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Fantasy NASCAR: The Aaron’s 499

ADAM ANSELL’S TOP 25 FOR TALLADEGA:

1. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer finished second at Richmond, leading a season-high 113 laps. In 14 starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Bowyer has two wins (2010, 2011), four Top 5s and seven Top 10s with an Average Finish of 16.1. He’s led at least eight laps in four of his last five starts. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Bowyer ranks 17th in Driver Rating (79.0) and 27th in Average Running Position (21.5). He’s posted four Top 5s in his last six Cup starts and is excellent at restrictor plate tracks. Fantasy owners need to ride Bowyer’s hot streak out in all formats.

2. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth led 140 laps from the pole at RIR but ultimately finished in seventh place. In 26 starts at Talladega, Kenseth has one win (2012), five Top 5s and eight Top 10s with an Average Finish of 14.8. He’s led at least one lap in each of his last six starts. Kenseth ranks third in DR (88.9). He leads all drivers in ARP (14.8) and Laps in the Top 15 (1,918). He leads the Cup Series in Laps Led (622) this season, which is 147 more than the next guy. Kenseth should be in all Tiered/Grouping format provisional lineups.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Junior posted his first Top 10 in a month by finishing 10th at Richmond. In 26 Talladega starts, Earnhardt Jr. has five wins (2001, 2002 sweep, 2003, 2004), nine Top 5s and 13 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 15.0. He’s led at least two laps in each of his last 14 starts. Earnhardt Jr. ranks second in DR (89.6) and in ARP (15.0). His cold streak officially ended last weekend, as he got back to doing what he does best – post quality finishes.

4. Kevin Harvick: Harvick finally broke out of his streak of mediocrity and won his first race of 2013 in typical Harvick-fashion. In 24 starts at ‘Dega, Harvick has one win (2010), six Top 5s, 10 Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 15.4. He’s led at least one lap in each of his last seven starts. Harvick ranks 19th in DR (78.7) and 15th in ARP (18.1). He’s a stellar restrictor plate track performer and probably won’t merit many more starts this season in Tiered/Grouping formats. Fantasy owners should take advantage.

5. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski’s streak of turning poor races into quality finishes ended with a 33rd-place performance at RIR. In eight starts at TS, Keselowski has two wins (2009, 2012), three Top 5s and six Top 10s with an Average Finish of 12.3. He’s led at least one lap in seven of his eight starts. Keselowski ranks sixth in DR (85.6) and 10th in ARP (17.2). Of the top-tiered drivers, the Blue Deuce is the one I’d feel safest using a start on in such a volatile environment.

6. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson finished 12th at RIR after starting 26th on the grid. In 22 starts at TS, Johnson has two wins (2006, 2011), five Top 5s, nine Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 17.7. He’s led at least one lap in 20 of his 22 starts. Johnson ranks 13th in DR (80.9) and 17th in ARP (18.4). ‘Dega is actually a very strong track for Johnson, but because of its unpredictability and volatile nature it’s simply not worth burning a Tiered/Grouping format start.

7. Brian Vickers: Vickers posted his second finish of 30th-or-worse (35th at RIR) in his last two starts a week ago. In 14 Talladega starts, Vickers has one win (2006), four Top 5s and six Top 10s with an Average Finish of 20.1. He’s led at least three laps in two of his last three starts. Vickers ranks fourth in DR (87.3) and eighth in ARP (17.0). With Denny Hamlin set to return any week now, Vickers’ time in the No. 11 is running out. Fantasy owners should squeeze as much value out of Vickers as they can while he’s on the entry list.

8. Kyle Busch: Busch turned in another poor performance, finishing 24th at RIR. In 16 starts at Talladega, Busch has one win (2008), three Top 5s and four Top 10s with an Average Finish of 81.1. He’s led at least one lap in each of his last 11 starts. Busch ranks 12th in DR (81.1) and 16th in ARP (18.3). He’s been feast-or-famine this season and his last two races have left Fantasy owners starving. Despite that, Busch always has serious upside and is due for a solid finish.

9. Jeff Burton: Burton posted his first Top 5 of 2013 with a fifth-place finish at RIR. He also led his first laps (seven) of the season. In 38 ‘Dega starts, Burton has five Top 5s and 16 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 18.0. He’s led at least one lap in each of his last 10 starts. Burton leads all competitors in DR (91.4), Average Green Flag Speed (192.727 mph) and Quality Passes (4,327). He has one Top 5 and three Top 10s with an Average Finish of 7.3 in his last three ‘Dega appearances. Fantasy owners will get incredible value from Burton this weekend.

10. Jamie McMurray: McMurray finished 26th despite an ARP of 13.5 at Richmond. In 21 TS starts, McMurray has one win (2009), five Top 5s and six Top 10s with an Average Finish of 20.0. He’s led at least one lap in six of his last seven starts. McMurray ranks 11th in DR (81.7) and 19th in ARP (18.9). Prior to last weekend’s disappointing end, he posted three Top 10s in his last five Cup starts. There won’t be too many more opportunities to roll McMurray, and this weekend is as good as it’s gonna get.

11. Greg Biffle: Two Top 5s and five Top 10s with an Average Finish of 19.1 in 20 starts at Talladega. 75.3 DR.

12. Kasey Kahne: Three Top 5s, four Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 20.3 in 18 TS starts. 71.0 DR.

13. Jeff Gordon: Six wins (1996, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2007 sweep), 15 Top 5s, 19 Top 10s and three poles with an Average Finish of 16.4 In 40 ‘Dega appearances. 83.1 DR.

14. Kurt Busch: Six Top 5s and 13 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 16.1 in 24 Talladega starts. 86.1 DR.

15. Tony Stewart: One win (2008), nine Top 5s and 13 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 15.8 in 28 starts at Talladega. 83.5 DR.

16. Paul Menard: 72.2 DR.

17. Aric Almirola: 80.7.

18. Martin Truex Jr.: 75.0.

19. Joey Logano: 79.1.

20. Juan Pablo Montoya: 78.8.

21. Ryan Newman

22. Marcos Ambrose

23. Rick Stenhouse Jr.

24. Carl Edwards

25. Michael Waltrip

Value Village

1. Regan Smith: Finished fifth in the October 2012 race at ‘Dega. Average Finish of 17.0 on the season.
2. David Ragan: Ranks seventh in DR (85.5) at ‘Dega.
3. Trevor Bayne: Finished eighth in this event last season.
4. Danica Patrick: Lone start at Talladega came in the May 2012 race in the Nationwide Series (13th-place, one lap led). There won’t be many opportunities to use her.

2013 NASCAR.com Fantasy Live Lineup for Talladega (Salary Cap)

Jimmie Johnson: $27.75
Clint Bowyer: $26.25
Jamie McMurray: $20.25
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: $13.25
Regan Smith: $ 9.50

Total: $97.00

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