May 31, 2011
1) Look at similar track races that have been run this year. Also when you look at similar track races don’t just look at the finish position. Look at their overall body of work for the race.
2) Practice will be extremely important this week. If a driver struggles in practice look for them to also struggle in the race.
3) It’s also important to look at past races at Kansas to make an informed pick this week. Just don’t let this be the one dominating decision-making factor for you. Other variables are more important in my opinion this week.
4) If you pick your team solely based on qualifying then you’re in trouble.
Drivers to watch:
Carl Edwards – Roush Fenway Cars will be fast this weekend and I expect none to be faster than Cousin Carl. The 99 team has never won at Kansas but that can easily change. In 2008 he finished second to Jimmie Johnson and proved just how much he wants to win here with his daring last lap move. Earlier this year Carl won at Las Vegas which is similar to Kansas Speedway. On high-speed intermediate tracks this year his average running position is 7.15.
Jimmie Johnson – Johnson won in 2008 but I think the roles will be reversed this time around with the 99 team taking the checkered flag. What I really like about Jimmie Johnson is how strong he was at Auto Club Speedway earlier this year. Only teams who have the total intermediate package are capable of performing at that track. In the last six years at Kansas Johnson has a 5.8 average finish, 7.2 average running position, 118.7 driver rating and under the old points system he averaged an incredible 160.6 points per race.
Greg Biffle - If you want to play it safe this week “stick with the Biff”. His average finish in the last six years is 3.7. In this time span he’s only finished outside the top three once. The 16 team has been very good on intermediate tracks this season but problems have hindered them all to often.
Matt Kenseth – You can’t go wrong this weekend if you pick any of the big three Roush Fenway drivers. In the last six years Kenseth has finished in the top seven 50% of the time. That may be somewhat troublesome but he’s worth the risk this week.
Kevin Harvick – Harvick may not be the first driver who comes to your mind at Kansas but he’ll be a contender this weekend. In the last four years he’s finished in the top six three times at Kansas. Other things that boost his resume this week is his Auto Club Speedway win, his win last summer at Michigan, how well he ran at Las Vegas (before pit road penalty hurt him) and his recent Charlotte win.
Sleepers to watch:
David Reutimann – Chicago winner who ran well last year before his run-in with Kyle Busch.
Marcos Ambrose – His Ford has been fast all season long on intermediate tracks.
Brian Vickers – Hasn’t performed good in fall races in a long time but this one isn’t in fall. Had top ten finishes at Auto Club Speedway and Las Vegas earlier this year.
VegasInsider.com Odds to win:
Carl Edwards 9/2, Jimmie Johnson 5/1, Kyle Busch 6/1, Kevin Harvick 7/1, Tony Stewart 8/1, Jeff Gordon 10/1, Denny Hamlin 10/1, Greg Biffle 12/1, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 14/1, Matt Kenseth 16/1
Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images / NASCARMedia.com
May 25, 2011
|Expert||Website||Pick to Win||Finish||Experts Avg|
|Josh Lobdell||Carl Edwards||16||12.33|
|Jerry Lagger||One and Done Game Winner||Jimmie Johnson||28||13.67|
|Dennis Michelsen||RaceTalkRadio.com||Carl Edwards||16||13.67|
|Steve Wronkowicz||On Pit Row||Matt Kenseth||14||12.33|
|Eric McClung||KFFL||Kyle Busch||32||13.42|
|Eric McGuire||free agent||Carl Edwards||16||15.17|
|Dan Beaver||Fantasy Racing Games||Carl Edwards||16||11.75|
|Matt Mercer||On Pit Row||Matt Kenseth||14||14.25|
|Adam Ansell||Roto Experts||Carl Edwards||16||9.42|
|Chris Leone||On Pit Row||Joey Logano||3||11.17|
|Bob Ellis||NASCAR Ranting and Raving||Jimmie Johnson||28||12.58|
|CharlieTurner||On Pit Row||Jimmie Johnson||28||10.58|
|Jordan McAbee||On Pit Row||Carl Edwards||16||12.92|
|Jon Rodgers||Gillette Young Guns Challenge Winner||Dale Earnhardt Jr||7||11.75|
|James Jones||On Pit Row||Kyle Busch||32||10.17|
|Mike Wells||Racing4Glory.com||Kyle Busch||32||11.25|
|Darren Fauth||FantasyRacingCheatSheet||Carl Edwards||16||9.00|
|P J Walsh||FantasyNASCARPreview.com||Carl Edwards||16||10.42|
|Charles Rantz||ifantasyrace.com||Carl Edwards||16||11.25|
May 25, 2011
|Expert||Website||Pick to Win||Finish||Experts Avg|
|Josh Lobdel||David Ragan||2||9.00|
|Jerry Lagger||One and Done Game Winner||Jeff Gordon||20||11.92|
|Dennis Michelsen||RaceTalkRadio.com||David Ragan||2||12.92|
|Steve Wronkowicz||On Pit Row||David Ragan||2||13.83|
