Fantasy NASCAR rankings: Aaron's 499

by Brian Polking on May 5, 2012 @ 15:20:44 PDT

 


Dale Earnhardt Jr.

With all the lead changes and pack racing that occur on at Talladega, it is easy to assume that qualifying doesn't matter all that much. Yes, drivers can move from the back to the front in a matter of laps, making track position less important than at any other track. However, there has been a correlation to starting up front and getting Victory Lane, especially in recent years. Four straight winners have started in the first two rows, and seven of the last 10 Talladega winners have started inside the top 10. Go back 20 years, and only three winners have started outside the top 20. Still think qualifying doesn't matter?

The trend is great news for Jeff Gordon, who grabbed the pole for Sunday's Aaron's 499. He finished third at Talladega last spring, and he is a six-time winner at the track in his career. Gordon has won four times at Talladega since 2004, and for the record, he is the last driver to win at the track from the pole. He could desperately use a win to jumpstart his lackluster 2012 campaign, and the numbers certainly seem to be on his side.

While Gordon looks like one of the more attractive fantasy options, Richard Petty Motorsports teammate Marcos Ambrose and Aric Almirola are two of the more intriguing drivers. The duo has been inconsistent all season, but both qualified in the top five for Sunday's race. If they can stay hooked up and put of trouble, RPM could be in for its best showing of the year. Other drivers starting in the top 10 worth consideration include all three Roush Fenway racing drivers, along with Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne.

Outside of the RPM drivers, the sleeper pick could be Michael Waltrip. The former Talladega winner qualified ninth, which happens to be where he finished the fall race at the track last season. With all four of his career Cup wins coming at plate tracks, the semi-retired driver is more than capable of one more solid showing at NASCAR's biggest track.

In general, fantasy owners should be prepared for a rough afternoon at Talladega. In addition to the constant threat of the Big One, the high temperatures that are expected are poised to wreak havoc. Overheating and engine issues are a big concern, and if drivers continue to use the tandem draft technique, the problem is only going to get worse. Between engine failures and multi-car wrecks, fantasy owners are going to be lucky if their entire lineup survives.

Rk
Driver
Car No.
Make Sponsor Team
Starting Pos
1
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
88
Chevrolet Mountain Dew AMP Energy Hendrick Motorsports
18
2
Jeff Gordon
24
Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger Hendrick Motorsports
1
3
Kevin Harvick
29
Chevrolet Budweiser Richard Childress Racing
20
4
Greg Biffle
16
Ford 3M Roush Fenway Racing
7
5
Jimmie Johnson
48
Chevrolet Lowe's Home Improvement Hendrick Motorsports
19
6
Carl Edwards
99
Ford Subway Roush Fenway Racing
6
7
Clint Bowyer
15
Toyota 5 Hour Energy Michael Waltrip Racing
24
8
Brad Keselowski
2
Dodge Miller Lite Penske Championship Racing
13
9
Kasey Kahne
5
Chevrolet Farmers Insurance Hendrick Motorsports
5
10
Tony Stewart
14
Chevrolet Office Depot Stewart-Haas Racing
8
11
Martin Truex Jr.
56
Toyota NAPA Auto Parts Michael Waltrip Racing
16
12
Denny Hamlin
11
Toyota FedEx Joe Gibbs Racing
22
13
Paul Menard
27
Chevrolet Menard's Richard Childress Racing
17
14
Matt Kenseth
17
Ford Best Buy Roush Fenway Racing
10
15
Kyle Busch
18
Toyota M&M's Joe Gibbs Racing
21
16
Michael Waltrip
55
Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine Michael Waltrip Racing
9
17
Joey Logano
20
Toyota Home Depot Joe Gibbs Racing
30
18
Kurt Busch
51
Chevrolet Tag Heuer Phoenix Racing
33
19
Juan Pablo Montoya
42
Chevrolet Clorox Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing
12
20
Aric Almirola
43
Ford Medallion Financial Richard Petty Motorsports
4
21
Marcos Ambrose
9
Ford Stanley Black & Decker Richard Petty Motorsports
3
22
Jeff Burton
31
Chevrolet Caterpillar Richard Childress Racing
29
23
Jamie McMurray
1
Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing
23
24
Ryan Newman
39
Chevrolet U.S. Army Stewart-Haas Racing
14
25
Trevor Bayne
21
Ford Motorcraft Wood Brothers Racing
11
26
David Reutimann
10
Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing Tommy Baldwin Racing
34
27
Regan Smith
78
Chevrolet Furniture Row Furniture Row Racing
31
28
A.J. Allmendinger
22
Dodge Shell/Pennzoil Penske Championship Racing
2
29
Dave Blaney
36
Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing Tommy Baldwin Racing
38
30
David Ragan
34
Ford Scorpion Truck Bed Liners Front Row Motorsports
32
31
David Gilliland
38
Ford MHP Front Row Motorsports
26
32
Tony Raines
33
Chevrolet LittleJoesAutos.com Richard Childress Racing
43
33
Bobby Labonte
47
Toyota Kingsford JTG Daugherty Racing
42
34
Terry Labonte
32
Ford Jani-King FAS Lane Racing
28
35
Casey Mears
13
Ford GEICO Germain Racing
25
36
Landon Cassill
83
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
40
37
David Stremme
30
Toyota Inception Motorsports Inception Motorsports
27
38
Travis Kvapil
93
Toyota Burger King BK Racing
41
39
Bill Elliott
97
Toyota TBD NEMCO Motorsports
36
40
Josh Wise
26
Ford Morristown Driver's Service Front Row Motorsports
15
41
Robert Richardson Jr.
23
Ford North Texas Pipe R3 Motorsports
39
42
Michael McDowell
98
Ford Curb Records Phil Parsons Racing
35
43
Joe Nemechek
87
Toyota AM/FM Energy NEMCO Motorsports
37
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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 Fanball.com. 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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