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Posts Tagged ‘Marcos Ambrose’

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 Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at Watkins Glen International

Posted by chadmusselman on August 8, 2011

With only five races left until the chase NASCAR moves to Watkins Glen for their second road course of the season.  Look for the usual “ringers” to be brought in for the teams outside the top 30 in the standings trying to get a few more points to stay in the top 35 and keep their guaranteed starting spot each week.  Historically the ringers haven’t fared too well at the road tracks.  There are plenty of NASCAR regulars that can win the race, and they tend to not give the other guys much room on the track, or much respect.  There are bound to be quite a few spin-outs this weekend when people get tired of looking at the same set of tail-lights in front of them.  So who should you select for your Fantasy NASCAR team?  Let’s take a look.

This Week’s Recommendations:

Chaser: Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart is one of the best road races in NASCAR, and probably one of the best among any racing series.  He has absolutely dominated the competition at Watkins Glen collecting five wins along with 7 top five and 10 top ten finishes in 12 career races.  Stewart’s 5 wins are most among active drivers at the track.  His average finish is 5.4.  How insane is that?  I don’t know how you couldn’t have Tony the tiger on your team this week.  He will be showing his stripes and earning you a lot of points.

Alternate Chaser: Kyle Busch
Don’t like Stewart for some reason?  That’s alright; Kyle Busch can be the chaser for you.  He has only raced here six times, but finished in the top ten in five of those races with one win and two top five finishes.  The only race here that Busch didn’t finish in the top ten was his first one when he finished 33rd.  Since then his worst finish was 9th in 2006.  You may not like Kyle, but he is a good driver and will move people out of his way if that’s what it takes to get to the front of the field and win.

Juan Montoya
Montoya’s career at Watkins Glen mirrors Kyle Busch’s.  In his first race at the track he finished 39th, but since then his worst finish was 6th and managed to win a race as well.  We all know Montoya’s story and the fact that he’s a great road racer.  He should be a must have for your team this week and it’s almost guaranteed that he’ll get you big points.

Mark Martin
While sorting through the stats I was surprised to see how well Mark Martin has done at The Glen over his career.  In 21 races Martin has amassed 3 wins, 12 top five and 16 top ten finishes with an average finishing position of 8.3.  Martin has a good record at pretty much every track on the circuit, but he really does well at Watkins Glen.  He should be able to finish in the top ten or fifteen at worst and get a lot of points for your Fantasy NASCAR team.

Dark Horse: Marcos Ambrose
The aussie has only raced here three times, but he has finished in the top five all three times (3rd, 2nd, 3rd).  Ambrose is obviously a great road racer and yes, he does qualify as a dark horse since he’s currently 23rd in points.  This could be the easiest dark-horse that I have chosen all year.

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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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Fantasy NASCAR Recommendations for 2011 Crown Royal 500 at Richmond International Raceway

Posted by chadmusselman on April 23, 2011

After a week off for Easter the boys roll into Richmond at the ¾ mile D-Shaped oval.  It’s race number 9 of the season and it’s starting to become clear which drivers will be contending to make the chase and win the championship and which ones will be left in the dust. 

Richmond is a track that the chasers from last year have done well at.  Ten of last year’s chasers have won a race here.  Last year’s chasers have also been on fire in the past five races this season.  Of the ten drivers that have the best average finish in the last five races nine of them were in the chase last year.  If that trend plays out, it looks like the chasers could dominate in Richmond.

This Week’s Recommendations:

Chaser: Kyle Busch
No one has performed at Richmond like Kyle Busch.  In 12 career races Busch has 10 top five finishes and 2 wins!  His worst finish here was 20th back in 2007.  Busch is almost a lock to finish in the top five and contend for the victory.  He didn’t have very good finishes on the larger tracks in Texas and Talladega, but now that they’re going back to a short ¾ of a mile track Busch should be on top of his game and contending for a win like he did in Martinsville and Bristol.

