My apologies to all of you who followed my advice and stayed away from Ryan Newman last week. But as they say, who is more foolish: the fool, or the fool who follows him?
While you take a minute to let that sink in, it’s time to put that bad race behind us and move on to the next one, where I hope y’all do a little better at the big, fast 1.5-mile oval down in Texas. The fourth event on an intermediate in 2010 (albeit the first with the new spoiler) should give fantasy owners a bit of an edge; at this point, we’ve got a pattern forming over who’s got a handle for the cookie-cutter tracks.
So who’s the key to letting you taste victory down in Fort Worth? Read on to see which drivers you want and which one you don’t in this week’s Fantasy Insider.
Matt Kenseth – Kenseth has a stellar record at Texas, with seven top-five finishes, 10 top 10s and a win in his last 14 races there. Two top fives earlier this year at the similarly configured Las Vegas and Atlanta venues make him as sure of a bet as anyone come Sunday afternoon. Second in points and armed with a career average finish of ninth, I say Texas equals an easy top five for the 2003 Cup champ.
Jeff Burton – Burton has two victories at Texas and an average finishing mark of 15th. He has also not finished worse than 13th in the last seven races there and, like Kenseth, has had success in 2010 at similar tracks: Richard Childress’s No. 31 Caterpillar team posted an 11th at Vegas and ran better than the 20th-place finish they took away from Atlanta. Look for a solid top-10 run out of the veteran this weekend.
Who Will Carry You
Paul Menard – Menard did stumble at Phoenix, but let’s face it: the guy isn’t going to finish top 20 all the time. So don’t jump off the bandwagon just yet; in fact, some recent history for the breakout driver suggests he’s primed to bounce back. Last year, he posted his best finish at Texas (13th) last April, and has a career average finish of 15th here in the spring. Add in his top five at Atlanta and top 20 in Vegas this season, and things look good for a finish somewhere between 12th and 17th for Menard.
AJ Allmendinger – While he doesn’t have a great Texas record, ‘Dinger has some things going for him. He’s finished in the top 17 in three of his last four races, with the only blip on his resume at Martinsville, where he was involved in a wreck. Finishing sixth at Atlanta this year, in his last trip to Texas he posted a stellar 10th-place finish. Grab ‘Dinger for Sunday’s event and expect him to come through with a top 20.
Marcos Ambrose – The “Devil Racer’s” season was in shambles until he hit the 1.5-mile tracks this year, and that’s why I like him this weekend in Texas. A 14th at Vegas and an 11th at Atlanta served as a springboard for the No. 47 team, as they now have top-15 finishes in four of the last five races. Ambrose’s history at Texas is also pretty good, with runs of 15th and 21st in 2008 and 2009, respectively. His other run resulted in a 41st-place finish, but that’s a bit deceiving as he had qualified 11th and was running well when the engine let go. As long as that doesn’t happen again, look for a solid top-20 run in three days.
Who Will Bury You
Kasey Kahne – Yes, Kahne has a victory in Texas. And yes, he has a second-place run there too. But in his other nine tries there, he doesn’t even have a lead-lap finish! And four of those results are worse than 33rd. Throw in the distraction of the Hendrick signing for 2012 (despite the fact we aren’t even a quarter of the way through 2010) and I think we’re gonna avoid Mr. Kahne this weekend. Of course, I said to avoid Mr. Newman last week, and you see how that worked out….
So there you have it, a formidable lineup of drivers sure to produce a pair of top 10s and a trio of top 25s! So go set your lineups with confidence, and we’ll see you back here next Thursday for a preview of NASCAR’s most unpredictable track, Talladega.