April 27, 2011
|Expert||Website||Pick to Win||Finish||Experts Avg|
|Josh Lobdel||A J Allmendinger||7||9.33|
|Jerry Lagger||One and Done Game Winner||Denny Hamlin||2||11.33|
|Dennis Michelsen||RaceTalkRadio.com||Denny Hamlin||2||14.56|
|Steve Wronkowicz||On Pit Row||Denny Hamlin||2||15.67|
|Eric McClung||KFFL||Denny Hamlin||2||11.33|
|Eric McGuire||free agent||Denny Hamlin||2||10.44|
|Dan Beaver||Fantasy Racing Games||Denny Hamlin||2||13.67|
|Matt Mercer||On Pit Row||Denny Hamlin||2||11.78|
|Adam Ansell||Roto Experts||Denny Hamlin||2||13.22|
|Chris Leone||On Pit Row||Marcos Ambrose||23||22.56|
|Bob Ellis||NASCAR Ranting and Raving||Jeff Gordon||39||17.11|
|CharlieTurner||On Pit Row||Jeff Gordon||39||10.22|
|Jordan McAbee||On Pit Row||Denny Hamlin||2||9.78|
|Jon Rodgers||Gillette Young Guns Challenge Winner||Denny Hamlin||2||14.89|
|James Jones||On Pit Row||Jeff Gordon||39||11.78|
|Mike Wells||Racing4Glory.com||Denny Hamlin||2||8.22|
|Darren Fauth||FantasyRacingCheatSheet||Jeff Gordon||39||15.78|
|P J Walsh||FantasyNASCARPreview.com||Jeff Gordon||39||18.22|
|Charles Rantz||ifantasyrace.com||Denny Hamlin||2||12.56|
April 27, 2011
|Expert||Website||Pick to Win||Finish||Experts Avg|
|Josh Lobdell||Kyle Busch||1||12.67|
|Jerry Lagger||One and Done Game Winner||Kyle Busch||1||12.78|
|Dennis Michelsen||RaceTalkRadio.com||Jimmie Johnson||8||14.00|
|Steve Wronkowicz||On Pit Row||Kyle Busch||1||12.78|
|Eric McClung||KFFL||Kyle Busch||1||12.00|
|Eric McGuire||free agent||Kyle Busch||1||16.11|
|Dan Beaver||Fantasy Racing Games||Kyle Busch||1||11.78|
|Matt Mercer||On Pit Row||Kyle Busch||1||16.00|
|Adam Ansell||Roto Experts||Kyle Busch||1||8.56|
|Chris Leone||On Pit Row||Kyle Busch||1||12.44|
|Bob Ellis||NASCAR Ranting and Raving||Dale Earnhardt Jr||19||11.56|
|CharlieTurner||On Pit Row||Kyle Busch||1||8.78|
|Jordan McAbee||On Pit Row||Dale Earnhardt Jr||19||13.78|
|Jon Rodgers||Gillette Young Guns Challenge Winner||Kyle Busch||1||13.22|
|James Jones||On Pit Row||Kevin Harvick||32||7.78|
|Mike Wells||Racing4Glory.com||Kyle Busch||1||9.22|
|Darren Fauth||FantasyRacingCheatSheet||Kyle Busch||1||7.56|
|P J Walsh||FantasyNASCARPreview.com||Kyle Busch||1||10.11|
|Charles Rantz||ifantasyrace.com||Kyle Busch||1||11.22|
April 27, 2011
Now that we’ve gone a week without Sprint Cup Series action, the boys are back for some Saturday night racing at Richmond International Raceway. The race at this 0.75-mile track will be the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400 presented by Crown Royal. The former won Crown Royal’s “Your Name Here 400″ program, which allows people to submit their candidates that they feel are most deserving for the honor. Matthew Hansen is a marine and the award will be for his brother, Daniel, who was also a marine and recently passed away.
This week’s race will be ran on Saturday night (don’t forget to set your fantasy picks on time) and 400 laps are scheduled to be run, equaling 300 miles. Two practice sessions are scheduled to be held on Friday afternoon with qualifying later that night. Next week will be another Saturday night race at Darlington Raceway. The series will be back at Richmond International Raceway in September for the final race of NASCAR’s “regular season.”
During The Last Race At Richmond…Denny Hamlin led 251 of the 400 laps ran en route to his sixth win of the season. Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top five that night. If you were wondering what the correlation between average practice speed and results were that night, click here. In the spring race at this track last season, Kyle Busch started from the pole and stayed there all night, leading 226 laps before taking the checkered flag ahead of Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, and Carl Edwards. The only drivers to post top ten finishes in both Richmond races in 2010 were: Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Juan Montoya, Marcos Ambrose, and Jimmie Johnson. Busch was the only one of those to finish in the top five in both races.
My Recommendation To Fantasy Racers…Once again, no practice will be held after qualifying, so I’m not sure how important those speeds will be. Qualifying will be decently important this week, as none of the top four qualifiers in either race last season finished worse than 15th. Kyle Busch pretty much owns this track, so I wouldn’t recommend going against him this week.
Top Fifteen Ranking Entering The Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400:
1. Kyle Busch - If you somehow believe that “Rowdy” won’t finish in the top five this weekend, I’d love to hear your argument. He’s finished every single lap ran in the races that he has started at this track and in those twelve starts, he has ten top 5s–which is good for an average finish of 5.3. Busch’s worst finish at Richmond is 20th and last year he finished 1st and 2nd at this track. Love him or hate him, Kyle Busch is going to be one of the best picks this weekend.
2. Clint Bowyer – Clint has finished 2nd in the past two races this season (why not go for three?) and is on a streak of four top 10s after his less-than-stellar start to the season. Statistically, Richmond is Bowyer’s best track, where he owns an average finish of 9.8 and one win. That is his only top five at this track but he one finish outside of the top 12 in his ten career starts here, and that was an 18th. Like Kyle Busch, Clint has finished every lap that has been ran in his career at this track, and his average driver rating of 101.7 over the past four races here is good for fourth-best in the series.
3. Denny Hamlin – The only reason I put Bowyer ahead of Hamlin is because of how the #11 team’s season is going. Luck hasn’t been on his side much, but that could easily change this weekend. Denny has made ten starts at Richmond and has two wins and an average finish of 8th. He’s led 1,150 laps in those ten races, which is over 28 percent of the laps ran. Hamlin’s worst finish at this track came in 2008 when he finished 24th, but he led 381 laps that day and a flat tire and penalty gave him the poor finish. Unless he runs into more bad luck (which is very possible), expect a good run from Hamlin on Saturday.
4. Jeff Gordon – This ranking will probably end up being too high for Gordon once it gets closer to race day, but you can’t ignore Gordon’s recent success at this track. He hasn’t finished worse than 12th since 2006 and half of those eight races were top fives. Jeff has 36 starts at Richmond with 23 top tens to his name and two wins. I don’t like how Gordon has ran this season, so I will be cautious with picking him, but you can make up your own opinion on him.
5. Ryan Newman - “The Rocketman” is generally a good pick at short tracks and this week is no exception. Since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009, Newman has finished 4th, 10th, 8th, and 11th at Richmond and earlier this season, he has finished 5th at Phoenix and 10th at Bristol (both tracks are 1-mile or less). Ryan has started eighteen races at Richmond and owns an average finish of 11.4 and one win (in the 2003 season). He has also finished outside of the top 20 just twice in his career at this track.
6. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – This will be Junior’s best chance to snap his winless streak until the series visits Michigan International Speedway in June. Little E has an average finish of around 14th at this track in his 23 career starts and has visited victory lane three times in Richmond. He hasn’t found much success here lately, though, with a best finish of just 21st in the past four races. I expect that to change, though, because Earnhardt Jr. seems to be for real this season: he hasn’t finished worse than 12th since the Daytona 500.
7. Juan Montoya – It took a while for Montoya to find success at Richmond, but he has three top 10s in his past four starts at the track. He’s been a little hit-or-miss this season, though, so make sure he has a good car before picking him. Montoya has the 7th-best average driver rating over the past two years at this track and finished 4th at Martinsville (the most recent short track race).
8. Jimmie Johnson – The #48 Chevrolet is either good here or really bad, and I never like going against any team after a win (even if it was at a restrictor-plate track). Johnson has won here three times in his 18 career starts, but also has eight finishes outside of the top 20. Statistically, this is The Champ’s second-worst track, with an average finish of 16.9. He has finished in the top eleven in four of his past five starts here, though, and I don’t think it will be four of six after this weekend.
