NASCAR Picks for Talladega
Length: 2.660 miles
Location: Talladega, Alabama
The Cup Series heads back to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the fourth and final restrictor plate race of the 2013 season. Without question, Sunday's Camping World RV Sales 500 is the biggest hurdle left on the schedule for both the drivers vying for a championship and for fantasy owners. One bobble by any driver at any time can trigger a multi-car wreck that takes out a dozen or more cars in a matter of seconds. In fact, an entire fantasy lineup can go from running in the top 10 one lap to heading to the garage the next. For fantasy owners leading their respective leagues, this weekend's race is a nightmare. For those trying to catch up, it is a golden opportunity to make up a ton of ground in a single weekend. Either way, Sunday's trip to Talladega should go a long way to deciding both the Cup Series championship and fantasy titles.
Matt Kenseth, #20 Husky/Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Since the start of last season, Kenseth leads all drivers in top-five finishes, top-10s and laps led at restrictor plate tracks. He is also the defending winner of this weekend's race, and in his last three starts at Talladega, he has a 4.0 average finish. Kenseth has been about as dominant as a driver can be at the unpredictable superspeedways.
Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class A]
His 12.6 average finish is the best among active drivers at Talladega, and in nine starts at the track, he has made two trips to victory lane. Keselowski has also amassed seven top-15 finishes in his nine starts at Talladega, including four straight. He is one of the safest options available this weekend.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
While the last of his five wins at Talladega came back in 2004, Junior has remained one of the stronger performers at the track. He has only finished outside the top 20 in two of his last eight starts at Talladega, and since the start of the 2012 season, his 10.4 average finish at restrictor plate tracks is the best of any driver.
Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
He is enjoying an incredible season at the superspeedways. Johnson has a 2.3 average finish in three starts at restrictor plate tracks in 2013, including a fifth-place run at Talladega and a season sweep at Daytona. Needless to say, he has definite top-five potential this weekend.
Clint Bowyer, #15 5-Hour Energy, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Bowyer has emerged as one of the quiet fantasy heroes at restrictor plate tracks. Since the start of last season, he ranks sixth in points scored at the superspeedways. At Talladega, Bowyer has six top-12 finishes in his last starts, and he has a pair of victories at the track during the span.
Greg Biffle, #16 3M/Bondo, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
The days when Biffle always ended up in the wall at the plate tracks are long gone. After all, he has scored the fourth-most points in the series at the superspeedways since 2012. Biffle has also finished in the top 15 in four of his last five starts at Talladega and has three finishes of seventh or better during the stretch.
Kyle Busch, #18 Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Although he is definitely boom or bust at Talladega, Busch's upside is tough to ignore. In addition to being a former winner at Talladega, he has finished third or better in two of his last three starts at the track. Fantasy owners looking to take a bit of a risk in order to net a win should definitely consider Busch.
David Ragan, #34 CSX Transportation/Peanut Patch, Front Row Motorsports [Yahoo Class C]
Ragan is going for the season sweep at Talladega after his wild win in the spring race. More importantly, he has a 4.0 average finish at the track since the start of the 2012 season, finishing seventh or better in all three starts during the stretch. Normally a sleeper in deeper leagues, Ragan has been a stud at Talladega since joining Front Row Motorsports.
Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
After going through a real rough stretch at Talladega, Gordon has been solid at the track as of late. He has finished 11th or better in four of his last six starts, including a second-place run last fall and an 11th-place finish earlier this year. He is also a six-time winner at the track for his career.
Jeff Burton, #31 Caterpillar/Cheerios, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class B]
The veteran has quietly been one of the more reliable restrictor plate track options lately, especially at Talladega. Burton actually ranks fifth in points scored at the superspeedways since the start of the 2012 season. Meanwhile, he has finished in the top 10 in three of his last four starts at Talladega, including a second-place run in the fall of 2011.
Kevin Harvick, #29 Budweiser/Rheem, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Even with his recent rough stretch at Talladega, Harvick still ranks third among active drivers in terms of average finish at the track. Not to mention that since the start of the 2010 season, he has four finishes of 11th or better in seven starts at Talladega -- including three top-five finishes. Harvick has been taken out early in the last couple of plate races, but fantasy owners shouldn't forget him this weekend.
Kasey Kahne, #5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]
Aside from Kyle Busch taking him out earlier this year, Kahne has been in a nice groove at Talladega. He has three top-12 finishes in his last four starts at the track, including two finishes of sixth or better. If he can just stay away from Busch's front bumper, he could deliver a solid finish Sunday.