two races. Cousin Carl has been finished every lap (in points-paying races) at Daytona since 2007, which can be difficult to achieve over eight races here. He usually finishes better in the July Race here, but last season Edwards finally got his first top ten in the Daytona 500. This year, with the right timing, he could easily get his first top five.
6. Tony Stewart – “Smoke” had an off-year at Daytona in 2010, but don’t expect the disappointing finishes to continue. Going into 2010, Stewart had nine top tens in his last twelve starts at the track and in his twelve Daytona 500 starts, he has led at least one lap in eight of them–and those eight have come in his most recent nine starts.
7. Jeff Gordon – Gordon usually runs well at Daytona (6th best driver rating over the past four races), but his finishes have been lacking. He has just one top ten in the past three years here, but don’t let that turn you away from the 24 car: Gordon has won at Daytona six times. You know he will have the power to get to the front, but will he be in the right place at the right time? He starts 2nd, so he’s off to a good start already. Gordon has just 4 DNFs in 36 career starts.
8. Mark Martin - Mark “The Kid” Martin sat on the pole for last year’s “Great American Race” and ended up finishing 12th. He wound up finishing three of the four restrictor plate races in the top twelve in 2010. Since coming to Hendrick Motorsports, Martin has finished 16th and 12th in the Daytona 500. I expect a top ten finish on Sunday from him if he can stay out of trouble.
9. Kyle Busch – When you look at Rowdy’s average finish in Daytona races recently, this ranking may surprise you, but if he can stay out of trouble, the younger Busch brother should finish up front on Sunday. He has the second-best driver rating in the past two years at Daytona (behind his brother) but an average finish of 27.25 to back it up. When Kyle stays out of trouble, he does good at Daytona–all of his top tens are also top fives and he won here in the 2008 July race.
10. Jamie McMurray – This may be one of the lower rankings you see McMurray at for this race, but I’m still not sold on him. He followed up his Daytona 500 win last year with a 39th-place showing in July. Jamie Mac’s average finish was 26.5 between his July Daytona win in 2007 and his Daytona 500 win last year (four races). He has, however, been very good at Daytona with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, with finishes of 2nd and 3rd in the last two Budweiser Shootouts (respectfully) and he ended up in 6th in his Gatorade Duel race last year.
11. Jeff Burton - He’s not as strong as two of his teammates at Daytona, but you know that Burton has the horsepower to get a good finish. Will he, though? In 34 career starts, Burton has amassed 23 top twenties, but only 9 of them were top tens. He looked strong in qualifying, but we all know that qualifying is not a way to predict the race at restrictor plate tracks.
12. Juan Montoya – If JPM gets a good starting position for “The Great American Race”, expect a good finish to back it up. He has started in the top fourteen in three races at Daytona, and finished there as well in those races. Montoya has two top tens in his last three Daytona starts.
13. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. - This ranking may surprise you as well, but winning the pole for the Daytona 500 doesn’t guarantee a good finish: the past three pole winners have gone on to finish 12th, 11th, and 27th. Earnhardt, Jr. also has a little streak going. In 2006, he was good at Daytona with finishes of 8th and 13th. The next year (2007) he finished 32nd and 36th. After that season, he went to Hendrick Motorsports and ended up with two top tens in Daytona for them. His second year (2009) there, though, he ended up 27th and 39th in the two Daytona races. Last year, Junior posted top five finishes in both Daytona races. Will this year be bad for the 88 at Daytona, or will he break his little streak that he is on?
14. Denny Hamlin – Like his teammate, Kyle Busch, Hamlin has ran well at Daytona in the past two seasons but didn’t get the finishes to back it up. Over those past four races, Hamlin has had the 6th best driver rating but recorded only one top ten (a 3rd in the July race in 2009). Despite having only one top ten in his career at Daytona, Denny has never had a DNF. He almost won the Budweiser Shootout this year.
15. Brian Vickers - The Red Bull Racing driver would be ranked higher if it wasn’t for his absence from racing last year because of medical reasons. However, if he wants to show everyone that the missed races aren’t a big deal, Daytona is a great place to start: Vickers has finished in the top fifteen in four of his last five starts here.
Underdogs Entering The Daytona 500:
David Ragan - He hasn’t been very good in the Sprint Cup series, but for some reason he has finished well at Daytona. Ragan has eight starts here and six of them have ended up in finishes in the top sixteen. His very first Daytona 500 start ended with a 5th-place finish.
Paul Menard - Menard is at RCR this year and nearly grabbed a spot on the front row in qualifying last Sunday. He has seven career starts at Daytona and all but one of them have given him a finish in the top 23. He ended up 13th in last year’s “Great American Race” driving for Richard Petty Motorsports.
David Reutimann – It may be a surprise to some, but the Michael Waltrip Racing star is pretty good at restrictor plate tracks. In 2010 he recorded two top fives in the four races and had a worst finish of 14th. Reutty has finished worse than 12th only once in his past four starts at Daytona.
