The restrictor-plate, superspeedways are places for dark horses to shine. Josh Wise joined Ryan Blaney and Sam Hornish Jr. this week as drivers who scored their first top-10 of the season. He finished 10th.
This was not only his first top-10 of the season, it was the first of his career. His two previous best results also came at Talladega and were also in the May race. Wise finished 19th in 2013 and 20th in 2014.
The field was racing single file coming to the white flag at Talladega SuperSpeedway and someone had to make a move. Denny Hamlin was the first driver to pull out of line, but he did not get the help he needed and finished ninth in the Geico 500.
He was not too distraught over the result, however, since it was his first top-10 since winning Martinsville five races ago. He will be a favorite this July for the Coke Zero 400 since this was his fifth top-10 in the last six restrictor-plate, superspeedway races dating back to last year’s Daytona 500.
Kevin Harvick survived a lap-48 accident and held on to finish eighth in the Geico 500 at Talladega SuperSpeedway.
That was his 12th top-10 finish in the past 13 races dating back to last fall’s AAA Texas 500. The only times he failed to finish first or second in that span came on the short tracks of Martinsville Speedway (eighth) and Bristol Motor Speedway, and now the superspeedway of Talladega—all of which are considered wild card courses.
Ryan Newman earned his sixth top-10 finish of the season at Talladega SuperSpeedway when he crossed the finish line seventh. It was also his fourth consecutive top-15.
That makes Newman a consistently strong mid-cap pick who should be used when he fits the appropriate niche in one’s roster. This week, his final appeal for tire doctoring at Auto Club Speedway will be heard, so pay attention to future fantasy news items.
Sam Hornish Jr. earned his first top-10 of the season in the Geico 500. He crossed under the checkers sixth.
That was not only his first top-10, but only his second top-15 of the year. He finished 12th in the Daytona 500. In the eight races between these two superspeedway contests, he scored a best of 19th at Bristol and had an average result of 30th. Fantasy players will want to save him for Daytona in July.
Talladega is often the track where streaks are broken and that made Martin Truex Jr. a questionable value at the start of the Geico 500. He finished fifth at Talladega to earn his second consecutive top-10 and ninth in 10 races.
Truex now has a two-race, top-10 streak on plate tracks as well and will be an interesting pick at Daytona this July in salary cap games.
Ryan Blaney was almost shuffled out of the draft in the frenetic run to the checkers, but he managed to get some help and crossed the finish line fourth.
Blaney’s run was not quite as impressive as the win by Trevor Bayne in his inaugural Daytona 500 for this same team, but it does underscore just how strong the No. 21 Wood Bros. Ford is on plate tracks when they stay out of trouble.
Paul Menard finished third in the Geico 500. He has periodically been a great pick on this plate track and earned a top-five in the fall 2013 Camping World RV Sales 500 on this track. He had to wait until this race to get another.
Menard came close at Talladega last fall with a sixth. That gives him three top-six finishes in the last four races on this track, so players should make a note to start him this fall at ‘Dega.