9. Kevin Harvick – “Happy” has the fifth-best average driver rating over the past four races at Richmond and has finished in the top 12 in twelve of the last thirteen. His average career finish at this track is 12th, which makes it his fourth-best on the circuit. He won here in 2006, but has just five top 5s to his name at Richmond (compared to thirteen top 10s) in his twenty starts. Harvick’s finishes at the tracks 1-mile or less this season (Phoenix, Bristol, and Martinsville) have been: 4th, 6th, and 1st.
10. Carl Edwards – Cousin Carl isn’t stellar here by any means, but he has gotten some good finishes recently at Richmond. Edwards’ career average finish at this track is 16.9 (statistically his fourth-worst) but he has two top 10s in a row here and has finished in the top 15 in five of his last six starts. This season Carl has an average finish of 8.3, and while I don’t think he will finish there this weekend, a top ten isn’t out of the question.
11. Tony Stewart – “Smoke” has struggled at Richmond recently, but when you look at his history here it’s hard to go against him. He has three wins at Richmond (and four 2nd-place finishes) in his 24 career starts, and while he hasn’t had a top ten here since May 2009, Tony has finished outside of the top 20 at this track just four times. Stewart hasn’t a top ten this season since early March, so he doesn’t have much momentum, but he’s pretty much a lock for a top 15 and will get a top 10 if he has a good car.
12. Kurt Busch – Busch’s average finish of 17.8 at Richmond is nothing to be excited about, but he won here in 2005 and has finished worse than 18th just once since 2006. The “Double Deuce” started off the season fast, and while the #22 team aren’t having stellar runs as of late, they are being consistent–with a worst finish of 18th.
13. Matt Kenseth – Up until Talladega, Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. were the only two drivers to finish in the top 12 in every race since Daytona. Obviously, Junior’s streak is still alive, but I think Kenseth will start another streak this week. He’s finished in the top 14 in three of his past four starts at Richmond and won here in 2002. Matt hasn’t earned a top ten since 2007 at this track, so don’t expect that, but a top fifteen is well within reach for the #17 Ford on Saturday night.
14. Jeff Burton – I’m going to wait until Burton at least gets a top ten before I even start recommending him. His average finish at Richmond has been 14.4 over his 33 career starts and Jeff has won one race here: back in 1998. Burton has three top 10s in his past five starts at this track, and while I don’t think he will finish there this weekend, he could get a top fifteen.
15. Joey Logano – Speaking of top tens, “Sliced Bread” got his first of the season in Talladega and will look to ride that small wave of momentum into Richmond. He’s found success at this track in his Sprint Cup career, with a worst finish of 19th in his four career starts, and he got a 4th-place finish last fall after starting 6th. I thought he had the best car at the end of the race last fall, so maybe that will translate into a good run on Saturday.
Underdogs Entering The Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400:
Marcos Ambrose – I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Ambrose got his third top ten of the season on Saturday night. He finished 9th in 5th in the races at Richmond in 2010 and recorded finishes of 11th and 22nd in his rookie season. Statistically, this is Marcos’ second-best track on the circuit.
Brad Keselowski – Kes has always qualified well here, with top ten efforts in each of his three starts at this track, and he had some decent race runs last season at Richmond, with finishes of 14th and 15th. Watch to see how his car is in ten-lap average before forming your roster around him
David Reutimann – Reutty will be a risky pick as always this weekend because he is so hit-or-miss. He usually has an awesome car or is just decent and disappoints his fantasy owners. Reutimann got a top ten at Richmond in 2008 and finished 15th and 19th in the races held here last season after starting 2nd and 5th, respectively.
Brian Vickers – Vickers has two poles here in his twelve starts and two top tens as well, although one of them came in a different race. He finished 15th and 7th in the 2009 races at Richmond and posted a 20th-place finish in the spring 2010 race before blood clots ended Vickers’ season early.
Those To Avoid Entering The Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400:
A.J. Allmendinger – This Richard Petty Motorsports driver could have a good run this weekend, but one run doesn’t make someone a good racer at a track. The ‘Dinger ended up 8th in the fall race last season after finishing 17th in the spring race. But was that top ten a fluke? His career average finish here is 25.8.
Kasey Kahne – Kahne won at Richmond in 2005 but his average career finish here is 19.0 and he hasn’t had a top ten since early 2008. There are much better weeks to use Kahne.
David Ragan – Last week at Talladega was the week to use Ragan (and I was just as disappointed as everyone else when he went behind the wall). He finished 3rd here in 2007 but that is Ragan’s only finish above 17th in his eight starts at this track.
