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Statistically Speaking

Hellmann's 500 Stats

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

This week’s race: Hellmann's 500
Traditional Name: Alabama 500
Other Notable Names: CampingWorld.com 500, Geico 500, Good Sam Club 500, Amp Energy Juice 500, UAW-Ford 500, EA Sports 500, DieHard 500

Streaks. Pshaw.

Stringing back-to-back top-10s together on a restrictor-plate, superspeedway is a difficult accomplishment, so that leaves fantasy players looking much further afield for signs of strength. Combine the two plate tracks to see what that gives you, look at recent momentum in 2016—heck, even read some tea leaves—but fantasy players still have an impossible decision to make.

For the moment consider the best six-race averages as a way to even out the peaks and valleys.

10 best drivers at Talladega

Over the past six races, these drivers have the best average finish on this track.

1. Clint Bowyer
Last six races average finish at Talladega: 10.17
Career avg. finish: 14.5 in 21 attempts

Yes: Clint Bowyer is the driver with the best three-year average finish at Talladega. His stint with HScott Motorsports has not hurt his standing in any way. In fact, a seventh-place finish replaced an 18th from 2013 to improve his number. He’s capable of finishing in the top 10 again

2. Kevin Harvick
Last six races average finish at Talladega: 11.00
Career avg. finish: 16.3 in 31 attempts

Consistency is as good as one is likely to get at Talladega, so a current six-race top-15 streak—without a single top-five to his credit—is enough to put Harvick second on this week’s three-year average chart.

3. Martin Truex Jr.
Last six races average finish at Talladega: 12.83
Career avg. finish: 19.6 in 23 attempts

Truex sits third in the standings this week despite have two results in his past six Talladega races outside the top 15. He was 17th in May 2014 and 27th that October. That was offset last year by a pair of top-10s and Truex enters the weekend with a three-race streak of top-15s.

4. Ryan Newman
Last six races average finish at Talladega: 13.17
Career avg. finish: 20.3 in 29 attempts

“In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” No one has a better-than, 10th-place, three-year average finish this week, so Newman stands tall with his 13.17. He has had some strong runs in that span with three top-10s, but he also has two sub-15th-place results.

5. Paul Menard
Last six races average finish at Talladega: 13.50
Career avg. finish: 20.0 in 20 attempts

With four top-10s in his last six starts, Menard probably deserves more respect at Talladega. A pair of accidents—including one this spring that sent him to the showers 26th—hurts his average, however. The good news is that will help him fly under the radar.

6. Kyle Busch
Last six races average finish at Talladega: 14.00 (5 starts)
Career avg. finish: 20.9 in 22 attempts

Busch’s three-year average finish (five races) of 14.00 includes a perfect record of finishing better than he started at Talladega. That has consistently added place-differential points to his total and made him a better value overall. Of course, one of these results was a 40th-place finish after starting 41st, so players to take some stats with a grain of salt.

7. Kurt Busch
Last six races average finish at Talladega: 14.67
Career avg. finish: 16.3 in 31 attempts

Busch’s average is steadily climbing. Immediately before his last six races on this track, he had three 30-something results in four races, He now has a current four-race top-15 streak and one more solid run this week could easily propel him into the top five.

8. Brad Keselowski
Last six races average finish at Talladega: 15.83
Career avg. finish: 13.9 in 15 attempts

Brad will forever be known as “Bad” after his inaugural start on this track. The final lap came down to a battle with Carl Edwards and when that driver tried to pinch him beneath the yellow line on the frontstretch, Keselowski refused to give ground. The ensuing wreck was spectacular, but Kez visited Victory Lane.

9. Jimmie Johnson
Last six races average finish at Talladega: 17.00
Career avg. finish: 17.1 in 29 attempts

Johnson entered this spring’s Geico 500 with a seven-race streak of finishing on the lead lap. Crash damage cost him six circuits to the leaders and sent him home 22nd, but he is one of this week’s top fantasy picks because his confidence has been restored with back-to-back strong runs on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks.

