The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series descends on Talladega SuperSpeedway for the 10th race of the season, the Geico 500. Back on a restrictor plate track this weekend’s race should be packed with excitement. 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, May 3; 1:20 p.m./et.
Weather: Mostly sunny with a high around 82; wind out of the SW at 5 mph. There is a ZERO 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 giving around 40 of the 43 cars that start the race a chance to win on Sunday. 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.
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 momentarily 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 of the uncertainty drivers like David Ragan, Trevor Bayne and Jamie McMurray often can be just as strong of an option to win in a restrictor plate race as the usual superstars like Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, and Matt Kenseth.
45 cars will attempt to qualify for 43 spots.
Fantasy Cheat Sheet:
No. 2 Brad Keselowski: Keselowski has three career wins at ‘Dega including a victory last fall. He has the aggressive style to win again this weekend.
No. 11 Denny Hamlin: Hamlin won the spring race at Dega last year and has been awesome at restrictor plate tracks lately. We love his chances.
No. 4 Kevin Harvick: Harvick has been excellent in seven of the last 10 races at ‘Dega. He is one of our top picks this weekend.
No. 20 Matt Kenseth: Kenseth won the fall 2012 race at ‘Dega. Look for him to be strong this weekend.
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior will do everything in his power to break his 20 race winless streak and regain his “King of Talladega” nickname. He is one of our top options this weekend.
6 to 10
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson: Johnson won the 2010 spring race at ‘Dega and has proven to be a fast restrictor plate driver. He will be a good-shoe this weekend.
No. 41 Kurt Busch: Busch has cracked the top 10 in 10 his last 20 starts at Talladega. He is a great option on Sunday.
No. 1 Jamie McMurray: McMurray snuck a win at Talladega in 2013 and won at Daytona three years ago. He has become a force in all restrictor plate races.
No. 15 Clint Bowyer: Bowyer has been awesome in seven of the past nine races at ‘Dega. We like his chances on Sunday.
No. 24 Jeff Gordon: Gordon has six career wins at Talladega. He could be showered by beer cans again this weekend.
11 to 20
No. 78 Martin Truex Jr.: Truex Jr. had great cars in 11 of the past 17 races at Talladega and has been awesome so far this year. He is a great pick this weekend.
No. 22 Joey Logano: Logano has two top 10 finishes at ‘Dega in his young career. He should be in-the-mix for another this weekend.
No. 5 Kasey Kahne: Kahne drove great at ‘Dega in five of the past seven trips to the track. We like his chances to be fast again this weekend.
No. 18 David Ragan: Ragan’s only two career wins have come at restrictor plate tracks. This is a great weekend to have him active.
No. 31 Ryan Newman: Newman has four top five finishes so far this season. He has driven well at ‘Dega in the past and is worth using in all leagues.
No. 16 Greg Biffle: Biffle was the most impressive driver in the spring race at ‘Dega last year. This is a good weekend to use him.
No. 42 Kyle Larson: Larson ran well at Talladega in his rookie campaign. He is worth using as a second or third driver this weekend.
No. 99 Carl Edwards: Edwards has led just 37 laps in 21 career starts at Talladega, there are better weekends to use Cousin Carl.
No. 14 Tony Stewart: “Smoke” continues to be plagued by bad luck. This weekend might be the chance to end his bad luck streak.
No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Stenhouse has been great at ‘Dega so far in his career. He will be solid again this trip.
21 to 30
No. 3 Austin Dillon: Dillon has ran well at Daytona and Talladega during his career. He hasn’t been intimidated on the restrictor plate tracks.
No. 10 Danica Patrick: This is a great weekend to use Danica. She has as good a chance as anyone to win at ‘Dega.
No. 47 A.J. Allmendinger: Dinger was a force at ‘Dega last year. He is a good choice.
No. 13 Casey Mears: Mears has averaged a 20th place finish at Talladega the past nine races. He should crack the top 30.
No. 38 David Gilliland: Gilliland is always fast on restrictor plate tracks. He is worth taking a look at.
No. 6 Trevor Bayne: Remember Mr. Bayne’s win at Daytona a few years ago? He could win a restrictor plate race again.
No. 27 Paul Menard: Menard has run strong in nine of the past 14 ‘Dega races. He is a nice sleeper pick this weekend.
No. 43 Aric Almirola: Almirola was great at ‘Dega during the spring race last year. He is worth using again.
No. 21 Ryan Blaney: The Wood Brothers know how to build a restrictor plate car.
No. 55 Michael Waltrip: Waltrip is past his prime by about 15 years. But anything and everything can happen on restrictor plate tracks.
No. 9 Sam Hornish Jr.
No. 51 Justin Allgaier
No. 34 Chris Buescher
No. 40 Landon Cassill
No. 7 Alex Bowman
No. 32 Bobby Labonte
No. 33 Brian Scott
No. 95 Michael McDowell
No. 46 Michael Annett
No. 23 J.J. Yeley
No. 26 Jeb Burton
No. 35 Cole Whitt
No. 62 Brendan Gaughan
No. 83 Matt DiBendetto
No. 98 Josh Wise
My Yahoo! Fantasy NASCAR Team for this Week: