December 17, 2009

2009 Fantasy Rankings

24. Casey Mears

Fantasy Power Average*: 24.52
Wins: 0
Top-fives: 0
Top-10s: 4
Top-15s: 12

The economy may yet be the undoing of Casey Mears in 2010 and that is a shame because this mid-range driver was finally beginning to gel with his Richard Childress Racing team. Like most of the drivers from that stable, he had an up and down year, but starting with the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire, he showed remarkable consistency. In the final 10 races of the year, he finished on the lead lap eight times and improved his average finish by more than two positions over the first 26 events of the 2009 season.

Mears never cracked the top five and came close only twice with a sixth in the Michigan Carfax 400 in August and a seventh at Lowe's in October, which meant that he probably flew under the radar screen for most of the year. But he was often a good utility to driver that could be used to stretch your salary cap and allow you to load up on marquee drivers.

The best trait of Mears in 2009, however, was his ability to coax the car to the end of a race. He was one of only three drivers listed as running at the end of all 36 events alongside Juan Montoya and David Reutimann, so fantasy owners had a reasonable expectation that he would get every position out of the car that it was capable of giving.

*The Fantasy Power Average is a formula that consists of a driver's finishing result plus other intangibles such as average running position, laps in the top 10, speed in traffic and quality passes. Each intangible is "expressed" as a finishing position (e.g. the driver with the most laps in the top 10 is given a hypothetical first-place finish), so the lower the number, the greater the strength.

25. Joey Logano

N'Wide: Danica's first races

On Thursday, it was announced that Danica Patrick's first race will come at Auto Club Speedway in week two of the season; her next race will immediately follow at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Our View It certainly makes sense to debut her on tracks where car control—and not the whim of the draft—determines her success or failure. Until she posts practice times, however, it's hard to determine her fantasy worth.

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December 16, 2009

ARCA's International Connection

Daytona Testing will include one of the most diverse testing fields in ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards history, with drivers representing five countries and racing backgrounds ranging from Formula 1 to grassroots touring stock car racing scheduled to participate in the three-day, ARCA-sanctioned open test.

At present, more than 50 drivers are scheduled to test. Among them, a growing segment of international drivers representing countries across the globe to include Venezuela, India, China and Canada.

Caracas, Venezuela's Milka Duno, Chennai, India's Narain Karthikeyan, Hong Kong, China's Darryl O'Young and Canadians Steve Arpin, Wheeler Boys, Derek White and Terry Jones join a list of drivers with non-U.S. hometowns who have driven ARCA Racing Series cars since the series' inception in 1953. Other countries that have been represented in ARCA Racing Series events over the years include Columbia, Germany, the United Kingdom, England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Mexico, Japan and France.

Caracas, Venezuela's Milka Duno, scheduled to test the No. 90 Toyota Camry for Braun Racing, has competed in the IZOD IndyCar Series for the past three seasons and is an experienced road course racer in the Rolex Series Daytona Prototypes and the American Le Mans Series. She finished second in the 24 hours of Daytona in 2007, setting the record for highest finish by a female driver in the history of the race. The Daytona ARCA Open Test marks her stock car racing debut. "This will be a new challenge for me and one that I've been looking forward to," said Duno of this weekend's ARCA test. "I know it won't be easy - it will be hard work - but work that I'm ready to take on."

Chennai, India's Narain Karthikeyan is the first and only Indian driver to compete in Formula 1 and currently runs in the Le Mans Series. Karthikeyan completed the full 2005 Formula 1 season, posting a career-best finish of fourth at the Indianapolis Grand Prix for his Jordan Grand Prix Team and served as a WilliamsF1 test driver in 2006 and 2007. The 2009 ARCA Open Test at Daytona marks his first time in an ARCA Racing Series stock car and he is competing for a new team in the series, Starbeast Motorsports. Starbeast Motorsports has formed a strategic partnership with JTG Daugherty Racing for technical and marketing support and former ARCA Champion Andy Hillenburg will provide driver training/assistance during the test.

Hong Kong, China's Darryl O'Young represented his country in a full season of the FIA GT championship and the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, making Chinese motor sports history. He will take on the next endeavor of his career-testing an ARCA Racing Series stock car at Daytona Int'l Speedway-as a teammate to Karthikeyan for Starbeast Motorsports.

Fort Frances, Ontario's Steve Arpin finished seventh in the final point standings during his rookie season of ARCA Racing Series competition in 2009 and enters this year's ARCA Open Test at Daytona with veteran team Venturini Motorsports. Prior to ARCA competition, Arpin competed in the USAC Silver Crown Series, IMCA, UMP Modifieds, CRA Late Models and snowmobile racing. He was voted the National Speed Sport News ARCA Nation Most Popular Driver by race fans last season.

Calgary, Alberta's Wheeler Boys plans to participate in ARCA Open Testing at Daytona in an entry owned by legendary NASCAR/ARCA driver James Hylton. Boys, who has prior experience in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR Camping World West Series, is the son of former ARCA Racing Series competitor Trevor Boys, who made 102 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts from 1982-1993 and nephew of former ARCA Racing Series competitor Buddie Boys, also a NSCS veteran.

Kahnuwake, Quebec's Derek White is scheduled to participate in his career first ARCA Open Test for veteran ARCA driver/car owner Mario Gosselin, a fellow Canadian and three-time series winner. White has previously competed in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and made two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts for Gosselin's DGM Racing Team in 2009.

Amherstburg, Ontario's Terry Jones made his career-first ARCA Racing Series start in 2003 driving for his own Jones Group Racing Team. In 38 career starts to-date, Jones' career-best finishes include a sixth at Winchester Speedway in 2007 and a seventh at Salem in 2009. Jones also participates in weekly ARCA-sanctioned racing at Toledo Speedway in Ohio, where he earned the 2009 Championship in the Sportsman Division.