|Eric McClung||KFFL||David Reutimann||9||11.67|
|Eric McGuire||free agent||Kasey Kahne||22||11.08|
|Dan Beaver||Fantasy Racing Games||Greg Biffle||13||15.42|
|Matt Mercer||On Pit Row||David Ragan||2||10.92|
|Adam Ansell||Roto Experts||Denny Hamlin||10||11.58|
|Chris Leone||On Pit Row||A J Allmendinger||5||19.83|
|Bob Ellis||NASCAR Ranting and Raving||Mark Martin||34||18.67|
|CharlieTurner||On Pit Row||Jeff Gordon||20||11.67|
|Jordan McAbee||On Pit Row||Paul Menard||29||13.25|
|Jon Rodgers||Gillette Young Guns Challenge Winner||Denny Hamlin||10||13.83|
|James Jones||On Pit Row||Kasey Kahne||22||13.08|
|Mike Wells||Racing4Glory.com||David Reutimann||9||8.83|
|Darren Fauth||FantasyRacingCheatSheet||Jeff Gordon||20||15.92|
|P J Walsh||FantasyNASCARPreview.com||Jeff Gordon||20||19.00|
|Charles Rantz||ifantasyrace.com||A J Allmendinger||5||13.33|
May 25, 2011
The schedule this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway is finally back to normal–in my mind at least. There will be a practice session held on Thursday afternoon and qualifying will be held later that night. Friday will be an off-day for the drivers, but Saturday they will get two practice sessions to perfect their cars for the big race on Sunday night. The Coca Cola 600 is the longest race (in terms of mileage) for the 2011 season, and Charlotte is definitely known for producing some very exciting racing.
During The Last Points-Paying Race At Charlotte…Kyle Busch led 217 laps but it was Jamie McMurray crossing the finish line first. Busch went on to follow him, and Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, and Greg Biffle rounded out the top five. In last year’s spring race (the 2010 Coca Cola 600), the elder Busch brother (Kurt) led 252 laps after starting second and picked up his second–and ultimately final–win of the season. McMurray finished 2nd in that race, while Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, and David Reutimann closed out the top five. McMurray, Kyle Busch, David Reutimann, and Matt Kenseth were the only drivers to post top ten finishes in both races at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the two points-paying races in 2010. In last weekend’s All-Star Race, Carl Edwards won the $1 million dollar prize followed by Kyle Busch, David Reutimann, Tony Stewart, and Greg Biffle.
My Recommendation To Fantasy Racers…Now that the schedule is back to normal, I would put a lot of emphasis on average practice speeds and ten-lap averages during the final two sessions to determine your rosters. Here’s how each driver did in practice last fall at Charlotte and how they finished. Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards were both two of the fastest in average speed for the recent All-Star race, and one went on to win the race (Edwards) while Biffle finished 5th. Tony Stewart had the best ten-lap average during the All-Star practice and wound up finishing a solid 4th. Be sure to check out my practice breakdown over on www.ifantasyrace.com this week, as it will be more telling as to who has a good car than the recent ones have.
Top Fifteen Ranking Entering The Coca Cola 600:
1. Carl Edwards – Cousin Carl has been pretty much untouchable all season, and I don’t expect that to change this weekend. As you know, Edwards won the All-Star Race last weekend, and while he’s not stellar at Charlotte by any means, he does have an average finish of 11.3 in points-paying races here. He finished 3rd at Texas and won at Las Vegas, so expect Edwards to fight for the win on Sunday night, especially after not getting the finish he deserved at Dover.
2. Kyle Busch – “Rowdy” has never won at Charlotte–and that includes All-Star Races. He is, however, on a seven-race streak of top 10s in points paying races at this track, and the only reason his average career finish here is so low (15.2) is because he wasn’t very good at this track early in his Sprint Cup career. The race is 600 miles on Sunday night (and that doesn’t include practice), so Kyle better hope that the Gibbs engine problem is solved or he will severely disappoint fantasy owners on Sunday night. Busch finished 2nd to Edwards in the All-Star Race last weekend.
3. Matt Kenseth – Kenseth has four straight top 10s at Charlotte and I fully expect that streak to continue this weekend. He finished 6th in the All-Star Race (out of 21) and has a little momentum after “stealing” a win in Dover. His driver rating at Charlotte over the past two years is fourth-best in the series, so Kenseth isn’t getting good finishes here just by dumb luck. He won here in 2000 and has finished outside of the top twenty just 6 times in his 23 career starts at this track.