10. Austin Dillon
Last six races average finish at Talladega: 17.67
Career avg. finish: 17.7 in 6 attempts

Dillon has been one of the most consistent drivers at Talladega so far in his brief career. Since climbing into the No. 3 five races ago, he has swept the top 15 with a single exception. An engine fire in May 2015 occasioned his second DNF. His first—an accident in a Stewart-Haas Racing car in 2013—will age out of next year’s formula and Dillon will probably climb higher than 10th.

23. Carl Edwards
Last six races average finish at Talladega: 23.33
Career avg. finish: 21.4 in 24 attempts

Edwards is the driver this week with the worst three-year average at Talladega. In large part, this is because of three crash-induced 30-something finishes, but that fits into a handicap on this track more than anywhere else on the circuit.

 

Rank

Driver

3 Yr. Avg. Finish

Attempts

1.

Clint Bowyer

10.17

6

2.

Kevin Harvick

11.00

6

3.

Martin Truex Jr.

12.83

6

4.

Ryan Newman

13.17

6

5.

Paul Menard

13.50

6

6.

Kyle Busch

14.00

5

7.

Kurt Busch

14.67

6

8.

Brad Keselowski

15.83

6

9.

Jimmie Johnson

17.00

6

10.

Austin Dillon

17.67

6

 

11.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

18.00

6

12.

AJ Allmendinger

19.00

5

13.

Greg Biffle

19.17

6

14.

Ryan Blaney

19.50

4

15.

Joey Logano

19.67

6

16.

Jamie McMurray

19.83

6

17.

Cole Whitt

20.00

6

18.

Aric Almirola

22.00

6

19.

Matt Kenseth

22.17

6

20.

Denny Hamlin

22.33

6

21.

Jeff Gordon

22.60

5

22.

Landon Cassill

22.67

6

23.

Carl Edwards

23.33

6

24.

Casey Mears

23.83

6

25.

Reed Sorenson

24.00

2

26.

David Gilliland

24.17

6

27.

Kyle Larson

24.20

5

28.

Danica Patrick

24.33

6

29.

Kasey Kahne

24.67

6

30.

Tony Stewart

25.40

5

31.

Bobby Labonte

25.75

4

32.

Josh Wise

26.33

6

33.

Trevor Bayne

28.00

6

34.

David Ragan

28.83

6

35.

Alex Bowman

30.00

4

36.

Chris Buescher

30.50

2

37.

Michael McDowell

30.83

6

38.

Matt DiBenedetto

31.33

3

39.

Michael Annett

33.00

5

40.

Brian Scott

38.33

3

41.

Jeb Burton

44.50

2

Drivers with only one start

 

Chase Elliott

5.00

1

 

Regan Smith

32.00

1

 

Timmy Hill

41.00

1

 

Exercise Caution

Most caution flags: 11, 2004 Aaron's 499
Fewest caution flags: 0 (2 times), 2002 EA Sports 500, 1997 Winston 500
Average number of caution flags per race: 5.6
In 2016: 7.5

Final Caution, last five races:
May 2016: Lap 188 of 188: 7-car accident on the frontstretch (AJ Allmendinger, Kevin Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Cole Whitt, Jimmie Johnson, Bobby Labonte, and David Gilliland) on a restart following a 12-car accident on lap 182
October 2015: “The Swerve” on lap 196, only attempt at g-w-c, 11-car accident triggered by Kevin Harvick into Trevor Bayne, included Denny Hamlin, Michael McDowell, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, David Gilliland, Danica Patrick, Austin Dillon, Sam Hornish Jr., and Alex Bowman 
May 2015: Lap 159 of 188: fluid on the track (from Austin Dillon)
October 2015: Lap 189 of 194 (to set up second green-white-checkered finish): 5-car accident on backstretch (Dale Earnhardt Jr., Paul Menard, David Gilliland, Michael Annett, and Greg Biffle)
May 2014: 188 of 188 (on last lap): debris

Most caution laps: 62, 1972 Winston 500
Fewest caution laps: 0 (2 times), 2002 EA Sports 500, 1997 Winston 500
Average number of caution laps per race: 28.5
In 2016: 40.4

