The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series descends on Talladega Superspeedway for the 32nd race of the 2013 season, the Camping World RV Sales 500. This race at ‘Dega promises to be one of the wildest races of this season. Brian Brown took a look at past performances, season trends, and spoke with NASCAR contacts to predict how the field should finish on Sunday.
When: Sunday, October 20, 2012; 2:20 p.m./et.
Weather: Partly cloudy with a high around 74; wind out of the N at 7 mph. There is a 10 percent chance of precipitation.
The Track: Talladega Superspeedway
Talladega Superspeedway is a 2.66 tri-oval. It has steep 33 degree banking in the turns and 18 degree banking on the straight-aways. The banking allows the cars to run at intense speeds. As a result of these speeds NASCAR has made ‘Dega a restrictor plate track. This means all cars entered in the race must use the restrictor plates on their engines to limit air-intake and thus reduce horsepower. Winning in a restrictor plate race takes often as much or even more luck than skill. The driver that gets the right push at the right time can come from outside the top 10 into first place on the final lap of the race. Additionally, NASCAR has continued to ban the “Talladega-Two-Step” after past boring races.
Key to Race: AVOID THE BIG WRECK
As is the case with most restrictor plate races the field will become bunched up in two-wide groups. These packs cruise around the track just inches away from each other. It takes just one car to have a flat tire or lose control to cause a massive accident. If a driver can get lucky and stay away from the inevitable big crash they have a great chance to finish inside the top 20. In fantasy leagues a race like this is very difficult to predict. As a result we suggest those of you in leagues that allow you to only pick a certain driver an allotted amount of times per year to select a team made-up of guys that you normally wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. Drivers like David Ragan, Trevor Bayne and David Gilliland often can be just as dangerous in a restrictor plate race as the usual superstars like Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth.
44 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 20 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth won at ‘Dega last fall and ran great in this spring. Look for him to be strong again this weekend.
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson won the 2010 spring race at ‘Dega and he will be a good-shoe this weekend.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon has six career wins at Talladega. He could be showered by beer cans again this weekend.
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski used his front bumper to win the 2008 spring race at ‘Dega then won again last spring. He has the aggressive style to win again this weekend.
No. 29 Kevin Harvick: Harvick has been excellent in four of the last seven races at ‘Dega. He won the 2010 spring race, finished second in the fall and took fifth in spring of 2011. He is one of our top picks this weekend.
6 to 10
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: After finishing no worse than second in seven-straight 'Dega races Junior has cracked the top 10 just five times in the past 17 races at the track. He will need lots of luck on Sunday to regain his “King of Talladega” nickname.
No. 31 Jeff Burton: Burton has cracked the top 12 in seven of the last 11 trips to Alabama. This is the weekend to use Mr. Burton.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has been awesome in four of the past six races at ‘Dega. We like his chances on Sunday.
No. 56 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr. had great cars in 10 of the past 14 races at Talladega. He is a high risk/high reward pick this weekend.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne drove great at ‘Dega in three of the past four trips to the track. We like his chances to be fast again this weekend.
11 to 20
No. 18 Kyle Busch: Rowdy has averaged just a 22nd place finish at Talladega during his career. He has won at the speedway, but we expect he won’t have enough patience to take the checkers this weekend.
No. 22 Joey Logano: Logano has impressed everyone in his first few trips to Talladega. It won’t surprise us if he finishes inside the top 10 on Sunday.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: Edwards has led just 30 laps in 18 career starts at Talladega, there are better weekends to use Cousin Carl.
No. 14 Austin Dillon: Dillon takes over the No. 14 ride this weekend. He is a great sleeper pick.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin can’t wait for this nightmare season to finally end. He has averaged a 19th place finish at ‘Dega during his career, but will struggle to match that this weekend.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle's success at Talladega has been limited. In 20 career Cup starts at the track he has just six finishes better than 13th. His lack of success makes him a bit of a risky pick.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray snuck a win at Talladega during the November 2009 race and won at Daytona last year. He has become a force in all restrictor plate races.
No. 78 Kurt Busch: Busch has cracked the top 10 in nine his last 17 starts at Talladega. He is a good option on Sunday.
No. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya has had quality finishes at ‘Dega in the past and could surprise this trip to the track.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard has run strong in seven of the past 11 ‘Dega races. He is a great sleeper pick this weekend.
21 to 30
No. 34 David Ragan: Ragan won at ‘Dega earlier this year. He is a decent pick.
No. 39 Ryan Newman: Newman has run well in just five of the last 13 Talladega races. He has the ability to run in the front and is an okay pick this weekend.
No. 34 David Gilliland: Gilliland is always fast on restrictor plate tracks. He is worth taking a look at.
No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Stenhouse surprised with a top 15 finish earlier this year. He will be solid again this trip.
No. 43 Aric Almirola: Almirola should be fast enough to get the Famous 43 into the top 30.
No. 10 Danica Patrick: Danica was decent at Daytona this year and could crack the top 15 with a push at the right time.
No. 9 Marcos Ambrose: Ambrose impressed with a fourth place finish at Talladega in 2009, but he hasn’t done much since.
No. 13 Casey Mears: Mears has averaged a 21st place finish at Talladega the past seven years. He should crack the top 30.
No. 21 Trevor Bayne: You can’t forget the 2011 Daytona 500 champ. We expect he won’t handle this swing at restrictor plate racing so flawlessly, but he is still worth taking a gamble on.
No. 32 Terry Labonte: Texas Terry has years and years and years of experience at ‘Dega. He isn’t a terrible pick.
No. 55 Michael Waltrip
No. 12 Sam Hornish Jr.
No. 51 Justin Allgaier
No. 47 Bobby Labonte
No. 83 David Reutimann
No. 93 Travis Kvapil
No. 33 Landon Cassill
No. 40 Tony Raines
No. 87 Joe Nemechek
No. 98 Michael McDowell
No. 30 Cole Whitt
No. 35 Josh Wise
No. 7 Dave Blaney
No. 36 J.J. Yeley
My Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR Team for this Week:
A. Matt Kenseth
B. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
B. Jamie McMurray
C. Austin Dillon