NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: 2007 Sharp Aquos 500 at Fontana Edition

After the bullring that was Bristol, the series heads out to the west coast for another race on the wide open California Speedway. Your fantasy team could be taxed, as the race to the Chase winds down to its inevitable conclusion. No question about it, the pressure’s on. Drivers on the bubble will be running conservatively but intelligently, while the drivers on the outside looking in will simply be going for broke. Then, there’s that strange category of drivers already locked in – they’ll be going for the win to try and garner those extra bonus points for the Chase. As the racing community heads straight for the desert heat, can Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards continue their own current hot streaks? Will Kevin Harvick be able to finish solidly enough to ensure a place in the Chase? This week’s edition of Picks ‘n’ Pans offers our insights into which drivers offer the best and worst for your fantasy team this weekend.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Nextel Cup: 2007 Sharpie 500 at Bristol Edition

For some, the racing at Bristol Saturday night was the best it has been in years. For others, it was a Bristol race in name only, with no fireworks and little excitement. But no matter which side of the fence you are on, there were plenty of winners and losers coming out of the annual madhouse that is Thunder Valley in late summer. Carl Edwards added another 10 bonus points to his Chase count, and should get extra points for sticking the backflip on Bristol’s high banks after his second win of the season. On the flip side, Denny Hamlin’s fried engine left him with just his second career DNF. In between, what could have been a big night for a points shakeup amongst the Chasers instead never materialized, with no driver falling out of, or moving into, the playoffs.

Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: 2007 Sharpie 500 at Bristol Edition

After a marathon weekend at Michigan, it’s time for a sprint-like turnaround and a trip to everyone’s favorite bullring, Bristol Motor Speedway. Michigan had its share of surprises for fantasy teams, with drivers like Dave Blaney, Bobby Labonte and Brian Vickers making appearances in the top 10. But not to be outdone, old reliables like Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, and Carl Edwards were there, too, continuing to cruise along towards the Chase – and hopefully helping the chances for a season-ending trophy of your own. But this weekend at Bristol, no pick is truly a “safe bet;” you can expect both anything and everything to happen. Just one nudge on the bumper and your team’s best driver could be spinning down the standings… taking your team with him. Still, there are certainly drivers you want to make sure to have in your arsenal, along with ones to avoid.

Mirror Driving: We Need a Week Off, A Lack of Talent in the Busch Pool & Feeding Off The Craftsman Truck Series

The possibility of a race between the July off-week and the Chase being rained out is very real. Changing the Chase to accommodate that race is an expensive process, and very costly to both NASCAR and Homestead-Miami Speedway-is that just part of the game, or does NASCAR need to revise the schedule or the rulebook to accommodate this possibility?

Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: 2007 3M Performance 400 at Michigan Edition

The series heads to Michigan this weekend for the second of the series’ two visits on the year – and hopefully, your fantasy team is scorching like the late summer heat. Just four races remain until the end of the regular season, and just like the excitement surrounding the Chase, the battle in many leagues is at a fever pitch. Are you in Kurt Busch’s shoes, holding on to a tenuous lead while others battle to knock you down from a spot in the money? Or are you like Dale Earnhardt Jr., a driver in need of some solid finishes – and more importantly, luck – to work your way back into contention?

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Nextel Cup: 2007 Centurion Boats at the Glen Edition

This weekend’s race featured a spin to win, two drivers putting in their NASCAR best effort to pull each other’s hair out after a wreck, and a crazed fan making his way onto the track during a red flag… just to ask for an autograph. Makes it sound like an August Cup race at Bristol, doesn’t it? But instead, this was what transpired from what began as a tranquil Sunday afternoon in western New York. Shocked? So were many of the fans who watched this year’s edition of the Centurion Boats at the Glen. But they weren’t the only ones happy to see a surprising series of twists and turns that matched the road course’s 2.45-mile layout. Perhaps the biggest smile on the day came from stunned race winner Tony Stewart, who inherited the top spot as NASCAR’s winningest road racer, Jeff Gordon, spun in turn 1 with just two laps to go, relinquishing the lead and 10 bonus points to his longtime rival in the process.

Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: 2007 Centurion Boats at the Glen Edition

While Kurt Busch put on a clinic last weekend at Pocono, the rest of the Chase hopefuls put in good finishes to accentuate the point of why they are the best of the best. With all 14 main Chase contenders finishing in the top 17, it wasn’t hard to put up a good fantasy number last weekend. But this week’s Centurion Boats at the Glen will likely be a different story. Road course racing isn’t for everyone, with a few key drivers normally stealing the show. However, crazy things can happen when you’re going left and right on the Nextel Cup circuit, and sometimes an unexpected hero can emerge. So, which drivers have we selected to make you look like a Fantasy King or Queen this week? Read this week’s Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans to find out.

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Nextel Cup: 2007 Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Edition

Unless you’re a glutton for punishment, Kurt Busch, or one of Kurt Busch’s fans (yes – he actually does have some), then you probably found Sunday’s Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono a real snoozefest. Busch started from second position, alongside Dale Earnhardt Jr., but didn’t stay there long; he made a mockery out of the race, leading 175 laps en route to his first win of the year and a spot inside the top 12 in points. Unlike recent weeks, there weren’t any potential Chasers that ran into major trouble on Sunday; the 14 main contenders all finished in the top 17 positions, making the race for the Chase more competitive than ever with just five races remaining.

Fantasy Picks ‘N’ Pans: 2007 Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Edition

As the excitement winds down from the second-biggest race of the year at Indianapolis, reality sets in for the Nextel Cup faithful – Sunday’s race at Pocono is the second of a 17-week stretch to finish off the regular season. With no off-weeks left to recharge and refocus, it’s crunch time for those in contention to make their final push to make the Chase – or, in your case, the pinnacle of your fantasy league. The competition continues at one of NASCAR’s most unique racetracks – the three-turn, triangular-shaped track in the Pennsylvania hills offers a refreshing change of pace from the cookie-cutter ovals that dot the landscape of the Nextel Cup schedule.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com

Frontstretch