Alternate Chaser: Kevin Harvick
Over the past five races of the season Harvick has averaged a 6.6 place finish and moved from 15th in points to 4th.  He’s on quite a run.  Add in the fact that he’s averaging an 11.9 place finish in Richmond (7th best among active drivers) and he becomes a really good pick to have on your Fantasy NASCAR team.  For his 20 race career at the track Harvick has one win, with 5 top five and 13 top ten finishes.  You know he’s a solid driver and already has two wins this season.  Why couldn’t he collect his third win in Richmond?

Ryan Newman
Newman has cooled off lately finishing out of the top ten three consecutive weeks, but Richmond could be where he starts up another hot streak.  He averages an 11.4 place finish here and does have one win.  Newman has also finished in the top ten in three of the last four races at the track, so odds are pretty good he’ll be contending for another top ten finish.  If you had him on your team the past couple weeks, don’t give up on him yet.  Keep him on for this week and see what he can do.

Mark Martin
It seems like the same guys get recommended each week, but if they’re the ones going to get you the points, then you have to stick with them.  Mark Martin is definitely one of those guys.  He does well at almost every track and Richmond is no exception.  He’s raced here 50 times and finished in the top ten 27 times with one win.  Martin is a little further down in the point standings than he’d like to be, but he’s a good driver and should be able to inch closer to that top ten.

Dark Horse: Marcos Ambrose
Ambrose has only raced at the Richmond International Raceway four times in his Sprint Cup Career, but last season he did very well; finishing 9th and 5th.  He also has an 11th place finish at the track as well, making his average finish a respectable 11.8.   Ambrose is a dark horse for a reason, but if you’re looking to put a driver on your Fantasy NASCAR team that not many others will have, he could be your guy.

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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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2011 NASCAR Sponsor & Driver Changes

Posted by chadmusselman on January 2, 2011

Last year I wrote about how the economy was affecting sponsors.  Things are still tight, and sponsors aren’t giving out huge amounts of money like they were in the boom days of the 90s, but things do seem to be getting a little better for the teams.  If you’d like to learn more on the amount of money it takes to run a NASCAR team, I suggest clicking on the link above and reading that entry.  The dollar amounts are pretty amazing.

Today I’ll focus more on what drivers are moving to different teams and what sponsors are renewing contracts or moving into & out of NASCAR.  As with every NASCAR season, there’s quite a bit of change and 2011 is no exception.


Kasey Kahne
We know that in 2012 Kasey Kahne will be driving for Rick Hendrick, but until then he was looking for a ride in the 2011 season.  Mission accomplished.  Kasey landed with Red Bull Racing and will drive the No. 4 car.  He’ll be replacing Scott Speed and take over the former No. 82 car.

Brian Vickers
There won’t be any car changes for Brian, but he  is expected to be healthy and recovered from the blood clots in time for the 2011 season.  He’ll be given his old ride with Red Bull Racing and the No. 83 car.

Brad Keselowski
Brad is staying with Penske racing, but will now be in car No. 2.  Also new to the No. 2 car will be crew chief Paul Wolfe.  Paul was Brad’s Nationwide crew chief where they won the championship and had an amazing 26 top-five finishes.

Marcos Ambrose
Marcos has landed with the re-structured Richard Petty Motorsports for 2011.  Marcos will be driving car No. 9 for The King.  Stanley and DeWalt will serve as the primary sponsors for the No. 9 car.

Aric Almorila
Almorila will be focusing on the Nationwide Series in 2011 and not have a regular Cup ride…at least to start with.  You never know what will happen though.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale isn’t changing teams, but Rick Hendrick is looking to give Dale a contract extension.  Earnhardt’s current contract ends after the 2012 season.  Hendrick said he wants Earnhardt to race for him until one of them retire.  So much for the speculation that Earnhardt will bring his Nationwide team to the Cup Series and drive for his own team.

Paul Menard
Menard will drive for Richard Childress Racing in 2011, becoming the 4th car that RCR will field.  Paul signed a multi-year deal and will have Menards remain as his primary sponsor.  His car number will be 27.

Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch is staying with Penske racing, but will move to the No. 22 car and have AAA and Shell-Pennzoil as his primary sponsors.

