|12/03/15||The Champion By NHMS Numbers|
|11/20/15||The Championship Four Preview|
|11/13/15||Phoenix: Three To Watch|
|10/30/15||Martinsville: Three To Watch|
|10/18/15||Kansas: Three To Watch|
|10/05/15||Charlotte: Three To Watch|
FANTASY: The Night Time is the Right Time
Yeah, I know, I've said something about night racing being a positive, and I've opened to door for another suggestion for lights at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Those requests have been heard, and NHMS has been open about supporting this fan opinion as it continues working amicably with the town of Loudon on reviewing a long-standing agreement that prevents night racing.
With that mutual interest established, can we talk about this weekend's night race at Texas Motor Speedway? NASCAR will fire up the bulbs for the first time in 2013, and the spotlights are sure to keep the early season excitement rolling for the Sprint Cup Series.
Here's a look at the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing favorites for Saturday's primetime event:
For the first time in seven races this season, NASCAR will race on a similar track layout to a previous race (Las Vegas Motor Speedway). While Texas Motor Speedway is anything but normal in personality, its shape is a standard, 1.5-mile, cookie-cutter oval. It's slightly more banked than LVMS, but, for the most part, those that race the intermediates well have a strong history at TMS.
The night time. Duh. Not only do the cars themselves run differently at night, but the darkness has been known to bring out a driver's inner-Devil. With some of the interactions getting heated in recent weeks, the night air probably won't stay cool for too long. Expect at least a few dust-ups.
Cut your cookies and serve 'em with milk. The 1.5-milers are capable of producing unexpected winners now and again, but it's rare for the intermediate aces to put up a poor finish, barring unforeseen bad luck. This is one of those weeks where you should feel comfortable starting the most coveted drivers.
- #15 Clint Bowyer - As of Wednesday morning, only 11 percent of Yahoo players were rostering Bowyer. If you want to zig while others zag, consider that Mr. Five-Hour Energy has seven top-10s in the last 10 Texas races.
- #20 Matt Kenseth - TMS is his track. He has the highest average finish (8.3) and driver rating (106.6) in the track's history. He should keep that success up this weekend, as he's had a strong start to 2013, having led at least 42 laps in four of the six races.
- #48 Jimmie Johnson - You can't really argue against starting a guy that has a history of dominating intermediate tracks. Specifically at Texas, Johnson's 9.3 average finish and 103.5 driver rating both rank second to only Kenseth.
- #14 Tony Stewart - Classic Tony Stewart would shut up the critics with a win this weekend, but he has just one top-10 in the first six races of the season. I'll let someone else make that high risk/reward move.
- #16 Greg Biffle - It wasn't shocking that Biffle won this race last year; he's scored nine top-10s in the last 10 TMS races.
- #55 Mark Martin - When it comes to Yahoo! Fantasy scoring, Martin has the most average points on the B-List over the past 10 races at Texas. Given it's a very tight band and only 1.16 points back to Carl Edwards, who ranks sixth in the stat, but top of the list is top of the list.
- #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. - I wouldn't get too excited about the prospects of Junior winning. He has just three top-10s in 21 starts at TMS, but with a 13.6 average finish, the consistency is there. That consistency led him to the points lead in 2013 before a hiccup last week at Martinsville. Expect it to return this Saturday.
- #99 Carl Edwards - It's been an up-and-down season for Cousin Carl. He has three top-fives, but hasn't finished better than 15th in the other three races. Still, it's a step forward from 2012 and Edwards has a track-leading three wins at Texas in 16 starts.
- #11 Brian Vickers - He's been a go-to guy as a part-timer the last year and a half, but Vickers has never registered a top-10 at TMS in 14 starts. He also has the added challenge of racing for a completely new team this week.
- #56 Martin Truex Jr. - After a surprising Chase run last year, Truex Jr. has turned back into a pumpkin in 2013. He currently sits 25th in the standings and shouldn't be started until he turns it around.
- #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - He took over a car that Matt Kenseth drove to the best track averages in Texas's 24-race history. Teammates Biffle and Edwards are strong here as well, so he should be the best C-List option this weekend.
- #51 Austin Dillon - The No. 51 of Phoenix Racing ranks 11th in owner points this year. That's better than cars like the 20, 55, 22 and 24. Dillon is a future star of the Sprint Cup Series and should hold his own on Saturday night.
- #10 Danica Patrick - Haters gonna hate, I guess. You'll have all season to start her nine times, so there's no harm in waiting until later in the season when she becomes more comfortable in the series.
Drivers are listed by car number and not necessarily in rank order.