Picking a fantasy lineup for Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway is definitely an inexact science. After all, a big wreck is always looming, and the running order can be dramatically altered in the matter of seconds as one wrong move by one driver becomes a huge problem for the rest of the field. Deciding which drivers to trust got even trickier this weekend when rain washed out qualifying, leaving only a pair of practice sessions Friday to fall back on for information.
With that in mind, Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. jump up into the top two spots in the final rankings after both drivers posted solid practice times in each of Friday's sessions. Of course, Johnson's value isn't hurt by the fact that he has already enjoyed an incredible season at the restrictor-plate tracks, sweeping both races at Daytona and finishing fifth at Talladega in the spring. Meanwhile, Junior has compiled a series-leading 10.4 average finish at plate tracks since the start of last season. The duo has also combined for seven career wins at Talladega.
Greg Biffle also moves up in the final driver rankings, and after a solid showing in practice Friday, he claims the final spot in the top five. In addition to showing plenty of speed this weekend, Biffle ranks fourth in the series in points scored at plate tracks dating back to the start of last season. At Talladega, he has four top-15s in his last five starts at the track and has finished seventh or better three times during the stretch. Fantasy owners should strongly consider making room on their rosters for Biffle this weekend.
Another big mover in the final rankings is Martin Truex Jr., and he vaults into the top 10 after being one of the fastest cars in practice Friday. Truex has also been quietly effective at Talladega in recent years. In his last seven starts at the track, he has six top-15 finishes, including two straight. With a car that appears more than capable of finishing near the front again, he could definitely be an asset to fantasy teams this weekend.
David Ragan could also be an asset to fantasy teams for Sunday's race, and after showing plenty of muscle in practice Friday, he retains his spot in the top 10 of the driver rankings. Don't forget, he won the spring race at Talladega earlier this year and has compiled a 4.0 average finish in three starts at the track since joining Front Row Motorsports in 2012. Ragan is an afterthought for fantasy owners most weeks, but he deserves to be treated like a top option at Talladega.
While he doesn't quite make the top 10 in the final rankings, Carl Edwards does move up several spots heading into Sunday's race. He was a top-five driver in practice Friday and will start in the top five by virtue of the rainout procedure. Meanwhile, he has been reliable at Talladega for the last several years, collecting five top-15 finishes in his last eight starts at the track, including a third-place finish earlier this year.
Fantasy owners looking for a sleeper pick this weekend may want to take a chance on Aric Almirola. He sneaks into the top 20 in the final rankings, and thanks to the rainout procedure for qualifying, he will start on the pole for Sunday's race. Meanwhile, he has reeled off five straight top-20 finishes at Talladega, including a 10th-place finish in the spring race earlier this year.
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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