Driver Handicaps: Talladega

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Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second last fall at Talladega while Matt Kenseth combined to lead the most laps (174) in both races at the track last season. (Photo: Getty Images)

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

MRN.com's detailed notes and statistics to help you set your fantasy racing lineup for Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Who's HOT at Talladega
• Five-time winner, and this year's Daytona 500 champion, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is coming off his fourth second-place finish.
• Defending event winner David Ragan is the only driver to finish in the top 10 in the last four races.
• Matt Kenseth, winner of the 2012 fall race, combined to lead the most laps (174) in both races last season.
• Clint Bowyer, winner of the 2010 and 2011 fall race, leads all drivers that have competed in the last 10 races with an 11.9 average finish.
• Two-time winner Jimmie Johnson finished fifth in this event last year helping his series leading average finish (5.0) in the five races with the Gen-6 car on restrictor-plate tracks.
• Jeff Gordon leads all drivers in wins (6) and laps led (843).
• Kyle Busch, winner of the 2008 spring race, has finished in the top five in three of his last four starts.

Who to Keep an Eye On at Talladega
• Jamie McMurray has posted a 7.5 average finish in his last two restrictor-plate starts, including a win last fall at Talladega.
• David Gilliland and Martin Truex Jr. (making first Talladega start with Furniture Row Racing) each finished in the top 10 in both races last season.
• Ricky Stenhouse Jr. recorded an average finish of 8.0 in both Talladega races last season.
• Daytona 500 pole winner Austin Dillon subbed for Tony Stewart last fall at Talladega and was in contention for the win up until an accident late in the race.
• Kurt Busch ranks in the top five in a number of Loop Data categories at Talladega including average running position, laps in the top 15 and driver ratings.
• Two-time Talladega winner Brad Keselowski has posted the fourth-best average finish (14.4) in the five races with the Gen-6 car at restrictor-plate tracks. Also, Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle each rank in the top 10 in average finish (15.6) in those races.
• Paul Menard, who finished fourth last fall at Talladega, led 29 laps at Daytona in February before getting caught up in an accident.
• Previous restrictor-plate race winners Michael Waltrip and Trevor Bayne are entered in the Aaron's 499.
• Kevin Harvick (12.5) and Joey Logano (13.5) each rank in the top 10 in average finish in the last two restrictor-plate races with the current tire combination.

Tire Notes: Teams will run same combination of left- and right-side tires they ran at Daytona in February and Talladega last fall. Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all drivers with a 1.5 average finish in the two races with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (5.0), Jamie McMurray (7.5), Jimmie Johnson (9.0) and Jeff Gordon (9.0) rounding out the top five. Earnhardt also leads all drivers with 92 laps led.

Be sure to check back at MRN.com for practice speeds Friday.

Qualifying Facts - Note: First at the Track under new "Knockout" Format

*Poles
*Best Starting Avg. 
Races Won from Starting Pos.
Joe Nemechek - 4
Jimmie Johnson - 10.1
Pole - 13 times
Jeff Gordon - 3
Jeff Gordon - 11.6
Top Five - 51 times 
Six drivers with one
Trevor Bayne - 12.5
Top 10 - 63 times
  Ryan Newman - 13.5
Top 15 - 75 times
  Carl Edwards - 13.6
Worst - 36th, one time

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

2014 Top "Knockout" Qualifying Performers (*7 Races)
Driver Avg. Start Poles Final Rounds
Brad Keselowski 4.0 1 6
Joey Logano 4.1 1 7
Denny Hamlin 9.7 1 5
Jimmie Johnson 9.9 0 5
Jeff Gordon 10.0 0 5
Ryan Newman 11.6 0 4
Kevin Harvick 11.7 1 3
Jamie McMurray 11.7 0 4
Kyle Busch 12.3 1 4
Carl Edwards 12.7 1 5
Matt Kenseth 15.6 1 3
Tony Stewart 17.4 1 3

*Qualifying was rained out at Richmond

*Best Average Finish at Talladega

Last # of Races
Driver
Avg. Fin.
Two Races
David Ragan
3.5
Four Races
David Ragan
4.5
Six Races
Clint Bowyer
10.0
Eight Races
Clint Bowyer
8.5
10 Races
Clint Bowyer
11.9

