SAMSUNG Mobile 500 Fantasy Preview
It's getting to be that time of year when the weather starts getting warm enough at night and too hot during the day, so NASCAR begins sprinkling primetime into the schedule. Traditionally, this would be the Sprint Cup Series' first night race of the season, but the rescheduled Daytona 500 stole the thunder on that one.
Remember that event at all? Rhetorical question, I hope! In that race, we had Juan Pablo Montoya crashing into a jet dryer and Brad Keselowski nearly crashing Twitter by tweeting a photo of the fire on the track.
There's always something weird about night races. It seems to bring out the inner hooligan in each driver when the lights get turned on. Drivers attack the corners just a little bit faster and make passes with just a little less regard for common sense. Given, "sense" is all relative when we're talking about guys that race cars at 200 mph, but the point is that night races can get a little wild.
Texas Motor Speedway seems to compound the craziness with a general attraction to spectacle. TMS takes pride in being one of the leaders in entertainment when it comes to the NASCAR product. The whole stereotype that things are bigger and better in the Lone Star State is a mantra that the track takes seriously.
There's rarely a boring race at Texas. It might be the generic cookie-cutter of 1.5 miles with significant banking up to 24 degrees in the corners, but a familiarity with the track type seems to give drivers an increased confidence to get after it.
One thing that's noticeable, like with most cookie cutters, is that there's no real dominant driver at Texas, but that there are a bunch of very good drivers. Basically, the wealth gets spread around at this track among several different drivers with several different car manufacturers.
Here's a look at the drivers that tend to do well and that you might want to consider for the Yahoo Fantasy Auto Racing roster this weekend.
Strategy: As is usually the case on the cookie cutters, the best drivers finish consistently well. They need to have a good car to race this track, but it's not so wide open (like a two-mile oval) that you can just go completely pedal to the medal and let the machine win it for you. Overall driving ability is still a significant factor.
#11 Denny Hamlin - It's tough to go wrong on the A-List this week. Hamlin has two wins and eight top-10s in 13 starts at Texas, so he's someone with more upside than downside.
#17 Matt Kenseth - This is one of the few weeks where Kenseth might actually be the hands-down favorite. His 13 top-10s in 18 Texas starts gives him an average finish of 8.7, which tops the Cup field.
#99 Carl Edwards - Edwards is the risk versus reward guy that I avoid but that the Hold 'Em fanatics in the group will love. His three Texas wins is the most among active Cup drivers, but he only has six top-10s in 14 races, so he lacks consistency. You know the risk; you make your decision.
#2 Brad Keselowski - Keselowski's never finished in the top-10 at Texas, so he's a logical guy to ignore since the A-List has at least a few other options I didn't even discuss (Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart among them).
#15 Clint Bowyer - An average finish of 13.0 at TMS is the best of any B-List driver, so he's definitely worth considering. He has only three top-fives in 12 starts, so a win is unlikely, but a good finish should be in the cards.
#16 Greg Biffle - The Biff is hurt by an ugly four DNFs at this track, but when you figure he has nine top-10s in 16 starts, you realize he's only finished the race outside the top-10 on three occasions. Things are going well for him, so I don't anticipate an unlucky DNF and thus have my sights set on a top-10.
#55 Mark Martin - It might be a little unfair to compare his stats while driving full-time for Hendrick Motorsports, but he does have the most fantasy points on the B-List in the last 10 Texas races. I'm not all-in on him, but considering he's raced well with MWR, there's no reason to expect he can't place well.
#88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Junior's just been good this year, period. That said, his 14.1 average finish at this track falls just behind Bowyer and Martin on the B-list and 10 top-10s in 19 starts suggests he's a reliable play, regardless of his season.
#39 Ryan Newman - People have the tendency to hitch on to a bandwagon after a guy wins a race, but that's a bad choice this weekend. Newman has just three top-10s in 17 starts on this cookie cutter with an ugly 70.2 driver rating. I don't see back-to-back race wins as a likely result.
#51 Kurt Busch - This is just another public service announcement that you can ignore Busch's history. His 11 top-10s in 18 TMS starts are meaningless, as he's in a different place in his career now.
#21 Trevor Bayne - With the C-List as shallow as it is this year, a part-time driver like Bayne spells huge relief for the precious allocations available on the few respectable full-timers.
#43 Aric Almirola - If you're not interested in paying attention to allocations, Almirola has ascended to the top of the C-list. With a relatively strong Richard Petty Motorsports car, he's probably the favorite to get the most points this week among his list mates.
#10 David Reutimann - Yeah, that's nice; step on the poor guy while he's drowning! Seriously though, while the guy has heart, it's just kind of embarrassing to try so hard with such a terrible car that you end up in a parked position on the front straight. I'm perplexed that 11% of Yahoo users think that's a car worth owning.
The picks in this blog are based around Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game and its standard scoring rules. The preview is designed to provide suggestions, while still encouraging managers to make their own decisions. Once sorted into Yahoo's A, B and C-Lists, they are organized based on car number and not directly associated with a rank value.
You can sign up and play for free, by visiting http://racing.fantasysports.yahoo.com. If signed up, the "Fans of NHMS" group may be joined by clicking here.