Congratulations to Joey Logano who picked up his second victory of the season on Saturday night at Richmond. Now he, along with Kevin Harvick both are definitely in the Chase field and can relax a little bit for now. There are still seventeen more races before the start of the Chase so, those drivers without a victory yet this year still have time to pick up that victory to help them into the Chase field.
This week the series heads to Talladega Superspeedway for the running of the Aaron’s 499. This is the second restrictor plate race of the season and is one of the races that any driver that makes the field can take the checkered flag and secure a spot in the Chase. What I mean is that every driver and team is on equal footing when it comes to restrictor plate racing. The individual equipment doesn’t matter as much as who you draft with to get you to the front and hopefully keep you there.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Dale is my pick to win his second race of the season at Talladega. This team has been very consistent week in and week out this year and Dale is always very good at Talladega. He seems to know who he can draft with and how to draft with them that he is always in the mix at the end of the race if he can stay out of a wreck early in the day. He has five career victories at this track and finished second here last fall.
Jeff Gordon: Jeff is the only active driver with more career victories than Dale Earnhardt Jr. with a total of six wins here. This team has also been extremely consistent on a weekly basis this year and Jeff knows how to draft with the best of them. The main thing for every team this week is to stay out of trouble until the end of the race and then you have a shot at the win.
Matt Kenseth: Matt is still looking for his first victory of the season and has been very good at Talladega. He has lead a lot of laps during his last eight starts here and won the fall race back in 2012. I look for Matt to have a car capable of moving up in the pack whenever he wants to if he finds a drafting partner that is willing to race early on. If not, he will be content to ride along at the back of the pack until it is go time late in the race.
Kyle Busch: Although he hasn’t lead a lot of laps during the last five races here, Kyle has three top five finishes in the last four races here. This is the type of track where a driver doesn’t care how many laps he leads, but more importantly which lap he leads. Kyle needs to stay patient early in the race and not take any foolish chances that might cause a big wreck. You can’t win if you aren’t running at the end.
David Ragan: David proved that David can beat Goliath here last season as he won this race for a minimally funded team. He has also shown that this wasn’t a fluke as he is the only driver that has finished in the top ten at Talladega in each of the last four races. He has done this by staying out of trouble and then teaming up with somebody late in the race to make a push for the victory. This just goes to show that you need a partner more than money to win this race.
Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie always seems to lead laps at Talladega. As a matter of fact, he has lead laps in twenty-two of his twenty-four career starts at this track including two races where he lead the final lap. Jimmie is also looking for his first victory of the season and will do whatever it takes to push his way to the front at the end of this week’s race also.
Brad Keselowski: Brad and Matt Kenseth had a small difference of opinion last week late in the race at Richmond. Both of these drivers need to put that incident behind them because there is no room for error or letting your emotions get the best of you this weekend at Talladega. You need all of the help you can get to win this race and it can come from your worst enemy if that’s the way it needs to be. Brad will find a drafting partner during this race, but I doubt if it will be Matt.
Greg Biffle: Greg has had good cars at Talladega recently and can usually find his way to the front during the race. It seems like the Roush/Fenway drivers work well together in the draft and if they can find each other late in the race one of them will have a shot at winning the race. Greg works well with both Carl Edwards and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and doesn’t seem to mind doing the pushing for one of his teammates either.
Kevin Harvick: This will be Kevin’s second restrictor plate race since moving over to Stewart/Haas Racing this season. They have struggled with mechanical issues in quite a few races this year that could be their biggest issue this week. You can’t afford to have the smallest problem during a restrictor plate race or you will find yourself out of the draft and there is no way you can catch back up.
Clint Bowyer: Clint is another driver that always seems to find someone he drafts well together with. I can see him teaming up with someone like Michael Waltrip, who knows how to win at restrictor plate tracks. They might just ride around at the back of the pack early in the race trying to stay out of the big wreck, but look for them to make a run to the front later and have a shot at the victory.
YAHOO! FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY
Yahoo Driver Group A
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Jeff Gordon
Yahoo Driver Group B
- Jamie McMurray
- David Ragan
- Aric Almirola
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Yahoo Driver Group C
- Michael Waltrip
- Trevor Bayne
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- Jeff Gordon
- Matt Kenseth
- Jimmie Johnson
- Kyle Busch
Dark Horse: Michael Waltrip
Stay Away From: Tony Stewart