Leading the way

Most leaders: 29, 2010 Aaron's 499
Fewest leaders: 4, 1971 Winston 500
Average number of leaders: 13.8
In 2016: 8.5

Most lead changes: 88 (2 times), 2011 Aaron's 499, 2010 Aaron's 499
Fewest lead changes: 13, 1973 Winston 500
Average number of lead changes: 39.9
In 2016: 16.8

Victory Lane

Last five winners at Talladega (starting position):
May 2016: Brad Keselowski (7)
October 2015: Joey Logano (10)
May 2015: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (4)
October 2015: Brad Keselowski (5)
May 2014: Denny Hamlin (34)

Worst starting position for race winner: 36th, Jeff Gordon: 2000 DieHard 500

A race at Talladega has been won by the pole sitter 13 times and from the front row 33 times in 94 races.

Recent races won from the pole:
April 2007: Jeff Gordon, Aaron's 499
April 1998: Bobby Labonte, DieHard 500
July 1995: Sterling Marlin, DieHard 500
July 1990: Dale Earnhardt Sr., DieHard 500

Active winners at Talladega
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 6
Brad Keselowski: 4
Clint Bowyer: 2
Jimmie Johnson: 2
Jamie McMurray: 2
Kyle Busch: 1
Denny Hamlin: 1
Kevin Harvick: 1
Matt Kenseth: 1
David Ragan: 1
Tony Stewart: 1
Brian Vickers: 1
Michael Waltrip: 1
Joey Logano: 1

Top-10 All-time Winners:
Dale Earnhardt Sr.: 10
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 6
Jeff Gordon: 6
Bobby Allison: 4
Buddy Baker: 4
Darrell Waltrip: 4
Brad Keselowski: 4
Cale Yarborough: 3
David Pearson: 3
Davey Allison: 3

First time winners at Talladega:
Brad Keselowski, 2009 Aaron's 499
Brian Vickers, 2006 UAW-Ford 500
Ken Schrader, 1988 Talladega DieHard 500
Phil Parsons, 1988 Winston 500
Davey Allison, 1987 Winston 500
Bobby Hillin Jr, 1986 Talladega 500
Ron Bouchard, 1981 Talladega 500
Lennie Pond, 1978 Talladega 500
Dick Brooks, 1973 Talladega 500
Richard Brickhouse, 1976 Talladega 500

Restrictor-plate, superspeedways (Talladega and Daytona)
Dale Earnhardt Sr.: 13
Richard Petty: 12
Cale Yarborough: 12
Jeff Gordon: 12
David Pearson: 11
Bobby Allison: 10
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 10
Fireball Roberts: 7
Dale Jarrett: 6
Bill Elliott: 6
Buddy Baker: 6

Running at the End

The following active drivers have been running at the end of every Talladega race they started:
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (6)
Chase Elliott (1)

Cole Whitt failed to finish his first race in 2012, but has been running at the end of the last six.

Great Starts

Active drivers with top-10s in their first start on this track:
Brad Keselowski: first (2009)
Kurt Busch: third (2001)
Chase Elliott: fifth (2016)
Tony Stewart: fifth (1999)
Jimmie Johnson: seventh (2002)
Kyle Larson: ninth (2014)
Joey Logano: ninth (2009) 

Chase Elliott won the pole in his first start in spring 2015.
Brian Scott won the pole in his first start in 2014.
David Gilliland won the pole in his first start in 2006.
Jimmie Johnson won the pole in his first start in 2002 and was awarded the pole by NASCAR’s rule book later that year.

Current Streaks

At Talladega
Brad Keselowski, two top-fives
Kurt Busch, two top-10s
Clint Bowyer, two top-10s  

On Restrictor-plate, superspeedways (Talladega and Daytona)
Kyle Busch, three top-fives
Austin Dillon, three top-10s
Brad Keselowski, two victories
Clint Bowyer, two top-10s
Trevor Bayne, two top-10s

In 2016
Kyle Busch, six top-10s
Matt Kenseth, five top-10s
Jimmie Johnson, four top-10s
Kasey Kahne, two top-10s

Brad Keselowski’s Kansas accident snapped a seven-race streak top-10s.

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.