4. Jimmie Johnson -In the eight points-paying races at Charlotte from 2003 to 2006, “Five Time” finished in the top three in every single race. His career average finish here is right around 9th and he owns six wins at this track. You probably wonder why–with those numbers–Jimmie isn’t ranked number one this week. Well, he didn’t run well at all in the All-Star Race (11th-place finish), and while I know that that race doesn’t particularly translate to how someone will run during the actual race, it’s still the same track. There has never been a points-paying race at Charlotte–that Johnson participated in–that he didn’t lead a lap, so expect JJ to challenge for the lead at least once on Sunday night.
5. Greg Biffle – Load up on the Roush Fords this weekend! They “Big Three” in that stable all looked great in the All-Star Race, and “The Biff” ended up 4th after starting 3rd. His career average finish at Charlotte is 15.5 and he finished 4th at Texas in April. Greg has never won here, but he does have six top 10s in his 16 career starts at this track. He’s been pretty good for the entire season this year, and if you take away some of the problems they had (like the fuel issue at Vegas), could easily be in the top eight in points.
6. Kasey Kahne – Kahne is either going to challenge for a top five on Sunday night, or he’s going to finish in the 30s. I don’t particularly like Red Bull Racing at Charlotte, but his teammate has found some success in that equipment. Kahne’s average finish at Charlotte is right around 13th and he won both races here in 2006. As long as his equipment holds up and nothing crazy happens to the #4 Toyota on Sunday night, a good finish should be expected.
7. Tony Stewart – It’s almost summer, and that’s the time when “Smoke” really starts running well. He finished a respectable 4th in the All-Star Race last weekend, and Tony hasn’t posted a top ten finish in the last six points-paying races at Charlotte, I could easily see that changing this weekend. He has one win here–that came in 2003–and Stewart’s career average finish at this track is 12.2. Watch Stewart’s average speed during practice, as well as his ten-lap average. If he’s near the top in both of those, stick him on your roster.
8. Jeff Gordon - Gordon hasn’t had a top ten since Talladega, so this ranking may be a bit high. If he practices just decent or even below-average, avoid him this week. I don’t like how Gordon is running this season, and pretty much the only time I will take him is if he surprises me in practice. At Charlotte, Jeff has four top 10s in the last six races and owns a career average finish right around 15th–including five wins. In his twenty career top 10s at this track, sixteen have been top 5s, so expect a really strong run or a disappointing finish out of Gordon this weekend.
9. Denny Hamlin – Like I said before, the Gibbs stable better hope that their engines can last for the longest race of the season. Hamlin’s career average finish at Charlotte is 14.6 and he finished 4th here in the fall after ending up 18th in 2010′s Coca Cola 600. The former has been his best finish ever here (All-Star Race included), so don’t expect Hamlin to challenge for the win, but a top ten is possible. He ended up 7th in the All-Star Race last weekend out of 21.
10. Kevin Harvick - I really didn’t know how to rank Harvick this week, so this is probably going to be one of the drivers that will either go way up or way down when I make my post-qualifying predictions. He finished 11th and 8th in the two Charlotte races during the 2010 season, but that was last year when he was having a remarkable season overall. His career average finish at this track is 17.2, but you never know where “The Closer” will end up when it’s all said and done. He finished 9th in the All-Star Race out of 21.
11. Mark Martin – I’m still not liking how Martin is running this season, which is why I have him ranked 11th. He has been good here recently, with a worst finish of 17th over the past four races, but I just don’t see him doing anything spectacular on Sunday night. Martin’s average finish over the course of career at Charlotte Motor Speedway has been right around 15th, and I think he will finish between 11th and 15th on Sunday night.
12. Clint Bowyer – Bowyer finished 2nd at Texas in April and has two top 10s in his past three starts at Charlotte. His best finish here came in 2007 when he finished 2nd and Clint finished 2nd in the All-Star Race last weekend after starting 2nd. A finish between 12th and 15th is likely for Clint this weekend, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he cracked the top ten. He has six top 10s in the last seven races of the year, so he definitely has momentum on his side.
13. Joey Logano – Statistically, this is Logano’s best track, but I don’t think that he will finish as good as his career average finish (6.9). He has three top 10s in his four career starts at Charlotte with a worst finish of 13th, which came last year in the Coca Cola 600. With the way his season has been going, I probably won’t pick him this week, but you can’t go against Joey’s history at this track. He finished 5th in the Showdown last weekend.
14. Jamie McMurray – Jamie Mac’s season has to turn around eventually..right? He finished 2nd and 1st in the two Charlotte races last season, and while I don’t think that he will repeat anywhere near that on Sunday night, this is his third-best track on the circuit (with an average finish of 15th) and a top fifteen is definitely possible. Be sure to watch the #1 Chevy in practice. McMurray finished 17th in the All-Star Race out of 21.
