Pre-Practice Notes: Talladega
A quarter of the 2012 Sprint Cup season is complete. So far its been a year for the Juniors. Dale Jr. is second in points and Martin Truex Jr. is the biggest surprise in the Top 12. I admit I never looked both ways. I never saw Truex Jr. coming. Worst yet I have continued to ignore him and failed to capitalize on his hot streak. His 25th place finish at Richmond last week doesn’t make me feel any better about myself either. I missed the boat on him in salary cap formats and looked him over at Kansas. Martin Truex Jr. currently sits 5th in points.
We are racing one of my favorite tracks this week. The inevitable ‘Big One’ makes me nervous as a fantasy owner, but there is plenty of data that can be used to give your team the best chance of winning. The Cup drivers logged over 700 miles of Superspeedway track time at Daytona so I expect the same drivers that were strong in the 500 to perform at Talladega as well. The Fords where the class of the field this February. Picking the 99, 17 (2012 Daytona 500 Winner) , and 16 all make sense. Don’t forget Kyle Busch won the Bud Shoot Out and last week’s race. I also like the RCR team (29, 31, 27) this week.
Regan Smith has had success in a few restrictor plate races. He makes a great pick for ESPN Stock Car Challenge players that were using Mark Martin. Martin is not racing this week and Smith pulled off the win at Darlington last year. After Darlington the game moves to a new segment so you’ll need to completely reset your roster. So there’s no sense in holding on to drivers that don’t traditionally perform well at the next two tracks just because you bought low early in the season. Pending disastrous practice results I will be making the Martin – Smith shake n’ bake swap out this week. Other sleepers and value based picks include Brad Keselowski, Marcos Ambrose, and Paul Menard.
My Pre-Practice Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing Team for Talladega:
A: Kevin Harvick 29 – Harvick has a way of making the right moves at the end of the race. He’s one of the smartest drivers in the Cup Series.
A: Matt Kenseth 17 – 2 time Daytona 500 Winner
B: Dale Earnhardt Jr. 88 – Captain Obvious
B: Paul Menard 27 – 6th Place Daytona 500 finish
B: Jeff Burton 31- Slow and steady wins the race. 5 Top 5’s in the last 17 races.
B: Regan Smith 78 – 19th place avg finish at Superspeedways in 2011 but he should lead laps. I am saving the 16, 39, and 5.
C: Dave Blaney 36 – Ran well at Daytona and almost won on strategy. Time to save Bobby Labonte.
C: Michael Waltrip 55 – Michael has a strong history of restrictor plate success. Bonus Points: He could qualify well and we all score when he’s racing instead of commentating.
I will update my rosters on Saturday after this week’s qualifying results. Remember “If you ain’t first, you’re last”.