Other international drivers who have competed in ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards competition over the years include but are not limited to:

Klaus Graf (Dornhan Germany)
Roland Rehfeld (Berlin Germany)
Michael Vergers (Oxford UK)
Neil Cunningham (London England)
Kieran Dynes (Dungannon Ireland)
Tony Spanos (Sydney Australia)
Stuart Lyndon (Hastings New Zealand)
Guillermo Ortelli (Buenos Aires Argentina)
Jorge Goeters (Mexico City Mexico)
Hideo Fukuyama (Suzuka Japan)
Juan Pablo Montoya (Bogota Columbia)
Alex Garcia (Caracas Venezuela)
Michel Disdier (Nice France)

Canadian Drivers:
Don St. Denis (Lasalle Ontario)
Pete Shepherd (Brampton Ontario)
Pierre Bourque (Ottawa Ontario)
Sean Stafford (Ontario)
Trevor Boys (Calgary Alberta)
Buddie Boys (Calgary Alberta)
Ron Fellows (Missisauga Ontario)
Jerry Churchill (Windsor Ontario)
Randy Churchill (Windsor Ontario)
Craig Bracken (Windsor Ontario)
Curt Dickie (Windsor Ontario)
Dwayne Dewar (Windsor Ontario)
Peter Gibbons (Stouffville Ontario)
Mike Goudie (Toronto Ontario)
Billy Rowse (Corunna Ontario)
Steve Robblee (London Ontario)
Laurent Rioux (Toronto Ontario)
George Sekanina (Kitchener Ontario)
JR Fitzpatrick (Cambridge Ontario)

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Cope forms new team

Derrike Cope has announced the formation of a new team for 2010 in partnership with Dale Clemons. The new venture will be called Stratus Racing Group, according to the Cope Web site, and intends to run full time in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series with Cope as the principal driver.

Our View In addition, his twin nieces Amber and Angela Cope will run in the ARCA series and selected Truck races. It has long been a goal of the Northwestern driver to bring these ladies into the sport, but now it appears he has the sponsorship in place to make it happen.

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ARCA: Duno to test at Daytona

Danica Patrick may have some competition as the top female driver in stock cars. Milka Duno is also expected to test at Daytona International Speedway this spring. She will be in Braun Racing entry according to a press release from the team (quoted at

Our View The two ladies have not gotten along very well in the Indy Racing League, so in addition to the appeal of having female drivers in a male-dominated sport, fans could see sparks fly in any events they contest. Fenders have a tendency to make drivers bold.

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2009 Fantasy Rankings

25. Joey Logano

Fantasy Power Average*: 24.84
Wins: 1 (Lenox Industrial Tools 301, New Hampshire Motor Speedway)
Top-fives: 3
Top-10s: 7
Top-15s: 13

Joey Logano fairly well lived up to expectations in 2009. While his rookie season lacked a lot of the flash of previous freshmen such as Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, fantasy owners will be well-served to remember that the original plan was to bring him into Cup competition in 2010 instead of last year. Tony Stewart's decision to leave Joe Gibbs Racing for his own team brought the teenager to the big leagues sooner than anticipated and yet the kid showed maturity and rarely drove over his head. In fact, Logano did precisely what NASCAR expects from a first-year driver: he improved in the second race on nearly every track that hosts two events.

Detractors will be quick to dismiss Logano's victory at New Hampshire because that race was shortened by rain while the No. 20 stretched its fuel, but they should note that his other pair of top-fives came in the closing events of 2009. Logano drove to a fifth at Lowe's in the NASCAR Banking 500 and crossed the line third at Talladega in the Amp Energy 500. Normally, we would discount any finish on the restrictor-plate superspeedways as a byproduct of luck over skill, but for a rookie to stay of trouble in the draft, it's remarkable.

Expect more of the same from Logano in 2010 as he visits tracks for the third and fourth time. As he and crew chief Greg Zipadelli develop more chemistry, the communication will only improve and Logano is learning how to describe the feel he needs. It's too soon to tell which track types will be his favorites, but in light of his strong Lowe's showing, watch him closely on the "cookie-cutter" tracks.

*The Fantasy Power Average is a formula that consists of a driver's finishing result plus other intangibles such as average running position, laps in the top 10, speed in traffic and quality passes. Each intangible is "expressed" as a finishing position (e.g. the driver with the most laps in the top 10 is given a hypothetical first-place finish), so the lower the number, the greater the strength.

25. Joey Logano

December 14, 2009

Addington joins Ku Busch

Penske Racing South has announced Steve Addington as the crew chief for Kurt Busch's No. 2 Dodge, according to, after scoring a dozen Cup victories in the last two years.

Our View Better still, Addington is accustomed to taking abuse. He was Kyle Busch's crew chief last year, and both of the Busch brothers can be quite fiery on the radio.

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N'Wide: Patrick gets first test in

According to Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s facebook page, Danica Patrick has put her first test with the team in the books; it came at Walt Disney Speedway. The Indy Racing League has run a handful of races at Disney, but not since Danica Patrick joined the series.

Our View If she is willing to put in the work, Patrick's transition to the heavier stock cars will go a lot smoother.

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Stewart heads Down Under

Tony Stewart will join World of Outlaws champion Donny Schatz and Midwest sprint car ace Tim Shaffer Down Under at Parramatta City Raceway later this month according to the track's Web site.

Our View For many sprint car drivers, this is an annual pilgrimage and they have come back to the States with some outstanding racers such as Brooke Tatnell in tow.

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