15. David Reutimann – Statistically, this is Reutty’s best track, so he should definitely be in the back of your mind all week. He won 2009′s Coca Cola 600 (although it was rain-shortened) and hasn’t finished worse than 15th since then, including 5th and 9th-place efforts last season. He finished 3rd in the All-Star Race out of 21.
Underdogs Entering The Coca Cola 600:
Regan Smith – Statistically, Charlotte is Smith’s second-best track, and he hasn’t been too terrible for being a C-list driver in Yahoo! He finished 13th here last fall after a 19th-place effort in last year’s Coca Cola 600, and in Regan’s four career starts here, his worst finish has been 23rd.
Marcos Ambrose – Ambrose usually races very well in the Showdown races, but that success doesn’t translate to actual points-paying races. He finished 4th at Las Vegas and 6th at Texas, though, so make sure you watch the #9 Ford in practice.
David Ragan – I really like how Ragan is racing this season and his car looked great when he won the Showdown last weekend. The #6 Ford wound up 8th in the All-Star Race, ahead of Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, and Jimmie Johnson. In the last six points-paying races at this track, David has three top 10s and he finished 7th at Texas in April.
Brian Vickers – Vickers has two finishes of 5th at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but he’s pretty inconsistent–and Red Bull Racing is as well. He has three top tens in the last four races, and if he has a good car on Sunday night, Brian could make that four of five.
Those To Avoid Entering The Coca Cola 600:
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – Junior just isn’t very good at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He looked average in both the Showdown and the All-Star Race, and Little E hasn’t posted a top ten in a points-paying race here since early 2008. Over the past two years, drivers such as Casey Mears, Scott Speed, and Robby Gordon have better average finishes than Earnhardt at this track. Robby Gordon! Pass on the 88 this weekend. He finished 14th out of 21 in the All-Star Race.
Jeff Burton – In the last four points-paying races at Charlotte, Jeff Burton has posted three finishes in the 20s. Those finishes aren’t going to win you any fantasy championships, so stay away from him this week. I would say a mid-teens finish for Burton this week would be the best that he could do.
Kurt Busch – I understand that Kurt Busch was very solid here last spring, but it seems like week in and week out lately the “double deuce” isn’t running up to potential. He’s either really good here or really bad, but and the only way I would recommend him this week would be if he qualified up front and looked great in practice. Kurt finished 13th out of 21 in the All-Star Race.
Brad Keselowski – BK has had a couple of good races recently at Darlington and Dover, but I’m going to wait a while until I really believe that the chemistry between him and crew chief Paul Wolfe will translate to a bunch of success in the Sprint Cup Series. Keselowski finished 20th and 27th at the two Charlotte races in 2010. He finished 18th out of 21 in the All-Star Race.
May 24, 2011
How To Make A Good Informed Fantasy Pick For The Coca Cola 600:
1) Look at other similar track races that have been run this year. The two tracks in particular that I would encourage you to look back at are Texas and Las Vegas.
2) Past History at Charlotte is extremely important. This race is your Pocono primer in terms of race time length. Since it’s so long drivers and crew chiefs need to know how to make adjustments to their cars for the three phases of the race (daylight, dusk, and night). Looking at past history will help shed some light for you in terms of who you should pick and who you should avoid.
3) Practice is important at Charlotte but this week I don’t want to see my drivers running 100 miles in happy hour. What I want to get out of practice is a good ten lap average and hear the drivers are happy with their car. What I don’t want to see is them out on the track anymore then they have to.
4) What happened in the All-Star Race really shouldn’t be of that much concern to you. It’s not a typical race and most likely drivers were using setups that are radically different from what they would be using in the Coca Cola 600.
5) Qualifying is semi important at Charlotte. I wouldn’t say it’s a must but I certainly wouldn’t want to pick a driver who qualified back in the thirties unless it’s Jimmie Johnson who won from the farthest back starting position ever (37th).
Fast Five At Charlotte:
1) Matt Kenseth -The last time NASCAR visited a 1.5 mile tri-oval Kenseth was in victory lane. He’s starting to get back into his old “winning robot” ways. Kenseth doesn’t abuse his car and he’ll be around at the conclusion of NASCAR’s longest race. Kenseth has four straight top tens at Charlotte.
2) Kyle Busch -No wins but he hasn’t finished below 8th in the last seven Charlotte races. There is a risk level here though with the ongoing Joe Gibbs Racing engine drama. Will they last or will they blow?
3) Carl Edwards -In the two 1.5 mile tracks that NASCAR visited this year Edwards has walked away with finishes of first and third. Carl Edwards has been six Coca Cola 600 races and he has an impressive 8.33 average finish.