J.J. Yeley
J.J. has signed with Whitney Motorsports for the 2011 season and will be driving car No. 46.  Cash America International has signed on to be his sponsor for four races. 

Dave Blaney
Blaney has agreed to drive the No. 36 Chevrolet for Tommy Baldwin Racing in 16 of the Cup races in 2011.  No report of who the sponsors will be.

Trevor Bayne
The 19 year old Bayne will race for Wood Brothers in 2011.  The team will attempt to run in 17 races this season.  Bayne made his debut in Texas with the team last season finishing 17th.  Motorcraft/Quick Lane is said to be the sponsors.

David Starr
Starr will attempt to qualify for six Cup races for Leavine Fenton racing in 2011.  The car will be a Ford, No. 95. 

Jamie McMurray
After a solid 2010 season McMurray now signed a multi-year deal with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.  I haven’t seen any disclosures on the number of years or dollar amount.

Michael McDowell
McDowell, who may be best known for his horrific wreck at Texas in 2008 (You Tube link), signed with HP Racing (No, not HP the computer manufacturer).  HP as in Randy Humphrey & Phil Parsons.  McDowell will drive the No. 66 Toyota for the team in a select number of races.

Steve Wallace
Wallace, son of Rusty Wallace, will drive the No. 77 Toyota for Rusty Wallace Racing.   Steve Wallace is guaranteed a spot in the Daytona 500 since Rusty Wallace Racing is partly owned by Roger Penske and the points earned by Sam Hornish Jr. in the 2010 season make the team an automatic qualifyer.  Penske isn’t fielding a car for Hornish to start the season since they don’t have sponsorship lined up.

Bill Elliott
It seems that Awesome Bill can’t get away from racing.  He’s signed on with Phoenix Racing for an 18 race schedule in 2011. 

Terry Labonte
Like Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte can’t say no to an opportunity to race.  Labonte has signed on to race for Frank Stoddard and his new team FAS Lane Racing.  Terry will race the No. 32 Ford sponsored by U.S. Chrome Corporation for the Daytona 500 since he’s guaranteed a past champion’s provisional.  The team isn’t sure how many races Terry will run for them.

Mike Skinner
Skinner will be the primary driver for Frank Stoddard’s No. 32 Ford.  Labonte will run some races, but Skinner should run the most races in this car.


Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless was a sponsor for Brad Keselowski’s No. 12 car last season, but cannot be a NASCAR sponsor any longer due to the competition clause NASCAR has set up with Sprint.  This will take anywhere from $12 to $17 million dollars out of a team’s hands.  Verizon instead will spend the money in the IndyCar circuit.  Verizon Wireless purchased Alltel in 2008, who you may remember was a long-time sponsor of Ryan Newman’s No. 12 car.

Shell-Pennzoil is leaving Richard Childress Racing to go to Penske to be the primary sponsor on the No. 22 car as well as Penske’s IndyCars. 

Wal-Mart would have been a huge shot in the arm for NASCAR.  They were negotiating with Jeff Gordon during the 2010 season, but couldn’t reach an agreement and won’t be sponsoring Jeff in the 2011 season.  NASCAR is still hopeful that a deal can be cut to make Wal-Mart the exclusive mass retailer for the sport.

We all associate DuPont with Jeff Gordon as  they’ve been together since Gordon started in 1992, but DuPont’s contract was up after the 2010 season and it doesn’t look like they’ll be the primary sponsor for Gordon in 2011.  They may stay on as an associate sponsor though.  Right now it doesn’t look like Jeff as a primary sponsor.

Quaker State
Mark Martin will have Quaker State on his hood as well as under it for five races in the 2011 season.  The associate sponsor will take the primary role for five races in 2011 for Mark Martin.

AAA has signed a multi-year extension with Penske racing beginning in 2011.  They will be the primary sponsor in three races for the No. 22 car to be driven by Kurt Busch.

