Sometimes you can make all the right picks, but not reap the rewards. Every fantasy owner deals with this at least a couple of times a year. At Dover, I selected Kasey Kahne and AJ Allmendinger as my mid-level drivers. They were running third and seventh, respectively, when they each blew an engine.
What happened last Sunday (May 29) was an entirely different story. It was fantasy mayhem. Once again, I selected Kahne and was sitting pretty in the final laps, that is until his car ran out of gas on the final restart and handed my favorite to win a 22nd-place finish. Meanwhile Kevin Harvick, who was mediocre most of the day, and restarted fifth took the win. David Ragan, who restarted 10th, was second and Joey Logano, who had been lapped on two different occasions in the race came home third.
These late-race restarts are killing me and I know I’m not alone. As a fan, the chaos that ensued in the final laps of the Coca-Cola 600 couldn’t have been much more entertaining, but as a fantasy owner it can’t get much more frustrating than watching one of your drivers run out of gas on the final lap (Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr.) or restart sixth and get caught up in somebody else’s mess (Jeff Burton). As the series heads to Kansas this weekend, I’m hoping for one thing: no green/white/checkered finish.
Greg Biffle was only a few laps from victory when he had to pull his No. 16 down pit road in the final laps of the 600. Biffle wound up 13th and didn’t get the finish he deserved, but hopefully it raised the confidence level of this team. I think he is the favorite to go to victory lane at Kansas. He won there last fall and is one of only three drivers to finish in the top five in the last two races at the 1.5-mile track (Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are the others). Biffle has also led more laps than any other driver there, with 173 led in the last two events.
On paper, both Stewart and Gordon look like better picks than Carl Edwards. However, neither Gordon nor Stewart has been dependable as of late. Edwards’s 16th-place finish marked only the third time this season he has been outside the top 10 at race end. The series points leader was sixth at Kansas last fall and it would be shocking to at least not see him have a solid top-10 run this weekend.
Mark Martin has been up-and-down all season. He was second at Dover and 34th one week ago in Charlotte. I expect him to bounce back with a solid run at Kansas. Martin has a win and four top-10 finishes at the track. His finish of 14th last fall wasn’t great, but at a track where no mid-level driver has had much success, Martin has been one of the most reliable.
Much like Martin, Clint Bowyer didn’t record one of his better finishes last fall at Kansas (15th), but Bowyer has four top-20 finishes in five starts at his hometown track. His average finish of (11.80) is fourth among active drivers behind Biffle, Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
Paul Menard was tearing it up in the opening quarter of the season, but in the past few races, Ragan has risen to the top of the bottom-tier drivers. Ragan has two top fives in his last four races including a second-place finish last week in Charlotte. Look for Menard to regain some of his form this week. He started second and finished eighth in Kansas in 2010, and along with his Richard Childress Racing teammates should be a factor this weekend.
Kurt Busch got a much needed top-five finish last Sunday at Charlotte, but this team has struggled for the most part on 1.5-mile and 2-mile tracks. I expect those struggles to continue on Sunday. Busch hasn’t recorded a top 10 at Kansas since 2004 and has two finishes outside the top 25 in that time. There are far better selections at this value than to risk taking a chance with Busch.
Juan Pablo Montoya started seventh at Kansas last season, but he couldn’t find the handle on his car all race in route to a 29th-place finish. In four starts at Kansas, Montoya has three finishes outside the top 20. The No. 42 team hasn’t done much better as of late. His best finish in his last six races of 2011 is 12th, which he got last week at Charlotte.
Until next week, good luck my friends!
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