Earlier this year, the Hendrick Motorsports drivers dominated in qualifying at Talladega, sweeping the first two rows. They followed it up by all finishing in the top eight spots, with Jimmie Johnson earning a trip to Victory Lane. Well, they slacked off a bit in qualifying for the fall race at the track, but not much. Led by a pole run by Mark Martin and second-place effort from Johnson, all four HMS drivers will start inside the top eight Sunday. If they can deliver a similar performance on race day, they will be fantasy heroes at one of NASCAR's most unpredictable tracks.
Of course, Johnson and company aren't the only intriguing options starting near the front of the field. Defending race winner Clint Bowyer will roll off third, coming off a second-place finish at Talladega in the spring. Sleeper specials Trevor Bayne and David Ragan will start inside the top 10 as well, and both drivers have won a restrictor-plate race in 2011. Not to mention the fact that the top three drivers in points all qualified in the top 15.
While there are plenty of strong options starting near the front, Talladega is one track where a bad qualifying run doesn't doom a driver's chances. All three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers will start outside the top 30, but all three drivers are capable of making a run to the front. All three Michael Waltrip Racing cars will start outside the top 20, but the organization has been running well at Talladega the last two years.
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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