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Posts Tagged ‘A.J. Allmendinger’

Richard Petty Motorsports Climbing Back to Relevancy

Posted by chadmusselman on October 1, 2011

Back in January I posted about how Richard Petty regained ownership of his race team and was going to lead the day-to-day operations.  The question was, would he make a difference, and would his cars win?

The quick answer is, yes he has made a difference, and his cars have won.  Neither of Petty’s two cars made the chase, but Marcos Ambrose has won a race, and A.J. Allmendinger is sitting 15th in points.  Now, these aren’t earth shattering performances by the Richard Petty Motorsports drivers, but it does show improvement and that The King is making an impact.

This is the 5th season for Allmendinger in the Sprint Cup Series and he’s improved each season.  In 2007 he finished 44th in the standings, and last year was up to 19th.  With eight races left in the chase Allmendinger is 15th in points; only four points out of 12th.  It is a realistic goal for Allmendinger to get up to 12th place and build some momentum and hype for the 2012 season, when he should have a very good shot to make the chase.

Through 28 races in 2011 Allmendinger has eight finishes of 21st or worse.  If he could have turned four of those finishes into 20th place or better he would have received about 14 more points and been a serious contender to beat Denny Hamlin out of the last spot for the chase.  If Allmendinger can get a few more top twenty finishes next season he will be a contender for the chase.

Marcos Ambrose has won a race this season along with four top five and eight top ten finishes, but finds himself down in 23rd.  He has been way too inconsistent to say he’s close to contending to make the chase in 2012.  With those top ten finishes Ambrose had had some bad races as well.  After 28 races in 2011 Ambrose has nine finishes 25th or worse, and thirteen finishes outside of the top 20.  He really needs to find a way to cut those numbers in half before we talk about him making the chase and giving Richard Petty a strong second driver.

Can Ambrose make the improvements?  This is his fourth season in the Sprint Cup Series and his best season, points wise, was in 2009 when he finished 18th.  His one win, four top five and 8 top ten finishes are all career highs, but overall it appears that he hasn’t figured everything out that’s needed.  I don’t see him becoming a challenger any time soon, or ever.

Petty is making strides to becoming relevant again, mostly with Allmendinger, but it’s obvious more work needs to be done.  I’m sure they will be working hard for the rest of the season, and in the off-season to get both drivers more consistent and have Allmendinger contending for the chase.  Richard Petty knows how to race, so if there is anyone that can help coach up drivers, it would be him.

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Fantasy NASCAR Recommendations for 2011 STP 400 at Kansas Speedway

Posted by chadmusselman on May 30, 2011

Sunday night the Coca-Cola 600 provided another exciting finish.  It looked like Dale Earnhardt Jr. was going to get the monkey off his back, but didn’t have enough fuel in the tank to cross the line under power, allowing Kevin Harvick to sneak in for the win.  Kansas is another of the 1.5 mile tracks and if it can produce a finish half as exciting as Charlotte we’ll be in for a treat.  I have to admit, I won’t be able to watch the race though since I’ll be in the Caribbean and Bahamas on vacation. 

This Week’s Recommendations:

Chaser: Greg Biffle
“The Biff” has perked up lately averaging a 12.4 place finish over the last five races of the season and moving up to 11th in the point standings.  He’s hitting his stride at the right time going to a track that he dominates.  Biffle has the best average finish at Kansas Speedway among active drivers (8.1) with 2 wins and 6 top five finishes in 9 career races.  Biffle is the reigning champion at the track and looks to be strong again this weekend.  His last 4 finishes at the track were 2 wins and 2 third place finishes.  Last week only 0.5% of the players owned Biffle.  Pick him up and get tons of points everyone else will miss out on.

Alternate Chaser: Jeff Gordon
Gordon has been hot and cold this season and finds himself down to 16th in the standings; very unusual for him.  He hasn’t had a top ten finish since Talladega in the 8th race of the season.  Gordon is past due for some luck.  He has run well races with a strong car, but always seems to get caught up in a bad situation.  Not at Kansas.  Jeff has 2 wins, 7 top five and 8 top ten finishes in the 10 races that have been held in Kansas.  His average finish of 8.5 is pretty unbelievable as well.  Only 4.4% of the fantasy players owned Jeff Gordon last week.  Pick him up for the Kansas race.  You’ll be glad you did.