Regan Smith – He may get you some qualifying bonus points in Yahoo!, but don’t expect a good race out of Smith this week (as usual). His best finish here is 21st and his average finish in his five starts at this track is 27.8.
April 26, 2011
How to make a good fantasy pick for Richmond
1) Look at past Richmond races. There’s plenty of Richmond stats for you to pour over. Don’t look back anymore then a few years. My absolute cut off line would be the first Richmond COT race.
2) It’s also important to look at recent results at similar tracks. Similar tracks to Richmond are New Hampshire and Phoenix. Bristol and Martinsville are also short tracks but there not similar Richmond.
3) Qualifying matters at Richmond. I’m not a race car mechanic but I do watch the races. I believe qualifying setups are not that much different than race setups. Richmond is also an impound race so it will matter even more.
4) I rank practice fourth in terms how you should go about making an informed fantasy pick this week. Both Richmond practices will be run during the middle of the day and both are before qualifying.
Ten Drivers to Watch:
1) Kyle Busch - In the last four Richmond races Kyle Busch has two wins, one second place finish and one fifth place finish
2) Denny Hamlin – My long standing Denny Hamlin rule of thumb is… “If it’s short or flat pick Hamlin”.
3) Kevin Harvick – Harvick’s finished in the top ten at Richmond in all but one race since 2005. Last spring Harvick finished 3rd to Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon.
4) Jeff Gordon – Kyle’s main competitor last spring and he won at Phoenix just a few months ago.
5) Ryan Newman – He’s truly a natural Richmond racer. In his first two starts here he finished second. In sixteen races at Richmond Newman’s only finished outside the top 15 four times.
6) Clint Bowyer – When Dale Jr. and Kyle Busch parted in 2008 he visited victory lane. Last fall he won at New Hampshire (similar track).
7) Jimmie Johnson – Either a hero or a zero. Been racing like a hero lately.
8 ) Carl Edwards – He’s been good everywhere lately and last spring he finished fifth.
9 ) Dale Earnhardt Jr. – This is his best traditional short track. If he’s going to win a race soon now’s his best chance until July.
10) Tony Stewart – Smoke hasn’t been on fire lately at Richmond. In his last three starts he’s finished 16th, 17th and 23rd. Before that three race span he finished in the top four in four consecutive races.Tony Stewart was a contender at Phoenix in February.
TheSpread.com Odds to win:
Carl Edwards 6/1, Kyle Busch 6/1, Jimmie Johnson 6/1, Jeff Gordon 8/1, Denny Hamlin 8/1, Kevin Harvick 8/1, Tony Stewart 10/1, Clint Bowyer 15/1, Matt Kenseth 15/1, Kurt Busch 15/1
April 13, 2011
|Expert||Website||Pick to Win||Finish||Experts Avg|
|Josh Lobdel||Jamie McMurray||21||9.63|
|Jerry Lagger||One and Done Game Winner||Jeff Gordon||3||12.50|
|Dennis Michelsen||RaceTalkRadio.com||Paul Menard||12||16.13|
|Steve Wronkowicz||On Pit Row||Kasey Kahne||37||17.38|
|Eric McClung||KFFL||David Ragan||39||12.50|
|Eric McGuire||free agent||Denny Hamlin||23||11.50|
|Dan Beaver||Fantasy Racing Games||David Ragan||39||15.13|
|Matt Mercer||On Pit Row||David Ragan||39||13.00|
|Adam Ansell||Roto Experts||Brian Vickers||38||14.63|
|Chris Leone||On Pit Row||Trevor Bayne||40||22.50|
|Bob Ellis||NASCAR Ranting and Raving||Joey Logano||10||14.38|
|CharlieTurner||On Pit Row||Jeff Gordon||3||6.63|
|Jordan McAbee||On Pit Row||David Ragan||39||10.75|
|Jon Rodgers||Gillette Young Guns Challenge Winner||Denny Hamlin||23||16.50|
|James Jones||On Pit Row||Jeff Gordon||3||8.38|
|Mike Wells||Racing4Glory.com||Greg Biffle||7||9.00|
|Darren Fauth||FantasyRacingCheatSheet||David Ragan||39||12.88|
|P J Walsh||FantasyNASCARPreview.com||Jeff Gordon||3||15.63|
|Charles Rantz||ifantasyrace.com||David Ragan||39||13.88|
April 13, 2011
|Expert||Website||Pick to Win||Finish||Experts Avg|
|Josh Lobdell||Dale Earnhardt Jr||4||14.13|
|Jerry Lagger||One and Done Game Winner||Kevin Harvick||5||14.25|
|Dennis Michelsen||RaceTalkRadio.com||Kevin Harvick||5||14.75|
|Steve Wronkowicz||On Pit Row||Dale Earnhardt Jr||4||14.25|
|Eric McClung||KFFL||Clint Bowyer||2||13.38|
