Commentary

Good, Bad and Ugly: Dickies 500

Updated: October 31, 2008, 11:37 AM ET
By Mark Garrow | Jayski.com

Mark Garrow provides drivers' trends for Sunday's Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.

* Driver needs to qualify for the race based on time.
# Driver is eligible for the champion's provisional.

• He's got one previous Cup start here, finishing 39th in this race last year.
• After spending a couple of weeks questioning how AJ would perform with Gillett Evernham Motorsports, he has emphatically made me look bad, outperforming his more famous teammates at Martinsville and Atlanta. So, once again I'm a believer and he'll provide a great "floor" with a value of 14.7 in Stock Car Challenge (SCC).

• He has no prior Cup Series starts here, but finished 29th at Atlanta last weekend, a track similar to Texas.
• His SCC value of 11.1 may tempt someone, but I don't really see it paying off.

• Biffle has nine starts here with two top-10s and a win with an average finish of 26.1. He's driving the same car he finished fourth with at Chicago earlier this year.
• His finishes here have not been very pretty, but this year in the past four races on 1.5-mile tracks, he's four-for-four in top-10s and his average finish in those events is 6.0, which is why if you have him, holding on to him might be a good idea despite his dismal past Texas stats.

• Blaney has made 12 Cup Series starts here and finished as high as sixth (2001). He has three top-15s in Cup competition at Texas.
• With an SCC value of 14.4 and some limited past success at Texas, Blaney might be worth a thought or two. He's also finished 21st here three straight times, which wouldn't be bad at that value, but remember, he's got only one top-15 in the past 20 races and the numbers are ugly. Another Blaney plus: He did some extra testing in Nashville for this race.

• In five starts at Texas, Bowyer's best finish is fifth and he has yet to finish outside the top 20. He has logged a 13.8 average finish.
• Bowyer's SCC value of 21.8 makes him too costly to buy because I can think of three or four cheaper drivers I think would be better picks. If you already have him it's possible you might want to hold on to him, but I think your money would be better spent selling him. He also hasn't looked that strong on the 1.5-mile tracks lately, which is why I might have been overly generous with a 12th-place ranking.

• In 15 starts at Texas, Burton boasts two wins, three top-5s and seven top-10s. He's driving the same car he drove to a seventh at Kansas.
• I rank Burton eighth and have penciled him in for a top-10. He might be able to do a little better than that because Burton won the recent race at Charlotte which is the "kissing cousin" to Texas. At this track, Burton has strung together three strong runs finishing first once and sixth twice. Not sure if he has the speed to finish in the top five and with an SCC value of 22.5 you can't afford him if you're interested in Jimmie Johnson and/or Carl Edwards, two drivers I would take over Burton in the final three races this year.

• Busch is racing the same car he drove to a third-place finish at Charlotte. He also tested at Nashville this week in preparation for Texas. He has 11 starts here with seven top-10s, a top-5 and an average finish of 13.0.
• I placed Busch onto my team last week and he paid off nicely. His SCC value is a very cap friendly 18.2 and I think he's got a shot to finish, at the worst, top 10 to top 15 again.

• After not finishing higher than 15th in his first three starts, Busch has finished fourth or better in three of his past four races at Texas.
• Last week I thought Busch would begin to turn around a dismal playoff season and he did, finishing fifth. I can see another top-5 this weekend, which is why I ranked him third. His SCC value of 22.2 is not bad as long as you're willing to live without one of the top two.

• He's taking a third stab at making his Cup debut this weekend. Let's hope for his sake qualifying doesn't rain out on him again.

• In 12 starts at Texas, Junior has scored one win, three top-5s and seven top-10s. He has also led 393 laps.
• This is one of Junior's better tracks and he looks forward to racing here and that's worth a 10th or two on the stopwatch. Still, I have him ranked seventh coming in because I can see another top-10, but am not sure he can run top-5. With an SCC price of 22.2, you have to be more comfortable he can run up front before you go to the checkout line and cart him onto your team.

Carl Edwards

• In his previous seven starts here, Edwards has accumulated two wins, his only top-10s at Texas. His average finish is 15.7. He's driving the same car he drove to a win at Michigan and a ninth at Charlotte.
• I ranked Edwards first this weekend because I think there's a good chance he can win for the second week in a row. Did you know last three winners of the fall race in Atlanta came out to Texas and won too? That streak was started by Edwards in 2005 and was followed by Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson.

• Elliott has 12 starts here with a top-10 and an average finish of 26.0. He finished 36th in this race last year.
• For the second week in a row the Wood Brothers bring a new car to the track. I thought Elliott was going to pay off nicely last week, leaving you to use his 13.2 SCC value to get a top-20 and put another "big dog" on your team. Unfortunately, he got crashed by Sam Hornish Jr. just after the race got under way. We'll scout him heavy again this Sunday morning.

• Gilliland has an average finish of 20.8 at Texas.
• His SCC value has flattened out at 14.4 because of his inconsistency. Since finishing runner-up in June at Sonoma, the California driver has not come even remotely close to finishing top-10 again.

