NASCAR Fantasy Friday Update: Daytona

July 04, 2013, Dan Beaver, NASCAR.com

Daytona pack

Allmendinger, Reutimann are fast and their speed lasts. See who else to watch.

Fantasy Power Average

Rk
Driver
Power avg.
1
Matt Kenseth
8.92
2
Clint Bowyer
10.87
3
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
11.84
4
Jeff Burton
12.37
5
Paul Menard
13.82
6
Kyle Busch
13.94
7
Kurt Busch
14.14
8
Martin Truex Jr.
14.15
9
Brad Keselowski
14.32
10
Aric Almirola
14.85
11
Kasey Kahne
14.97
12
Joey Logano
15.18
13
Greg Biffle
15.63
14
Kevin Harvick
16.69
15
Jeff Gordon
16.96
16
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
17.17
17
Denny Hamlin
17.43
18
Jamie McMurray
18.02
19
Marcos Ambrose
18.78
20
Jimmie Johnson
18.92
21
Juan Pablo Montoya
19.63
22
Tony Stewart
19.91
23
Ryan Newman
20.56
24
Carl Edwards
20.71
25
Casey Mears
20.99
26
David Reutimann
21.26
27
Michael Waltrip
21.31
28
David Ragan
21.95
29
Danica Patrick
22.79
30
Trevor Bayne
23.33
31
Scott Speed
24.36
32
AJ Allmendinger
25.27
33
David Gilliland
26.59
34
Landon Cassill
26.77
35
Dave Blaney
27.20
36
Bobby Labonte
27.61
37
Travis Kvapil
29.51
38
Terry Labonte
29.95
39
David Stremme
30.24
40
Josh Wise
35.49
41
J.J. Yeley
35.68
42
Michael McDowell
36.22
43
Joe Nemechek
38.43

*The Power Average is the average finish on restrictor-plate tracks during the last three years, plus the number of laps spent in the lead, in the top five, and in the top 10 expressed as if they were finishing results.

There is an old adage in sports that says, “You don't win anything for practice, and you don't win anything if you don't,” but one would be hard pressed to accept that after the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola final practice. Only 16 drivers posted laps in the late afternoon session and two of them logged only two laps.

David Reutimann posted both the fastest single lap and had the quickest 10-lap average in that session and believes he can become this week’s most pleasant surprise with a top-10 finish.

Nearly all of the drivers got their work in early and headed for the beach. On restrictor-plate superspeedways, the difference between practice and race conditions is comparable to the difference between swimming with dolphins and swimming across piranha-infested waters with a skinned-up knee. Drives can practice their strokes, but real life implications are hard to deduce.

Drivers looked for as much comfort in the car as possible as they circled the pack in modest groups that were well-behaved. The fastest individual speeds came from the fastest drafting packs. While they may have learned how their cars would work in traffic, they did not share much with fantasy owners.

AJ Allmendinger seemed to have one of the best outings in the first session, and car owner James Finch has had some impressive plate finishes. Allmendinger posted the fastest single lap of 200.218 mph as he got sucked into a drafting pack. He also had the best 10-lap average speed of 197.280 early in his run. His fastest lap is also important because if rain washes out time trials on Friday, he will lead the field to green under NASCAR’s new qualification rules. Starting up front was important this May at Talladega Superspeedway for Carl Edwards, who managed to stay out of trouble all afternoon after assuming the pole by NASCAR’s rule book. He finish third in the Aaron's 499.

Drivers are most comfortable when they are leading laps. Midway through the first practice session, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth pulled their respective lines casually around the course, and both seemed happy with the results. Kenseth managed to block the charges of several drivers who attempted to take the high road around his Toyota, and he did so with ease. He has one of the best recent records on plate tracks and practice underscored his status as a favorite.

Tony Stewart provided a little drama in the final session. The team spent the practice searching for the cause of a vibration and finally identified it as an overheating problem in the rear end. The driver seemed confident that the issue was resolved and temperatures will be lower on Saturday night, which should keep it from returning. “Smoke” is still looking to heat up during the summer months.

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