|Eric McGuire||free agent||Dale Earnhardt Jr||4||18.00|
|Dan Beaver||Fantasy Racing Games||Dale Earnhardt Jr||4||13.13|
|Matt Mercer||On Pit Row||Kurt Busch||18||17.88|
|Adam Ansell||Roto Experts||Dale Earnhardt Jr||4||9.50|
|Chris Leone||On Pit Row||Carl Edwards||6||13.88|
|Bob Ellis||NASCAR Ranting and Raving||Dale Earnhardt Jr||4||10.63|
|CharlieTurner||On Pit Row||Kevin Harvick||5||9.75|
|Jordan McAbee||On Pit Row||Dale Earnhardt Jr||4||13.13|
|Jon Rodgers||Gillette Young Guns Challenge Winner||Kyle Busch||35||14.75|
|James Jones||On Pit Row||Clint Bowyer||2||7.25|
|Mike Wells||Racing4Glory.com||Kevin Harvick||5||10.25|
|Darren Fauth||FantasyRacingCheatSheet||Kevin Harvick||5||8.38|
|P J Walsh||FantasyNASCARPreview.com||Dale Earnhardt Jr||4||11.25|
|Charles Rantz||ifantasyrace.com||Dale Earnhardt Jr||4||12.50|
April 13, 2011
If last week’s race at Texas Motor Speedway bored you, I hope you are ready for some intense action this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. In March, NASCAR decided that the size of the restrictor plates for this race would be reduced to slow down the cars and try to prevent the two-car hookups that we saw during the Daytona 500. They also implemented changes for those reasons at Daytona, but it wasn’t very effective. I personally liked the two-car drafts, but that’s just me. There are two practice sessions this week and they are both scheduled for Friday afternoon, with qualifying being held on Saturday. There will be no practice between qualifying and the drop of the green flag on Sunday.
During The Last Race At Talladega…Clint Bowyer edged his teammate Kevin Harvick for the win at “Hallowdega“. Juan Montoya, David Reutimann, and Joey Logano rounded out the top five in that race. Average practice speeds were actually a little telling on who had a good car, and you can see for yourself by clicking here. In the spring race last season, Kevin Harvick won (even though he led only two laps) and was followed to the finish by Jamie McMurray, Juan Montoya, Denny Hamlin, and Mark Martin. The complete results of the April race at ‘Dega can be found by clicking here.
My Recommendation To Fantasy Racers…Throw every statistic out the window this weekend. When the series comes to these superspeedways, I put very little effort into my fantasy rosters because, quite simply, anybody can win these races. It doesn’t matter if a driver is fastest in practice, and it doesn’t matter if they start up front at Talladega. Only one thing matters here: being at the right place at the right time at the finish. No one finishes up front at this track consistently, so make a roster and go with it. If you have a good week, congratulations; if not, join the crowd.
I typically don’t like writing previews and predictions for plate tracks because they are so unpredictable, so I’m going to change the format a bit, but just for this week. Here goes nothing.
Top Ten Ranking Entering The Aaron’s 499 (And Then Some):
1. Kevin Harvick – When I was looking at the stat sheet this week, one number jumped out at me the most: zero. That’s how many DNFs Harvick has at Talladega in twenty starts. He’s finished on the lead lap in fourteen of those twenty races as well. This is astounding to me, and as long as the Richard Childress Racing engines hold up this weekend, I think Harvick could get his third victory of the season. His average career finish here is 14.8 and last year he won the spring race while ending up an extremely close 2nd in the fall.
2. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – Momentum, momentum, momentum. Junior hasn’t finished lower than 12th since the Daytona 500, and as long as he doesn’t cause a wreck (or get caught up in one) this weekend, he will continue that streak. With a little bit of luck, he may even end that winless streak. Dale Jr. has finished 1st or 2nd at Talladega eight times in his career and won four straight races here from late 2001 through 2003. He’s becoming risky at the plate tracks lately, but he has led at least one lap in all but 2 of his 22 starts at ‘Dega and has had the best average driver rating at this track over the past two years.
