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Fantasy Insider

Fantasy Insider: Despite Poor Finish, Keep Rolling With Hamlin

Much like *Jimmie Johnson* at Auto Club Speedway, *Kevin Harvick* came out of nowhere on Sunday at Martinsville to contend for the win. NASCAR’s new “closer,” as he is being dubbed, ran outside the top 15 for a good portion of Sunday’s race while the usual short-track aces (Johnson, *Denny Hamlin* and *Kyle Busch*) took turns out front. These late-race charges by top-tier drivers serve as a reminder selecting drivers has gotten even tougher for fantasy owners in recent weeks. Two of the names that led laps, Johnson and Hamlin, finished 11th and 12th respectively and the driver who led the most laps (302 combined) in both races, Kyle Busch, didn’t win either. Harvick led only seven combined laps in the two victories.

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Fantasy Insider: Hamlin Is The Man At Martinsville

*Jimmie Johnson* proved to be a pretty good pick last weekend at Fontana; if it wasn’t for the last restart, he probably would have ended up in Victory Lane. The finish is even more impressive considering the circumstances; Johnson was stuck in the middle of every practice sheet and running outside the top 15 for a good chunk of last Sunday’s event. He looked mediocre at best for most of the weekend, yet partner in crime Chad Knaus had the No. 48 looking outstanding when it counted: the final 25 laps. See, that's the thing about Johnson; even when he doesn’t look good at the start of the race, he has the best crew chief in the business to get him to the top 5 by the end.

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Fantasy Insider: Johnson Is Due At Fontana

Last Sunday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway provided fantasy owners with something they hadn’t seen in the first three races: predictability. All the numbers pointed to *Kyle Busch* and Rowdy came through with his first win of the season. While Busch’s win was predictable, the parody in the sport remains. There have been four different winners in the first four races and names like *Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick* and *Kurt Busch* are yet to reach victory lane. There is no reason to think we couldn’t see five different winners in the first five races, mainly because of that Johnson guy.

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Fantasy Insider: Get Rowdy at Bristol

_There is rarely a time in Sprint Cup racing where one or two organizations don’t seem to be a on a different playing field than the competition. Over the last 15 years or so, it has primarily been Hendrick Motorsports (Hendrick has won 10 of the last 16 series titles) and Roush Fenway Racing (two titles)._ _In 2011, it seems like the playing field has evened. Old dependables like Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick have been quite the opposite this year. They are great one week and off the next. Meanwhile, names like Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr., Juan Montoya and A.J. Allmendinger are all ahead of the aforementioned drivers in the standings._

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Fantasy Insider: Carry Gordon’s Momentum Into Vegas

_After an unpredictable Daytona 500, Phoenix was expected to be the real start of the fantasy season. Then lap 67 came of the Subway Fresh Fit 500k, and along with it a 13-car accident taking out a host of fantasy contenders, including many fantasy owners' top driver, *Carl Edwards*._ _On top of that, one week after *Trevor Bayne* went to victory lane in his second career race, *Jeff Gordon* won for the first time in 67 races (at a track where he had only scored one previous victory)._ _So much for predictability._

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Fantasy Insider: Struggle At Daytona? Bounce Back with Johnson

Hopefully, your first week of fantasy didn’t go up in smoke like it did for the Earnhardt-Childress Racing engines. *Trevor Bayne’s* win on Sunday proved just how unpredictable picking drivers at a restrictor-plate track can be. Fortunately, it should get a little easier from this point forward, starting with this weekend’s race in Phoenix.

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Fantasy Insider: Surviving the Two-Car Tango in Daytona

Here we go, set to embark on the longest fantasy season known to man: Fantasy NASCAR. Get ready for 36 weeks of racing over the course of nine months. Without further ado, let’s jump into a two-car draft and get ready for Daytona. This year, we will start the season with a bigger wild card than ever before created by a brand new surface at Daytona. In case you’ve missed the racing in Speedweeks so far, here are some things to remember as we head to the new Daytona:

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Fantasy Insider: Gordon Must Win to Keep Streak Alive

Well, how about the call to take Casey Mears over Kasey Kahne last week! Not only did Mears beat him by six positions at Phoenix, he did it with a top-25 effort, just like I called it. So excuse me if I pat myself on the back a little after what has been a long 2010 NASCAR season. This weekend, I like Mears again, believe it or not. And I am staying away from all three drivers running for the championship. I've got to believe if it gets to 20 to go and they are all running in a row, somebody is going to do something to someone, and that won’t help your fantasy team one bit. So what does that mean for your own roster running for a title? Don't worry, I've got all the picks and expert info to make sure you're not running out of gas at the finish. Let's take a look at some safer picks to bring that trophy home to your living room... shall we?

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Fantasy Insider: Phoenix Couldn’t Come At A Better Time For J.J. – And Mears?

NASCAR heads west one last time this weekend when they go to the Arizona dessert for this weekend's main event in Phoenix. And this race couldn’t come at a better time for Jimmie Johnson as he’s owned the flat tri-oval for quite sometime, while Denny Hamlin has been less than stellar at the one mile venue. So with that, lets review some history and see if we can figure out a winning line-up for your fantasy team this Sunday.

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Fantasy Insider: Talladega, The Track Too Tough To Predict

The task of sitting here looking at the list of drivers and comparing their race histories, recent struggles or successes, states of their current teams, or plain old gut feeling, then trying to come up with who will or won’t do well at a restrictor plate track is maddening. Simply put, no one dominates Talladega. Just when you think you’ve got a lock, you find out the man in question fails to finish half his restrictor plate track events. For what it's worth, though, I have once again compiled my list of guys you will want this weekend, and will basically sit and hope they all miss the Big One. Or maybe the Big Two, or Big Three...

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