Driver Handicaps: Talladega

Talladega

Richard Childress Racing and Hendrick Motorsports have combined to win eight of the last 12 Talladega races. (Photo: Getty Images)

Driver Averages Loop Data eBookDriver Ratings Past Winners

Motor Racing Network brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Who's HOT at Talladega
• Clint Bowyer has finished seventh or better in his last four starts, including wins in both fall events.
• Kevin Harvick has finished fifth or better in three of his last four starts, including a win in the 2010 spring race.
• Jeff Gordon leads all drivers in wins (6) and laps led (832). 
• Five-time winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. has led the most laps (170) in the nine races with the COT chassis.
• Jimmie Johnson's win in this event last year was his third top 10 in the last five races.
• Tony Stewart has one win and six runner-up finishes. 
• Brad Keselowski has four top 10s in six starts, including one win.
• Joey Logano leads all drivers with a 14.5 average finish.

Keep an Eye On at Talladega 
• Matt Kenseth is coming off his second Daytona 500 victory.
• Jamie McMurray (2) David Ragan (1) and Trevor Bayne (1) each have win(s) in the last 10 races held on restrictor-plate tracks.
• Denny Hamlin (146) Kyle Busch (129) and Jeff Burton (90) each rank in the top five in laps led in the nine races with the COT chassis at Talladega.
• Juan Pablo Montoya finished third in both races in 2010.
• Kurt Busch has completed the most laps (1,621) while running in the top 15 in the last 14 races at Talladega.
• Michael Waltrip, who is back behind the wheel of the No. 55 Toyota, is coming off his 15th top 10 at Talladega.
• Martin Truex Jr. has a 10.3 average finish in four starts at Talladega with Michael Waltrip Racing.
• Carl Edwards has posted a 12.1 average finish in his last 10 starts in restrictor-plate races.
• Kasey Kahne will be shooting for his fourth straight top 10 of the season this weekend.
• Series point leader Greg Biffle will return in the same car he finished third with in the Daytona 500.
• Paul Menard has posted a 9.4 average finish in his last five starts in restrictor-plate races.

Talladega Qualifying Facts

*Active Pole Leaders
*Best Starting Average
Races Won from Starting Pos.
1. Bill Elliott - 8
1. Trevor Bayne - 7.5
Pole - 13 times
2. Joe Nemechek - 4
2. Jimmie Johnson - 9.4
Top Five - 51 times
3. Jeff Gordon - 2
3. Jeff Gordon - 11.9
Top 10 - 62  times
Juan Pablo Montoya - 2 4. Bill Elliott - 15.3
Top 15  - 72 times
4. Six drivers with one 5. Ryan Newman - 14.3
Worst - 36th, one time

* - Must be entered in the Aaron's 499.

*Best Average Finish at Talladega 

Last # of Races
Driver
Avg. Fin.
Two Races
Clint Bowyer
1.5
Four Races
Clint Bowyer
2.8
Six Races
Clint Bowyer
10.3
Eight Races
Clint Bowyer
9.5
10 Races
Clint Bowyer
12.2

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

Talladega Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2011)

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. David Ragan
1. Brad Keselowski
1. Joey Logano - 14.3
2. Trevor Bayne
2. Jeff Burton
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 14.9
3. Joey Logano
3. Marcos Ambrose
3. Juan Pablo Montoya - 14.9
4. Denny Hamlin
4. Joey Logano
4. Kurt Busch - 15.3
5. Jeff Burton
5. Joe Nemechek
5. Denny Hamlin - 15.8
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Kurt Busch - 1621
1. Jeff Burton - 3834
1. Jeff Burton - 91.3
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 1618
2. Kurt Busch - 3440
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 90.2
3. Jeff Burton - 1596
3. Matt Kenseth - 3345
3. Denny Hamlin - 88.7
4. Matt Kenseth - 1558
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 3152
4. Joey Logano - 88.6
5. Tony Stewart - 1293
5. Jimmie Johnson - 2626
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 Superspeedway view the Aaron's 499 Pre-Race eBook.