3. Kurt Busch – If they can stay out of trouble, the Penske Racing duo of Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski should have a good day at Talladega on Sunday. Kurt hooked up with drafting partner Regan Smith in Daytona and got a top five finish, and that could very well happen again. He has a knack for missing the big wreck–just three DNFs in twenty starts–and posted seven straight top 10s here from 2004 to 2007 (not an easy task). Kurt has finished 8th and 6th in the past two spring races at Talladega.
4. Juan Montoya – There are just two drivers that have posted top 20s in each of the last four races at Talladega, and Montoya is one of them. He’s been pretty consistent here, with just two finishes outside of the top 20 in eight starts, and finished third in both races at this track in 2010. He also finished 6th in the Daytona 500 back in February. He’s led at least one lap in every start at Talladega since his rookie year, so you know Juan knows how to get to the front here.
5. Clint Bowyer – It’s a good week to load up on the RCR cars–just hope their engines last. Bowyer is the most recent winner at Talladega and his average finish over the past seven races here has been 12th. Surprisingly, though, he’s only led in three of his ten starts here, but that doesn’t worry me too much. As long as he doesn’t run into any problems on Sunday (Bowyer has four finishes of 35th or worse) he should be a lock for a top ten.
6. Kyle Busch - Nobody has led more laps at Talldega over the past four races here than Rowdy Busch (with 88). The next closest to that number is Jamie McMurray with 63. The problem with picking Busch, though, is that he doesn’t get the finishes he deserves here. He won at this track in 2008 but that is his only top five here in twelve career starts. His starts here since his win have given him finishes of 25th, 9th, 15th, 25th, and 15th, so at least he is a little consistent. Kyle finished 8th at Daytona earlier this year.
7. Jamie McMurray – Jamie Mac has just one top ten finish this season but is coming into a track where has has found success before. He won in the 2009 fall race here and crossed the finish line 2nd in the spring race last season. McMurray looked strong in Daytona last February but was down a cylinder and finished 17th that day. He has just six top 10s in seventeen starts here but has to be considered a threat whenever the series comes to the plate tracks.
8. Jeff Burton – Like I said before, as long as the RCR engines hold up, expect a good day from that group. Burton hasn’t had a top ten this season but I think that could change on Sunday. He’s posted two top 15s in the past three races (Fontana and Texas) and has three top 10s in his past five starts at Talladega. The #31 Chevrolet has also had the second-best average driver rating over the past two years at this giant track.
9. David Ragan – I told you to expect a top ten out of David last week in Texas and I’m telling you now to expect another this week in Talladega. He’s made eight starts at this track and owns three top six finishes and an average finish of 14.3. Ragan has just two finishes outside of the top 20 at this track, and one of those was a 21st. Don’t forgot, David almost won the Daytona 500 in February.
10. Brad Keselowski – Keselowski got his first Sprint Cup Series win at this track and has led at least one lap in every start he has made here. He had a slip up last spring at this track but finished 10th in the fall race, giving him three top 10 finishes in his four career starts here. His career average finish of 13.3 is actually tied for best in the series (counting drivers who have made at least four starts at this track).
The “Others” That Could Just As Easily Get A Top Ten:
Joey Logano – The other aforementioned driver with a 13.3 career average finish is young Joey. Like Keselowski, Logano has three top tens in four starts and has led in every attempt he has made at this track. Will the Joe Gibbs Racing engines hold up this week, though?
Brian Vickers - Vickers won here in 2006 by wrecking his then-teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., but a win is a win. He has three top 13 finishes in his past five starts at Talladega.
Whoever Is Driving The #09 Car – As I’m writing this, I can’t find an entry list for the race this weekend, so I’m not sure who will be in this car. However, don’t overlook them this week. Bill Elliott finished 12th in the Daytona 500 with this Chevrolet and Mike Bliss got a top ten in the spring race here last season in this car.
Carl Edwards - Cousin Carl actually has the best average finish at restrictor plate tracks over the past two years, but the success hasn’t exactly found him at Talladega. Edwards’ last top ten at this track came in 2006 but he finished 2nd in the Daytona 500, so there is some hope to break that streak on Sunday.
Greg Biffle – “The Biff” actually has the 2nd-best average finish at Talladega over the past two years with 11.8. He’s the other driver that hasn’t finished outside of the top 20 in those four races. The Fords have looked good all season (especially at Daytona) and I don’t think that will change this weekend.
