NASCAR Fantasy: Who's Hot, and Who's Not (Infineon Edition)

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IJune 17, 2009

SONOMA, CA - JUNE 22:  A pack of cars races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the Infineon Raceway on June 22, 2008 in Sonoma, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images )

Throw out the typical heavy hitters and get ready to put some road course ringers on your Fantasy Roster this weekend.

This weekend it's not just about who can get around an oval the fastest, but we find out who can turn left and right the best when the boys head to Infineon Raceway for the Toyota/Save Mart 350.

Here are a look at a few drivers that you want on your roster (Hot) and those that you don't (Not).


Who's Hot

Jeff Gordon

Gordon is always a threat when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series hits the road course races, and this weekend will be no different.

Not only is Gordon having a championship-like season to date, but the No. 24 DuPont Chevy team has proven they can be competitive on all tracks.

Gordon was once deemed the "King of Road Courses," and looks to climb back on his throne this weekend.

At Infineon: Gordon has taken to the twisted track in California 16 times, and brought home five wins (31 percent), 10 top-fives (63 percent), and 12 top-10s (75 percent).

Add in five poles and an average finish of 9.3 and it's easy to see why Gordon is a smart move for your Fantasy Roster this weekend.

According to NASCAR's Loop Data, Gordon has an Average Running Position of 13.2 (eighth-best), a Driver Rating of 100.1 (sixth-best), 35 Fastest Laps Run (fourth-most), 172 Green Flag Passes (12th-most), an Average Green Flag Speed of 89.756 MPH (10th-fastest), 273 Laps in the Top 15 (61.8 percent | seventh-most), and 94 Quality Passes (second-most).


Tony Stewart

Stewart may very well be the hottest driver on the circuit these days, and is just now hitting his best part of the season.

After winning at Pocono two weeks ago, Stewart followed that up with a seventh-place finish at Michigan International Speedway, giving the No. 14 team 11 top-10 finishes in 2009 (most among all drivers).

At Infineon: Stewart has raced the curves of Infineon 10 times in a NASCAR Sprint Cup car, and will be the man that could beat Gordon on his playground.

The track has been kind to Stewart, as he has collected two wins, three top-fives, six top-10s, one pole, and an average finish of 10.

According to NASCAR's Loop Data, Stewart has an Average Running Position of 9.5 (series-best), a Driver Rating of 109.5 (second-best), 58 Fastest Laps Run (series-high), 189 Green Flag Passes (fourth-most), an Average Green Flag Speed of 90.262 MPH (series-best), 343 Laps in the Top 15 (77.6 percent | third-most), and 127 Quality Passes (series-high).

Look for Stewart to be a contender this weekend and gain you some valuable points in your Fantasy League if you use him.


Mark Martin

The 50-year-old climbed from his rocking chair this season to return full-time to Sprint Cup competition and is easily proving he's still a fierce competitor.

After teetering on the edge of the top-35 in points a few weeks into the season, Martin and the No. 5 team have ripped off three wins and moved themselves to a comfortable eighth-place in the point standings.

Martin is coming off his third win at MIS last weekend, after running a typical "Mark Martin" race—hanging around near the front and being where he needed to be at the end.

At Infineon: Martin has 18 career starts at Infineon Raceway, with one win, seven top-fives, 13 top-10s, one pole, and an average finish of 10.1.

Martin has an Average Running Position of 12.6 (sixth-best) and a Driver Rating of 90.2 (10th-best).

Martin is no longer a sleeper when it comes to Fantasy NASCAR, and is quickly becoming a solid pick to collect valuable points every weekend.


Juan Pablo Montoya

Montoya is on the brink of breaking back into the top-12 in the championship standings and earning a Chase spot.

Sitting just 43 points behind 12th-place Jeff Burton, Montoya returns to the track where he collected his first (and only) NASCAR Sprint Cup win.

Montoya is known for his success on road course races, and will most likely be near the front when the white flag falls Sunday afternoon.

At Infineon: While he has only visited the twisted track twice in his short Sprint Cup career, Montoya has managed one win, one top-five, two top-10s, and an average finish of 3.5.

According to NASCAR's Loop Data, Montoya has an Average Running Position of 9.6 (second-best), a Driver Rating of 113.2 (series-best), and an Average Green Flag Speed of 90.020 MPH (third-fastest).

Montoya's only downfall is that he tends to be aggressive, which could cost him a solid finish.

With Montoya battling to get back into Chase contention, he should be smart and race for points—not just the win—and will be a smart pick this weekend.


Dark Horse: Road Course Ringers

My top choice if you are opting to go with a ringer for your Fantasy Roster this weekend would be Ron Fellows in the No. 09 James Finch Chevy (which runs Hendrick Motorsports equipment).

The No. 09 has already visited Victory Lane this year with Brad Keselowski, and will be looking for another this weekend.

Among the other contenders are Patrick Carpentier (No. 55 Toyota), Boris Said (No. 08 Ford), Max Papis (No. 13 Toyota), and Brian Simo (No. 36 Toyota).

While the Ringers don't typically win the Sprint Cup Series events, a couple usually crash the top-10 party and bring home a solid finish.

Who's Not

Matt Kenseth

Kenseth started the season two-for-two, opening the year with back-to-back wins. Since then, Kenseth has managed only four more top-10 finishes and two top-fives.

Road courses aren't typically Kenseth's strong points either, and as Kenseth continues to slide back in the points, this weekend could be the race that knocks him out of the top-12 if he's not careful.

The good news is that Kenseth's career-best finish at Infineon came in this race one year ago—the bad news is that his career-worst finish at the track came two years ago.

At Infineon: In nine starts at the twisted track, Kenseth has never led a lap. He has one top-10 finish (2008) and an average finish of 21.8 (naming it as Kenseth's worst track statistically).


Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 team have problems right now: Problems that aren't going to be fixed over night, or over a couple races—making him a bad pick for any Fantasy Roster anytime soon.

Earnhardt Jr. always seems to run well at road course races, but never makes it to the end of the race with a solid finish.

At Infineon: Earnhardt Jr. has nine starts at the road course in California, with zero top-fives and zero top-10 finishes.

His average finish of 20.9 isn't awful—but it's nothing to brag about either.


That's a look at who you should and should not have on your Fantasy Roster this weekend. After Infineon, the boys head to Loudon.


Infineon Raceway Data

Race No.: 16 of 36

Track Size: 1.99-miles

Race Length: 110 laps/219 miles/350 kilometers

Juan Pablo Montoya #    113.2

Tony Stewart                 109.5

Kyle Busch                   104.8

Kurt Busch                    102.6

Ryan Newman               101.9

Jeff Gordon                    100.1

Jeff Burton                     96.5

Jamie McMurray            92.7

Robby Gordon               91.9

Mark Martin                   90.2

Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2008 races (4 total) at Infineon Raceway.

# - Two races only.