• In 15 starts at Texas, Gordon has five top-5s and seven top-10s. It remains one of two tracks where he has yet to win a NASCAR race.
• Gordon is usually good at Texas, but never great. I have him ranked ninth going in because I can see him squeezing by with a top-10, but not much more than that. Plus, I think his 21.8 SCC value is too high to play with since there are several cheaper drivers who run better or as good at a cheaper price.

• Gordon has 10 starts here with an average finish of 29.8. He finished 32nd in this race last year.
• He ran OK last week at Atlanta, finishing 19th, making his 14.4 SCC value somewhat appealing. But like the drug commercial says "Just say no!"

• Hamlin has five starts here with four top-10s, a top-5 and an average finish of 10.7. He's driving the same car he finished third with last weekend at Atlanta.
• Hamlin had an outstanding run going here a year ago when he crashed himself out of the race fighting for the lead with Matt Kenseth. I've got him penciled in for a top-5 for this race after a fifth here in the spring and a third-place finish last week at Atlanta.

• In 11 starts at Texas, Harvick has two top-5s and four top-10s. The car he's driving this weekend has six top-10s this year in eight starts.
• Harvick has been a little off during the past two 1.5-mile track races at Charlotte and Atlanta. He wasn't terrible, but nothing to write home about. With a SCC value of 21.3, he has too many questions and I would rather drop down to Matt Kenseth or Kurt Busch, where you'll probably get a better performance at a significantly cheaper value.

• Hornish will make his second start at Texas. He finished 32nd here earlier this year.

• He has zero top-10s this year with an average finish of 29.8. Do I need to continue? Didn't think so.

Jimmie Johnson

• Johnson has made 10 starts at Texas, notching one win, five top-5s and eight top-10s. Johnson has collected more points at Texas than any other driver over the past two races. He has an average finish of 8.5. The car he's driving this weekend is the same one he finished second with last weekend at Atlanta and won with three times from the pole this year.
• I ranked Johnson second because I look at him as a lock for the top five and a potential winner. I dropped him last week to go with an all-Roush lineup and it paid off, but you can never lose having Johnson in your lineup.

• In eight starts at Texas Kahne has accrued one win, two top-5s and two top-10s. Kahne has an average finish of 24th at Texas.
• I said last week going into Atlanta and I'll say it again; other than Charlotte, Kahne has done little or nothing on the 1.5-mile tracks this year. I have him ranked 22nd and think both GEM teammates, Allmendinger and Elliott Sadler, will outrun him.

Matt Kenseth

• In 12 starts, Kenseth has posted one win, five top-5s and seven top-10s. He has led 442 laps at the track. Over the past three fall races here, Kenseth has a driver rating of 104.9, third best among active drivers. He ranks best in average finish (6.9) and points scored (1,089) among all drivers.
• I have Kenseth on my team and I think he's a lock top-10 every week and potential top-5 every time he rolls off the truck now on tracks this size. If he doesn't have any problems, Kenseth probably finishes third to seventh and has a great SCC price of 20.7.

• He's attempting to make his Cup debut in a Hendrick Chevy.
• Keselowski was sixth in last fall's Nationwide Series race here and 15th in the spring.

• Kvapil has an average finish of 25.4 at Texas.
• He is consistently finishing around 25th. An SCC value of 16.1 is attractive, but the numbers just aren't good enough to take a gamble.

• In 15 starts here, Labonte has five top-10s, three top-5s and an average finish of 20.3. He finished 16th in this race last year.
• I didn't give Labonte much love this week, ranking him 25th. I can see him finishing 19th to 25th and his SCC value has dropped to 17.5, but I still can't see where he's a potential answer to scoring a bunch of points.

• Logano has two prior Cup starts this year, finishing 32nd and 39th, and is attempting to make his first-ever start at Texas.
• Rain has prevented him from making an attempt to make the races at Charlotte and Atlanta so he's chomping at the bit. He'll be driving a car for Joe Gibbs this time and not Hall of Fame Racing, but in my opinion he'll still struggle, only not as much I guess. Believe it or not, I think his SCC value of 14.1, which is almost the lowest in the game, is still too high.

• Martin has 15 starts here with eight top-10s, five top-5s, a win and an average finish of 14.4. He finished eighth here in the spring.
• Going into the past two races on the mile-and-a-halfs, people in the garage talked about how good Martin was and then he went out and laid an egg. He was 18th at Kansas, ninth at Charlotte, and then 22nd at Atlanta last week. The magic appears gone as he plays out the string at DEI. I ranked him 18th because I have no idea if Martin, and his 19.5 SCC value, get can back on track.

• McCumbee is attempting to make his first Cup start at Texas. He has one start at Charlotte, a similar track, where he finished 35th three weeks ago.

• In nine visits to Texas, McMurray has posted five top-10s and two top-5s. His best finish is second. McMurray has an average finish of 13.8.
• A fifth at Charlotte and seventh in Atlanta bode well for McMurray's performance here in the Lone Star State. His SCC value of 17.7 is also very cap friendly. I have McMurray penciled for another top-10 in Texas.

