Driver Handicaps: Talladega

Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer

Brad Keselowski and Clint Bowyer have combined to win three of the last five races at Talladega. (Photo: Getty Images)

Driver Averages |  Loop Data eBook (pdf) Driver Ratings Past Winners

To help you make your fantasy racing picks, MotorRacingNetwork.com brings you our weekly analysis to help steer you toward Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Who's HOT at Talladega
• Clint Bowyer, winner of the 2010 and 2011 fall race, leads all drivers that have competed in the last 10 races with a 10.5 average finish.
• Jeff Gordon leads all drivers in wins (6) and laps led (839). 
• Defending race winner Brad Keselowski has six top 10s in eight starts, including two wins.
• Five-time winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. has led the most laps (167) in the last 10 races.
• Matt Kenseth, winner of the fall race last year, has led the most laps (148) in the last five races.
• Tony Stewart has one win and six runner-up finishes.
• Jeff Burton, who has the best driver rating, has finished in the top 10 in his last three starts.
• Kyle Busch, winner of this event in 2008, posted a 2.5 average finish in the two races last season.
• Kevin Harvick has finished in the top five in three of the last six races, including a win in this event in 2010.

Who to Keep an Eye On at Talladega
• Greg Biffle (10.2) and Martin Truex Jr. (14.0) each rank in the top five in average finish among all drivers that have raced in the last five events at Talladega.
• Jimmie Johnson, a two-time Talladega winner, won the first points-paying restrictor-plate race with the Gen-6 car - the Daytona 500. 
• Ryan Newman (15.2) and Bobby Labonte (15.6) each rank in the top 10 in average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races.
• Danica Patrick will be back in the same car she won the pole and finished eighth with in the Daytona 500.
• Trevor Bayne will be back  in the No. 21 Ford, Regan Smith in the No. 51 Chevrolet and Michael Waltrip in the No. 55 Toyota.
• David Ragan has posted a 5.5 average finish in the last two Talladega races.
• If Denny Hamlin runs the complete race - he led 33 laps in the Daytona 500 with the Gen-6 car. (updated 8:20 p.m. ET).
• Kurt Busch, who has completed the second-most laps (1856) while running in the top 15 in the last 16 races at Talladega, will be making his first track start with Furniture Row Racing.
• Kasey Kahne recorded an 8.0 average finish in his two starts at Talladega with Hendrick Motorsports.
• Aric Almirola, who finished 13th in the Daytona 500, is the only driver to bring three consecutive top 10s on the season into Talladega.

Be sure to check back with MotorRacingNetwork.com on Friday for the practice speeds.

Talladega Qualifying Facts

*Active Pole Leaders
*Best Starting Average
Races Won from Starting Pos.
1. Joe Nemechek - 4
1. Trevor Bayne - 8.5
Pole - 13 times
2. Jeff Gordon - 3
2. Jimmie Johnson - 10.2
Top Five - 51 times
Elliott Sadler - 3
3. Jeff Gordon - 11.5
Top 10 - 62 times
4. Juan Pablo Montoya - 2 4. Ryan Newman - 13.7
Top 15 - 74 times
5. Eight drivers with 1 5. Carl Edwards - 15.2
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
Matt Kenseth
2.0
Four Races
Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle
8.0
Six Races
Clint Bowyer
6.7
Eight Races
Greg Biffle
9.9
10 Races
Clint Bowyer
10.5

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

Talladega Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2012, 16 Races)

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. David Ragan
1. Brad Keselowski
1. Matt Kenseth - 14.8
2. Jeff Burton
2. Jeff Burton
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 15.0
3. Josh Wise (2 races)
3. Joe Nemechek
3. Kurt Busch - 15.4
4. Regan Smith
4. Marcos Ambrose
4. Jeff Burton - 15.6
5. Joey Logano
5. Joey Logano
5. Elliott Sadler- 15.8
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Matt Kenseth - 1918
1. Jeff Burton - 4327
1. Jeff Burton - 91.4
2. Kurt Busch - 1856
2. Kurt Busch - 3888
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 89.6
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 1820
3. Matt Kenseth - 3838
3. Matt Kenseth - 88.9
4. Jeff Burton - 1807
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 3577
4. Brian Vickers - 87.3
5. Kyle Busch - 1527
5. Kyle Busch - 3061
5. Kurt Busch - 86.1

*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 Aaron's 499 Pre-Race eBook (pdf).

