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Fantasy Racing: Chicago

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, July 9 2009

LifeLock.com 400
Chicagoland Speedway
Saturday, July 11, 2009, 7:30 PM (ET) TNT

Lifelock_com400_thumbWith the season halfway over, let’s take a look at what we’ve seen so far, shall we?

Of course, you and I both know that Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick have been the biggest disappointments of 2009, especially from a fantasy standpoint. In ESPN’s draft leagues, Junior’s average draft position was 6.6. Sure, that’s inflated by Junior Nation overrating their man once again and taking him first overall in a lot of leagues, but that’s higher than he should have been taken in the first place had he actually, you know, done well this year. Harvick is right behind him, with an average draft position of 7.2. Harvick is also an A driver at Yahoo! I have a feeling he won’t be next year.

And our points leader, Mr. Stewart, was, on average, taken behind both drivers, usually drafted around the 8th position. He’s also a no-brainer for best value of the year in all Yahoo! leagues, as the site inexplicably put Stewart into the B category for the season. Usually Yahoo has a driver or two clearly outperform their B or C status every year, but they’re never off by that much. And to add insult to injury, Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch are also B drivers, and in the same category as David Gilliland and Paul Menard.

In ESPN leagues, Busch was the 17th driver taken, three spots behind Jamie McMurray.

But outside of Earnhardt Jr. and Harvick, Carl Edwards is probably the biggest disappointment so far. In ESPN leagues, Edwards is the top average draftee, and I seriously doubt that those people who picked him first or second overall didn’t do it for no wins and an average finish of 13.4. That said, Edwards is going to win Saturday night at Chicagoland. (Yes, I said this about Junior last week, although that was primarily motivated by selfish reasons so I wouldn’t have to hear about Junior’s struggles for a while)

Second place on the non-Junior/Harvick disappointment list goes to David Ragan, who was the 11th driver taken in most ESPN leagues, 11 spots ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya.

Of drivers outside the top 12, Marcos Ambrose is far and away the best value of any driver. Ambrose is in the C category at Yahoo!, which isn’t that hard to believe considering his ho-hum debut last year. But in what’s perhaps the most baffling fantasy racing statistic of the year, Ambrose’s average ESPN draft position is not in the top 50. Can’t believe it? Neither can I. Heck, Morgan Shepherd’s average draft position is 39th. Morgan Shepherd! When was the last time he attempted a Cup race?

Drivers to Watch:

Brian Vickers: Once again, I’m jumping on the Vickers train at an intermediate track. I am slowly coming to the realization though that the first time I don’t put Vickers on the watch list on a 1.5 miler, he’ll win the race.

Matt Kenseth: If Kenseth hadn’t been spun by Jeff Gordon in the late laps in 2006, he’d be staring at four straight top seven finishes at Chicagoland. With an average finish of 9.8 at the track, there’s no reason to think he won’t be near the front Saturday night

Mark Martin: Now that he’s out of the Chase, he needs a great run to get back into the top 12, and since Chicago doesn’t require restrictor plates, Martin should be a safe bet.

Drivers to Watch Out for:

Sam Hornish Jr: While Slammin’ Sammy’s performance has gotten considerably better this season, he still hasn’t figured out the intermediate tracks in 2009, as he has just an average finish of 27th.

David Stremme: Stremme’s a squirrel. There, I said it again. With the success that Hornish and Kurt Busch are having, how do you explain Stremme’s struggles without blaming it on the driver?

Bobby Labonte: Admit it, if it wasn’t for the incessant Ask.com ads, you would forget that he was still in the series. Forget him for Saturday night.

Stone Cold Lock of the Week:

Carl Edwards: As I said earlier, Edwards is going to win Saturday. They’re getting closer to the Hendrick cars, and with Kyle Busch’s recent handling problems, that’s one less great car that Edwards will have to contend with.

Last Week:

To Watch: Ky. Busch – 15th, Ragan – 13th, Waltrip – 37th

To Watch Out: Burton – 16th, Reutimann – 36th, Allmendinger – 17th

Stone Cold Lock: Earnhardt Jr. – 39th

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, July 9 2009
One Comment

One Comment »

  • Kurt Templeton says:

    I’m missing this race (biz travel) be great to get some coverage beyond the crap tv will do.