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Experience pays in Vegas fantasy lineup

March 10, 2013, Dan Beaver,

Last-minute advice: Veterans a safer pick in Sin City

Mother Nature was cranky at the start of the Las Vegas weekend. Rain washed out Friday’s Sprint Cup practice session, qualifications, and delayed Saturday’s on-track activities.

Track time was at a premium and as is often the case when that happens, experience trumps enthusiasm and places an emphasis on well-funded, veteran teams.


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A veteran will most likely win the Kobalt Tools 400, but dark horses can be found among the list of seven drivers doing double duty in Cup and Nationwide. Austin Dillon, Trevor Bayne, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joe Nemechek and Josh Wise got extra track time and in each instance, they will be slightly better values than they would otherwise have been.

• Dillon was one of the fastest drivers in Nationwide practice and he will try to keep James Finch’s streak of top-15s alive. As one of the cheapest drivers in the NASCAR Fantasy Live game, he is an easy choice to stretch a player’s budget. He was not particularly strong in Saturday’s practices, but Vegas hosted a test on Thursday and he was 13th in both of those sessions.

Carl Edwards found something he liked during Thursday’s test. The car he will now drive on Sunday was originally intended to be used in the test only, but when he posted the fourth-fastest lap overall that afternoon, the team decided to race that chassis. Edwards maintained his speed on Saturday and posted the second-fastest lap in Happy Hour.

• If Busch manages to stay out of trouble, he must be considered one of this week’s favorites. He posted the fastest 10-lap averages in both the morning and Happy Hour sessions on Saturday. In interviews, he was confident and determined to win in front of the hometown crowd. A positive attitude means a lot in NASCAR.

• It is difficult to count Jeff Gordon out of any race, but he was not very fast in either practice session on Saturday. In the morning, he posted only the 26th-fastest time. In Happy Hour, he climbed slightly up the grid to 22nd, but his 10-lap average of 181.375 mph placed him in the bottom half of the list of drivers who made long runs.

• Keselowski is in the same ballpark as Gordon. His 10-lap average in Happy Hour was slightly slower than the No. 24 and they posted almost identical fastest laps. Rolling off the grid from the pole, Keselowski will lose place differential points in the NASCAR Fantasy Live game unless he wins, and as the most expensive driver, that is too much of a gamble.


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