Trevor Bayne - The rookie nearly took the pole for the Daytona 500 and looked pretty good in his Cup debut last year (finishing 17th at Texas). He’s driving the 21 car for Wood Brothers Racing, which was driven to a 27th place finish in last year’s Daytona 500 by Bill Elliott.
Those To Avoid Entering The Daytona 500:
Jimmie Johnson - “The Champ” isn’t very good at Daytona in February, believe it or not. Since his Daytona 500 win in 2006, Johnson hasn’t finished better than 27th in “The Great American Race”. Statistically, this is his fourth-worst track.
Ryan Newman – Like Johnson, “Flyin’ Ryan” hasn’t been the same since his win at this track (coming in the 2008 Daytona 500 with Penske Racing). His best finish since then has been 20th, and while driving for Stewart-Haas Racing, that has been his best finish in four starts with them here.
Martin Truex, Jr. - He may be ranked high in some people’s minds after his 6th-place finish in the Daytona 500 last year, but don’t let that fool you: it has been his only top ten in eleven career starts here.
Brad Keselowski - He may be good at Talladega, but this is Daytona. In three career starts here, he hasn’t finished better than 24th and has only completed only 85.8% of the laps run here since joining Penske.
February 15, 2011
In 2010 Brian Vickers season ended prematurely due to blood clots in his legs and around his lungs. He only raced in eleven races before his health condition sidelined him for the rest of the year.
The question Fantasy Racers are wondering is, will his extended absence hurt him? The obvious answer to that question is absolutely not. Why would it hurt him?
Brian Vickers health issue was an internal issue, not an outward physical condition. When you see him on the track he will not be nursing any broken bones or be suffering a psychological setback of being afraid to put his car in certain situations.
I also don’t believe Brian Vickers will be suffering any on track timing issues either. Do you really think his time off has really hurt him? Really!!!
Vickers has been testing his car since last year so it’s not like he’s going into the season cold turkey. Brian Vickers is a NASCAR driver, not a taxi cab driver. If missing this many months was an obstacle then he probably isn’t good enough to be racing in NASCAR’s premiere series in the first place.
I don’t think his pit stop rhythm will be off either. He’s not the one changing the tires. He may look a little rusty the first couple of times he pulls into his pit box but what driver isn’t a little off their game at the start of the season? Also it’s not like the 83 pit crew doesn’t practice. Their professionals and are the 2008 Pit Crew Champions.
Why am I so confident with this non-issue issue? Because a similar issue to this arose in 1987. Didn’t you watch the ESPN 30 for 30 about Tim Richmond? I’m not comparing Brian Vickers to him but they both suffered from internal health conditions (not broken bones etc.). Richmond was out for nearly half a season and the first race he returned he went on to victory lane. Richmond even won in his second race back from his absence.
Just to reiterate myself I’m not comparing Brian Vickers to Tim Richmond, I’m only pointing out that the argument that time away from the car should not be perceived as a significant issue.
February 14, 2011
After a long off-season with many changes, we find ourselves ready for the onset of the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series. The look of the car is different, the points structure is different, and the names above a lot of the doors are different, but in my eyes, the biggest difference from past seasons is that drivers must declare which of NASCAR’s top three series they wish to earn points in. This change has been met with plenty of optimism, especially as it relates to the Nationwide Series, primarily due to the fact that the last five Nationwide Championships have been won by drivers competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The competition for the championship is wide open, so who will come out on top? I’ll give my predictions for the top five in points in my 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series preview.
5. Reed Sorenson – Reed Sorenson, driver of the #32 Dollar General Chevrolet for Turner Motorsports, should have plenty of confidence coming into the season. Despite starting only 28 of the 35 races in the 2010 season, he finished 12th in points, beating out several guys who ran every race. He had an impressive 9 top 5 and 21 top 10 finishes, which topped over half of the drivers that finished ahead of him in points.. His team, Turner Motorsports, has stepped up their equipment. They have moved from Toyota to the Chevrolet camp, and will utilize Hendrick engines along with receiving body and aerodynamic support from Kevin Harvick Inc. While he hasn’t won a race since 2007, I see that changing early on this season. Expect to see Sorenson running toward the front on a weekly basis in 2011.
4. Trevor Bayne – Trevor Bayne enters the 2011 with a lot to smile about. After the fall race at Dover International Speedway, he left Diamond-Waltrip Racing to drive for Roush Fenway Racing. He ran the last seven events of the season for Roush Fenway, running a fifth car for the team in all but one of those races. The move to Roush also allowed him to make his Sprint Cup debut at Texas Motor Speedway in the famous #21 of the Wood Brothers. Bayne will also run the 21 in the Cup Series for at least 17 races this season with the possibility of more depending on sponsorship. Coming off a top 5 finish at Homestead in the season finale, Bayne has a ton of momentum headed into this year, so look for the #16 Ford Mustang to be at the front of the field and for Bayne to win his first career race.
