Driver Handicaps: Talladega

Talladega

Richard Childress Racing and Hendrick Motorsports have combined to win seven of the last 11 Talladega races. (Photo: Getty Images)

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This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway for Sunday's Good Sam Club 500. To help you make your fantasy racing picks, MotorRacingNetwork.com brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 188-lap event.

Who's HOT at Talladega
• Clint Bowyer has finished seventh or better in his last three starts, including a win in this event last year.
• Kevin Harvick has finished fifth or better in his last three starts, including a win in the 2010 spring race.
• Jeff Gordon leads all drivers in wins (6) and laps led (831). 
• Five-time winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. has led the most laps (168) in the eight races with the COT.
• Spring winner Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with a 12.5 average finish in the last 10 races.
• Tony Stewart has one win and six runner-up finishes.
• Brad Keselowski has three top 10s in five starts, including one win.
• Joey Logano has finished in the top 10 in four of his five starts.
• Kurt Busch leads all drivers with six or more starts with a 13.9 average finish.

Keep an Eye on at Talladega 
• Juan Pablo Montoya finished third in both Talladega races last season.
• David Ragan will return in the same car he won the July Daytona race with.
• Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton each have a top five Driver Rating in the last 13 races at Talladega.
• Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth have each finished in the top 10 in each of the last four races on the season.
• Greg Biffle has finished in the top 10 in three of his last five starts at Talladega.
• Mark Martin has posted an 8.0 average finish in his last three starts at Talladega.
• Kyle Busch (124) and Jamie McMurray(67) rank in the top 10 in laps led in the eight races with the COT at Talladega.
• Four-time restrictor-plate winner Michael Waltrip and 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne are entered in the Good Sam Club 500.

Talladega Qualifying Facts 

*Active Pole Leaders
Best Starting Average
Races Won from Starting Pos.
1. Joe Nemecheck - 4
1. Landon Cassill - 6.0
Pole - 13 times
2. Mark Martin - 2
2. Jimmie Johnson - 9.8
Top Five - 50 times
Juan Montoya - 2
3. Trevor Bayne - 11.0
Top 10 - 60 times
Jeff Gordon - 2 
4. Jeff Gordon - 12.1
Top 15 - 70 times
3. Seven drivers with one
5. Mark Martin - 14.0
Worst - 36th, one time

* - Must be entered in the Good Sam Club 500.

*Best Average Finish at Talladega  

Last # of Races
Driver
Avg. Fin.
Two Races
Clint Bowyer
1.5
Four Races
Clint Bowyer
5.5
Six Races
Clint Bowyer
11.0
Eight Races
Clint Bowyer
10.8
10 Races
Jimmie Johnson
12.5

* - The best average finish is based off a driver who has competed in every race during that time span.

Talladega Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2011)  

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Trevor Bayne
1. Trevor Bayne
1. Joey Logano - 12.7
2. Denny Hamlin
2. Brad Keselowski
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 14.3
3. Joey Logano
3. Marcos Ambrose
3. Juan Pablo Montoya - 14.9
4. David Ragan
4. Joey Logano
4. Denny Hamlin - 15.1
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Jeff Burton
5. Kurt Busch - 15.2
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 1580
1. Jeff Burton - 3569
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 92.7
2. Kurt Busch - 1526
2. Kurt Busch - 3207
2. Denny Hamlin - 90.9
3. Jeff Burton - 1422
3. Matt Kenseth - 3112
3. Joey Logano - 90.2
4. Matt Kenseth - 1410
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 3075
4. Jeff Burton - 88.9
5. Jimmie Johnson - 1257
5. Jimmie Johnson - 2568
5. David Ragan - 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.


For a look at all the pre-race Loop Data for Talladega view the Good Sam Club 500 pre-race ebook.

Season Loop Data Leaders  

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Kyle Busch
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Kyle Busch - 9.6
2. Carl Edwards
2. Kyle Busch 
2. Jimmie Johnson - 11.4 
3. Jimmie Johnson
3. Carl Edwards
3. Kurt Busch - 11.9
4. Kurt Busch 
4. Matt Kenseth
4. Carl Edwards - 12.2
5. Jeff Gordon
5. Denny Hamlin
5. Matt Kenseth - 12.4
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Kyle Busch - 7392
1. Kyle Busch - 1923
1. Kyle Busch - 107.4
2. Carl Edwards - 6853
2. Kurt Busch - 1769
2. Jimmie Johnson - 101.2
3. Jimmie Johnson - 6671
3. Clint Bowyer - 1678
3. Carl Edwards - 100.4
4. Matt Kenseth - 6229
4. Paul Menard - 1656
4. Matt Kenseth - 98.2
5. Kevin Harvick - 6168 
5. Ryan Newman - 1543
5. Kurt Busch - 97.2


*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: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Pete Pistone: Kevin Harvick
Craig Moore: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Steve Blevins: Jimmie Johnson 
John Singler: Greg Biffle
Ricky Hamber: Kevin Harvick

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

1. Carl Edwards: Coming off first top 10 (sixth) in last nine races; 20.9 average finish in 14 starts; Leads all drivers with a 13.5 average finish since 2009 (11 races) on restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 677) that last finished sixth with at Talladega in April.

