A huge win for Kurt Busch this past weekend which propels him into the third round of the playoffs. Huge because a restrictor plate race looms in front of the drivers and they all know that anything can happen in the blink of an eye and their season can be virtually over.
Yes, this week the series heads to the Talladega Superspeedway for the running of the YellaWood 500. A restrictor plate race that anyone who starts can win. This is where Samson can tame Goliath and any small mistake or over aggressive driving can take out a third of the field or more. No one is safe until the checkered flag waves and all of the cars have come to a standstill.
Aric Almirola: I’m going out on a limb and picking Aric to win this race and shake up the playoffs even more. He’s only twenty-seven points below the cutline at this time, but there are also two other drivers ahead of him that he would have to overtake to make it into the third round on points. He has eight straight top ten finishes with five of those being top five’s. He also won this race two years ago.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Ricky is a wildcard all by himself in these races. He likes to side draft other cars, but sometimes he gets too close and causes some havoc. At other times he makes some very aggressive moves. This is another thing that can get you a win or start a huge wreck fest. He seems to make quite a few drivers mad in these races, but he can come away with a great finish if everything works out.
Joey Logano: Joey won three of the last ten races here and finished in the top five in six of those ten. This team could really use another great finish to give themselves some confidence back. It always seems like the Penske teammates find each other on the track and then they draft well together and that is how they finish so well on a consistent basis here.
Ryan Blaney: Not surprising, Ryan won the last two races here. Not surprising because he is one of the Penske drivers who all work well together. He came away with a top ten finish last week at Las Vegas and maybe they have a little momentum going for them now. He should have another fast car that handles well in the draft once again this week.
Brad Keselowski: Let’s not forget the other Penske driver who will be on the track this weekend. Brad has five career wins at Talladega and that leads all active drivers. Looks like we should have a few of these teammates on our rosters this week. Question is, which ones do we start?
Denny Hamlin: Denny won both of the Daytona races this year, so he should be considered here too. The big question is how aggressive does he want to get? He’s sitting comfortable in the points race and if he stays out of the big wreck he should be able to make the third round on points. I don’t know if it’s in his blood to ride around at the back to stay out of trouble until the end of the race.
Alex Bowman: Interesting stat here. Alex has never finished better than thirty-third in a fall race at Talladega, but he has finished in the top ten in each of his last three spring starts here including a runner up finish last spring. I think this team should break that streak of finishing worse than thirtieth in a fall race this weekend.
Ryan Newman: Ryan finished second here in two of his last six starts. I’m not sure how confident and comfortable he is on these tracks after his horrendous crash at Daytona this year where he was hurt pretty badly and had to miss some races before he healed up enough to come back. Is that still in the back of his mind or can he push past it and make the moves he needs to make to get to the front once again.
Kurt Busch: Last week’s winner really doesn’t have anything to lose this week. Kurt is still looking for his first win at this track even though he always seems to run very well here. In fact, he has scored points in ten of the last fourteen stages. I think he is going to run well again this week and he won’t be afraid to make some aggressive moves late in the race to try and get that elusive win.
Chase Elliott: Chase is only ten points above the cutline, so he can’t afford to get caught up in a big wreck this week. I don’t know what their plan is going to be, but I would think that if they are fast enough to run towards the front of the field they might do just that. If the car isn’t handling well at the beginning of the race you might see them fall to the back and play it safe until the later stages of the race.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Joey Logano
- Brad Keselowski
Driver Group Game Group B
- Aric Almirola
- Alex Bowman
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- Ryan Newman
Driver Group Game Group C
- Michael McDowell
- Bubba Wallace
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY
- Aric Almirola
- Joey Logano
- Ryan Blaney
- Brad Keselowski
- Denny Hamlin
Dark Horse: Austin Dillon
Stay Away From: Erik Jones
Big 18: Aric Almirola