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FANTASY: The Texas Two

Thursday, November 1, 2012
Jimmie Johnson took over the points lead with his win at Martinsville Speedway. Photo: Getty Images

AAA Texas 500 Fantasy Preview

And then there were two.

The championship Chase is down to just Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski with two races to go.  There are plenty of drivers that aren't mathematically eliminated, but let's be honest, it's down to two!

Johnson is cool and confident, and he should be.  He's won this ordeal five times and knows exactly how to go about business to rise to the top of the standings.  Last week, he finally overtook Keselowski after sitting like a snake in the grass behind him for several weeks.

However, just because Johnson's ascent is complete doesn't mean it's finished (if that makes sense).  Keselowski seems to have an almost boyish ignorance to the pressures of auto racing.  That's not a slight, he simply doesn't seem like the kind of guy that gets rattled.

He reminds me of a youth sports team, whose focus is to have fun.  He still seems to remember that no matter how many millions he makes, he needs to enjoy what he's doing.  His ability to keep smiling, keeps him loose and helps him perform as well as he does.

Is Johnson the favorite?  Yes, he's proven time and again that he wins Chases.  But, before we write off "Bad Brad," let's keep in mind that he's capable of ripping off consecutive wins, the same way that Tony Stewart worked his way to a championship last season.

It's likely that fantasy NASCAR owners might have their fates signed, sealed and delivered in the standings, but there are still three weeks to make up ground (or lose it, should you struggle).

Strategy: At this point, you've probably started running out of allocations on some drivers.  Keep Phoenix's race in the back of your mind for next week.  Both Texas and Homestead are cookie-cutters that should support the general population of drivers, but if you only have one start left on someone that will be very good at Phoenix, you should save it.

A-List

Start

#11 Denny Hamlin - After last week's disaster, I expect the two-time Texas winner to comeback with a vengeance.  Hamlin is usually someone that uses failure as motivation.

#17 Matt Kenseth - He's finished five of seven Chase races outside the top-10, but won the other two.  He's a favorite at Texas with a series-best 8.6 average finish and two wins in 20 starts.

#48 Jimmie Johnson - Now that he's got the points lead, "Five-Time" will be looking to expand on it.  His 9.7 average finish at TMS is second to only Kenseth, so it's not hard to see him opening up the gap.

Park

#2 Brad Keselowski - I'll say this, I think Brad picks up his first-ever top-10 at Texas this Sunday. Just in case he doesn't, don't be surprised - his career-best finish is 14th.

B-List

Start

#15 Clint Bowyer - He's the hottest B-List driver right now and his 13.3 average finish at Texas ties for first in the group with Mark Martin.

#16 Greg Biffle - It's highly possible that you're out of Biffle starts at this point.  If not, this is a great weekend to use him as he has two wins and a 103.3 driver rating at TMS.

#55 Mark Martin - "Old Reliable" would be a good play if you're out of allocations on the B-List's other strong drivers.  As I said, Martin is tied with Bowyer for the best average finish at Texas among all B-Listers.

#88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. - Like Biffle, Junior starts might be in short supply.  He doesn't have too much of a high end at TMS with just three top-fives in 20 starts, but a 13.9 average finish speaks to his consistency at the track when you figure that his career average finish in all Cup races is 16.4.

Park

#5 Kasey Kahne - On the way to what looks like his best career finish, Kahne has bucked the trend at a lot of tracks where he hadn't raced well (like Martinsville last weekend).  However, his 18.8 average finish at Texas isn't good.  He won at Phoenix last fall, so he could be saved for that race.

#39 Ryan Newman - "The Rocketman" has just three top-10s in 18 starts at TMS.  He would also be a driver that you could consider at the short track of Phoenix.

C-List

Start

#21 Trevor Bayne - He's certainly not going to win like he did at Daytona a year and a half ago, but he's a good option and I'm willing to bet you have an allocation left to use on him.

#43 Aric Almirola - The No. 43 has been racing very well lately.  He got 12th in Charlotte, led 69 laps at Kansas before wrecking and finished fourth last week.

Park

#47 Bobby Labonte - He turned some heads last week by picking up just his second top-10 of the year, but let's temper expectations of a hot streak.  He has an average finish of 23.8 at Texas, so it's unlikely his good fortune will continue.

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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.