Season Loop Data Leaders

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Jimmie Johnson
1. Kasey Kahne
1. Matt Kenseth - 8.8
2. Mark Martin
2. Jimmie Johnson
2. Greg Biffle - 8.9
3. Kyle Busch
3. Jeff Gordon
3. Denny Hamlin - 9.2
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Matt Kenseth
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 9.2
5. Tony Stewart
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Martin Truex Jr. - 9.4
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 2582
1. Brad Keselowski - 613
1. Denny Hamlin - 104.6 
2. Matt Kenseth - 2514
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 541
2. Jimmie Johnson - 104.2
3. Martin Truex Jr. - 2461
3. Tony Stewart - 517
3. Greg Biffle - 103.9 
4. Jimmie Johnson - 2450
4. Mark Martin - 492
4. Martin Truex Jr. - 102.2
5. Brad Keselowski - 2447
5. Martin Truex Jr. - 463
5. Matt Kenseth - 101.9

*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: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Ricky Hamber: Jimmie Johnson 
John Singler: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

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

Greg Biffle: Has finished in the top 10 in three of his last six starts; 20.6 average finish in 18 starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 781) that he finished third with in the Daytona 500.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: Last of five wins came in the 2004 fall race; Finished fourth in this event last year for 12th top 10 in 24 starts; 16.5 average finish in eight starts with Hendrick Motorsports; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 699) that he finished second with in the Daytona 500.

Denny Hamlin: Coming off fifth top 10 in 12 starts; Eighth-place finish last fall was third top 10 in the last four starts; Tied for fourth among all drivers in average finish (13.8) and fourth in laps led (68) in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega);

Matt Kenseth: Has yet to finish in the top 10 in last 10 starts; Second in laps led (93) in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 793) that he finished 21st with in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona after being involved in an accident.

Martin Truex Jr: Coming off fourth top 10 in 14 starts; 10.3 average finish in four starts with Michael Waltrip Racing.

Jimmie Johnson: Defending race winner; Also won this event in 2006; 16.8 average finish and 218 laps led in 20 starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 698) in the Aaron's 499.

Kevin Harvick: Won this event in 2010; Has finish in the top five in three of his last four starts; Will drive the same car (chassis No. 238) that Elliott Sadler finished 27th with in the Daytona 500.

Tony Stewart: Coming off 13th top 10 in 26 starts; Winner of the 2008 fall race; 21.5 average finish in six starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Tied for second among all drivers in average finish (12.8) in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 634) that he last finished second with in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona.

Carl Edwards: Finished fourth in this event last year for fourth top 10 in 15 starts; Tied for second among all drivers in average finish (12.8) in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 712) that he won the pole and finished eighth with in the Daytona 500.

Ryan Newman: Third-place finish in this event in 2009 is only top 20 in six starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Third in laps led (73) in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 606) that he last finished 25th with last spring at Talladega.

Kyle Busch: Won this event in 2008 in first track start with Joe Gibbs Racing; 31.0 average finish in last three starts; 24.9 average finish and 139 laps led in 14 starts.

Clint Bowyer: Two wins and a 1.3 average finish in last three starts; Ranks third among all drivers in average finish (13.4) and first in laps led (97) in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Will pilot the same car (chassis No. 679) that finished 10th in the 2011 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona as the No. 47 JTG-Daugherty Toyota.

Brad Keselowski: Won this event in 2009 with Phoenix Racing; Coming off second top 10 in four starts with Penske Racing; 15.0 average finish in six starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 645) in the Aaron's 499.

Paul Menard: Finished 12th in both events last year with Richard Childress Racing; Leads all drivers with a 9.4 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 388) that he finished sixth with in the Daytona 500.

Joey Logano: Leads all drivers with a 14.5 average finish; Tied for fourth among all drivers in average finish (13.8) in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega);

Juan Pablo Montoya: Finished third in both events in 2010; 17.1 average finish in 10 starts; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 1215) in the Aaron's 499.

Jeff Gordon: Leads all drivers in wins (6) and laps led (832); Swept both races in 2007; Won the pole and finished third in this event last year; 12.7 average finish in last three starts.

Jamie McMurray: Won the 2009 fall race with Roush Fenway Racing; Second-place finish in this event in 2010 is only top 10 in four starts with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1009) that he last finished 22nd with at Daytona International Speedway.

Mark Martin: Will not race this weekend; 2003 fall winner Michael Waltrip will drive the No. 55 Toyota; Waltrip is coming off his 15th top 10 in 51 Talladega starts.

Jeff Burton: Finished second last fall for 14th top 10 in 36 starts; Last top 10 in the spring race came in 2009 in fifth; Fifth in laps led (64) in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Will return in the same car (chassis No. 343) that he finished 11th with in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona.

Photos

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