- Scott Engel, ESPN Fantasy Games
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The second segment of the Stock Car Challenge begins with the Coca-Cola 600 on May 27 at Concord, N.C., and runs through Sept. 8, the second race of the season at Richmond, Va. The game is now open to view values and set your lineup early for the next race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Hopefully, you were able to ride the Hendrick domination to the top of your group in Segment One, and most Stock Car Challenge players will center their rosters around the top two Hendrick drivers, Jeff Gordon (valued at 24.5, highest in the game) and Jimmie Johnson (second-highest at 23.8), as the second segment begins. It takes much more than one driver to win, though, so here's a view of some of the more notable drivers in the field with their new values. Outside of one or two very dependable drivers, you'll have to make some regular changes to your roster throughout the next segment, so here's what to expect from some other key performers.
Matt Kenseth (22.9): He is third-highest in terms of price, but he has only one win so far and has not finished in the top five in the past three races. Still a solid pick, but I'll wait until he picks it up just a bit more before I add him, and if his price drops at all in the near future, I'd definitely buy lower on Kenseth.
Tony Stewart (22.3): He has yet to win a race and he has earned only two top-five finishes so far this season. I can't front-load my roster with too many expensive guys right now if I want Gordon, so I'll leave him alone for now.
Denny Hamlin (22.0): He's the one guy who has shown serious signs of challenging the Hendrick boys, and he's cheaper than Kenseth or Stewart as the second segment begins. He's the best driver to own at this time other than Gordon or Johnson.
Jeff Burton (21.3): He has started to ease off after a hot start, even though he managed to get back into the top 10 at Darlington. I'd avoid him for now, but once he shows any signs of getting back into early-season form again, I'd add him quickly.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (20.9): Junior has finished in the top 10 in two of the past three races and he's at a friendly price tag before he begins a surge buoyed by the DEI departure news and recent discipline that suspended his crew chief. Begin the second segment with Junior on your roster and watch his price rise.
Kurt Busch (20.8): He has definitely been earning the price tag recently, and he's a safe pick who will continue to deliver strong finishes. He's another solid choice outside the highest-priced drivers.
Kevin Harvick (20.7): I'd stay away when you can have Kurt Busch instead for practically the same price. Harvick has been erratic overall, and he's just starting to come out of a mini-slump.
Carl Edwards (20.7): He certainly should be avoided for this price tag at the beginning of the second segment. Edwards finished fifth at Darlington, but had not placed in the top 10 in the previous six races.
Kyle Busch (20.5): He has been dealing with some bad luck here and there recently, but Kyle Busch has also come through with some strong finishes and this is a very friendly price tag for a top Hendrick car right now. One of the best values of more than 20.0 at this time.
Clint Bowyer (19.6): He has two consecutive top-10 finishes and so far in 2007. Bowyer has been pretty good overall and is definitely worth this price tag. Just hope he continues to avoid bad luck.
Greg Biffle (19.6): Only two top-10 finishes so far this year and one top five. You can certainly do better in his price range.
Ryan Newman (18.9): One of my favorite value selections right now. Newman has been coming on strong recently after early finishes really didn't reflect his true performances. He has come through with three consecutive top-10 finishes and he's going to be a lock in my lineup as Segment Two begins.
Mark Martin (18.9): The incomplete schedule keeps his price tag down, but he's also less useful in Car of Tomorrow races so far. Martin has yet to finish in the top 10 in a COT race, so keep that in mind when compiling your lineups in the weeks ahead.
Martin Truex Jr. (17.9): He is starting to come on with better finishes and Truex is a good value selection as the second segment begins. He has finished in the top 20 in four of the past five races, with three top-15 showings during that span.
Bobby Labonte (17.1): The veteran driver has provided fantasy owners with four consecutive top-20 finishes. That's certainly not bad when you consider the price tag. Steady, not spectacular.
J.J. Yeley (16.5): He started respectably this year, and the quality finishes have been rolling in again recently. Yeley has finished in the top 20 in the past three races and six times overall this season. Those are very respectable showings for the price.
Sterling Marlin (16.0): He has finished in the top 20 in two of the past three races, and Marlin is running well enough to begin the second segment on your roster as a bargain selection.
David Stremme (15.7): He has not finished in the top 30 in three of the past four races, but when you consider he has seven top-20 finishes overall so far, it's a great time to add him and look for better showings in the weeks ahead.
Paul Menard (14.1): He has mustered three top-20 finishes in his past five races, so Menard can be a good cheap driver to fill in your fifth roster spot.
David Ragan (13.9): He has endured through a handful of mishaps so far, but he can still challenge for a top-20 spot when he stays out of trouble.
Regan Smith (11.6): When Mark Martin doesn't run, he's a great value who already has a pair of top-25 finishes and one 26th-place showing. Not bad at all for this price tag.
Scott Engel covers fantasy sports. You can contact Scott here.
Scott Engel examines the drivers and their value for Stock Car Challenge for Segment Two.