Season Loop Data Leaders

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Matt Kenseth
1. Matt Kenseth
1. Matt Kenseth - 6.8
2. Kyle Busch
2. Brad Keselowski
2. Jimmie Johnson - 7.1
3. Jimmie Johnson
3. Jimmie Johnson
3. Clint Bowyer - 11.4
4. Denny Hamlin
4. Kyle Busch
4. Kevin Harvick - 11.8
5. Kevin Harvick
5. Kevin Harvick
5. Kasey Kahne - 11.9
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Matt Kenseth - 2766
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 478
1. Matt Kenseth - 116.3
2. Jimmie Johnson - 2685
2. Clint Bowyer - 437
2. Jimmie Johnson - 113.7
3. Kevin Harvick - 2624
3. Kevin Harvick - 436
3. Kyle Busch - 104.5
4. Clint Bowyer - 2369
4. Greg Biffle - 409
4. Kasey Kahne - 101.6
5. Kasey Kahne - 2300
5. Jeff Gordon - 384
5. Clint Bowyer - 97.0

*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.
Dustin Long: Carl Edwards
John Singler: Paul Menard 

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

Jimmie Johnson: Two-time winner; Last win came in this event in 2011 - his last of nine top 10s; 17.2 average finish in the last five races; 26.2 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Won the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will return in the same chassis (No. 764) that he finished 14th with in the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona after being involved in an accident.

Carl Edwards: Last of four top 10s came in this event in 2011; 20.2 average finish in the last five races; 22.8 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 33rd in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will return in the same chassis (No. 835) that he finished 22nd with in the Budweiser Duel at Daytona after being involved in an accident.

Kasey Kahne: 8.0 average finish in two starts with Hendrick Motorsports; 17.0 average finish in the last five races; 17.8 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 36th in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will return in the same chassis (No. 768) that he started sixth and finished 36th with in the Daytona 500.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: Ninth-place finish in this event last year was 13th top 10 in 26 starts; Won five times with the Gen-4 car; 19.4 average finish in the last five races; 9.6 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished second in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will return in the same chassis (No. 773) that he raced in the Daytona 500.

Clint Bowyer: Winner of the 2010 and 2011 fall races; Leads all drivers with a 6.6 average finish in the last five races; 16.0 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 11th in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona.

Brad Keselowski: Defending race winner; Third-best average finish (11.0) in the last five races; 10.4 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished fourth and led 13 laps in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will debut a new chassis (No. 649) - that was tested at Daytona in January.

Kyle Busch: Winner of this event in 2008; 2.5 average finish in last two races; 19.6 average finish in the last five races; 16.0 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 34th in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona after engine issues.

Greg Biffle: Coming off second top five in 20 starts; Second-best average finish (10.2) in the last five races; Best average finish (8.2) among all drivers that have competed in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished sixth in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will debut a new chassis (No. 852) in the Aaron's 499.

Kevin Harvick: Winner of this event in 2010; 15.0 average finish in the last five races; 21.6 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 42nd in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona after getting caught up in an accident; Will pilot the same chassis (No. 334) that Austin Dillon drove to a 31st-place finish in the Daytona 500.

Paul Menard: 16.4 average finish in the last five races; 17.2 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 21st and led one lap in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will return in the same chassis (No. 406) that he tested at Daytona International Speedway in January.

Aric Almirola: 12th-place finish in this event last year is best in six starts; 17.0 average finish in the last five races; 19.2 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 13th in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will debut a new chassis (No. 780) in the Aaron's 499.

Jamie McMurray: Winner of the 2009 fall race; 26.2 average finish in the last five races; Finished 32nd in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona.

Matt Kenseth: Coming off first win in 26 starts; Posted a 2.0 average finish in both races last season; 14.8 average finish in the last five races; 9.0 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Led a race-high 86 laps in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona before engine issues took him out of the race.

Jeff Gordon: Six-time winner; Coming off 15th top five (second) in 40 starts; Fifth-best average finish (14.6) in the last five races; 21.4 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 20th and led 31 laps in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona.

Martin Truex Jr: 13.7 average finish in six starts with Michael Waltrip Racing; Fourth-best average finish (14.0) in the last five races; 18.8 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 24th in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona.

Ryan Newman: Coming off eighth top 10 (ninth) in 22 starts; 26.2 average finish in the last five races; 15.2 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished fifth and led three laps in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will return in the same chassis (No. 701) that he finished 21st with in the 2012 Daytona 500.

Joey Logano: Making first track start with Penske Racing; Posted four top 10s in previous eight starts with Joe Gibbs Racing; 19.4 average finish in the last five races; 18.0 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 19th and led two laps in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will debut a new chassis (No. 655) in the Aaron's 499.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr: making first Cup Series track start; 16.0 average finish in two restrictor-plate starts at Daytona; Finished 12th in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona; Will return in the same chassis (No. 830) that he raced in the Daytona 500.

Jeff Burton: Has finished in the top 10 in the last three races, including a runner-up in the 2011 fall race; Leads all drivers with a 91.4 driver rating in the last 16 races; 15.8 average finish in the last five races; 11.4 average finish in the last five restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega); Finished 30th in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona after being involved in an accident; Will debut a new chassis (No. 337) in the Aaron's 499.

