Now that the luster of the beginning of the season has probably worn off, we are heading into that intermediate stretch of the first half of the season. If you’re fantasy team has been snake bit so far, you’re tired of it and ready for luck to turn your way.
The same is also true for the real racing teams. There are some who have struggled, been a victim of circumstance, or for whatever reason just haven’t fared well. Sure, we’re only six races into the 2013 season, but if the Chase started Sunday it would be without regulars such as Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin (partly because of his injury) and even Martin Truex Jr., who made the Chase last year.
Those guys can’t wait forever to make their move and Saturday night on the 1.5-mile oval at Texas may be a place for them to at the very least make some progress. So with that in mind, here is look at this week’s picks.
LOOKING FOR SOME ACES
There have been four different winners in the last four races in Texas in Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle and of course Jimmie Johnson. However, that was in the old Car of Tomorrow (or Car of Yesterday as I like to call it). So with the new Gen 6 car and especially on a faster track where aerodynamics play a big role, how drivers did in the COT is a little bit of moot point.
That’s when I like to look at a driver’s career numbers.
And when doing that, there are three drivers that have some impressive overall statistics at Texas. Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle each have two wins there. You may so does Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Burton and that Carl Edwards has three wins there.
But what I like about Kenseth, Stewart and Biffle is that they have by far led more laps at the track than any other driver. Kenseth has led 772 laps, Biffle 732 and Stewart 727. Jeff Gordon is next at 584 laps led followed by Kyle Busch at 521. And to be fair, Busch has had just 15 races at Texas compared to 22 for Stewart and 21 for Kenseth.
Greg Biffle has had a steady if not unremarkable season so far. That being said, he made last year’s Texas trip a three hour exercise in embarrassment with a 3.25 second margin of victory.
So, of the top tier drivers you look at who is the most desperate and for sure it’s Stewart. He’s stuck back in 22nd in points, and was looking at good finishes in each of the last two races before running into some late race bad fortune. I’ll even go out on a bit of limb here and say Stewart is my pick to win this week. His history is too good here and he just needs it too bad.
MIDDLE OF THE ROADERS
In our two Frontstretch fantasy leagues on Yahoo! Kyle Busch is in this middle group, but really he could be considered with the elite. He’s not won at Texas yet, but by leading so many laps in the past, it just seems like he’s destined for a win here sometime soon. The question is, if you are on race limits, do you use him now or save him for later in the season? That just may depend on your level of desperation.
Two others to consider again will be Mark Martin, who will be back in his normal seat in the No. 55 car this week, and Brian Vickers, who will be subbing for the injured Hamlin in the No. 11.
Mark Martin will be back in his familiar No. 55 this weekend after subbing in Denny Hamlin’s No. 11. He finished third in Texas last spring – a solid choice with a win and 13 career Top 5 finishes.
Another pair in this group to look at are Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Biffle. Junior is coming off his worst race of the year and has had some success at Texas with one win and 12 top 10 finishes in 21 races. Biffle, as mentioned previously, has been one of the elite.
And there’s Carl Edwards, too, with his three wins and he has led 493 laps in 16 races at Texas. Given the Roush Racing success here, Edwards and Biffle may be the way to go at Texas.
As usual, this is always a difficult pick. The two standbys here are Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Danica Patrick. Like many others, I had written Patrick off as being a serious contender at any place other than the restrictor plate tracks and maybe the road courses, based on her IndyCar experience there. But she ran an impressive race at Martinsville last week, finishing 12th in her first trip there, earning a lot of respect in the process.
Texas is a big fast track, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see her do well here. And with the Roush success here, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Stenhouse do well, too.
“Greg, we really need to turn things around here, so let’s keep…Bayne I mean…Trevor…yeah…uh, go get ‘em.”
But if you’re on race limits, one place to look each week is to see who is driving the No. 51 car for owner James Finch. This week it’s Austin Dillon, so he has to be given consideration. It’s also a week where Trevor Bayne will be in the Sprint Cup race, so he should be given serious consideration, too as his past record here – in his first five races here he’s finished 17th three times in a row. Both Dillon and Bayne are on limited schedules, so this may be your chance to pick one of those guys and save Stenhouse and Patrick for later.
The overall top score in the two Frontstretch leagues last week came from EMLTS97 entry. I had the combination of race winner Johnson, Kyle Busch in fifth, Vickers in 11th and Regan Smith in 22nd.
The overall points leader in the two leagues remains the Hurtubise team with 1,581 points, followed by EMLTS97 with 1,539 and RWO Motoring at 1,521.
And just in case you were wondering, of the 63 entries in the two Frontstretch fantasy leagues, only two picked Danica Patrick last week. Just yet more proof that the majority is not always correct.
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