This week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Talladega for the Aaron’s 499.
The first race on a superspeedway for the Gen-6 car at Daytona was boring. It was like watching a game of follow the leader. Now that teams have had time to figure out the new car, the racing should improve.
Picking the drivers for the Aaron’s 499 is harder than any other race on the schedule. One wreck could take out half of the field, eliminating most of the teams with good cars.
This will be the week to rest some of the drivers you have been using a lot this season. Since being at the right place at the right time determines most races at Talladega, every driver in the field has a legitimate chance of winning.
The strategy for the Fantasy Live game should be to select drivers who will start in the back and have a good chance to finish up front. There are only 188 laps in the race, so leading many laps will not be as important this week. Finishing differential will score you the most points.
This is a unique week in Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing. Since qualifying is not until Saturday morning, fantasy NASCAR players will have the opportunity to see two practices sessions before teams must be selected on Saturday morning.
Here are my picks for the Yahoo! Fantasy Auto Racing game…
It is rare for me to state that any driver in Group A would be a good selection, but it is true. All of the drivers in this group have had success at Talladega and could win the race this week.
The drivers who perform well in practice on Friday will be the drivers to select for your team. Although Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500, I would not suggest using him this week. There are better racetracks to use Johnson.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group A and stats from the NASCAR Media Center based upon the driver’s career stats at Talladega…
Clint Bowyer has figured out how stay out of trouble and finish up front at Talladega. Bowyer has two wins, four top-five finishes and seven top-10 finishes in his 14 career races at Talladega.
In the last four races at Talladega, Bowyer has the third-best driver rating of 100.9, the fifth-best starting average of No. 10 and a series-best average finishing position of No. 8.
Bowyer has finished four of the last five races this season in the top five. Bowyer has an excellent chance to visit Victory Lane on Sunday.
Despite the penalty after the race at Kansas, Matt Kenseth has continued his hot streak. Kenseth won back-to-back poles for the first time in his career. Now he will try to win at a racetrack where he has had a lot of success at.
Kenseth has one win, five top-five finishes and eight top-10 finishes in his 26 career races at Talladega.
In the last four races at Talladega, Kenseth has a series-high 135 laps led, series-best driver rating of 109 and the seventh-best average finishing position of 14.5.
Kenseth is on a hot streak right now, and there is no reason to stop using him for your team.
Other good choices: Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon
The same strategy that was applied in Group A should be used for Group B. If you have been using Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards a lot this season, this will be the week to rest them.
This could be the week to take a chance on Kurt Busch. He has been very good at Talladega in his career. Busch has six top-five finishes and 13 top-10 finishes in his 24 career races at Talladega.
Here are the four drivers I selected for Group B and stats from the NASCAR Media Center based upon their career stats at Talladega…
It is no secret that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is good at Talladega. Many fantasy teams will use him this week. If you want to be different for the other teams in your league, select another driver. I think he is too good to pass up.
Earnhardt has five wins, nine top-five finishes and 13 top-10 finishes in his 26 career races at Talladega.
In the last four races at Talladega, Earnhardt has the sixth-best driver rating, led the fifth most laps and the seventh-best average finishing position of 14.5. He should be able to score his seventh top-10 of the season this week in the Aaron’s 499.
If you are ever going to use Jeff Burton for your team this year, this is the week to do it. This is Burton’s best racetrack.
Burton has five top-five finishes and 16 top-10 finishes in his 38 career races at Talladega. He has finished the last three races at the racetrack in the top 10.
In the last four races at Talladega, Burton has the second-best driver rating of 102.2, the third-best average finishing position of 9.5 and led the sixth-most laps.
Save a start with another driver and use Burton this week for your fantasy team.
Paul Menard is another driver from Richard Childress Racing who is very good at Talladega.
Menard has one top-five finish in his 13 career races at Talladega. He has finished the last four races at Talladega in the top 17.
If Menard has a fast practice speed on Friday, he will be worth using for your team on Sunday.
My last selection is a surprise pick. The Earnhardt Ganassi Racing teams have been improving each week. Jamie McMurray has had success at Talladega in the past and he will again on Sunday.
McMurray has one win, five top-five finishes and six top-10 finishes in his 21 career races at Talladega. His recent stats at the racetrack are not great, but I am ignoring his recent history and going off of how McMurray has been racing recently.
Other good choices: Joey Logano, Greg Biffle, Brian Vickers and Aric Almirola
Sunday’s race at Talladega will provide fantasy NASCAR players many options in Group C. Danica Patrick ran well at Daytona. Michael Waltrip always runs well on superspeedways. Ricky Stenhouse will have Roush-Yates power under the hood. Casey Mears has run well in most of the races this season, and David Gilliland is a nice sleeper pick.
Here are the two drivers I selected for Group C…
The driver to have this week in Group C is Michael Waltrip. He will be driving the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine for Michael Waltrip Racing. His history at the racetrack is unmatched by any other driver in the group.
Waltrip has one win, seven top-five finishes, 15 top-10 finishes and one pole in his 53 career races at Talladega. He should easily finish in the top 20.
This pick makes me nervous. I had to choose between Danica Patrick and Trevor Bayne. Patrick ran so well at Daytona, and that is why she is the selection.
The one thing Patrick is good at is staying in line and not finding trouble. That could be her key to success this week.
Patrick raced in one race in the Nationwide Series at Talladega, but never in the Sprint Cup Series. She started No. 17 and finished No. 13 in the race. She started on the pole and finished No. 8 at Daytona in the Sprint Cup Series.
Try to get four starts out of Patrick this season by using her at all of the superspeedways.
Other good choices: Trevor Bayne, Ricky Stenhouse, Casey Mears and David Gilliland
2012 May Race at Talladega Pole-Sitter: Jeff Gordon 191.623 mph
2012 May Race at Talladega Winner: Brad Keselowski, Started No. 13
2012 October Race at Talladega Pole-Sitter: Kasey Kahne, 191.455 mph
2012 October Race at Talladega Winner: Matt Kenseth, Started No. 15
Most Wins at Talladega, Active Drivers: Jeff Gordon (6), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (5)
Most Poles at Talladega, Active Drivers: Joe Nemecheck (4)
Most Top-five at Talladega, Active Drivers: Jeff Gordon (14)
Most Top-10 at Talladega, Active Drivers: Mark Martin (24)
Worst Starting Spot to Win: Jeff Gordon 2000, Started No. 36
Races Won from the Pole: 13 of 86
Races Won from Top Five: 51 of 86
Races Won from Top 10: 62 of 86
If you need any further advice with your team, look for me on Twitter @MrFantasyNASCAR.
If you like Fantasy NASCAR, LIKE my Fantasy NASCAR Tips Page on Facebook.