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

Talladega Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2013, 18 Races)*

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Austin Dillon
1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
1. Austin Dillon - 11.5
2. David Ragan
2. Brad Keselowski
2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - 12.5
3. Joey Logano
3. Joey Logano
3. Matt Kenseth - 13.9
4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
4. Marcos Ambrose
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 14.6
5. Jamie McMurray
5. Joe Nemechek
5. Kurt Busch - 14.9
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Matt Kenseth - 2239
1. Kurt Busch - 4529
1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - 94.7
2. Kurt Busch - 2144
2. Matt Kenseth - 4275
2. Matt Kenseth - 91.6
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 2078
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 4009
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 91.5
4. Jimmie Johnson - 1757
4. Jimmie Johnson - 3436
4. Kurt Busch - 87.4
5. Jamie McMurray - 1692
5. Kyle Busch - 3432
5. Brian Vickers - 87.7

*Must be entered in the Aaron's 499.
*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during 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 Loop Data Book (pdf)

Season Loop Data Leaders

*Fastest Early in a Run
*Fastest Late in a Run
Avg. Running Position
1. Brad Keselowski
1. Jeff Gordon
1. Jeff Gordon - 8.3
2. Joey Logano
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2. Brad Keselowski - 9.8
3. Jeff Gordon
3. Kevin Harvick
3. Matt Kenseth - 9.9
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Clint Bowyer
4. Denny Hamlin - 10.5
5. Kevin Harvick
5. Jimmie Johnson
5. Kyle Busch - 10.7
Laps in Top 15
*Quality Passes
*Driver Rating
1. Matt Kenseth - 2601
1. Jeff Gordon - 642
1. Jeff Gordon - 108.3
2. Brad Keselowski - 2535
2. Brad Keselowski - 602
2. Joey Logano - 107.6
3. Jeff Gordon - 2507
3. Denny Hamlin - 548
3. Brad Keselowski - 107.2
4. Denny Hamlin - 2453
4. Matt Kenseth - 538
4. Jimmie Johnson - 103.5
5. Joey Logano - 2409
5. Joey Logano - 521
5. Kyle Busch - 103.0

*Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
*Fastest Early In a Run: *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.


MRN.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Austin Dillon
Pete Pistone: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dustin Long: Denny Hamlin
John Singler: Jamie McMurray

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by Current Standings

Jeff Gordon: The last of his series-leading six wins at Talladega came in the 2007 fall race when he completed a sweep of both events that season. His last of 19 top 10s was a runner-up finish in the 2012 fall race and his last top 10 in the spring race was in 2011, third place. In the five restrictor-plate races with the Gen-6 car, Gordon has posted an average finish of 16.6 and finishes of 11th and 14th, respectively, in the races at Talladega. This weekend, Gordon will return behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. 855) that he finished fourth with in the Daytona 500.

Matt Kenseth: Leads all drivers in laps led with the Gen-6 car on restrictor-plate tracks with 261. He made his plate track debut with Joe Gibbs Racing in last year's Daytona 500 and led 86 laps before the engine failed. He dominated this event last year at Talladega, leading 142 laps en route to an eighth-place finish. His second top 10 on a plate track with JGR came in this year's Daytona 500, sixth place. Kenseth won at Talladega in the fall of 2012 in his last track start with Roush Fenway Racing.

Carl Edwards: Scored his best finish at Talladega last year in this event, third place. It marked only his second top five and fifth top 10 in 19 starts. The third-place run is also his only finish inside the top 15 in the five races on restrictor-plate tracks with the Gen-6 car. This weekend, Edwards will look to another good finish in the spring race driving a new car (chassis No. 906).

Kyle Busch: Coming off his third top five in the last four races at Talladega, a fifth-place finish. He won the 2008 spring race in his first track start with Joe Gibbs Racing. Since then, he's led 144 laps and posted a 17.1 average finish. Busch is fifth in laps led (57) in the five races with the Gen-6 car on restrictor-plate tracks, but his spring Talladega finish last year is his only top 10.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Coming off his second runner-up finish and fifth top 10 at Talladega in 12 starts with Hendrick Motorsports. His five career Talladega wins came with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. from 2001-2004, including four straight. Earnhardt holds the second-best average finish (6.0) and is third in laps led (92) in the five races with the Gen-6 car on restrictor-plate tracks. This weekend, Earnhardt will look to post his first top 10 in the spring race since 2012 in a new car (chassis No. 872).

Joey Logano: The last of his four top 10s at Talladega came in this event in 2011, when he was driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. Logano will look to carry his current momentum to generate his first top 10 on a restrictor-plate track since switching to Team Penske last season. His 11th-place finish in this year's Daytona 500 is his best to date with Penske. This weekend, Logano will be driving a new car (chassis No. 656).

Brad Keselowski: The last of his two wins at Talladega came in this race in 2012. His only top 10s with the Gen-6 car on restrictor-plate tracks have come at Daytona. His two top-five finishes in those five races have helped give him the fourth-best average finish (14.4) among drivers that competed in every race in that span. Although Keselowski finished third in this year's Daytona 500, Team Penske will be fielding a new car for him (chassis No. 659) in the Aaron's 499.