3. Justin Allgaier – Riverton, IL native Justin Allgaier comes into the new season with something to prove. On the surface that sounds like a preposterous statement, especially considering the fact that he was by far the best of the drivers that didn’t compete in the Sprint Cup Series last season. The high moment of the 2008 ARCA champion’s season was earning his first career Nationwide Series win at Bristol in March. Despite his success, at the end of the season Penske Racing told Allgaier that he was free to look elsewhere due to a lack of sponsorship. While that was quite an unfortunate circumstance for a good guy that was doing everything right, his situation showed that everything happens for a reason. Allgaier finds himself behind the wheel of the #31 Brandt Chevrolet Impala for Turner Motorsports, teaming with Reed Sorenson, Jason Leffler, and several part-time drivers. I see this being a much better fit for Allgaier, and will be surprised if he doesn’t win at least two races this season.
2. Elliott Sadler – To describe the last few years as anything other than a roller-coaster for Elliott Sadler would be a massive understatement. The lack of results during his tenure at Richard Petty Motorsports was frustrating for a driver that knew he could still get it done on the track. Sometimes a boost of confidence is all that it takes. He announced prior to the 2010 season that he would run several Camping World Truck Series races for Kevin Harvick Inc. In those races he was always a contender, despite having problems in a couple of races, but the pinnacle of the year was the Truck Series race in Pocono where he scored his first win in NASCAR since 2004. Another highlight took place at the fall race at Bristol, where in a last minute deal, he finished third driving the #33 for KHI. After that he mentioned several times that he would be interested in running full-time in the Nationwide Series. In November, it was announced that he would run the full schedule behind the wheel of KHI’s #2 OneMain Financial Chevrolet. I look forward to seeing a rejuvenated Elliott Sadler in the series and have no doubt that he will return to victory lane.
1. Aric Almirola – Despite the fact that 2011 will be Aric Almirola’s fifth year in the Nationwide Series, it will be his first full-time season in the series. Due to the fact that he will be driving for JR Motorsports, he will be under one of the biggest microscopes in the series and will be expected to perform. I don’t think that will be a problem at all for the Tampa, FL native. He spent 2010 behind the wheel of the #51 Billy Ballew Motorsports truck in the Camping World Truck Series and finished second in points with two victories. He also managed to earn a top five finish in the Sprint Cup Series finale at Homestead driving the #9 for Richard Petty Motorsports. While a top 5 in itself is impressive at the Cup level, it was more impressive considering he did it as a replacement driver for a team whose entire future was in jeopardy. His 2011 situation shows much more stability. He’ll be in the #88 for JRM with sponsorship from Grand Touring Vodka, TaxSlayer, and a myriad of the Unilever brands. Rick Hendrick tabbed him as the relief driver for both Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson when their pregnant wives were due, but he wasn’t needed in either situation. Nevertheless, Hendrick choosing him for that role leads me to believe that he has his eye on Almirola, and if he impresses in the 88, you never know what the future holds for him. Winning the Nationwide championship could go a long way in securing Almirola’s future in the sport, and I fully expect him to deliver.
Best of the Rest: While the drivers mentioned above are who I predict will finish in the top 5 in Nationwide points, they aren’t the only ones with something to race for. There are a few other notables who deserve a shout-out.
-Brian Scott will drive full-time for Joe Gibbs Racing this season in his sophomore effort. He showed promise during his rookie season, and now that he’s driving for the team that has dominated Nationwide since 2008, he will be expected to perform. Is he up to the challenge?
-Ricky Stenhouse‘s turnaround in 2010 was nothing short of remarkable. He started off the season tearing up more than his fair share of cars, resulting in 5 DNFs. The low point came at the second Nashville race where he spun out in qualifying and failed to qualify for the race. He was replaced the next week, and after that he was a different person. He didn’t have any DNFs in the second half of the season, and even managed to come from behind to win the Rookie of the Year award. He looked like he had the car to beat at the end of the race at Homestead, but ran out of time. He’ll have something to prove this season driving the #6 for Roush Fenway Racing.
-Steve Wallace is set to begin his fifth full-time season in the series and is still searching for that elusive first victory. He has shown flashes of brilliance at times, but is still working on his consistency. I see this as a make or break year for Wallace, and think that if he wants to be taken seriously by the masses, he needs to get his #66 5 Hour Energy Toyota into Victory Lane.
-Jason Leffler has become a fixture of the Nationwide Series. He’s beginning his 7th season with the team formerly known as Braun Racing which was acquired by Turner Motorsports last season. He will be trying to take the #38 Great Clips Impala to victory lane for the first time since 2007. He will also be looking to finish in the top 10 in points for the fifth consecutive season.
February 8, 2011
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