4) Jimmie Johnson -Sure he’s had problems in some recent Coke 600′s but don’t bet against him. He’s the leader in nearly every loop data category in the last twelve races.
5) Kasey Kahne -This team has been hot lately and Charlotte has always been friendly to this Red Bull driver. Kahne’s won every type of race there is at Charlotte. He’s won the All-Star race, the Coca Cola 600, and the fall night race. What makes Kahne so good at Charlotte is that he adjusts his driving style throughout the race.
Sleepers At Charlotte:
Jamie McMurray -He hasn’t made any noise so far this season but don’t forget he finished first and second last year.
David Reutimann -Previous “rain dance” winner who’s finished in the top fifteen four straight races at Charlotte. Also don’t forget he won at Chicagoland last year.
Brian Vickers -Stats lie sometimes but take my word for it he’s good here.
Odds To Win The Coca Cola 600 from TheSpread.com: Carl Edwards 5/1, Kyle Busch 5/1, Jimmie Johnson 7/1, Matt Kenseth 10/1, Denny Hamlin 12/1, Tony Stewart 12/1, Kevin Harvick 12/1, Greg Biffle 15/1, Jeff Gordon 15/1, Clint Bowyer 20/1
May 13, 2011
|Expert||Website||Pick to Win||Finish||Experts Avg|
|Josh Lobdel||Greg Biffle||19||9.64|
|Jerry Lagger||One and Done Game Winner||Mark Martin||2||11.18|
|Dennis Michelsen||RaceTalkRadio.com||Denny Hamlin||16||13.91|
|Steve Wronkowicz||On Pit Row||Jeff Burton||11||14.91|
|Eric McClung||KFFL||Jeff Gordon||17||11.91|
|Eric McGuire||free agent||Jeff Burton||11||10.09|
|Dan Beaver||Fantasy Racing Games||A J Allmendinger||37||15.64|
|Matt Mercer||On Pit Row||Greg Biffle||19||11.73|
|Adam Ansell||Roto Experts||Mark Martin||2||11.73|
|Chris Leone||On Pit Row||Joey Logano||27||21.18|
|Bob Ellis||NASCAR Ranting and Raving||Jeff Gordon||17||17.27|
|CharlieTurner||On Pit Row||Denny Hamlin||16||10.91|
|Jordan McAbee||On Pit Row||Kasey Kahne||36||11.82|
|Jon Rodgers||Gillette Young Guns Challenge Winner||Denny Hamlin||16||14.18|
|James Jones||On Pit Row||Jeff Gordon||17||12.27|
|Mike Wells||Racing4Glory.com||Jeff Burton||11||8.82|
|Darren Fauth||FantasyRacingCheatSheet||Jeff Gordon||17||15.55|
|P J Walsh||FantasyNASCARPreview.com||Kasey Kahne||36||18.91|
|Charles Rantz||ifantasyrace.com||Kasey Kahne||36||14.09|
May 13, 2011
|Expert||Website||Pick to Win||Finish||Experts Avg|
|Josh Lobdell||Carl Edwards||7||12.00|
|Jerry Lagger||One and Done Game Winner||Jimmie Johnson||9||12.36|
|Dennis Michelsen||RaceTalkRadio.com||Carl Edwards||7||13.45|
|Steve Wronkowicz||On Pit Row||Dale Earnhardt Jr||12||12.18|
|Eric McClung||KFFL||Jimmie Johnson||9||11.73|
|Eric McGuire||free agent||Jimmie Johnson||9||15.09|
|Dan Beaver||Fantasy Racing Games||Carl Edwards||7||11.36|
|Matt Mercer||On Pit Row||Carl Edwards||7||14.27|
|Adam Ansell||Roto Experts||Jimmie Johnson||9||8.82|
|Chris Leone||On Pit Row||Martin Truex Jr||8||11.91|
|Bob Ellis||NASCAR Ranting and Raving||Carl Edwards||7||11.18|
|CharlieTurner||On Pit Row||Jimmie Johnson||9||9.00|
|Jordan McAbee||On Pit Row||Jimmie Johnson||9||12.64|
|Jon Rodgers||Gillette Young Guns Challenge Winner||Kyle Busch||4||12.18|
|James Jones||On Pit Row||Jimmie Johnson||9||8.18|
|Mike Wells||Racing4Glory.com||Jimmie Johnson||9||9.36|
|Darren Fauth||FantasyRacingCheatSheet||Jimmie Johnson||9||8.36|
|P J Walsh||FantasyNASCARPreview.com||Carl Edwards||7||9.91|
|Charles Rantz||ifantasyrace.com||Carl Edwards||7||10.82|
May 11, 2011
This week the Sprint Cup Series visits Dover International Speedway for the FedEx 400. This will be the first of two races this season at this 1.0-mile racetrack, with the other happening in October. Seven current drivers have at least two wins at Dover, so for the second week in a row we might see a first time winner (or so we hope). 400 laps are set to be run on Sunday afternoon, with the green flag set to drop around 1:45 p.m. eastern time. Two practices will be held on Friday morning/afternoon and qualifying is set to start around noon on Saturday–which will be the final time the cars are on the track before raceday.