Denny Hamlin – Hamlin has the 5th-best average driver rating over the past two years at this track but has had his share of problems that has brought down his average finish. He’s made ten starts here and has led at least one lap in every single one of them, though, so you know he knows how to get to the front. Hamlin finished 4th and 9th at Talladega in 2010.
Regan Smith – There are many C-list drivers that could be valuable this week, you just have to pick the right one. Smith was super fast in Daytona and got a 7th-place finish to show for it. He finished 12th in the fall race here last season, and that is also his career best finish here.
Paul Menard – With the way his season is going, you should expect Menard to finish better than his 25th-place average finish at this track. He got a top ten in Daytona in February and posted a 2nd-place finish here in 2008 while driving for Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
Bobby Labonte – Don’t forget who finished 4th in the Daytona 500. Labonte’s most recent top ten at Talladega came in 2009 while driving for under-funded (in my opinion) TRG Motorsports. If he can get a top ten with them, he can surely pull one off with JTG Daugherty Racing. If he’s in the right place at the right time like he was in February, you know never know.
Trevor Bayne - You didn’t think I was going to leave this kid off of my preview, did you? With as fast as his car was in Daytona, I expect drivers to be lining up to draft with him this weekend. If Bayne can stay out of the wrecks, a top fifteen would be highly likely (at least).
These Drivers Can’t Even Find Luck At Talladega:
A.J. Allmendinger – David Gilliland and Robby Gordon have better average driver ratings at ‘Dega than The Dinger does, so stay away from the #43 Ford this weekend. His best finish during his career at this track has been 19th and all of his other starts have ended with mid-thirties results.
Mark Martin – I’ve been burned by Martin for most of this season, but that will soon come to an end. I don’t like how this team is racing at all and I plan on avoiding him until they can find some consistency and run well. He has Junior’s old crew chief, so he may have a good run at Talladega, but he’s too risky for me–even at this track.
Marcos Ambrose – He finished 4th in his first start at this track but since then (three starts) he hasn’t finished better than 34th. Ambrose ended up 37th in the Daytona 500 this year.
My normal format will return next week, but if you like this format, it will be back for the next plate race in July. These races are so unpredictable that they are impossible to predict, but I will still put up my post-happy hour predictions on ifantasyrace.com on Saturday. Again, don’t put too much time into your fantasy rosters this week because history really doesn’t matter much here. Drivers can get an awesome finish just by being in the right place at the right time, even if they don’t have a great car. Finally, if you’re not a member at NASCAR Nation, be sure to sign up.
April 12, 2011
How to pick drivers at Talladega:
1) History at Talladega matters. Some drivers have the knack for restrictor plate racing and some don’t. For those who don’t pass on picking them immediately.
2) When you pick drivers for Talladega you want to make sure they’ve shown the ability to avoid problems on the track in recent races. There’s no need to pick drivers who are “crash magnets” at Talladega. In NASCAR there’s both positive and negative momentum. What you specifically want to avoid at Talladega is negative momentum. Don’t expect drivers with negative momentum to have a good day.
At Talladega you want to pick drivers who’ve shown themselves to have the “Driver Survivor Intangible”.
3) Practice does matter at Talladega, but just a little bit. At practice you want to look for drivers who practice the 1-2 draft, are comfortable in their cars, and are displaying a positive attitude. Drivers who are negative at this track often end up on the wrecker.
4) Recent similar track performances should also be taken into account when you pick drivers for Talladega. As I said before some drivers have a knack for plate racing.
5) Qualifying doesn’t mean a single thing at Talladega, even in terms of pit stall selection. For those who try to complicate things on race weekend these pit boxes are huge.
1) Kevin Harvick – Safest pick by far this week. He’s the defending champion, he avoids trouble on the track (Driver Survivor Intangible), and he has zero DNF’s at Talladega.
2) Clint Bowyer – Bowyer won last fall and in five out of the last six Talladega races he’s finished 12th or better. He’s also entering the race with momentum which I feel is important for Talladega.
3) Kurt Busch – Consistent front-runner who’s due for a points win on a plate track. In the spring race he’s finished in the top ten in five out of the last six races.
4) Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Led laps in 20 out of his 22 Talladega races. Look for this five-time winner to be strong Sunday.
5) Juan Pablo Montoya – Finished 3rd in both races last year. His career best Talladega finish is 2nd.
