Anthony Ballantoni

Mid-Pack Attack

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Mid-Pack: Fort Worth

Thursday, April 12, 2012


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 9, 2011: Matt Kenseth won the Samsung Mobile 500 from a 4th place start. It was the No. 17 Ford driver’s first victory of 2011, breaking his 76-race winless streak. It was Kenseth’s second victory at Texas. Drivers leading 10 or more laps: No. 6 (pole-sitter) David Ragan (11 laps, finished 7th), No. 14 Tony Stewart (12, 12th), No. 2 Brad Keselowski (32, 18th), No. 33 Clint Bowyer (44, 2nd), No. 22 Kurt Busch (50, 10th) and winner Kenseth led the most (169 laps).

November 6, 2011: Tony Stewart won the AAA Texas 500 from a 5th place start. It was the No. 14 Chevrolet driver’s fourth victory of 2011 putting him only 3 points behind Chase leader Carl Edwards. It was Stewart’s second victory in 20 starts at Texas. Drivers leading 10 or more laps: No. 99 Carl Edwards (14 laps, finished 2nd), Pole-sitter No. 16 Greg Biffle (23 laps, finished 5th), No. 31 Jeff Burton (24 laps, finished 27th), No. 17 Matt Kenseth (87 laps, finished 4th) and winner Stewart led the most (173 laps).

Active drivers who made their Cup series debut at Fort Worth: Brad Keselowski on 11/2/2008 and Trevor Bayne on 11/7/2010.

Fantasy games 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 Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart.  There were 47 cars on the preliminary entry list for this weekend’s Cup race. Here are our picks for Saturday night’s Samsung Mobile 500 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Mid-Pack picks
AJ Allmendinger scored top-15 finishes in four of his last five starts, including a 10th last November, at Texas Motor Speedway. He started that race 26th in the lineup and ran as high as 4th place and averaged a 13th place running position. He did not lead any laps in those five races but he did spend 845 of the 1667 laps (around 51% of the time) running in the top-15. Allmendinger is coming off a 17th at Bristol, 15th at Fontana and runner-up at Martinsville. If AJ was less ‘courteous’ to Ryan Newman on the last lap two weeks ago, he might have gone home with the Martinsville clock and his first career Cup victory. We think he's a decent choice for your roster for Saturday night's race.

Trevor Bayne has three Cup starts at the Fort Worth track and all resulted in 17th place finishes. In the Nationwide Series, he has TMS finishes of 13th, 14th, 12th, 13th and a win last November. Guess he knows how to get around this track. This weekend his NNS ride (No. 60) is sidelined due to lack of sponsorship so he is concentrating fully on his Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford Cup Series entry. This would be a good week to fill a slot on your team with the part-time Cup driver who already knows how to find victory lane in Texas.

From our list of mid-packers (drivers not in the top 15 in points and/or not track favorites), Mark Martin has the best average finish (13.7 in 22 starts) at this track.  Okay, it's 14 years since Martin pulled into victory lane at Fort Worth but he has scored top 12’s in six of his last eight TMS starts. He also scored the 3rd-most driver points in those races. Martin has three Nationwide Series victories in nine starts here as well. He is running a part-time schedule this season sharing a ride with Waltrip and Vickers. Martin is holding up his end of that deal. In four starts so far, his worst finish was an 18th at Fontana. Give the crafty veteran a look whenever he takes his turn in the No. 55 Toyota.

In his first Sprint Cup trip here in the fall of 2008, Marcos Ambrose finished 21st. His next start ended early due to a blown engine. Over the last five Fort Worth races, his results were 15th, 17th, 12th, 6th and 11th. He scored a 10th place finish in a 2006 Camping World Truck Series start at TMS. He also finished 18th and 9th in the two Texas Nationwide Series races in 2008. NASCAR Statistics ranks him No. 1 in Quality Passes. Ambrose passed 317 cars while running in the top-15 during the last seven TMS races. He averaged a 7th place running position in both 2011 races and ran 629 of the 668 laps logged in those races cruising in the top 15. Find a spot on your roster for the No. 9 Ford this weekend.



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



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