Friday, February 22, 2008

Looking Ahead to California Speedway, By Looking Back At Daytona- Fantasy Follow

Surprise Top 10

We've looked at the big stuff, now lets look at the smaller things we overlooked, post Daytona.

Q) Any idea what team finished with the most engines in the Top 10.

A) Gillett Evernham Motorsports

Elliott Sadler, Kasey Kahne and Robby Gordon finished in the 6th, 7th and 8th spots respectively in the finishing order of the Daytona 500. While all of the hype (including from us) has gone to great job done by the Penske, and Gibbs' drivers, and the flop the Hendrik cars had, the Gillett Evernham engines have gone under the radar.

Sadler and Kahne are both drivers signed with Gillett Evernham, and we learned a few weeks ago that Robby Gordon Motorsports had signed a technical manufacturing and marketing services agreement with Gillett Evernham. For all the talk that the Penske and Gibbs drivers got for their teamwork and helping each other, many over looked the quiet success that the Gillett Evernham drivers had We predicted earlier that the three drivers could team up together to help each other on the track, and it looks like that is what happened here.

Fantasy Impact

Keep an eye on these three. Perhaps the move to the Gillett Evernham engines will help Robby Gordon more than we first thought. He is a bottom tier driver, and could be a bottom bargain driver to plug in. At worst, as we said earlier, he is a road course stud, and Daytona was just a fluke. Ignore the Robby Gordon infraction and penalty doled out by NASCAR. The penalty had nothing to do with the car he was racing on the track, it stemmed from a prerace inspection that took place more than a week before the race.

Kasey Kahne underachieved greatly last season, and is looking to bounce back, and make a run for the Chase to the Championship. Elliott Sadler... he had a nice beard.

Reed on the Rise

We predicted that Reed Sorenson would make the leap and become a Chase driver this season. Sorenson would finish 5th in the Daytona 500, and is off to a good start. His team didn't do a great job of helping him out, which could be a cause for concern going forward. Juan Pablo Montoya and Dario Franchitti finished 32 and 33 respectively and will need to contribute more to Chip Ganassi racing stable if they Sorenson plans to be a real contender this season.

Who we like this week at the California Speedway

Kurt Busch has won the pole in 3 of the last 4 races at California Speedway, and after his strong finish last week look for him to have continued success and a strong race

Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson should both bounce back this week, and have strong top 10 finishes. Johnson won here last season, and I just cannot see the Hendrik cars struggling again like they did last week.

Matt Kenseth has 8 top 10 finishes at California Speedway, to g along with 2 wins in the last 4 races there. This could be just the tonic Kenseth needs to rebound after a 36th place finish at Daytona.

Lower Guys With Good Value

Fantasy NASCAR players will tell you that it doesn't really matter who your top drivers are, they will finish pretty close together by the end of the race. The difference will come in the lower ranked drivers you choose to start. A top 15 is much different than a 32 place finish. This is why we are going to try to highlight some drivers who most wouldn't think of, and we feel could make or break your week.

Sam Hornish Jr. finished a surprising 15th at Daytona, and has gone under the radar because his Penske teammates faired so much better in week 1. Obviously Hornish is not a guy who you would want to carry your fantasy NASCAR team, but I think as a cheap, 3rd tier driver, he will do just fine.
Brian Vickers- *Sleeper Lock* had a finishing average inside the top 20 in the 2005 and 2006 seasons. He took a step back last season with a finishing average outside of the top 25. He had a strong start to his 2008 season finishing 12th at Daytona, and looks to build on that success at the California Speedway. Despite his struggles last season, California Speedway was one of the few places he did see success with a 10th and 8th place finishes in his starts there last season. He is probably your best bet this week based his success in prior seasons and early success this season.

Scott Riggs, finished 21, and is a consistent pick to finish in the top 25. He won't win many races, but as a lower tier you could do much worse. Again, Riggs' best attribute is that he is consistent.

David Ruetimann's 18th place finish was easy to overlook, but its rather impressive when you take into account he started 42! I have never been a huge fan Ruetimann, but his 24 improvement from start to finish cannot be ignored. He might be a decent option this week

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