Kurt Busch: Making first track start with Furniture Row Racing; 28.6 average finish in the last five races; Last of 13 top 10s (eighth) came in this event in 2010; Finished 28th in the first points-paying race with the Gen-6 car at Daytona.

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Untitled Document Talladega Driver Stats

Driver Races Avg Start Avg Finish Driver Rating
Jeff Burton 38 24.5 18.0 91.4
D. Earnhardt Jr. 26 15.6 15.0 89.6
Matt Kenseth 26 21.4 18.0 88.9
Brian Vickers 14 20.4 20.1 87.3
Kurt Busch 24 20.8 16.1 86.1
Brad Keselowski 8 18.9 12.3 85.6
David Ragan 12 19.8 16.0 85.5
Tony Stewart 28 16.5 15.8 83.5
Jeff Gordon 40 11.5 16.4 83.1
Jamie McMurray 21 20.7 20.0 81.7
Kyle Busch 16 20.9 22.1 81.1
Jimmie Johnson 22 10.2 17.7 80.9
Aric Almirola 6 21.3 21.2 80.7
Elliott Sadler 23 21.9 23.6 80.4
Joey Logano 8 24.3 18.1 79.1
Clint Bowyer 14 18.7 16.1 79.0
Juan Montoya 12 15.3 20.1 78.8
Kevin Harvick 24 22.0 15.4 78.7
Trevor Bayne 4 8.5 21.0 77.3
Greg Biffle 20 16.3 19.1 75.3
Martin Truex Jr. 16 20.4 22.9 75.0
Casey Mears 19 22.1 21.5 74.7
Paul Menard 13 19.8 22.5 72.2
Marcos Ambrose 8 22.5 25.1 71.9
Ryan Newman 22 13.7 21.8 71.2
Kasey Kahne 18 23.6 20.3 71.0
Regan Smith 11 24.8 23.4 69.7
David Reutimann 12 24.4 22.3 68.6
Travis Kvapil 10 22.1 17.8 68.0
Scott Speed 4 23.8 19.0 67.3
Michael Waltrip 53 19.8 20.0 66.3
Carl Edwards 17 14.9 21.8 65.1
Landon Cassill 4 30.5 27.8 62.8
Bobby Labonte 40 21.4 18.9 61.8
David Gilliland 11 28.5 21.2 61.7
David Stremme 10 31.1 27.2 60.6
J.J. Yeley 6 19.3 25.2 56.9
Dave Blaney 22 29.3 26.0 55.6
Joe Nemechek 36 19.8 26.3 51.8
Terry Labonte 57 17.3 18.5 49.7
Michael McDowell 5 27.4 35.0 41.3
Josh Wise 2 24.5 42.5 27.6
Danica Patrick 0 - - -
R. Stenhouse Jr. 0 - - -
Paythefan
Talladega Green Flag Passes

Number of passes a driver had under green conditions in the last 16 races at Talladega.

Rank Driver Green Flag Passes
1 Jeff Burton 6338
2 Kurt Busch 5481
3 Kevin Harvick 5262
4 Martin Truex Jr. 5251
5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 5239
6 Kasey Kahne 5120
7 Matt Kenseth 5005
8 Casey Mears 4892
9 Kyle Busch 4860
10 Tony Stewart 4813
11 Jamie McMurray 4444
12 Greg Biffle 4380
13 Juan Pablo Montoya 4338
14 Denny Hamlin 4320
15 Bobby Labonte 4308
16 Jimmie Johnson 4223
17 Ryan Newman 4213
18 Paul Menard 4162
19 David Reutimann 4140
20 David Ragan 4095
21 Elliott Sadler 4060
22 Michael Waltrip 4052
23 Jeff Gordon 3903
24 Clint Bowyer 3882
25 Brian Vickers 3657
26 Regan Smith 3642
27 Carl Edwards 3401
28 Joe Nemechek 3306
29 Brad Keselowski 3300
30 Marcos Ambrose 3197
31 David Gilliland 3123
32 Dave Blaney 3017
33 Joey Logano 2960
34 David Stremme 2868
35 Travis Kvapil 2736
36 Mark Martin 2466
37 A J Allmendinger 2072
38 Aric Almirola 2023
39 Scott Riggs 2010
40 Sam Hornish Jr. 1947
41 Trevor Bayne 1673
42 J.J. Yeley 1606
43 Scott Speed 1368
44 Landon Cassill 1193
45 Terry Labonte 1021
46 Mike Bliss 1012
47 Ken Schrader 884
48 Michael McDowell 696
49 Josh Wise 21
50 Timmy Hill 1

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