A.J. Allmendinger
Allmendinger has only raced at Kansas three times, but does have 2 top ten finishes with a 12th place average finish.  He’s holding his own this season climbing three spots to 13th in points after the Coca-Cola 600.  Allmendinger isn’t flashy and doesn’t get a lot of people talking about him, but he has shown this season that he can be a dependable driver that will hang around the top 15 in a race and be in contention for a top ten finish, which is a pretty good points day.

Mark Martin
From 2002 to 2004 Mark Martin finished 20th, 20th, & 25th at Kansas.  After that it seems he figured the track out as he collected one win, three top ten finishes and had an average finish of 9.2.  Martin had a rough race in the Coca-Cola 600 finishing 34th, but don’t let that get you down.  Martin has finished 20th or worse two other times this season.  In the race following that bad performance he finished in the top ten each time.  From that logic, it looks like Martin is due for a good run in Kansas.

Dark Horse: Marcos Ambrose
Ambrose is 17th in points and has been on the up-swing the past couple of weeks with a 3rd place finish at Dover and 6th place finish at Charlotte.  Momentum and confidence are on his side and those two things should help carry him to a top 15 finish in Kansas.  In his three races at the track Marcos’ best finish was 14th back in 2009.  He can do it.

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2011 NASCAR Predictions

Posted by chadmusselman on February 6, 2011

There are still a couple of weeks until the NASCAR season gets under way, but why not take a stab at some predictions for the 2011 season.  Each year I take a guess at who will win the Championship, most races, etc. and this season will be no different.  Last year I got two of them right, was way off on two, and pretty close on one.  Maybe I can do better in 2011.

Champion: Jimmie Johnson
Five championships in a row; are you kidding me?  Until he gets beat, you simply can’t bet against Jimmie Johnson.  His championship in 2010 was easily the most difficult of the five, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, or someone else got hot at the right time and broke Johnson’s streak.  That alone isn’t enough to scare me away.  There’s no reason to think he can’t win a 6th championship in a row.

Most Disappointing: Clint Bowyer
I don’t say this thinking Clint will have an absolutely horrible season, but he is one of the 2010 Chasers that may not make it in 2011.  Bowyer has made the chase three of the last four seasons, but 2010 wasn’t anything special for him, finishing 12th in the standings, and having six finishes of 30th or worse.  Bowyer finishing 15th – 20th in the 2011 standings would be a big disappointment, which is where he may end up.     

Most Surprising: A.J. Allmendinger
Don’t ask me why, but I have a feeling that A.J. Allmendinger is on track to have a break-out year.  In his four seasons in Sprint Cup he’s made a steady improvement in the standings going from 44th place in 2007 to 19th place in 2010.  Now that Richard Petty has control over RPM again maybe it will be what’s needed to put Allmendinger over the hump and get him contending for a Chase spot.  He may not make the chase, but if he can finish 13th or even 14th in the standings, that would be a great season.

Rookie Of The Year: Trevor Bayne
Trevor gets this award by default since I haven’ t heard of any other rookies in 2011.  He did alright in one race last season, so maybe he’ll do well in his limited schedule this year.

Comeback Driver: Brian Vickers
Vickers had health issues in 2010 with blood clots in both lungs and his left leg.  He was forced to sit out a majority of the season, missing all races from May on (11th race).  Vickers made the chase in 2009, and even though he missed 25 races in 2010 he had enough points to finish 40th.  Brian has proved that he’s a good driver and can collect top ten finishes.  Now that he’s medically cleared to drive again he should be contending for top ten finishes on a weekly basis.

Most Wins: Tony Stewart
Denny Hamlin had the most wins in 2010, and Jimmie Johnson had the second most, but Stewart has the skill and equipment to win a lot of races and could compile more wins than both of them in 2011.  Stewart only won two races in 2010, which is a low number for him.  He’s averaging just over 3 wins per season with 39 in 12 years.  His high-water mark is 6 wins in the 2000 season when he finished 6th in the point standings.  2011 is his third year of being the owner/driver of the No. 14 Old Spice Chevrolet.  He should have all his ducks in a row and be ready for a great 2011.

Have predictions of your own?  Leave a comment and let everyone know.

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The King is Back in Control…Now, Will His Team Win?

Posted by chadmusselman on January 23, 2011

The King, Richard Petty, is back (in a way) to NASCAR.  In the off-season Richard Petty took back ownership and will lead the day-to-day operations of his team, Richard Petty Motorsports.

It was almost two years ago that Richard Petty had to sell his team to George Gillett due to financial troubles.  After he sold the team he lost control over the day-to-day operations and was merely a figurehead for the team.  He had no power or decision-making ability.  Richard Petty had to watch the team get run into the ground and into insignificance in 2009 & 2010 by ownership that didn’t really have an interest in NASCAR.