During The Last Race At Dover…Jimmie Johnson started from the pole and led 191 laps before winning his sixth (and ultimately final) win of the 2010 season. Jeff Burton, Joey Logano, Kurt Busch, and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five. In the spring race, Johnson and Kyle Busch led over 95% of the laps, and the latter went on to take the checkered flag by the end of the race. JJ wound up 15th that day because of a late pit road speeding penalty, while Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, and David Reutimann all scored top fives that day, along with Busch. The only drivers to finish in the top ten in both Dover races last season were: Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton, Joey Logano, Carl Edwards, and Denny Hamlin.
Top Fifteen Ranking Entering The FedEx 400:
1. Carl Edwards – Cousin Carl won here in 2007, and believe it or not, this is statistically his third-best track. He has made thirteen starts at “The Monster Mile” and has the best average finish of anyone in the series with 7.7. Edwards has posted at least a top-ten finish in nine of the last eleven races here and his worst effort in his career here has been 18th–which was his first start here. With the way his season is going, I fully expect the #99 Ford to challenge for the win on Sunday.
2. Jimmie Johnson – “Five Time” would be ranked number one this week, but I still don’t think that he’s running as well as normal. I know he’s second in points, but we’re not seeing the consistently strong #48 Chevy week in and week out, even though he still somehow manages to get the good finishes. His average driver rating over the past four races here has been 142.9–which is absolutely incredible–and he has recorded three wins in those four races. Jimmie’s average finish at Dover is 9.7 and he has six total wins here.
3. Ryan Newman – Believe it or not, this is statistically Newman’s best track on the circuit. He has 18 starts at Dover and has visited victory lane three times, although the most recent was in 2004. After his string of three sub-par races, “The Rocketman” notched another top five for the season last week in Darlington, and I full expect him to continue running strong this weekend. His average career finish at Dover is 10.3.
4. Kyle Busch – Let’s hope “Rowdy” and Kevin Harvick can stay away from each other this week–especially if you have Kyle on your fantasy roster. He’s a bit hit-or-miss here, with six top five finishes (and four outside of the top twenty) in his twelve starts at “The Monster Mile”, but I think he will “hit” this weekend. Busch has two wins at this track, so it’s not like he doesn’t know how to get around this place.
5. Matt Kenseth – Kenseth has hit rough patch recently, with a best finish of 21st since his win at Texas, but I think he will “reverse the curse” this weekend in Dover. He finished 18th here last fall (he cut a tire while running near the top ten), but before that he had a streak of five straight top five finishes at “The Monster Mile”. Kenseth won here in 2006 and has averaged a finish of around 13th in his 24 starts here.
6. Denny Hamlin - Hamlin is finally getting his season turned around, getting two of his three top 10s in his past two starts. At Dover, Denny hasn’t been great, but he recorded top 10s in both races last season and I like the little momentum that he is building lately. Like his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, Hamlin is a bit hit-or-miss here, with half of his starts ending in finishes outside of the top twenty. Proceed with caution if you pick the #11 Toyota this weekend.
7. Tony Stewart – “Smoke” is on a streak of two top 10s this season, and I think he will easily make it three after this weekend. He’s not as good as his teammate (Ryan Newman) is at Dover, but Tony isn’t terrible. He has three top 10s in his past four starts here and owns a career average finish of 11.8, which includes two wins. It’s never a good idea to go against Steward when he gets a little momentum.
8. Greg Biffle – In the last four races of this season, “The Biff” has three top 10s and a worst finish of just 15th. In the last four races at Dover, Biffle has two top 10s and a worst finish of 19th. He’s won here twice (in 2005 and 2008) and has posted a top ten finish in eight of his last ten starts at “The Monster Mile”. Look for Biffle to make it nine of his last eleven after this weekend.
9. Mark Martin – I think this may prove to be too high of a ranking for Mark Martin, but I just have a hunch about him this week. He’s finished outside of the top 20 just once this season, and I don’t think he will make that twice on Sunday. Martin finished 12th and 15th at Dover last season, but in 2009 he recorded top 10s in both races (including a 2nd-place effort in the fall race). Make sure you check out what I have to say in my Predictions article before locking him into your roster this weekend.