Best Buy
Best Buy has renewed their sponsorship with A.J. Allmendinger and the No. 43 RPM car for 2011.  They will be the primary sponsor for 24 Cup races and two non-point races (Duels at Daytona and All-Start race).  Best Buy will also be an associate sponsor for RPM’s No. 9 car driven by Marcos Ambrose.

Valvoline, U.S. Air Force, WIX Filters, Reynolds and Paralyzed Veterans of America
All of these organizations have signed deals to sponsor A.J. Allmendinger’s No. 43 car for the 12 races that Best Buy will not be the primary sponsor in 2011.

Stanley & DeWalt
Both comanies will be primary sponsors for the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 9 Ford Fusion driven by Marcos Ambrose in the 2011 season.  DeWalt’s deal was for two years, so they’ll be sponsoring the No. 9 car in 2012 as well.

Bud will sponsor Kevin Harvick’s No. 29 car for the 2011 season.

Sponsorship Revenue Up for 2011

With the deals that have been done so far, NASCAR is reporting a 10% increase in sponsorship revenue for the 2011 season.  This includes finalizing 8 of 12 renewals and bringing in two new sponsors.  Three companies will not renew their contract, and one is still in negotiation with NASCAR.  Each of these sponsorships is generally worth between $2 million and $10 million.
Toyota – Renewed for 2011
GM – Renewed for 2011
Dodge – Renewed for 2011
Unilever – Renewed for 2011 – Signed a multi-year deal to promote Hellman’s mayonnaise and others
DirecTV – Renewed for 2011 – Will keep providing in-car camera views to DirecTV customers
Mars – In negotiations for 2011
Bank of America – In negotiations for 2011.  Has agreed to sponsor the fall race in Charlotte for the 5th consecutive year.
UPS – In negotiations for 2011
Tylenol – Declined to renew for 2011
Tissot – Declined to renew for 2011 – Was official timekeeper of NASCAR.  Will sponsor Danica Patrick in the Nationwide Series.
Nicorette – Declined to renew for 2011
Aflac – Negotiating a renewal for 2011
Drive 4COPD – New in 2011
Growth Energy – New in 2011 – Will promote American ethanol

As you can see there’s a lot happening to ensure all of our favorite drivers have sponsors and enough money in the 2011 season to keep them at the top of their game and competitive.  We’ll check back later in the season to see how some of these changes are doing.

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Driver Recommendations for 2010 Air Guard 400 at Richmond International Raceway

Posted by chadmusselman on September 7, 2010

Another night race is on tap for the boys this weekend.  This is the third consecutive race at night.  This time at the ¾ mile D-shaped oval that is Richmond International Raceway.  One interesting note about the Raceway is that it’s the only one to hold all of its major events under the lights. 

There are many drivers that have been hot lately and could be on your team, but one driver that is going in the wrong direction is Denny Hamlin.  He’s averaging a 24.2 place finish over the past five races and has fallen to 10th in points.  He’ll still make the chase, but he need to do well this weekend to gain some momentum and confidence.

This Week’s Recommendations:

Chaser: Jeff Gordon
Jeff is in the Chase, but needs to go for a win before it starts to get the 10 bonus points and position himself a little better.  Richmond is a track that he could get that win.  He’s won here twice with 14 top fives and 23 top tens in 35 career races.  Jeff also has a streak of 7 consecutive top ten finishes here.  With him sitting 2nd in the points chase there’s no reason to think he won’t get another top ten and possibly the win.

Alternate Chaser: Ryan Newman
I haven’t given out Ryan’s name as a recommendation much this season, but he’s finally putting things together and putting a good second half of the season together averaging a 12.2 place finish over the last 5 races.  Too bad it’s probably too late to make the Chase.  Ryan has also run well at Richmond.  In his 17 career races he has a win, 5 top fives, and 11 top ten finishes.  He probably won’t make the chase, but he’ll be pushing hard to get a good finish.

Kyle Busch
No one has a better average finish here than Kyle (5.5).    In 11 career races he’s only finished outside of the top ten twice, and those were 15th and 20th place finishes.  Kyle is 3rd in the standings and absolutely cruising right now.  He’s averaged an 11th place finish over the last 5 races.

