Driver Handicaps: Talladega

Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin have combined to lead 243 laps with the COT at Talladega. (Photo: Getty Images)

Driver Averages | Driver Ratings | COT Stats | Pre-Race Loop Data eBook

This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway for Sunday's AMP Energy Juice 500. To help you make your fantasy racing picks, Motor Racing Network brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 188-lap event.

Who's HOT at Talladega
• Jeff Gordon leads all drivers in wins (6) and laps led (821).
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. has five wins and 11 top 10s in 21 starts.
• Tony Stewart has one win and six runner-up finishes.
• David Ragan leads all drivers with a 12.7 average finish in the six races with the COT.
• Kevin Harvick picked up his first win (third plate win overall) in the spring race.
• Jamie McMurray has finished first and second, respectively, in his last two starts.
• Jimmie Johnson has a win and five top-10 finishes in his last nine starts.
• Kurt Busch has finished eighth or better in nine of the last 12 races.
• Denny Hamlin has the best driver rating in the last 11 races.

Keep an Eye on at Talladega
• Kyle Busch has one win and has led 101 laps with the COT at Talladega.
• Michael Waltrip, who will be racing this weekend, has posted the most fastest laps (75) in the last 11 races at Talladega.
• Joey Logano posted a 6.0 average finish at Talladega in 2009 during his rookie season.
• Jeff Burton has made the most green flag passes (4,322) in the last 11 races at Talladega.
• Juan Pablo Montoya will be back in the same car that he won the pole for the 2009 spring Talladega race with and posted three top 10s on restrictor-plate tracks.
• Greg Biffle has a 9.3 average finish in the last three races at Talladega.
• Clint Bowyer has the second-best average finish (13.8) among all drivers that have raced in the six events with the COT at Talladega.
• 2009 spring winner Brad Keselowski has two top 10s in three starts at Talladega.

Chase for the Cup Driver Outlook at Talladega
Rank
Driver
Races
Wins
Top 5s
Top 10s
Avg. Fin.
*Driver Rtg.
1.
Jimmie Johnson
17
1
4
7
17.8
83.6
2.
Denny Hamlin
9
0
3
3
19.3
95.9
3.
Kevin Harvick
19
1
4
8
15.5
75.3
4.
Kyle Busch
11
1
1
2
23.2
79.7
5.
Jeff Gordon
35
6
13
16
16.7
86.0
6.
Carl Edwards
12
0
1
3
22.5
67.4
7.
Tony Stewart
23
1
9
12
14.8
89.0
8.
Jeff Burton
33
0
4
13
18.4
87.1
9.
Kurt Busch
19
0
6
13
12.8
85.0
10.
Matt Kenseth
21
0
3
6
18.7
81.7
11.
Greg Biffle
15
0
1
2
22.0
68.9
12.
Clint Bowyer
9
0
1
3
21.4
64.3
*Driver Rating based on last 11 Talladega Superspeedway races.

Qualifying Tidbits
Active Pole Leaders Best Starting Avg. Races Won from Starting Pos.
1. Bill Elliott - 8 poles 1. Jimmie Johnson - 9.7 Pole - 13 Times
2. Joe Nemechek - 4 poles 2. Jeff Gordon - 11.9 Top Five - 47 Times
3. Elliott Sadler - 3 poles 3. Bill Elliott - 12.7 Top 10 - 59 Times
4. Mark Martin - 2 poles 4. Mark Martin - 13.9 Top 15 - 103 Times
5. Eight Drivers - 1 pole 5. Ryan Newman - 14.4 Worst - 36th, One Time
Past Pole Winners Driver Stats  

*Best Average Finish at Talladega
Last # of Races
Driver
Avg. Fin.
Two Races
Jamie McMurray
1.5
Four Races
David Ragan
9.5
Six Races
David Ragan
12.7
Eight Races
Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch
14.6
10 Races
Kurt Busch
13.2
* - The best average finish is based off a driver who has competed in every race during that time span.

