NASCAR Picks for Talladega
Paul Menard, #27 Menards, Richard Childress Racing [Yahoo Class B]
While Daytona may be his better superspeedway, Menard has made some noise at Talladega, as well. In his last 10 starts at the track, he has cracked the top 20 seven times and has finished in the top 15 in six of his starts. Throw in the fact that Menard hasn't finished worse than 21st all year, and he should make a solid addition to fantasy rosters this weekend.
Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx, Joe Gibbs Racing [Yahoo Class A]
Although it is doubtful that Hamlin will run the entire race Sunday, the current plan is for him to start the race so that he can collect the points. The situation is obviously less than ideal, but at Talladega, he should be able to ride around at the back out of harm's way. More importantly, a driver change should be easily made under caution without the No. 11 losing lap. Throw in the fact that Hamlin will likely be giving way to a former Talladega winner in Brian Vickers, and the Hamlin/Vickers combo could be useful fantasy option, albeit a complicated one.
Martin Truex, Jr., #56 NAPA Auto Parts, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class B]
His 22.9 average finish at Talladega isn't great, but his career totals are a bit misleading. After all, Truex has cracked the top 15 in five of his last six starts at the track. During the stretch, he has compiled a 13.7 average finish, and while a top-five run seems unlikely, a top-15 has been the norm lately.
Joey Logano, #22 Shell-Pennzoil, Penske Racing [Yahoo Class B]
There hasn't been much middle ground for Logano at Talladega. In eight starts, he has finished in the top 10 four times, but he has also finished 24th or worse four times. Fantasy owners are basically flipping a coin if they use Logano this weekend, but the potential payoff is a top-10.
Kurt Busch, #78 Furniture Row, Furniture Row Racing [Yahoo Class B]
He hasn't had the best of luck at Talladega recently, finishing outside the top 15 in his last five starts at the track. That being said, Busch has had a lot of success at plate tracks throughout his career, and he once reeled off seven straight top-10s from the fall of 2004 through the spring of 2007. He could make a solid sleeper pick if he can recapture his old Talladega magic.
David Ragan, #34 CSX Transportation/Peanut Patch, Front Row Motorsports [Yahoo Class C]
If you need proof that restrictor plates level the playing field, look no further than Ragan. He had a miserable year in 2012 in his first season with Front Row Motorsports, but he managed to finish seventh and fourth in his two starts at Talladega. For his career, Ragan has a 16.0 average finish at the track, which actually ranks third among drivers since the start of the 2003 season. If you play in a league where you have to use a different driver for all 36 races, this is an opportunity to use Ragan.
Jamie McMurray, #1 McDonald's/Cessna, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing [Yahoo Class B]
McMurray is a boom or bust option this weekend, but his upside is intriguing. He has a 19.8 average finish at Talladega, but he also has five top-five finishes at the track, including a victory. Not to mention the fact that three of his six career wins have come at superspeedways. McMurray is far from a consistent option, but there is always a chance he could end up in Victory Lane.
Carl Edwards, #99 Fastenal/Aflac/UPS/Subway, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class B]
Although he is still looking for his first superspeedway win, Edwards has molded himself into a decent plate track driver. He has finished in the top 15 in four of his last seven starts at the track, but on the flip side, he doesn't have a top-10 during the stretch. Fantasy owners probably won't want to waste a start from Edwards if they have other options, but he has been able to salvage decent finishes at Talladega lately.
Danica Patrick, #10 GoDaddy.com, Stewart-Haas Racing [Yahoo Class C]
After her strong showing in the Daytona 500, Patrick definitely has some sleeper value this weekend. Stewart-Haas Racing showed plenty of muscle in the season opener, and even a small edge can have a major impact at a plate track. If Patrick is able to start up front again, another top-10 or top-15 finish could be in the cards.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., #17 Best Buy/Valvoline/Zest, Roush Fenway Racing [Yahoo Class C]
The sample size is small, but Stenhouse held his own in the season opener at Daytona, finishing 12th. The fact that Roush Fenway Racing has enjoyed a lot of success at the superspeedways in recent years helps his learning curve, but while he certainly has some potential, fantasy owners probably don't want to pencil him in for a top-15 just yet.
Michael Waltrip, #55 Aaron's Dream Machine, Michael Waltrip Racing [Yahoo Class C]
Waltrip may not be the same driver that was winning superspeedway races on a regular basis, but he still has some fantasy value. After all, he has two top-20 finishes in his last three starts at the track, and in the other start, he was attempting a pass for the lead before Tony Stewart drove across his front bumper. Despite the silly commercials and often-biased announcing, Waltrip is legit sleeper option this weekend.
Juan Montoya, #42 Target, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing [Yahoo Class B]
His results at Talladega the last two years have been ugly, including three finishes outside the top 30. That being said, Montoya does have three finishes of third or better at the track, and his confidence has to be high on the heels of a top-five run at Richmond last weekend. His upside isn't as high as some of the other boom or bust options, but he could have one of his better runs of 2013 this weekend.
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