Kevin Harvick
What is there to really say about Kevin this season?  He’s the points leader and has been for many weeks.  There’s no reason he shouldn’t have been on your team every race for the past 10 weeks or so.  He has 12 top ten finishes in Richmond in 19 career races.  His 12.1 place average finish at the track is good enough for 7th best among active drivers.

Dark Horse: Marcos Ambrose
Marcos may be a bit of a stretch to finish in the top ten in Richmond, but he was able to do it in the spring race, finishing 9th.  He’s 24th in points and does have 4 top ten finishes this season, so it’s not out of the question that he can get another one this week.  He may be a longshot, but if you need a driver no one else will have on their team, Marcos may be your guy.

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Driver Recommendations for 2010 Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway

Posted by chadmusselman on August 16, 2010

The night race at Bristol.  This is definitely one of the top races of the season and usually most exciting.  The guys are in close quarters all the way around the track for every lap.  Tempers flare and there’s usually a couple of drivers yelling at or pushing each other by the end of the race.  If you’re going to watch every lap of one race, this should probably be the one.  Bristol is fun. 

Some notables doing very bad in the last five races with their average finish in parenthesis; Bobby Labonte (31.2), Elliott Sadler (26.2), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (24.4), Brad Keselowski (22.2), Kurt Busch (22.2).

This Week’s Recommendations

Chaser: Jimmie Johnson
Jimmie doesn’t have one of the best average finishes at Bristol, but he has been on a roll at the track recently.  He won the race here in March and has finished in the top ten in the last three here.  He’s never place in the top ten three races in a row before at Bristol, but I expect him to up that streak to four in a row come Saturday night.  He finished 12th last week in Michigan and should be getting things cranked up and ready for the chase.

Alternate Chaser: Greg Biffle
Greg has the second best average finish at Bristol among active drivers (11th), and has finished 4th here in the last two races.  He’s been on a roll of late averaging a 13.4 place finish over the last five races this season.  Greg may be finding his way back into serious contention for the championship.  He’s hitting his stride at the right time, and getting his confidence up for the start of the chase.  He needs to get a couple more top five or top ten finishes to ensure he makes the chase.

Kyle Busch
In terms of average finish Kyle Busch is the best at Bristol with his 10.1 place average finish.  He’s third in career wins here with 3, behind Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch who have five each.  Kyle has finished in the top ten at Bristol in 4 consecutive races and 8 of the last 9.  Kyle has only finished in the top ten in two of the last nine races this season, so he’s due for a top ten finish.  Bristol is obviously a track he’s comfortable with so that top ten should happen this weekend.

Matt Kenseth
Matt is another driver having a solid season with a good average finish at Bristol (12.7), and good average finish over the past five races (12.2).  He’s finished in the top ten in 4 of the last 5 races at Bristol, and looks to keep his great season going strong.  There’s no reason he shouldn’t be on your team.

Dark Horse: Marcos Ambrose
Marcos has only raced at Bristol three times and finished in the top ten twice, although he finished 33rd the in spring race this year.  Don’t let that fool you though, he should be good for a top ten or top fifteen finish this weekend.  If you want someone on your team others may not have, Marcos could be that guy.

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Driver Recommendations for 2010 Sour Cream Dips at the Glen

Posted by chadmusselman on August 1, 2010

The second and final road course of the season is this weekend at Watkins Glen.  A lot of the teams lagging 30th or lower in the points will look to get some of the “hired guns” that are road course experts to come in, get a good finish and earn them some money.  Yeah, some of these drivers are good, and really know how to race, but it’s tough for them to get respect on the track and not get bumped out of the way by the NASCAR regulars.  I don’t think there’s a need to put one of them on your team.  There are plenty of regulars that do well here.

This Week’s Recommendations:

Chasers: Tony Stewart
No one has more wins at Watkins Glen than Tony.  His five wins edges out Jeff Gordon and his four wins.  In only 11 races here Tony has collected 7 top fives, 9 top tens, and one eleventh place finish.  In the last 6 races at the track he has won 4 and finished 2nd twice.  It’d be pretty tough to leave Tony off your team with those stats.