Talladega Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2010)
*Fastest Early in a Run *Fastest Late in a Run Avg. Running Position
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1. Michael McDowell 1. Denny Hamlin - 13.8
2. Denny Hamlin 2. Brad Keselowski 2. Joey Logano - 13.9
3. David Ragan 3. Tony Stewart 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 14.0
4. Jamie McMurray 4. Jeff Burton 4. Juan Pablo Montoya - 14.2
5. Joey Logano 5. Joey Logano 5. Tony Stewart - 14.6
Laps in Top 15 *Quality Passes *Driver Rating
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 1386 1. Jeff Burton - 2970 1. Denny Hamlin - 95.9
2. Kurt Busch - 1212 2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 2655 2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 93.3
3. Elliott Sadler - 1211 3. Matt Kenseth - 2595 3. David Ragan - 92.5
4. Matt Kenseth - 1191 4. Kurt Busch - 2540 4. Tony Stewart - 89.0
5. Jeff Burton - 1163 5. Elliott Sadler - 2331 5. Jeff Burton - 87.1

*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
*Driver Rating: Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.

Season Loop Data Leaders
*Fastest Early in a Run *Fastest Late in a Run Avg. Running Position
1. Jimmie Johnson 1. Jimmie Johnson 1. Jimmie Johnson - 9.2
2. Jeff Gordon 2. Kevin Harvick 2. Jeff Gordon - 9.4
3. Kyle Busch 3. Clint Bowyer 3. Jeff Burton - 11.0
4. Jeff Burton 4. Jeff Gordon 4. Kyle Busch - 11.6
5. Juan Pablo Montoya 5. Kyle Busch 5. Tony Stewart - 12.3
Laps in Top 15 *Quality Passes *Driver Rating
1. Jeff Gordon - 7918 1. Jeff Burton - 2077 1. Jimmie Johnson - 108.6
2. Jimmie Johnson - 7886 2. Jimmie Johnson - 1936 2. Jeff Gordon - 102.1
3. Jeff Burton - 7460 3. Jeff Gordon - 1806 3. Kyle Busch - 99.2
4. Kyle Busch - 7290 4. Kyle Busch - 1772 4. Jeff Burton - 98.1
5. Carl Edwards - 6782 5. Juan Pablo Montoya - 1662 5. Kevin Harvick - 96.8

*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
*Driver Rating: Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.

MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks
Jeff Wackerlin: Jamie McMurray
Pete Pistone: Kyle Busch
Rachael West: Kevin Harvick

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings
(All stats/notes are in regards to Talladega Superspeedway unless noted)

1. Jimmie Johnson: Coming off seventh DNF in 17 starts; 31st-place finish raised finishing average to 17.8; Won the 2006 spring race; Finished second in both races in 2007; 15.2 average finish in the six races with the COT; Led nine of his 201 career laps in the spring; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 618) in the AMP Energy Juice 500.

2. Denny Hamlin: Scored third top five in nine starts in April; Fourth-place finish came after leading 17 of his 192 career laps led; 18.3 average finish and 142 laps led (most among all drivers) in the six races with the COT; Will return in the same car that he posted a 25.8 average finish and 65 laps led with in the last four races at Talladega.

3. Kevin Harvick: Coming off first win in 19 starts; Victory was first top 10 in the last six races; 20.7 average finish in the six races with the COT; 14.9 average finish and three wins in 38 races on restrictor-plate tracks; Will be shooting for his third consecutive win in chassis No. 237 in the AMP Energy Juice 500; This is the same car he posted wins with in the Bud Shootout and Aaron's 499.

4. Kyle Busch: Coming off second top 10 in 11 starts in ninth; Other top 10 was a win in the 2008 spring race; 16.8 average finish and 101 laps led in the six races with the COT; 21.3 average finish in 23 starts on restrictor-plate tracks; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 260) that he finished 14th with in the Daytona 500 and ninth at Talladega in April.

5. Jeff Gordon: Leads all active drivers with six wins and laps led (821); 27.2 average finish since sweeping both events in 2007; Victory in this event 2007 was first with the COT; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 576) that he most recently finished third with at Daytona in July.

