Fantays NASCAR rankings: Good Sam Club 500

by Brian Polking on October 22, 2011 @ 16:40:19 PDT


Kevin Harvick

Earlier this year, the Hendrick Motorsports drivers dominated in qualifying at Talladega, sweeping the first two rows. They followed it up by all finishing in the top eight spots, with Jimmie Johnson earning a trip to Victory Lane. Well, they slacked off a bit in qualifying for the fall race at the track, but not much. Led by a pole run by Mark Martin and second-place effort from Johnson, all four HMS drivers will start inside the top eight Sunday. If they can deliver a similar performance on race day, they will be fantasy heroes at one of NASCAR's most unpredictable tracks.

Of course, Johnson and company aren't the only intriguing options starting near the front of the field. Defending race winner Clint Bowyer will roll off third, coming off a second-place finish at Talladega in the spring. Sleeper specials Trevor Bayne and David Ragan will start inside the top 10 as well, and both drivers have won a restrictor-plate race in 2011. Not to mention the fact that the top three drivers in points all qualified in the top 15.

While there are plenty of strong options starting near the front, Talladega is one track where a bad qualifying run doesn't doom a driver's chances. All three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers will start outside the top 30, but all three drivers are capable of making a run to the front. All three Michael Waltrip Racing cars will start outside the top 20, but the organization has been running well at Talladega the last two years.

Driver Car No. Make Sponsor Team Starting Pos
Kevin Harvick 29 Chevrolet Budweiser Richard Childress Racing 13
Clint Bowyer 33 Chevrolet Cheerios Richard Childress Racing 3
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 88 Chevrolet Mountain Dew AMP Energy Hendrick Motorsports 6
Jimmie Johnson 48 Chevrolet Lowe's Home Improvement Hendrick Motorsports 2
Kurt Busch 22 Dodge Shell/Pennzoil Penske Championship Racing 14
Jeff Gordon 24 Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger Hendrick Motorsports 5
Carl Edwards 99 Ford Aflac Roush Fenway Racing 9
Tony Stewart 14 Chevrolet Office Depot Stewart-Haas Racing 12
Juan Pablo Montoya 42 Chevrolet Target Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing 15
Mark Martin 5 Chevrolet Hendrick Motorsports 1
Greg Biffle 16 Ford 3M Roush Fenway Racing 18
Joey Logano 20 Toyota Home Depot Joe Gibbs Racing 35
Kyle Busch 18 Toyota M&M's Joe Gibbs Racing 34
Brad Keselowski 2 Dodge Miller Lite Penske Championship Racing 16
Denny Hamlin 11 Toyota FedEx Joe Gibbs Racing 31
David Ragan 6 Ford UPS Roush Fenway Racing 8
Paul Menard 27 Chevrolet Menard's Richard Childress Racing 7
Matt Kenseth 17 Ford Crown Royal Roush Fenway Racing 11
Jamie McMurray 1 Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing 39
David Reutimann 00 Toyota Aaron's Michael Waltrip Racing 36
Martin Truex Jr. 56 Toyota NAPA Michael Waltrip Racing 37
Regan Smith 78 Chevrolet Furniture Row Furniture Row Racing 22
Trevor Bayne 21 Ford Motorcraft Wood Brothers Racing 4
A.J. Allmendinger 43 Ford Best Buy Richard Petty Motorsports 24
Ryan Newman 39 Chevrolet U.S. Army Stewart-Haas Racing 10
Kasey Kahne 4 Toyota Red Bull Red Bull Racing 26
Jeff Burton 31 Chevrolet Caterpillar Richard Childress Racing 25
Brian Vickers 83 Toyota Red Bull Red Bull Racing 30
Marcos Ambrose 9 Ford Stanley Black & Decker Richard Petty Motorsports 19
Michael Waltrip 15 Toyota Aaron's Michael Waltrip Racing 23
Robby Gordon 7 Dodge SPEED Energy Robby Gordon Motorsports 43
Bobby Labonte 47 Toyota Bush's Baked Beans JTG Daugherty Racing 21
David Gilliland 34 Ford Taco Bell Front Row Motorsports 40
Casey Mears 13 Toyota GEICO Germain Racing 42
Terry Labonte 32 Ford U.S. Chrome FAS Lane Racing 32
Landon Cassill 51 Chevrolet Phoenix Construction Phoenix Racing 38
Dave Blaney 36 Chevrolet Golden Corral Tommy Baldwin Racing 41
J.J. Yeley 38 Ford Long John Silver's Front Row Motorsports 28
Travis Kvapil 55 Ford Front Row Motorsports Front Row Motorsports 17
Andy Lally 71 Ford TRG Motorsports TRG Motorsports 33
Kevin Conway 97 Toyota Extenze NEMCO Motorsports 20
Michael McDowell 66 Toyota James Fund HP Racing 29
Joe Nemechek 87 Toyota NEMCO Motorsports NEMCO Motorsports 27
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About Brian Polking

Racing has been part of Brian's life ever since he can remember, and he spent his childhood at dirt tracks throughout Ohio and Kentucky watching his father race. NASCAR naturally became his favorite sport, and he has been following the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series for most of his life. Brian majored in journalism and economics at Ohio State University and becoming a sports writer has always been his dream. Although he has covered everything from minor league baseball to the NCAA tournament, his passion has always been NASCAR. Brian has served as a NASCAR writer for a variety of sites, eventually becoming head editor of the NASCAR section for His knowledge of NASCAR comes from his life-long love of racing, and he tries to add a personal touch to every article he writes. Brian is always up for talking NASCAR with anyone that wants to. Brian joined KFFL's team in 2011.

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