Thursday, October 11, 2018

NASCAR Fantasy Fusion: Talladega Playoff Race


by Carol D'Agostino

Drivers with Most Top 10s (Last 5 Years):
By Race
All with 3 - Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski
Both with 2 -Kevin Harvick and Paul Menard

By Track
All with 5 - Kurt Busch, Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Brad Keselowski
Both with 4  - Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman

Recent Pole Winners: 
2017 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
2016 Martin Truex Jr.
2015 Jeff Gordon

Last Year's Race Winner: Brad Keselowski

The Likely Suspects: Fantasy picking for Talladega is not for the faint of heart. Certain drivers thrive at this fast track though. This will be the last time we'll be able to refer to Talladega as a restrictor plate track as the restrictor-plate will be replaced by a tapered spacer in 2019. For the last hoorah for restrictor plates, look for these drivers to perform well: Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard, David Ragan, Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray.

My 2 Cents: My no-brainer picks this week are the Team Penske crew Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Paul Menard. My next picks are Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chase Elliott and and Ryan Newman. I will round out my team with David Ragan and Bubba Wallace.

My Final Four: Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ryan Newman and David Ragan

Second-Look Driver: This week's second-look driver is Landon Cassill. Cassill has proven to be quite capable at Talladega, finishing in the top 11 in three of the last eight races here. Last week's second-look driver, Jimmie Johnson, had a dismal day at Dover which started during the prerace parade laps when the No. 48 experienced a lower ball joint failure sending him to the garage. Later in the race he got a pit road penalty and finished 36th, 17 laps down.

Points to Ponder:
  • A total of 10 different drivers have won the Talladega Playoff races, led by Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray and Joey Logano with two wins each.  
  • Four active drivers are tied for the third-most poles at Talladega with one each – Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  • 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. 
  • Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray lead all active drivers in top fives at Talladega with eight each. 
  • Kurt Busch leads all active drivers in top 10s at Talladega with 19.
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (11 starts) leads all active drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in average finishing position at Talladega with an 11.400.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in laps led at Talladega with 470 in 32 starts.
    Remember, if you're playing Driver Group Game, make your picks by 8 a.m. EDT on Saturday, October 13th and your final picks by 2 p.m. EDT on race day Sunday, October 14th.

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

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