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Fantasy NASCAR rankings: Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500

By Brian Polking

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
While the pack racing produced by restrictor plates makes qualifying somewhat obsolete, recent history says that winning at Talladega starts with a decent effort in qualifying. Five straight races at the track have been won by drivers starting in the top 15, and four races during the stretch have been won by drivers starting on the first two rows. That's not to say a driver starting back in the pack can't get toward the front, but a driver's chances of getting to Victory Lane are definitely helped by a strong qualifying effort.

The trend is good news for pole-sitter Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer and Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart. These four drivers will make up the first two rows when the field takes the green Sunday, and of the four, Bowyer and Kahne should be the two drivers that fantasy owners target. Bowyer has been an absolute stud at Talladega. He has won the last two fall races at the track and has finished in 12th or better in nine of his last 10 starts at the track, including six straight. Meanwhile, Kahne has back-to-back top-10s at Talladega and has finished as high as second on two different occasions.

Other drivers starting near the front that deserve consideration from fantasy owners this weekend include Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon. Biffle will roll off fifth, and he has finished in the top five in two of the three plate races in 2012. The only plate race he didn't finish in the top five was the July race at Daytona when he was wrecked while running second on the final lap. Gordon, on the other hand, has momentum on his side. He has finished third or better in five of the last six races leading up to Talladega, and at an unpredictable track, there is nothing wrong with playing the hot hand.

Owners looking for some sleeper starting up front should take a chance on Trevor Bayne and Michael Waltrip. The two will start eighth and 11th, respectively, and both have finished in the top 20 in their last two starts at the Talladega. Waltrip actually finished in the top 10 at Talladega last fall, and Bayne did the same earlier this year. Both drivers are former plate tracks winner, as well, and could deliver some big time results on Sunday.

Last but not least, fantasy owners need to remember not to write off any drivers with a history of success at Talladega that might have struggled in qualifying. Yes, recent history says the eventual winner will probably start up front, but the top 10 will be filled with drivers that started up front, toward the back and everywhere in between. As long as your lineup of drivers avoids the big wrecks, you are going to be in good shape.

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

 



 


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