10. Jeff Burton – Each week I have said that Burton won’t get his first top ten of the season…but I think this is the week! He finished 2nd in both Dover races during the 2010 season and hasn’t finished worse than 16th since 2004. Burton won here in 2006, and while I don’t think he will get his second win at this track this weekend, I do believe that a top ten is likely.
11. Kurt Busch – Kurt Busch has just one top ten in his past six races this season, but he could grab another this season. I have him ranked lower than some others will, though, simply because of how bad he has been running recently. It’s like a weekly comedy routine reading all of his comments during the race on Twitter. The elder Busch brother has three top 5s in his past four starts at Dover, but he’s never won here. Will he finally turn things around this weekend?
12. Kevin Harvick – It’s hard to believe that “Happy” isn’t the first Richard Childress Racing car ranked this week, but he’s not that stellar at Dover. He finished 7th here last spring, but that has been just one of his two top 10s here in the last nine races. Harvick hasn’t finished worst than 17th in his last five starts at Dover, though, and I don’t think streak will end this weekend.
13. Martin Truex, Jr. – Truex actually didn’t have a huge problem last week! He got his second top ten of the season in Darlington, but do you think he can make it two in a row? It’s possible–he at Dover in 2007–but I don’t think he will. Truex has just one top 20 in his past four starts at this track, and that was a 12th last season. His career average finish here is 16.8.
14. Clint Bowyer – Bowyer has finished 8th at “The Monster Mile” three times in his career, but he’s more likely to finish around 14th. His past five races here have ended with finishes of: 25th, 17th, 15th, and 11th. With Clint’s five-race top ten streak coming to an end last week (although it shouldn’t have), he should come out to prove that he can rebound, though, so this ranking may prove to be too low. Only time will tell.
15. Jeff Gordon – If you think Gordon is running up to potential this season, you are wrong. I know he won at Phoenix, but he’s usually not getting the finishes he deserves at his good tracks. This is why I have Jeff ranked so low this week. He finished 11th in both Dover races last season, and while he has finished outside of the top twelve just once in his past ten starts here, I think Gordon will have a hard time cracking the top ten this week. A top fifteen will be more likely for the #24 Chevrolet.
Underdogs Entering The FedEx 400:
Paul Menard – Now that Menard has fallen back down to earth, he’s back as an underdog. Like most tracks, he has been consistently average at Dover–with 71% of his finishes between 19th and 22nd–but he finished 7th here last fall after starting 9th. I don’t think he will grab another top ten, but a top fifteen is within reach.
David Reutimann – Reutty won the pole here in 2009 and recorded his first top five at this track in last season’s spring race. I don’t think he will get his first top ten of the season this weekend unless he gambles at the end, though.
David Ragan – Ragan was a little disappointing for me last week, but I still like how he is running this season. His best finish at Dover has been only 14th, but he’s been consistent here (his last four finishes have been 24th, 26th, 24th, 24th). It seems like the weeks you don’t expect the #6 to be strong are the ones that he is, so this may be the week.
A.J. Allmendinger – I seriously think The ‘Dinger could crack the top ten in points after this weekend. He has the seventh-best average driver rating at Dover over the past four races and has finishes of 29th, 7th, 14th, and 10th here since joining Richard Petty Motorsports. If he has a strong car like he has many times this season, expect Allmendinger to challenge for a top fifteen (and possibly a top ten).
Those To Avoid Entering The FedEx 400:
Brian Vickers – Vickers has just been top-ten good this season, or absolutely terrible, and this isn’t the week to take a chance with him on your fantasy roster. He has one top ten at Dover in twelve career starts, and that came back in 2005.
Marcos Ambrose – I typically like Marcos on tracks that are one-mile or less, but this week is the exception. His average finish at Dover is right around 24th and his best came in 2009 when he finished 14th. There are much better options this week than Ambrose.
Juan Montoya – Montoya has hit a cold spell this season, with a best finish of 23rd in the past three races, and although he finished 4th at Dover in 2009, that is his only top five at this track (and just his second top ten). If he qualifies in the top five, he could score a good run, but he’s a little too risky for me this weekend. I would avoid the #42.
Brad Keselowski – I’m not going to lie, last week’s top five finish by BK was a complete fluke. The only reason he got that 3rd-place was because he stayed out during the final pit stop. At Dover, he has made two starts, with 18th and 22nd-place runs to show for it. His driver ratings during those races, though, suggest to me that he lucked into those as well.
I will be back to posting my weekly Practice Breakdown and Post-Qualifying Predictions over on ifantasyrace.com, so be sure to check those out. The Sprint Cup All-Star weekend happens after Dover, so that will be an off-week for my Preview article. After that, though, it will return when the boys head to Charlotte for some Sunday night racing on May 29th.
