Anthony Ballantoni

Mid-Pack Attack

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Fort Worth: Samsung Mobile 500

Thursday, April 07, 2011


Track history: NASCAR speedway owner Bruton Smith announced plans to build a multi-million dollar superspeedway in the Fort Worth/Dallas market late in 1994. Construction started in August 1995 on the 1.5-mile dual-banked Texas Motor Speedway. Dual-banked turns angled at 8 and 24 degrees allow NASCAR and Indy-style racing.

On the first lap of the inaugural Cup race in 1997, as the field entered Turn 1, 13 of the 43 car starting field were involved in a massive wreck. Darrell Waltrip's car was the only one to be retired after the accident. TMS did some reconstruction work in 1998, eliminating the 8-degree dual-banking, resurfaced the track, all to the tune of $4 million. They also added 4,800 seats in 1998.

In 1999, TMS spent $2.5 million on the 4/10-mile clay-surfaced dirt track to host the World of Outlaws sprint cars. 10,000 more seats were added in 1999, bringing the total capacity to 154,861. The sold-out 1999 PRIMESTAR 500 was the largest attended sporting event in Texas history. In 2000, TMS had to fix some track flaws, a dip, caused by erosion, under turn 4 and other problem areas in turns 1 and 2.

Late in 2001, TMS was in the resurfacing mode again. This time, the entire 1.5-mile speedway was repaved with a granite-based asphalt compound over a concrete base. The track had been extremely fast since it opened and after that resurfacing, the straightaway speeds approached 200 mph.

April 6, 1997: The 1997 Interstate Batteries 500 was the inaugural Cup race at TMS. Qualifying was rained-out, so the current point leader at the time, Dale Jarrett, lined up in front of the field with his No. 88 Quality Care Ford. Jarrett led 42 of the 334 lap event and finished 2nd. Jeff Burton drove the No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford from 5th in the lineup, led 60 laps, and scored the victory. With an average race speed of 125.111 mph, due to several wrecks, it was the slowest Texas Cup race on record.

April 18, 2010: The Samsung Mobile 500 was postponed to Monday, April 19th, due to rain on Sunday. Tony Stewart's No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet led the field to the green flag. He led 74 laps of the 334 lap event but didn't make it to the end. On lap 317, Carl Edwards (99) got into Stewart (who was running 2nd) triggering a 9-car wreck. Stewart was credited with a 32nd place DNF. Also done for the day was Jeff Gordon (24) who led a race-high 124 laps. The victory went to No. 11 FedEx driver, Denny Hamlin, who led 12 laps after starting 29th in the lineup.

November 7, 2010: Elliott Sadler's No. 19 Stanley Ford and Greg Biffle's No. 16 American Red Cross Ford shared the front row for the AAA Texas 500. Biffle passed pole-sitter Sadler on lap 1, led a race-high 224 laps and finished 5th. Sadler never led a lap and brought his Ford home in 23rd. Denny Hamlin had to work a little harder than he did in the April 2010 race. He started the No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota 30th in the lineup, led 31 laps and battled Matt Kenseth (17) down to the wire. Kenseth actually passed Hamlin on the final lap but brushed the wall (finished 2nd). Hamlin took the win, which not only gave him a 2010 Texas sweep, but also earned him the 2010 points lead.

Your fantasy game won't allow you to pick all track favorites so Mid-Pack Attack is here to help. A mid-packer may not win the race but has as good a shot at a top 15 finish as track favorites Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson. There were 45 cars on the preliminary entry list for this weekend's Cup race. If you can't get the track favorites on your team, here are some other picks for Saturday night's Samsung Mobile 500 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Mid-Pack picks

Greg Biffle is outside the top 15 in points (20th) and not considered a track favorite so he's up for grabs for a mid-pack pick. (We know that's cheesy, but we need a no-brainer once in awhile). In the last 5 Cup races here, Biffle scored the 2nd highest number of championship points (track favorite Hamlin scored the most). He led the most laps (612) over the last 12 races including the final one for the win in 2005. Biffle also has a truck series win (from the pole) at the Texas track. As noted above in the November 2010 race, he started on the front row and led a race-high 224 laps and might have had the win. With about 30 laps to go, he went into the pits as the leader, lost 2nd gear pulling out, dropped to around 10th place on the restart and worked his way back to finish 5th. Biffle has some unfinished business in Fort Worth.

If David Reutimann doesn't blow up at Fort Worth, he does very well. In 7 Cup starts, he has 3 DNF's due to engine failure, including this race last season. In that race, he was running 7th with about 14 laps to go when he lost the engine and his car caught on fire. His worst finish in the other 4 starts was a 16th place. Reutimann is a definite charger at this track. NASCAR Statistics ranks him 2nd in their "Quality Passes" (passing while running in the top 15) category. He made 282 QP's (second only to favorite Hamlin) in his 7 races. Reutimann also has a 12.9 average finish in 9 Nationwide Series races and a 9.8 average finish in 6 Truck Series starts at this track. We think this is a good week to use the double-zero.

In the 2010 edition of the Samsung Mobile 500, Jamie McMurray was running in the top 15 when he got caught up in that 9-car wreck with less than 20 laps to go. He came back to Fort Worth and finished a respectable 16th last November. According to NASCAR's loop data, he's 1st in their "Green Flag Passes" category. He passed cars 854 times under green flag conditions in the last 12 TMS races. With 6 top tens and an average finish of 16.5 in 14 starts, we're looking at Jamie Mac for another top 15 or better run on Saturday night.

Compared to any other track on Cup circuit, David Ragan holds his best qualifying average of 14.5 at Texas Motor Speedway. He earned top 17 finishes in 6 of the last 7 Cup races held at this track. His best was an 8th in November 2010. Ragan has a pole and 5 top ten finishes in 7 Fort Worth Nationwide Series starts. He scored 2 top ten finishes in 3 starts in the Truck Series at this track as well. This would be a good week to consider the "We Love Logistics" guy for spot on your roster.


Tony Ballantoni runs the NASCAR coverage at RotoWorld.com.
Email :Anthony Ballantoni



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