Jimmie Johnson: The last of his two wins at Talladega came in this event in 2011. He finished fifth last year, helping build his series-leading average finish (5.0) in the five races with the Gen-6 car on restrictor-plate tracks. Johnson is also second in laps led in that five-race span, including a combined 63 at Talladega. This weekend, Johnson will race a new car (chassis No, 871) in the Aaron's 499.

Ryan Newman: Has a pair of ninth-place finishes in the last two fall Talladega races, but hasn't had much luck in the last two spring races ... with an engine failure and an accident. He's finished in the top 10 in three of the five restrictor-plate races with the Gen-6 car to give him the sixth-best average finish (15.6) among drivers that competed in all five of those races. This weekend, Newman will make his first Talladega start with Richard Childress Racing in a car he finished eighth with in the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona.

Brian Vickers: Won the 2006 fall Talladega race with Hendrick Motorsports and will be making his first track start since 2011. His only restrictor-plate race with the Gen-6 car came this year in the Daytona 500, where Vickers finished 30th. This weekend, he will make his first Talladega start with Michael Waltrip Racing in a new car (chassis No. 810).

Greg Biffle: Has the second-best average finish (12.6) among drivers that have raced in all of the last 10 events at Talladega. He posted top 10s in both races in 2012 and finished 11th last fall. He finished eighth in this year's Daytona 500 to give him an average finish of 15.6 in the five races with the Gen-6 car on restrictor-plate tracks, which is tied for sixth among all drivers that have competed in every race in that span.

Austin Dillon: Last fall, Dillon subbed for Tony Stewart at Talladega and was in position to win but was involved in a multi-car crash in the closing laps. His 26th-place finish in that event is his only Cup start at the track. Dillon won the pole for the Daytona 500 and finished ninth to lower his average finish to 22.0 in his three restrictor-plate starts with the Gen-6 car. This weekend, Dillon will return in the same car he raced at Daytona to kick off the season.

Kyle Larson: Made his first restrictor-plate Cup start in the Daytona 500 and finished 38th after an accident.

Denny Hamlin: The last of his five top 10s at Talladega came in the 2011 fall race, eighth place. His average finish (24.8) in the five races with the Gen-6 car on restrictor-plate tracks took a hit at Talladega last fall with finishes of 34th and 38th, respectively. He's yet to lead at Talladega with the Gen-6 car but ranks fourth among all drivers in laps led in those races with 69 at Daytona.

Tony Stewart: Won at Talladega in the 2008 fall race with Joe Gibbs Racing. In his nine starts with Stewart-Haas Racing, "Smoke" has only managed to finish in the top 15 once. Stewart's second-place finish in his four starts on restrictor-plate tracks with the Gen-6 car is his only finish inside the top 25 in that span. Stewart will look to turn around his luck at Talladega as of late in a new car (chassis No. 836) that was tested in January.

Marcos Ambrose: His lone top 10 at Talladega came in his first start in 2009 with JTG/Daugherty Racing. In his last six starts with Richard Petty Motorsports, Ambrose has posted a 24.2 average finish with his best result coming in the last two spring races, 14th place. His average finish in the five races with the Gen-6 car on restrictor-plate tracks is 23.0.

AJ Allmendinger: Has yet to finish in the top 10 at Talladega in eight starts. He placed 26th in his first restrictor-plate start with JTG Daugherty Racing in the Daytona 500.

Paul Menard: Coming off his first top 10 with Richard Childress Racing at Talladega. In his six starts with the team, he's posted an average finish of 16.5. The finish last fall at Talladega is his only one inside the top 20 in five starts with the Gen-6 car on restrictor-plate tracks. Menard will return in the same car (chassis No. 445) that he led 29 laps with in the Daytona 500 before being involved in an accident.

Jamie McMurray: Coming off his second win at Talladega and first at the track with Chip Ganassi Racing. He has the fifth-best average finish (15.4) among drivers that have competed in every race with the Gen-6 car on restrictor-plate tracks.

Kevin Harvick: Posted one win and an average finish of 16.2 in 26 Talladega starts with Richard Childress Racing. He will make his first track start with Stewart-Haas Racing in a new car (chassis No. 833) that was tested at Daytona International Speedway in January. Harvick finished 13th in this year's season-opening Daytona 500 to give him an average finish of 9.3 in his last three restrictor-plate starts.

