Complete Preview of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Talladega

Chad Robb@@MrFantasyNASCARCorrespondent IMay 2, 2013

May 6, 2012; Talladega, AL, USA; A general view as NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars race by an American Flag at the beginning of the Aarons 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will race at Talladega Superspeedway this week in the Aaron’s 499.

This will be the second race for the Gen-6 car on a superspeedway. The race at Daytona became a game of follow the leader. Now that teams have had 10 weeks to figure out the new car, the racing should improve.

Whenever the series races at Talladega, the question is not will the big wreck occur, but when will the big wreck occur. The best way to win at Talladega is to be at the right place at the right time. Drivers who can avoid the big wreck will finish up front on Sunday.

This is one of the only races on the schedule where every driver in the field has a legitimate chance of winning the race. If you like watching cars getting crashed, the Aaron’s 499 is the race for you.

Sprint Cup teams will qualify for the Aaron’s 499 Saturday at 12:00 p.m. ET.

Coverage of the race can be seen Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET on Fox.

Best Chance to Win

Clint Bowyer has a great record at Talladega. He has two wins and has finished half of the races he started at the racetrack in the top 10.

Bowyer’s recent history at Talladega is unmatched. In the last four races at Talladega, Bowyer has a series-best average finishing position of eighth, led the second-most laps and the has the third-best driver rating of 100.9.

When most people think of Matt Kenseth, they think of him dominating on the 1.5-mile racetracks. He is also very good at the superspeedways.

Kenseth has a series-best average running position of 14.8, a series-high 1,918 laps run in the top 15, the third-most quality passes with 3,838 and the third-best driver rating of 88.9.

Kenseth has two Daytona 500 wins and one win at Talladega. He has a good chance to pick up another win on Sunday.

Jimmie Johnson is off to a hot start in 2013. He won the Daytona 500 and has a great chance to win again on Sunday. The last time Johnson won the Daytona 500, he won the next race at Talladega.

He has not had a lot of recent success at the racetrack, but the No. 48 team has figured out the Gen-6 car faster than other teams in the garage. Johnson will finish in the top 10 on Sunday.

Sleepers to Watch

Jeff Burton will quietly be the best driver in the field on Sunday. History suggests he will not start up front in the Aaron’s 499, but he will finish up front in the race.

Burton has a series-high 6.338 green-flag passes, a series-best average green-flag speed of 192.727 mph, a series-high 4,327 quality passes and the series-best driver rating of 91.4.

Richard Childress Racing has won more races at Talladega than any other owner. Burton has a good chance to win on Sunday.

Regan Smith nearly won the race at Talladega in 2008. He passed Tony Stewart for the lead on the last lap to win the race, but NASCAR determined Smith passed Stewart below the yellow line. Smith was black-flagged and finished the race No. 18.

Smith has always been good at Talladega. He finished the last race at the racetrack in fifth place. Do not be surprised to see the No. 51 Phoenix Racing car up front on Sunday.

Kurt Busch has never won a race at Talladega, but he usually finishes up front.

Busch has the third-best average running position of 15.4, the second-most green-flag passes with 5,481, the second-most laps run in the top 15 with 1,856 and the fifth-best driver rating of 86.1. Busch is exceeding expectations this season and may steal a victory on Sunday.

Top 12 Drivers Rating at Talladega

Jeff Burton 91.4

Dale Earnhardt Jr 89.6

Matt Kenseth 88.9

Brian Vickers 87.3

Kurt Busch 86.1

Brad Keselowski 85.6

David Ragan 85.5

Denny Hamlin 84.9

Tony Stewart 83.5

Jeff Gordon 83.1

Jamie McMurray 81.7

Kyle Busch 81.1

Talladega Facts

Most Wins by Active Driver: Jeff Gordon (6)

Most Poles by Active Driver: Joe Nemecheck (4)

Worst Starting Spot to Win: Jeff Gordon, April 2000, started 36th

Best Driver Rating by Active Driver: Jeff Burton 91.4

Best Average Starting Position by Active Driver: Jimmie Johnson with a 10.18

Best Average Finishing Position Active Driver: Brad Keselowski with a 12.25

Most Laps Led by Active Driver: Jeff Gordon with 839

Most Wins by NASCAR Team: Richard Childress Racing (12)

Most Wins by Manufacturer: Chevrolet (38)

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