May 10, 2011
How to make an informed fantasy pick for the 2011 Dover FedEx 400:
1) Look back at recent Dover races, it matters. Last year five drivers finished in the top ten in both Dover races. Also in recent Dover races you’ll find that some drivers know how to get around the 1.0 mile concrete track and some don’t.
2) Practice is extremely important at Dover. In recent weeks I’ve downplayed the importance of practice but not this week. Dover is a symmetrical track and average practice speeds will weed out the contenders from the pretenders.
3) Qualifying counts at Dover. Fifty of the eighty-two races run at the Monster Mile have been won from a top five starting position (61%). Thirteen of them have been won from the pole. Only seventeen races have been won from a starting position outside the top ten.
4) Don’t get to carried away studying similar tracks this week. Dover is twice as big as Bristol and I feel fantasy racers can’t really digest Darlington info the best because I feel only one set of turns is similar to Dover so why complicate things.
The Big Three Drivers To Watch:
1) Jimmie Johnson is easily the favorite heading into Dover. He’s won three out of the last four races and only a pit road speeding penalty kept him from being 4 for 4. Johnson has won a third of his races at Dover and last year he led 416 laps.
2) Carl Edwards – Edwards struggled at Dover early in his career but once he figured it out he hasn’t looked back. Since 2006 Edwards hasn’t finished lower than 11th and his average finish in this time span is 4.66.
3) Kyle Busch – Sure Kevin Harvick’s gonna get him back in time but Dover’s to soon to worry about that. Entering this race Kyle Busch is the defending champion. Last year he capitalized on a Jimmie Johnson mistake and won his second career race at the Monster Mile. Kyle Busch has finished in the top ten in half his races at Dover.
Others To Watch:
Matt Kenseth – Previous winner who’s finished in the top ten in every race but two since 2006.
Greg Biffle – Two time winner and if you’re a loop data fan he has the second best driver rating (110.1), best average finish in the last twelve (6.7) and the best average running position (8.0).
Jeff Burton – Last year Jeff Burton finished second in both Dover races. He’s had his struggles this year but Dover has been like medicine to him before. In 2006 he beat Matt Kenseth to the finish line and snapped a long losing streak. Could it happen again?
Ryan Newman – He’s had a lot of success at Dover in his career but for the most part its front loaded. Look for him to get a top ten.
AJ Allmendinger -In the last three Dover races AJ has finished 10th, 14th and 7th. Last fall he led 143 laps but pit road problems hurt him greatly.
Tony Stewart – Stewart’s finished in the top eleven in four out of the last five Dover races. Both of his wins at the Monster Mile were back in 2000.
Jimmie Johnson 5/1, Kyle Busch 5/1, Carl Edwards 8/1, Denny Hamlin 8/1, Tony Stewart 12/1, Kevin Harvick 12/1, Jeff Gordon 12/1, Kurt Busch 15/1, Clint Bowyer 20/1, Dale Earnhardt Jr 20/1, Matt Kenseth 20/1, Greg Biffle 20/1
May 5, 2011
|Expert||Website||Pick to Win||Finish||Experts Avg|
|Josh Lobdel||Brad Keselowski||3||8.70|
|Jerry Lagger||One and Done Game Winner||Mark Martin||19||12.10|
|Dennis Michelsen||RaceTalkRadio.com||Denny Hamlin||6||13.70|
|Steve Wronkowicz||On Pit Row||Jeff Gordon||12||15.30|
|Eric McClung||KFFL||Jeff Gordon||12||11.40|
|Eric McGuire||free agent||Denny Hamlin||6||10.00|
|Dan Beaver||Fantasy Racing Games||Jeff Gordon||12||13.50|
|Matt Mercer||On Pit Row||Kasey Kahne||4||11.00|
|Adam Ansell||Roto Experts||Greg Biffle||8||12.70|
|Chris Leone||On Pit Row||Brad Keselowski||3||20.60|
|Bob Ellis||NASCAR Ranting and Raving||Mark Martin||19||17.30|
|CharlieTurner||On Pit Row||Jeff Gordon||12||10.40|
|Jordan McAbee||On Pit Row||Denny Hamlin||6||9.40|
|Jon Rodgers||Gillette Young Guns Challenge Winner||Denny Hamlin||6||14.00|
|James Jones||On Pit Row||Jeff Gordon||12||11.80|
|Mike Wells||Racing4Glory.com||Jeff Gordon||12||8.60|
|Darren Fauth||FantasyRacingCheatSheet||Jeff Gordon||12||15.40|
|P J Walsh||FantasyNASCARPreview.com||Greg Biffle||8||17.20|
|Charles Rantz||ifantasyrace.com||Denny Hamlin||6||11.90|