NASCAR Picks for Talladega

NASCAR Picks for Talladega

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Track Info:
Length: 2.660 miles
Shape: Tri-oval
Type: Superspeedway
Location: Talladega, Alabama

Break out your lucky charm of choice. The Cup Series is heading to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend, and thanks to the horsepower-robbing restrictor plates used at the track, multi-car wrecks are just waiting to destroy fantasy lineups. Plain and simple: Talladega is on par with Daytona as the biggest fantasy headache on the schedule, and there just isn't a fool proof strategy to handle the chaos that can ensue at the track. That being said, there is nothing wrong with minimizing the potential damage, particularly in leagues that cap the number of times each driver can be used, including Yahoo! leagues.

I highly recommend relying heavily on sleeper options rather than big names. Every driver on the track has an equal chance of getting caught up in a wreck; on the flip side, just about every driver that survives the wrecks has a chance at getting a solid finish. In other words, a lineup of stars and a lineup of underdogs have an equal chance of producing a solid day. With that in mind, there really isn't a big need to risk wasting starts from the top drivers in the series.

1. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., #88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]

Junior snapped his winless drought at the plate tracks with a victory in the Daytona 500 to open the year, and now, he will set his sights on a Talladega track where he finished second last fall. More importantly, he has been the most-consistent performer at the plate tracks dating back to 2012. In nine races during the stretch, his 8.4 average finish is the best in the series, and his 328 points scored are 26 more than any other driver.

2. Matt Kenseth, #20 Husky/Dollar General, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]

He has been pretty stout at the superspeedways in recent years, and his two wins, four top-five finishes and six top-10s at the plate tracks are all tied for the most in the series since 2012. During the stretch, Kenseth ranks second with 302 points scored, and his 506 laps led are by far the most in the series. At Talladega specifically, he has three finishes of eighth or better in the last four races, including a win in the fall of 2012.

3. Kyle Busch, #18 Mars Brands/Interstate Batteries, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]

He is a former winner at Talladega, and Busch has been knocking on the door of another win at the track the past couple of years. In his last four starts at Talladega, Busch has three top-five finishes, including a pair of top-three runs. No driver has more top-five finishes at the track during the stretch.

4. Greg Biffle, #16 3M/Bondo, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]

Although he has never won at Talladega, Biffle has been one of the safer options at the track for a while now. He has nine top-20 finishes in the last 10 races at the track, including five top-15s in the last six races. Biffle also ranks third in the series in points scored at the plate tracks since 2012.

5. Brad Keselowski, #2 Miller Lite, Team Penske [Yahoo Class B]

His 14.2 average finish at Talladega is tied for the best in the series, and in 10 starts at the track, he has seven top-15 finishes, including four in his last five starts. More importantly, he has six finishes of eighth or better, including a pair of wins. Not to mention that since 2012, he ranks fourth in the series in points scored at the plate tracks.

6. Kevin Harvick, #4 Budweiser/Jimmy Johns, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class A]

Harvick has actually been in a bit of a slump at Daytona, but he has still been pretty solid at Talladega. He has five top-12s in his last eight starts at the track; and during the stretch, he has three top-five finishes, including a win. Harvick is still one of the best in the business at plate tracks.

7. David Ragan, #34 CSX Transportation/Peanut Patch, Front Row Motorsports [Yahoo Class B]

He is a fantasy afterthought most weeks, but there is no denying that Ragan has been a stud at Talladega. His 14.2 average finish at the track is tied for best in the series, and he has been even better since joining Front Row Motorsports in 2012. Not only is he the defending winner of this weekend's race, but he has finished seventh or better in all four starts at the track for FRM.

8. Carl Edwards, #99 Fastenal/Aflac/UPS/Subway, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]

Edwards is still looking for his first plate track victory, but he has been pretty reliable at Talladega. He has finished 17th or better in seven of his last nine starts at the track, and in his last eight starts, he has four finishes of 11th or better -- including a third-place run last spring.

9. Jimmie Johnson, #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]

While he has been a little erratic at Talladega during his career, Johnson is a two-time winner at the track. Meanwhile, he has been on an absolute tear at the plate tracks recently. In the last five plate races, Johnson has compiled a 5.0 average finish, picking up a pair of wins at Daytona and finishes of 13th and fifth at Talladega.

10. Clint Bowyer, #15 5-Hour Energy, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class A]

Bowyer has been enjoying a strong stretch at Talladega; in the last eight races at the track, he has six top-10s, including two wins and a second-place finish. Granted, both of Bowyer's victories at Talladega came while he was driving for Richard Childress Racing, but he has still managed a pair of top-10s in four starts since joining Michael Waltrip Racing.

11. Jeff Gordon, #24 Drive to End Hunger/Axalta, Hendrick Motorsports [Yahoo Class A]

Although he hasn't won at Talladega since sweeping both races in 2007, Gordon has enjoyed a nice run at the track recently. In his last seven starts at Talladega, he has five top-15 finishes, including three straight. In fact, Gordon has a 9.0 average finish in his last three starts at the track.

12. Jamie McMurray, #1 McDonald's/Cessna, Chip Ganassi Racing [Yahoo Class B]

He is notoriously boom or bust at the plate tracks, but there is no denying that McMurray knows how to seal the deal. After all, he won at Talladega last fall, giving him his second win at the track and his fourth plate track win overall. Granted, consistency has never been his strong suit, but his upside is worth gambling on.