Thursday, April 26, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: GEICO 500 at Talladega


By Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
Both with 3 - Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard
All with 2 - Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney
By Track
All with 5 - Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard and Kurt Busch
All with 4 - Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman and Aric Almirola

Recent Pole Winners:  
2017 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2016 Chase Elliott

Last Year's Race Winner: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The Likely Suspects: You may want to consult an old priest and a young priest when picking this week. Yup, it's the picking and praying game at Talladega. My focus will be on: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.,
Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, dare I say -- Kyle Busch -- as well as Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman.

My 2 Cents: I'll be going with statistics and past performances and hope that my restrictor-plate go-to guys are carrying their lucky charms. My no-brainer pick this week is Ricky Stenhouse Jr. My next choices are Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Paul Menard, Aric Almirola and Jamie McMurray. I'll complete my team with David Gilliland and Chris Buescher.

Second-Chance Driver: This week's second-look driver is Trevor Bayne. Bayne is a decent restrictor-plate racer, plus he has something to prove this weekend in light of the fact that he'll be sharing a ride with Matt Kenseth starting in Kansas. At Talladega, Bayne has one top five and three top 10s and has led 43 laps in 14 races. Last week's second-look driver, Aric Almirola, finished 17th in Richmond after starting 25th.

My Final Four: Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Jamie McMurray and David Gilliland

Points to Ponder:
  • Richard Childress Racing and Hendrick Motorsports are tied for the most wins at Talladega in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with 12 each. 
  • Nine different manufacturers have won in the MENCS at Talladega, led by Chevrolet with 40 victories, followed by Ford with 26 and Toyota with three.
  • The outside front row starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other starting spot at Talladega.
  • Six active drivers are tied for the second-most poles at Talladega with one each: Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Chase Elliott and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  • Brad Keselowski leads all active MENCS drivers with five wins, followed by Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson with two wins each.
  • Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick lead all active drivers with three runner-ups each.
  • Jamie McMurray leads all active drivers in top fives at Talladega with eight.
  • Kurt Busch leads all active drivers in top 10s at Talladega with 18.
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (nine starts) leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Talladega with a 10.375.
Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 12:35 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, and pick your starters by 2 p.m. EDT on race day, Sunday, April 29.

Enjoy the race! Post your comments here or follow me on Twitter at @purplecatpr. 

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