6) Carl Edwards – Finished second in the Daytona 500 and was in the lead in 2009 until Keselowski sent him sailing into the fence.
7) Jamie McMurray – He’s as solid as they come on plate tracks. Last spring he finished second and in the 2009 fall race he won.
8 ) Matt Kenseth – He’s very underrated at both plate tracks despite his Daytona 500 win. In the mid 2000′s he was as good as anyone on the circuit on these wild card tracks.
9) Ryan Newman – Newman’s batting nearly .500 in terms of getting top tens at Talladega (8 for 18). He’s known for flipping but he can get the job done.
10) Denny Hamlin – He’s perhaps the best two car break away driver and last year he finished in the top ten in both races.
Kevin Harvick 7/1, Tony Stewart 10/1, Kyle Busch 10/1, Kurt Busch 11/1, Dale Earnhardt Jr. 11/1, Clint Bowyer 15/1, Denny Hamlin 15/1, Carl Edwards 15/1, Jimmie Johnson 15/1, Jeff Gordon 15/1, Jamie McMurray 15/1
April 7, 2011
|Expert||Website||Pick to Win||Finish||Experts Avg|
|Josh Lobdell||Denny Hamlin||15||15.57|
|Jerry Lagger||One and Done Game Winner||Matt Kenseth||1||15.57|
|Dennis Michelsen||RaceTalkRadio.com||Dale Earnhardt Jr||9||16.14|
|Steve Wronkowicz||On Pit Row||Carl Edwards||3||15.71|
|Eric McClung||KFFL||Matt Kenseth||1||15.00|
|Eric McGuire||free agent||Jimmie Johnson||8||20.00|
|Dan Beaver||Fantasy Racing Games||Kyle Busch||16||14.43|
|Matt Mercer||On Pit Row||Matt Kenseth||1||17.86|
|Adam Ansell||Roto Experts||Matt Kenseth||1||10.29|
|Chris Leone||On Pit Row||Kevin Harvick||20||15.00|
|Bob Ellis||NASCAR Ranting and Raving||Matt Kenseth||1||11.57|
|CharlieTurner||On Pit Row||Carl Edwards||3||10.43|
|Jordan McAbee||On Pit Row||Carl Edwards||3||14.43|
|Jon Rodgers||Gillette Young Guns Challenge Winner||Carl Edwards||3||11.86|
|James Jones||On Pit Row||Kyle Busch||16||8.00|
|Mike Wells||Racing4Glory.com||Kyle Busch||16||11.00|
|Darren Fauth||FantasyRacingCheatSheet||Matt Kenseth||1||8.86|
|P J Walsh||FantasyNASCARPreview.com||Carl Edwards||3||12.29|
|Charles Rantz||ifantasyrace.com||Carl Edwards||3||13.71|
April 7, 2011
|Expert||Website||Pick to Win||Finish||Experts Avg|
|Josh Lobdel||Paul Menard||5||8.00|
|Jerry Lagger||One and Done Game Winner||Greg Biffle||4||13.86|
|Dennis Michelsen||RaceTalkRadio.com||Joey Logano||24||16.71|
|Steve Wronkowicz||On Pit Row||Juan Pablo Montoya||13||14.57|
|Eric McClung||KFFL||Clint Bowyer||2||8.71|
|Eric McGuire||free agent||Denny Hamlin||15||9.86|
|Dan Beaver||Fantasy Racing Games||Denny Hamlin||15||11.71|
|Matt Mercer||On Pit Row||David Ragan||7||9.29|
|Adam Ansell||Roto Experts||Jamie McMurray||22||11.29|
|Chris Leone||On Pit Row||Jamie McMurray||22||20.00|
|Bob Ellis||NASCAR Ranting and Raving||Denny Hamlin||15||15.00|
|CharlieTurner||On Pit Row||Paul Menard||5||7.14|
|Jordan McAbee||On Pit Row||David Ragan||7||6.71|
|Jon Rodgers||Gillette Young Guns Challenge Winner||Denny Hamlin||15||15.57|
|James Jones||On Pit Row||Clint Bowyer||2||9.14|
|Mike Wells||Racing4Glory.com||Denny Hamlin||15||9.29|
|Darren Fauth||FantasyRacingCheatSheet||Greg Biffle||4||9.14|
|P J Walsh||FantasyNASCARPreview.com||Geg Biffle||4||17.43|
|Charles Rantz||ifantasyrace.com||Paul Menard||5||10.29|