Now, Petty has his power back after partnering with a pair of investment companies to buy out George Gillett.  The question is, will he make a difference, and will his cars win?

Let’s look at the cars and drivers first:

Richard Petty Motorsports will field two cars in the 2011 season; No. 43 to be driven by A.J. Allmendinger and No. 9 to be driven by Marcos Ambrose.  They will drive Fords with chassis provided by Roush Fenway Racing and engines provided by Roush-Yates Engines.  Those are solid shops, and should give RPM the equipment it needs to stay competitive, but can the drivers get it done?

A.J. Allmendinger finished 19th in the 2010 point standings, a career best, with two top five and eight top ten finishes.  2011 will be his 5th season in NASCAR Sprint Cup, and he’s improved in the standings each season, so he should be poised to have an even better 2011.

Marcos Ambrose finished 26th in points in 2010, which was a step back for him.  He finished 18th in points in 2009.  He did have two top five and five top ten finishes in 2010, but fourteen finishes of 30th or worse really killed his chances of having a good season.  If Ambrose is going to improve in 2011 he’ll have to learn to finish races and salvage top 25 finishes.

Can Richard Petty Make Them Better?

The simple answer is, of course he can!  He’s The King!  Granted, Petty is getting up in age and the racing in his era was much different from today, but he still has limitless knowledge of the sport, and is respected by everyone involved.  If he says something, people listen.  He’ll be able to teach Allmendinger and Ambrose some things.  He’ll also have to ability to run the team how he wants, and ensure the focus is on finishing the races and collecting top 20 finishes.  Collecting top 20 finishes can get you a top 15 finish in the point standings.  (Ryan Newman, who finished 15th in points in 2010, only averaged a 15.7 place finish.)

RPM has the technical resources needed to field a competitive team.  They may not battle for the championship, but they’ll have the potential to finish in the top 20 each week.  If they get some things to go their way, maybe a finish in the top 15 of the 2011 point standings is possible.  With one voice telling the teams how to run in 2011 it’s possible that RPM will start to become significant again.

What do you think?

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Driver Recommendations for 2010 Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Posted by chadmusselman on November 15, 2010

Well, NASCAR finally got what they wanted when they created the Chase format.  The final race of the season really is meaningful this year.  Denny Hamlin leads Jimmie Johnson by a scant 15 points.  That means that if both drivers finish in the top eleven, Jimmie would have to finish 4 spots ahead of Denny to win the championship (assuming they both lead a lap, and neither leads the most laps).  Of course there’s 1000 ways this could play out on Sunday, so we’ll just have to watch to see who pulls it off.  And, if both Jimmie and Denny have a bad day (I don’t see that happening.), Kevin Harvick could sneak in there and take the championship.  Kevin does have the 2nd best average finishing position here among active drivers.

This Week’s Recommendations:

Chaser: Carl Edwards
He won last week and may be building some momentum for the 2011 season.  He’s averaging a 6.5 place finish in Miami which is easily tops among active drivers.  In six career races at the track he’s finished in the top ten 5 times with 3 top five finishes and one win.  Don’t be surprised if Carl does a backflip at the end of the race to celebrate another victory.

Alternate Chaser: Kevin Harvick
His 8.4 place average finish is second only to Carl Edwards.  He’s raced here 9 times and hasn’t won a race yet, but does have 4 top five and 7 top ten finishes.  He’ll be pushing hard to try and get the win and finish ahead of Jimmie and Denny to steal the championship from them.

A.J. Allmendinger
A.J. only has two races at Miami in his career, but he’s done well in them finishing 10th and 11th.  There aren’t many non-chasers that do well here, but A.J. is one.  He should rack up some points for you this weekend.

Mark Martin
Mark has an average finish of 12th place in ten races at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.  He doesn’t have a win, but does have four top five and five top ten finishes.  He’s not a lock for a top ten finish, but then again, no one outside of the Chase may be, so Mark is as good as anyone to have on your team.

Dark Horse: Martin Truex Jr.
It’s been a disappointing year for Martin Truex Jr. sitting 22nd in points.  Martin has done surprisingly well in Miami, with an 11.8 place average finish here in five career races.  He’s also finished in the top ten four times with one top five.  Not too shabby for a driver who’s career average finish is 19.7.  If you need to make a late push in the standings to jump a spot, Martin may be the guy to put on your team to get that done.

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