2. Kevin Harvick: Winner of the 2010 spring race; Coming off third consecutive top five; 14.3 average finish in 21 starts; Fifth among all drivers in average finish (16.4) and laps led (75) that have competed in the eight races with the COT; Third among all drivers in average finish (13.8) since 2009 (11 races) on restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona an Talladega); Will debut a new car (chassis No. 377) in the Good Sam Club 500.

3. Matt Kenseth: Has yet to finish in the top 10 in last nine starts; Finished 36th in the spring after a crash; Ninth among all drivers in average finish (17.2) since 2009 (11 races) on restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona an Talladega); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 779) that he finished second with at Daytona International Speedway in July.

4. Kyle Busch: Winner of the 2008 spring race; Last of two top 10s in 12 starts came in the 2010 spring race; Finished 35th in the spring after a crash; Fourth in laps led (124) in the eight races with the COT; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 321) in the Good Sam Club 500.

5. Tony Stewart: Winner of this event in 2008; Has yet to finish in the top 15 in five starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Third in laps led (125) in the eight races with the COT; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 634) that he finished 17th with at Talladega in April.

6. Brad Keselowski: Winner of the 2009 spring race; Last of three top 10s in five starts came in this event last year; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 639) that he finished 15th at Daytona International Speedway in July.

7. Kurt Busch: Has finished in the top 10 in nine of his last 14 starts; Led 19 laps and finished 18th in the spring; Fourth among all drivers in average finish (14.2) since 2009 (11 races) on restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 640) that he raced at Talladega in the spring and won the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona with.

8. Jimmie Johnson: Coming off second win in 19 starts; Has finished in the top 10 in seven of his last 11 starts; Second in average finish (12.4) among all drivers that have competed in the eight races with the COT; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 628) that he drive to Victory Lane in April.

9. Dale Earnhardt Jr: Last of five wins came in this event in 2004; Coming off ninth top five in 23 starts; Has scored three top 10s with in seven starts with Hendrick Motorsports; First in laps led (168) in the eight races with the COT; Eighth among all drivers in average finish (16.7) since 2009 (11 races) on restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona an Talladega); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 629) that he finished fourth with at Talladega in April.

10. Ryan Newman: Finished third in first track start with Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009; Has yet to finish in the top 20 in last four starts with SHR; Posted six top 10s in previous 14 starts with Penske Racing.

11. Jeff Gordon: Won the pole and finished third in the spring; Finish was second consecutive top 10; Last of six wins came in 2007 when he swept both races; 10th among all drivers in average finish (17.6) since 2009 (11 races) on restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega).

12. Denny Hamlin: Finished 23rd in the spring; Last of four top 10s in 11 starts came in this event in 2010; Second in laps led (146) in the eight races with the COT.

13. Clint Bowyer: Defending race winner; Coming off third consecutive top 10; Leads all drivers in average finish (10.8) among all drivers that have competed in the eight races with the COT; Sixth among all drivers in average finish (15.3) since 2009 (11 races) on restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega); Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 338) that teammate Paul Menard raced to a 12th-place finish at Talladega in April.

14. AJ Allmendinger: 26.7 average finish in six starts; Has yet to finish in the top 10; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 722) that he finished 11th with at Talladega in April.

15. Kasey Kahne: 31.5 average finish in two starts with Team Red Bull; Two runner-up finishes are only top 10s in previous 13 starts.

16. Greg Biffle: Coming off third top 10 in last five starts; 20.9 average finish in 17 starts; Fourth among all drivers in average finish (14.9) that have competed in the eight races with the COT; Fifth among all drivers in average finish (15.3) since 2009 (11 races) on restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 689) that he finished 18th with at Daytona International Speedway in July.

17. David Ragan: Finished 39th in the spring after a crash; Last of three top 10s in nine starts came in the 2010 spring race; Seventh among all drivers in average finish (16.6) since 2009 (11 races) on restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 691) that he won with at Daytona International Speedway in July.

18. Marcos Ambrose: Only top-30 finish in five starts came in the 2009 spring race in fourth; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 721) that he finished 17th with at Daytona International Speedway in July.

19. Juan Pablo Montoya: Has finished third in two of the last three races; 16.4 average finish in nine starts; Third among all drivers in average finish (14.6) that have competed in the eight races with the COT; Second among all drivers in average finish (13.6) since 2009 (11 races) on restrictor-plate tracks (Daytona an Talladega); Will debut a new car (chassis No. 1117) in the Good Sam Club 500.

20. Mark Martin: Coming off 24th top 10 in 47 starts; 8.0 average finish in last three starts; Last of two wins came in the 1997 spring race with Roush Racing.

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