6. Carl Edwards: 22.0 average finish in the six races with the COT; Top-15 finishes in the last two events came after crashes in previous two events; Three top 10s in 12 starts came in the 2005 fall race through the 2006 fall race; 20.1 average finish in 24 starts on restrictor-plate tracks; Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 693) that he finished sixth with at Daytona in July.

7. Tony Stewart: Won this event in 2008 in last track start with Joe Gibbs Racing; Posted six second-place finishes in previous 18 starts with JGR; Finished 23rd, 35th and 16th, respectively, in three starts with Stewart-Haas; Only two of his 125 laps led with the COT have come with SHR; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 532) that he finished first with in the 2009 July race at Daytona.

8. Jeff Burton: 32nd-place finish in April ended streak of three consecutive top 10s; Five top 10s in 12 starts with Richard Childress Racing; 17.7 average finish in the six races with the COT; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 312) that he drove to a fifth-place finish in the July Daytona race.

9. Kurt Busch: 12.8 average finish leads all drivers; 13.8 average finish and six top 10s in nine starts with Penske Racing; Eighth-place finish in the spring was 13th top 10 in 19 overall starts; 14.9 average finish in 39 starts on restrictor-plate tracks; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 632) that he raced with in April at Talladega.

10. Matt Kenseth: 27.0 average finish in the six races with the COT; Last of six top 10s came in the 2006 Fall race; Will return in the same car that he finished 28th with at Talladega in the spring.

11. Greg Biffle: Fourth-place finish in this event last year is best in 15 starts; Only other top 10 came in the 2009 spring race; 15.5 average finish and six laps led in the six races with the COT; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 689) that he finished 17th with in April at Talladega.

12. Clint Bowyer: Coming off third top 10 in nine starts; Has yet to lead a lap in last five events; Second-best average finish (13.8) among all drivers that have raced in the six events with the COT; 16.9 average finish in 19 starts on restrictor-plate tracks; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 294) that he finished fourth with in the Daytona 500.

13. Jamie McMurray: Defending race winner; Finished second in April in first track start with Earnhardt-Ganassi; Three time winner on restrictor-plate tracks, including a win in this year's Daytona 500; 21.8 average finish in the six races with the COT; 21.5 average finish in 32 starts on restrictor-plate tracks; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1009) that he led 27 laps with in the spring at Talladega.

14. Mark Martin: Coming off 11th top five in 45 starts; 25.3 average finish in three starts with Hendrick Motorsports; Crashes took him out of both races in 2009; Posted two wins and 20 top 10s in previous 38 starts with Roush Racing; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 577) in the AMP Energy Juice 500.

15. Ryan Newman: Finished third in first track start with Stewart-Haas in the 2009 spring race; Finish was seventh top 10 in 17 starts; Posted fifth and sixth DNFs in the last two races after crashes took him out of contention; 21.7 average finish in six races with the COT.

16. Juan Pablo Montoya: Coming off second top five (third) in seven starts; Finish was first top 15 in a Chevrolet; 19.7 average finish in 15 restrictor-plate starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 902) that he won the pole with for the 2009 spring race and posted three top 10s in seven restrictor-plate starts.

17. Joey Logano: First two of three starts resulted in top-10 finishes; 36th-place finish in April raised his finishing average to 16.0; Has led at least one lap in every race; 22.7 average finish in seven starts on restrictor-plate tracks; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 212) that he finished 20th with in the Daytona 500.

18. David Reutimann: Has yet to post a top 10 in seven starts; Best finish came in the spring race in 14th; 24.2 average finish in the six races with the COT.

19. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Five-time winner; Second-place finish in the 2009 spring race is best finish in five starts with Hendrick Motorsports; 8.7 average finish in last three starts; 672 laps led in 21 starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 563) that he finished second with in the Daytona 500.

20. AJ Allmendinger: Has yet to finish inside the top 15 in four starts; Finished 19th in April in track debut in a Ford; 27.4 average finish in nine starts on restrictor-plate tracks.

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