Alternate Chaser: Denny Hamlin
Denny doesn’t have a win at Watkins Glen yet, but in four career races he’s finished in the top ten each time with one top five finish.  His 7.5 place average finish is good enough for third best among active drivers.  He fared well last week in Pocono and should have his confidence sky-high.  He’s third in points and rolling this season.

Marcos Ambrose
In only two career races Marcos has done very well here.  His 2.5 average finish is best among active drivers.  He has a 2nd and 3rd place finishes in the two races.  He’s a road course expert and really knows what he’s doing here.  If he weren’t a NASCAR regular, Marcos definitely would be one of the ringers that some team would bring in.  Now that he’s a regular, he’ll get the respect he deserves on the track and should have another top five finish, and don’t be surprised if he wins.

Kyle Busch
If you take out his first career race at the Glen, Kyle has done very well here.  He has 4 consecutive top ten finishes with a win, two top fives, and four top tens.  He has the 6th best average finish at the track and is 6th in the standings.  Kyle is an aggressive driver and will push some cars out of the way to get by them if he needs to.  If he smells the win, he’ll go get it for you.

Dark Horse: Robby Gordon
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I’m not a Robby Gordon fan, but the facts show that he’s a good road course driver and has done well in this race.  In 11 career races he has finished in the top five 7 times with a win.  His average finish of 11.3 is also very impressive.  When he’s finished outside of the top ten here it was because of getting into trouble on the track.  His non-top ten finishes are 40th, 16th, 27th, and 18th.  If he can keep out of trouble and not have people get mad at him and wreck him, Robby should do well and finish in the top five again.

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Driver Recommendations for 2010 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway

Posted by chadmusselman on July 5, 2010

Another Saturday night race is on the schedule, this time at the Chicagoland Speedway, southwest of Chicago.  This is a cookie cutter, 1.5 mile D-shaped oval.  They used to have this race Sunday afternoon, but mid-July in Chicago can be horribly hot.  To make it easier on the fans and drivers they made the wise decision to make this one of the night races.  7 of the current drivers have won here with Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick being the only two with two wins. 

This Week’s Recommendations

Chaser: Jimmie Johnson
Jimmie has the best average finish here (8.1) and is the 2nd hottest driver over the last 5 races with an average finish of 8.8.  Plus, the fact that he’s Jimmie Johnson adds to the argument that he should be on your team.  Still not convinced?  How about the 7 top ten finishes he has at Chicagoland in 8 races?  It’s enough to make him my top pick for the weekend.

Alternate Chaser: Jeff Gordon
Jeff has the 4th best average finish at Chicagoland (9.2), and 4th best average finish over the last 5 races at 9.6.  Jeff has run in all 9 races in Chicago finishing in the top ten 6 times, winning once.  He has managed to fight his way towards the top of the standings, now in second, and looks to be on a roll.  Jeff is still looking for his first win of 2010, but this could be the weekend he gets it.

Kevin Harvick
As mentioned above, Kevin is one of two drivers with two wins at Chicagoland.  He also has 5 top fives, 6 top tens, and an average finish of 8.7 in 9 races.  Kevin is also the hottest driver over the past 5 races, averaging a 6.4 place finish, more than 2 positions better than the 2nd hottest driver.  He’s the points leader for a reason and should be on your team.

Matt Kenseth
Matt doesn’t have a win here yet, and only has 4 top tens in 9 races, but his average finish of 11.2 is good enough for 7th best.  When he’s finished outside of the top ten it’s been a 14th, 12th, 12th, 22nd, and 23rd place finishes, so he’s always been in contention and collecting points.  That’s exactly what’s needed now, and would be good for your team.

Dark Horse: Marcos Ambrose
Marcos has only raced at the Chicagoland Speedway once and finished 11th.  He’s 26th in points right now, and definitely isn’t on the sort-list of drivers that people will be putting on their team.  Don’t count him out though.  I don’t think he’ll win the race or anything, but a top ten finish isn’t out of the question.

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