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ADAM ANSELL'S TOP 25 FOR TALLADEGA
1. Kevin Harvick: In 19 starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Harvick has one win (April 2010), four Top Fives, eight Top 10s and one pole (May 2005). He's the only Chase driver to have finished every race he's started at Talladega. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, he ranks 18th in Driver Rating (75.3) and 17th in Average Running Position (19.0). Loop Data can't be taken too seriously at Talladega, as Harvick posted a mediocre 81.5 DR and 21.7 ARP in his April win. Overall, he's been absolutely sensational in restrictor plate races this season, with two wins (Talladega, July event at Daytona), three Top 10s and an Average Finish/Start of third. He's led at least two laps in each of those events. Being 62 points behind the Chase leader, Talladega represents Harvick's best chance to make up ground in his quest for the Sprint Cup championship. He's the top start in all formats.
2. Jamie McMurray: In 16 starts at the site, he has one win (November 2009), five Top Fives and six Top 10s. He finished second at Talladega in the April event, and won at Daytona to open the season. He ranks 10th in DR (84.4) and 18th in ARP (19.2). McMurray has an Average Finish of 9.3 over his last six Cup races, leading at least seven laps in four of those six events. The bitter taste of narrowly missing the Chase is still lingering in McMurray's mouth, and he's out to prove he belongs. His ownership is lower than it should be, and he'll come at an excellent value this weekend. He needs to be in all Tiered/Grouping format lineups.
3. Kyle Busch: In 11 starts at the site, Busch has one win (April 2008) and two Top 10s. The numbers are a bit skewed as Busch's best finish in his first six starts (2005-07) at Talladega was 11th with four DNFs. In the five events since April 2008, he's led at least four laps with an Average Finish of 13th. He's led at least three laps in all three plate races this season. Busch ranks 16th in DR (79.7) and ARP (18.7). Busch has two Top Fives and an Average Finish of third in his past two Chase events. He's not going down without a fight, and he'll continue his Top Five streak at Talladega.
4. Denny Hamlin: In nine starts at Talladega, Hamlin has three Top Fives, including a fourth-place result in the April event at the site. He's led at least one lap in all nine career starts at the site. Hamlin leads all competitors in DR (95.9) and in ARP (13.8). He does have two DNFs in his last four starts at Talladega, but predicting who will and who won't get caught up in "The Big One" is impossible. Like Harvick, Talladega represents Hamlin's best chance to separate himself from the points leader and take control of the Chase. He'll come at an excellent value in Tiered/Grouping formats, and will be a major Fantasy factor this weekend.
5. Jimmie Johnson: In 17 starts at the site, Johnson has one win (May 2006), four Top Fives, seven Top 10s and one pole. He's led at least one lap in 15 of his 17 career starts at Talladega. He ranks 11th in DR (83.6) and 10th in ARP (16.8). Johnson does have two DNFs in his last three starts at the site, although both came in the April events. No one has a bigger target on his back than Johnson, so it'll be interesting to see who's willing to push him to the front this weekend. If Johnson can cash in a Top Five at Talladega, the Chase is his. For those of you who are sick of seeing Johnson win just about everything, prepare for some déjà vu.
6. Tony Stewart: In 23 starts at the site, Stewart has one win (October 2008), nine Top Fives and 12 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 14.8. He ranks fifth in DR (89.0) and in ARP (14.6). He's led at least one lap in 12 of 13 starts at the site. In the four events from October 2004 to May 2006, Smoke collected three Top Fives and four Top 10s. That kind of consistency is difficult to come by at restrictor plate races making Stewart one of the safest Fantasy starts on the board.
7. Jeff Burton: In 33 starts at the site, Burton has four Top Fives and 13 Top 10s. In his last five Talladega starts, he has two Top Fives, three Top 10s and has led at least one lap in each event. He ranks sixth in DR (87.1) and 12th in ARP (17.1). Burton finished in the Top 10 last week at Martinsville for the first time in four races. It's been the same story with him all season. He runs strong then collapses down the stretch. Burton's not going to win the Sprint Cup championship, but he will be a Fantasy factor for the final month of the season. Fantasy owners should start him with confidence.
8. Joey Logano: In three starts at Talladega, Logano has one Top Five and two Top 10s. He's led at least one lap in all three events. He ranks eighth in DR (85.3) and second in ARP (13.9). Logano has an Average Finish of eighth in his past three Chase events and is being overlooked in Tiered/Grouping formats. Savvy Fantasy owners will take note of the recent trends, plug him into their lineups and watch him pay dividends. Logano's a lock to lead at least one lap and will finish in the Top 10.
9. David Ragan: Plenty of drivers are going to lead laps, as evidenced by the record 29 race leaders in the April event. This is one of the few races where laps led are not at a premium. Rather, Top 10 finishes are the only currency Fantasy owners should be trading in this weekend. Ragan has two Top Fives and three Top 10s in his last five starts at the site, with an Average Finish of 8.4 in that span. He ranks third in DR (92.5) and sixth in ARP (15.2). He's a super sleeper that will come at an incredible value. Fantasy owners that need to make a serious comeback have to go with Ragan this weekend.
10. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: He finally showed some signs of life with a seventh-place finish at Martinsville last weekend. In 21 starts at Talladega, he has five wins, eight Top Fives and 11 Top 10s. He won four straight from October 2001 to April 2003. From October 2001-04, he won five of seven Talladega events and finished second in the other two races. He's led at least three laps in 19 of 21 starts at the site. He ranks second in DR (93.3) and third in ARP (14.0). Earnhardt Jr. has been off the Fantasy radar since the summer, but is always a factor in plate races and makes for a quality start in all formats this weekend.
11. Clint Bowyer: One Top Five and three Top 10s in nine starts at the site. 64.3 DR.
12. Jeff Gordon: Six wins, 13 Top Fives, 16 Top 10s and one pole in 25 starts at the site. 86.0 DR.
13. Juan Pablo Montoya: Two Top Fives and one pole (April 2009) in his last five starts at the site. 82.5 DR.
14. Carl Edwards: One Top Five and three Top 10s in 12 starts at the site. 67.4 DR.
15. Kurt Busch: Six Top Fives and 13 Top 10s in 19 starts at the site. 85.0 DR.
16. Mark Martin: 64.7 DR.
17. David Reutimann: 66.2.
18. Brad Keselowski: 81.8.
19. Greg Biffle: 68.9.
20. Ryan Newman: 76.6.
21. Elliott Sadler
22. AJ Allmendinger
23. Paul Menard
24. Scott Speed
25. Michael Waltrip
Wanna talk some track? E-mail Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen to RotoRacing and get up to speed on everything Fantasy NASCAR. Click here for upcoming show times.
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