NASCAR Picks for Talladega
Carl Edwards, #99 Fastenal/Aflac/UPS/Subway, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
He is coming off a strong third-place finish at Talladega in the spring, but Edwards' real value comes from his consistency. In his last eight starts at the track, he has finished 17th or better six times. Edwards also has five top-15 finishes during the stretch, making him one of the safer options available by Talladega standards.
David Gilliland, #38 Love's Travel Stops/A&W Restaurants, Front Row Motorsports [Yahoo Class C]
While his teammate David Ragan has been the star sleeper at Talladega, Gilliland has been his partner in crime. He has reeled off three straight top-15s at the track, and he was runner-up to Ragan in the spring event earlier this year. If Ragan ends up near the front at Talladega again Sunday, don't be surprised if Gilliland is close behind.
Martin Truex, Jr., #56 NAPA Auto Parts, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
He has quietly put together a solid string of races at Talladega. Truex has finished in the top 15 in six of his last seven starts at the track, including two straight. Granted, he hasn't had a top-five finish during the stretch, but his reliability alone makes him a decent fantasy option.
Kurt Busch, #78 Furniture Row, Furniture Row Racing [Yahoo Class B]
From the 2004 fall race through the 2007 fall race, Busch reeled of seven straight finishes of eighth or better at Talladega. However, he has just two top-10s in 11 starts at the track since the hot stretch and has finished outside the top 15 in his last six starts. Busch has a ton of potential this weekend, but he also brings a ton of risk.
Michael Waltrip, #55 Aaron's Dream Machine, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class C]
Waltrip only gets behind the wheel at plate tracks these days, but Waltrip has been quite effective in his limited role. His 14.0 average finish at the superspeedways since the start of last season ranks sixth among all drivers. At Talladega, Waltrip has two top-10s in his last four starts, including a ninth-place run earlier this year.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., #17 Best Buy/Valvoline/Zest, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class C]
While he has been far from perfect in his rookie season, Stenhouse has been solid at the plate tracks. He has compiled a 14.0 average finish in four Cup starts at superspeedways, and he has finished in the top 15 in all three plate races in 2013. Stenhouse finished 13th in his Talladega debut earlier this year, and another top-15 is certainly possible.
Jamie McMurray, #1 McDonald's/Cessna, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing [Yahoo Class B]
He has logged six straight finishes outside the top 10 at Talladega, but he is also a former winner at the track. In fact, McMurray is a three-time winner at the superspeedways in his career. The downside is that he usually wrecks in the races that he doesn't challenge for the win, but for owners willing to take some risks to hit it big, he definitely has a lot of potential.
Aric Almirola, #43 Smithfield Foods, Richard Petty Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]
By Talladega standards, Almirola has been on a bit of a roll at the track recently. He has finished in the top 20 in his last five starts at the track, and during the stretch, he has cracked the top 15 on three occasions. Almirola also logged a career-best 10th-place finish at Talladega earlier this year, so he has some sleeper potential for fantasy owners this weekend.
Joey Logano, #22 Shell-Pennzoil, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class B]
In his first five starts at Talladega, Logano notched four top-10s -- including a pair of top-five finishes. Since the hot start, he has finished 24th or worse in four straight trips to the track. At this point, fantasy owners are pretty much flipping a coin by trusting Logano. He is either going to finish in the top 10 or end up in the wall.
Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Hamlin has been up and down at Talladega throughout his career, mixing in an occasional top-10 with plenty of bad finishes. In his last seven starts at the track, he has three top-10s, but he has just one in his last five starts. Hamlin is a risky pick in any format, and it is particularly tough to justify using him as an A-List option in Yahoo! leagues.
Ryan Newman, #39 Quicken Loans/Haas Automation, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Although Newman finished ninth at Talladega last fall, his recent record at the track has been atrocious otherwise. He has finished outside the top 20 in seven of his last eight starts at the superspeedway, and worse yet, he has finished outside the top 30 in five of his starts during the stretch.
Bobby Labonte, #47 Kingsford/Clorox, JTG Daugherty Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Believe it or not, Labonte ranks eighth in the series in points scored at the plate tracks since the start of the 2012 season. Granted, Labonte only has one top-10 during the stretch, but by hanging at the back most of the race, he usually survives the carnage and manages a decent result. For fantasy owners that can afford to be a little conservative this weekend, Labonte could make a decent sleeper pick.
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