Dan Beaver

Statistically Speaking

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Update: Texas

Saturday, April 7, 2018


Mother Nature is not a Fantasy NASCAR fan.

On Friday, lightning in the area abbreviated qualification for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway after one round was in the books. That did not make a lot of difference at the very top of the order. Kurt Busch won the pole, followed by teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer. Those three were also the fastest in Friday’s practice and likely would have all qualified on the first two rows even if the second and third rounds were concluded.

Not everyone was happy with the results, however. Paul Menard tried to save his tires in the first round so he could go faster, later. He lines up 19th and was relatively certain he could have gone faster. Kyle Busch might have given the Stewart-Haas Racing drivers a run for the top spot, but he saved a bit too and lines up eighth.

Menard and Busch will both almost certainly finish better, and that means they will earn positive place-differential points.

Compounding the frustration of these drivers was the fact that the track was perfectly serviceable and dry. Unfortunately, lightning was in the area and NASCAR protocol dictates that an eight-mile radius needs to be clear for at least 30 minutes before allowing spotters and fans in the stands. As soon as the weather was about to open that window, another cell was due to roll in.

The system that came through brought extremely cold weather. Both practice sessions on Saturday were in the 30-degree range. The cold temperatures made practice tricky because the track conditions are not like anything they well face on Sunday. Drivers can get sucked into thinking their car has a lot more grip than it will have in race trim – and that can be especially deceptive for Young Guns. Daniel Suarez posted the fastest single lap in the morning session with a speed just a hair’s breadth from the 200 m.p.h. mark, but that does not necessarily make him a great fantasy value. He was third fastest in Happy Hour.

The increased grip and speed in the track might also have contributed to an incident for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. With about 15 minutes remaining in practice two, he slapped the wall hard and will have to roll out a backup car for the third time this year. The No. 17 used two cars at Phoenix and Martinsville – finishing outside the top 20 in both events (23rd at Phoenix and 37th at Martinsville).

Joining Stenhouse in the back will be William Byron. The No. 24 team discovered a problem with the engine in Friday’s first practice session. They replaced the stricken power plant and have to drop to the back.

Final practice had even more obstacles. Moisture on the track – in the form of melted sleet – caused NASCAR to abbreviate the final session to only about 20 minutes. Jimmie Johnson won a moral victory by posting the fastest single lap and while that is likely to make the team feel a little better, it is not going to give fantasy owners much incentive to put him on the roster.

Harvick had the quickest 10-lap average in that session along with the second-fastest single lap. While it is just as difficult to make any sweeping assumptions from those speeds, he does have the fast times from Friday along with a stellar record on similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks this year to recommend him.



Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 12 years with a little help from his >500,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.
Email :Dan Beaver



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