ADAM ANSELL’S TOP 25 FOR TALLADEGA
1. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth posted a third-place finish and managed to lead a lap last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In 27 starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Kenseth has one win (2012), five Top 5s and nine Top 10s with an Average Finish of 17.6. He led a race-high 142 laps en route to an eighth-place finish in the May race. He’s led at least one lap in each of his last seven starts. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Kenseth leads all competitors in Driver Rating (91.5), Average Running Position (14.1), Laps Led (375) and Laps in the Top 15 (2,110). He’s led a lap in every Chase race, and there’s no reason to believe that trend won’t continue this weekend. Kenseth is must-start across all formats.
2. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson finished fourth with 130 laps led last weekend in Charlotte. In 23 starts at TS, Johnson has two wins (2006, 2011), six Top 5s, 10 Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 17.1. He finished fifth and led 16 laps in the Spring event. He’s led at least one lap in 21 of his 23 starts. Johnson ranks 10th in DR (83.1) and 11th in ARP (17.5). He’s been absolutely dominant in restrictor-plate races this season, highlighted by a sweep of Daytona. The typical strategy has been to start other drivers at the volatile Talladega, but with only a handful of races remaining, Johnson is a must-start in all formats.
3. Kevin Harvick: Harvick finished a solid sixth at CMS despite an ARP of 10.5. In 25 starts at ‘Dega, Harvick has one win (2010), six Top 5s, 10 Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 16.4. He finished 40th with a single lap led in the May event. He’s led at least one lap in each of his last eight starts. Harvick ranks 20th in DR (77.0) and 21st in ARP (19.0). Usually a very solid restrictor-plate driver, the No. 29 finished third at Daytona and is primed for another Top 5 finish this weekend. Fantasy owners should consider Harvick a nice value play in Tiered/Grouping formats.
4. Kyle Busch: Busch finished fifth with four laps led at Charlotte. In 17 starts at Talladega, Busch has one win (2008), three Top 5s and four Top 10s with an Average Finish of 22.9. He finished 37th in the May race. He’s led at least one lap in 11 of his last 12 starts. Busch ranks 16th in DR (79.9) and 22nd in ARP (19.1). Aside from a 34-place disaster at Kansas, Busch has posted a Top 5 in every Chase race. He remains a very high-upside play, especially in Tiered/Grouping formats.
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: He finished 15th at CMS despite running the race at a 7.0 ARP. In 27 Talladega starts, Earnhardt Jr. has five wins (2001, 2002 sweep, 2003, 2004), nine Top 5s and 13 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 15.1. He finished 17th back in the May event. He’s led at least two laps in 14 of his last 15 starts. Earnhardt Jr. ranks second in DR (89.9) and in ARP (15.1). Junior has led a lap in every Chase race and has been ultra-consistent the past three weeks. He’s a threat every restrictor-plate and should be started in all Tiered/Grouping formats leagues.
6. Clint Bowyer: Bowyer finished 11th at Charlotte and also led one lap. In 15 starts at TS, Bowyer has two wins (2010, 2011), four Top 5s and seven Top 10s with an Average Finish of 16.3. He posted an 18th-place finish in the Spring event. He’s led at least eight laps in four of his last six starts. Bowyer ranks 18th in Driver Rating (78.9) and 27th in Average Running Position (21.2). He’s been mediocre at Talladega his last few outings, but Bowyer has the capability to win any race at the site. Fantasy owners looking to make a big move in Tiered/Grouping formats should heavily consider Bowyer.
7. Jeff Gordon: Gordon started from the pole, led 26 laps and finished seventh at CMS. In 41 starts at ‘Dega, Gordon has six wins (1996, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2007 sweep), 15 Top 5s, 19 Top 10s and three poles with an Average Finish of 16.3. He finished 11th with a single lap led back in May. He’s led at least one lap in seven of his last eight starts. Gordon ranks 11th in DR (81.8) and 18th in ARP (18.4). He has an Average Finish of 4.7 over his last three Cup starts and remains a very consistent weekly option in Salary Cap formats.
8. Kurt Busch: Busch posted a 14th place finish a week ago at Charlotte. In 25 ‘Dega starts, Busch has six Top 5s and 13 Top 10s with an Average Finish of 16.7. He led two laps in the May event but ended up with a 30th-place DNF. He’s led at least one lap in each of his last 10 starts. Busch ranks fifth in DR (86.8) and third in ARP (15.1). He hasn’t led a lap since the Chase began but continues to have Top 5 potential every single week. He should be in all provisional Tiered/Grouping format lineups.
9. Greg Biffle: Biffle finished a middling 16th at Charlotte a week ago. In 21 starts at Talladega, Biffle has two Top 5s and five Top 10s with an Average Finish of 19.9. He finished a miserable 36th in the May race. He’s led at least one lap in four of his last five starts. Biffle ranks 24th in DR (73.7) and 28th in ARP (21.4). He’s been all over the map this season in restrictor-plate events, but he’s running well enough to be trusted in Tiered/Grouping formats.
10. Kasey Kahne: Kahne ran a spectacular race last weekend, posting a 1.9 ARP while leading 138 laps in a second-place finish at CMS. In 19 TS starts, Kahne has three Top 5s, four Top 10s and one pole with an Average Finish of 21.5. He posted a 42nd-place DNF back in May. He’s led at least one lap in seven of his last eight starts. Kahne ranks 27th in DR (71.2) and 26th in ARP (21.1). This ranking is more of a gut feeling, as Kahne hasn’t been particularly great at restrictor-plate tracks this season. He’s a boom-bust option across all formats.
11. Joey Logano: Two Top 5s and four Top 10s with an Average Finish of 20.0 in nine starts at ‘Dega.
12. Carl Edwards: Two Top 5s and five Top 10s with an Average Finish of 20.8 in 18 starts at Talladega.
13. Ryan Newman: Four Top 5s and eight Top 10s with an Average Finish of 22.2 in 23 TS starts.
14. Brad Keselowski: Two wins (2009, 2012), three Top 5s and six Top 10s with an Average Finish of 12.6 in nine Talladega starts.
15. Jamie McMurray: One win (2009), five Top 5s and six Top 10s with an Average Finish of 20.2 in 22 ‘Dega starts.
16. Michael Waltrip
17. Juan Pablo Montoya
18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
19. Paul Menard
20. Denny Hamlin
21. Martin Truex Jr.
22. Aric Almirola
23. Jeff Burton
24. Marcos Ambrose
25. Casey Mears
1. David Ragan
2. Austin Dillon
3. Sam Hornish Jr.
4. Danica Patrick
5. Trevor Bayne
2013 NASCAR.com Fantasy Live Lineup for Talladega (Salary Cap)
Jimmie Johnson $28.25
Matt Kenseth $27.75
Kurt Busch $19.75
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. $13.25
David Ragan $10.50