The Frontstretch: Fantasy Insider: Johnson, Fontana Go Hand-In-Hand ... But Who Else? by Mike Ravesi -- Thursday October 7, 2010

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Welcome back, everyone, to Frontstretch.com’s Fantasy Insider. Today, we break down the numbers for this weekend’s running of the Pepsi Max 400 in Fontana. And since everyone knows who the big name favorites are, once again we are going to concentrate on the midpack drivers that you can pick up and get cheap points out of to push your team to the top of your league.

So, without further delay, here’s your breakdown for NASCAR’s latest trip out West:

Studs:

This weekend, your studly duo consists of Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle. I’m not going to spend much time on Johnson this week… it’s the Chase, he’s Jimmie Johnson, ‘nuff said. (If you REALLY want stats, well, he’s won three of the last four races at Fontana. What more do you want?)

If the past four years weren’t any indication, just look at the past two weeks to see that Jimmie Johnson is indeed the driver to beat.

As for Biffle, well, he really has the two-mile tracks pretty much figured out. He earned top-10s in both races at Michigan and posted a tenth here back in February. The No. 16 team is also coming off a dominating win at Kansas last weekend and may just be peaking at the right time. Throw in Roush Fenway’s solid history here and you may see a top 5 from Mr. Biffle this Sunday.

Who will carry you:

This week, we feature two regulars to this section: Jamie McMurray and A.J. Allmendinger along with Paul Menard. Allmendinger is continuing to impress and looks ready to take the helm as the top driver for RPM in 2011. He’s posted top-15 runs in the last four races and has become a regular in the top 20 each week. He’s also posted finishes of 11th and 17th at Michigan this year, and I think everyone would agree he’s the next driver to get his first win. Don’t be surprised if it’s this Sunday. McMurray is on a bit of a roll with eight straight top-20 runs; three of those have been top-6 finishes. He’s got three top 5s in Fontana and an average finishing spot of 17th. He hasn’t been the strongest guy at the two-mile tracks this year, but is still pretty much a lock for a top 20 every week.

Menard is a bit of a stretch if you just look at the history. But I like to look at momentum, too, and Menard has a lot on his side. Maybe he wants to leave RPM on a positive note. Maybe he wants to put Richard Childress’ mind at ease for signing him to a contract next year. Maybe he’s just getting the hang of it. Whatever the reason, he has a pair of top 10s heading into this weekend and has five of his seven career top 10s this season. I am betting on him to keep rolling right through this weekend’s event and post a solid top-15 performance Sunday.

Who will bury you:

This weekend, you’ll want to steer clear of Ryan Newman. He’s been running well lately, but ranks in the bottom half of NASCAR drivers at the two-mile tracks over the last three years. This year at Fontana back in February, he finished a dismal 36th. At Michigan, he wasn’t much better with results of 32nd and 23rd.

So now that you’re armed with enough knowledge about this weekend’s top drivers to choke a horse, go out and set your lineups with confidence knowing you’re on the way to winning the week again. And don’t forget to check in and set your rosters on this site’s fantasy racing game as the season quickly winds down. Last week, it was only Kasey Kahne who failed to live up to my expectations as my other four picks all came in in the top 11 – two were in the top 5. Hopefully, you followed my advice.

So with that, I bid you farewell for this week. We’ll see you next Thursday here on the Insider, taking an in-depth look at Saturday night’s race from Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Contact Mike Ravesi

Thursday on the Frontstretch:
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MPM2Nite: A Not So Fond Farewell To Fontana in the Fall
Changing Lanes: Well Worth Changing Channels to Watch
Dialing It In: Where Does ESPN Go From Here? Why Fans Are So Mad
Fanning the Flames: Blue Humor Gone Bad, Revenge, and What’s Eating Junior?
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