• In nine Cup starts at Texas, Mears has recorded two top-5s and four top-10s. Mears has led a total of 38 laps here, all during the 2005 season when he scored back-to-back fourth-place finishes.
• I'm a big Mears fan these days because he has top-15s, with a high of sixth, in five of the past six races and his SCC price is still a nice 17.6. He's very consistent these days and not nearly as risky as he was early in the season when this team really struggled.

• In four starts here, Menard has an average finish of 25.8. He finished 30th in this race last year.

• Montoya has four starts here with a top-10 and an average finish of 17th. He finished 25th in this race last year.
• Montoya had a great run last week at Atlanta until he got wrecked twice, once on pit road and then finished off on the track. His SCC value dropped .5 down to 16.1 so we'll have to scout him out Sunday morning to see if he's capable of running as strong here as he did at Atlanta. If so, you might have to think about giving him some love.

• Nemechek has 14 starts here with a top-5 and an average finish of 27.0. He finished 35th here last year.

• Newman has one win at Texas. In addition, he has three top-5s and three top-10s.
• I didn't think Newman would have a strong run last week at Atlanta and don't really see any reason to change my mind about it this week. His SCC value of 18.2 is identical to his teammate Kurt Busch. Whom would you rather have on your team?

• "Mad Max" made his Cup debut this year, running the road courses of Sonoma and Watkins Glen with a best finish of 35th. He is attempting to make his oval debut this weekend with Germain Racing in alliance with Michael Waltrip's team. Papis has two IROC starts here so he at least knows how to get out onto the track.

• Ragan has three starts here, with his best finish being 13th. He is driving the same car he drove to a 10th at California.

• I ranked Ragan 11th and, to be honest, he could sneak as high as eighth and low as 13th this weekend. On the plus side, he's averaging about an eighth-place finish in the past five starts this year. But his value is just .3 cheaper than Matt Kenseth, who gives you a shot at a top-5.

• Raines has five starts here with an average finish of 23.6. He finished 20th in this race last year.

• Reutimann has two starts here with finishes of 43rd and 41st.
• Reutimann killed me last weekend. A bunch of crew chiefs in the garage told me this guy is a top-10, maybe even a little better than that, but he was junk from the get-go. Boy did they really miss it. It did, however, drop his SCC value down to 15.8 and he is someone you might want to think about. We'll scout him hard again Sunday morning and then I'll make a decision whether he stays or I give him the boot.

• Riggs has eight starts here with one top-10 and an average finish of 23.2. He finished 13th in this race last year.
• At 14.4 I would pick up Riggs in SCC in a second if I could see another 13th, but if he finishes that high again it will take more luck than I think he can muster.

Elliott Sadler

• In 13 starts here, Sadler has three top-10s and a win with an average finish of 22.0. He finished 12th here last year.
• I have Sadler penciled in for a potential top-15 with a cap-friendly price of 16.7. Given his potential and price, we'll scout him pretty hard along with teammate AJ Allmendinger come Sunday morning.

• Sauter has four starts here with an average finish of 28.5. He finished 27th here last year.

• In 13 starts here, Schrader has a top-10 and an average finish of 23.2. His last start here was spring of 2007, when he finished 31st.

• Smith has one previous Cup start here, finishing 35th this spring.

• Sorenson's best finish at Texas is 13th and his average finish is 26th place in five starts.
• He was 15th at Charlotte and wrecked in Atlanta, finishing 39th. Sorenson's SCC value of 14.7 is the same as Allmendinger and it's easy to see which one has performed more consistently lately. Still, we will check out Sorenson thoroughly Sunday morning.

• Speed is attempting to make his first Cup start at Texas. He has a start at Atlanta, a similar track, with a finish of 34th.
• It was ugly last week for Speed and it will be again this week.

Tony Stewart

• Stewart has 13 starts here with eight top-10s, three top-5s, a win and an average finish of 13.0. He finished seventh here in the spring.
• This team is not running on all cylinders and it appears Stewart's plan to leave at the end of the season, and the work he's putting in for his new team, is not going over well. That's why I ranked him 14th even though he should be potential top-10. If you're thinking of taking Stewart at 21.2 in SCC, bump up to 21.6 and take his teammate Denny Hamlin. That is a surer bet.

• Truex has six starts here with three top-10s and a top-5 with an average finish of 13.8. He started from the pole in this race last year, finishing third.
• I ranked Truex 21st because this team has been maddeningly inconsistent for most of the second half, but has recently put together a three-race string where he's been 10th to 15th, which isn't too terribly bad for a driver with an 18.8 SCC value. Still, in this price range, I'd rather take Kurt Busch at 18.2.

• In eight starts here, Vickers has an average finish of 23.5. He finished 23rd in this race last year.
• At 18.7, Vickers' SCC value is too high for his performance lately. I ranked him 20th with a possible 16th- to 23rd-place finish in my crystal ball.

Michael Waltrip

• During his career at Texas, Waltrip has earned three top-10s and six top-25s. His average start is 27th and average finish is 24th.

Mark Garrow covers fantasy racing for ESPN.com.

Mark Garrow

Fantasy Racing
Mark Garrow covers fantasy racing for ESPN.com.

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