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Untitled Document Talladega Driver Stats

Untitled Document
Driver Races Avg Start Avg Finish *Driver Rating
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2 21.0 8.0 94.7
Matt Kenseth 28 20.5 17.7 91.6
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 28 15.2 14.6 91.5
Kurt Busch 26 21.6 16.7 87.4
Brian Vickers 14 20.4 20.1 87.3
Jimmie Johnson 24 10.1 17.0 85.1
Brad Keselowski 10 17.5 14.2 84.4
David Ragan 14 18.9 14.2 84.2
Aric Almirola 8 18.4 19.9 83.7
Jamie McMurray 23 20.5 19.3 83.3
Austin Dillon 1 16.0 26.0 81.5
Jeff Gordon 42 11.6 16.2 81.2
Joey Logano 10 21.6 19.6 80.8
Tony Stewart 29 16.8 16.1 80.8
Denny Hamlin 16 18.0 20.2 80.6
Kyle Busch 18 20.8 21.9 79.9
Clint Bowyer 16 18.9 15.9 79.3
Martin Truex Jr. 18 18.4 21.2 77.7
Kevin Harvick 26 22.5 16.2 76.3
Greg Biffle 22 15.9 19.5 74.6
Paul Menard 15 20.5 21.5 73.9
Casey Mears 21 21.5 21.9 73.9
Marcos Ambrose 10 18.6 25.4 73.8
Ryan Newman 24 13.5 21.7 70.4
Trevor Bayne 6 12.5 25.0 69.3
Justin Allgaier 1 35.0 24.0 69.1
Kasey Kahne 20 23.1 22.2 69.0
Carl Edwards 19 13.6 20.6 68.2
Michael Waltrip 55 19.7 19.9 66.1
Danica Patrick 2 23.0 33.0 66.0
David Gilliland 13 28.4 18.6 63.8
Reed Sorenson 8 33.1 24.1 61.4
A J Allmendinger 8 21.0 25.8 58.2
J.J. Yeley 8 24.5 26.3 56.0
Landon Cassill 6 34.5 28.3 55.7
Dave Blaney 24 30.2 25.5 55.3
Joe Nemechek 38 20.9 27.1 48.8
Michael McDowell 7 30.1 30.1 48.0
Terry Labonte 59 18.1 18.9 47.3
Cole Whitt 2 36.5 35.5 39.3
Josh Wise 4 22.3 33.5 36.0
Eric McClure 2 31.0 28.5 30.1
Michael Annett 0 - - -
Alex Bowman 0 - - -
Kyle Larson 0 - - -
Brian Scott 0 - - -
Ryan Truex 0 - - -

*Last 18 Races
Untitled Document Laps Led in the Last 18 Races at Talladega

Driver Laps Led
Matt Kenseth 407
Jeff Gordon 342
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 286
Tony Stewart 258
Jamie McMurray 215
Denny Hamlin 204
Kyle Busch 155
Jimmie Johnson 149
Kevin Harvick 120
Clint Bowyer 98
Kurt Busch 94
Brian Vickers 70
Greg Biffle 64
Ryan Newman 59
Casey Mears 51
Kasey Kahne 50
Martin Truex Jr. 49
Michael Waltrip 47
Brad Keselowski 32
David Ragan 32
Carl Edwards 31
Joey Logano 31
Paul Menard 29
Dave Blaney 25
Aric Almirola 14
David Stremme 14
Joe Nemechek 11
Marcos Ambrose 10
Trevor Bayne 10
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 8
A J Allmendinger 6
Reed Sorenson 3
David Gilliland 2
J.J. Yeley 2
Terry Labonte 1
Talladega Green Flag Passes

Number of passes a driver had under green conditions in the last 18 races at Talladega.

Driver Green Flag Passes
Martin Truex Jr. 6601
Kurt Busch 6599
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 6044
Casey Mears 5909
Kevin Harvick 5884
Matt Kenseth 5791
Jamie McMurray 5766
Kyle Busch 5626
Paul Menard 5348
Kasey Kahne 5280
Greg Biffle 5169
Denny Hamlin 5123
Jimmie Johnson 5004
Ryan Newman 4888
David Ragan 4866
Tony Stewart 4863
Clint Bowyer 4724
David Reutimann 4650
Jeff Gordon 4600
Michael Waltrip 4573
Carl Edwards 4194
David Gilliland 3994
Joey Logano 3978
Dave Blaney 3818
Marcos Ambrose 3814
Brad Keselowski 3799
Brian Vickers 3657
Joe Nemechek 3328
Aric Almirola 3030
Trevor Bayne 2570
J.J. Yeley 2171
A J Allmendinger 2072
Michael McDowell 1867
Reed Sorenson 1813
Landon Cassill 1443
Terry Labonte 1379
Danica Patrick 1213
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1094
Austin Dillon 922
Justin Allgaier 863
Cole Whitt 609
Josh Wise 404
Eric McClure 18

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