Crunching The Numbers: Talladega

After a crazy weekend for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the short track of Richmond International Raceway, both series pack up and move on to the biggest, fastest track on the circuit for some restrictor plate racing at Talladega Superspeedway. As is the case each trip to the 2.66 mile, high banked behemoth in Alabama, these races are sure to provide nonstop action and the driver who can play the 200 mph chess game just right and avoid the inevitable “Big One” will come out on top.

Sprint Cup Series

With Talladega being the second restrictor plate race for the new Gen6 Sprint Cup car after its debut at Daytona to open the season, only time will tell if the racing in the Aaron’s 499 on Sunday will mirror that from the Daytona 500 or if Talladega has a few tricks up its sleeve for these drivers as they try to figure out the new car in the restrictor plate draft.

Driver Races Win Top 5 Top 10 Pole Laps Led Avg. Start Avg. Finish
Brad Keselowski 8 2 3 6 0 31 18.9 12.2
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 26 5 9 13 0 737 15.6 15.0
Kevin Harvick 24 1 6 10 1 155 22.0 15.4
Tony Stewart 28 1 9 13 0 317 16.5 15.8
David Ragan 12 0 3 5 0 27 19.8 16.0
Kurt Busch 24 0 6 13 0 143 20.8 16.1
Clint Bowyer 14 2 4 7 0 96 18.7 16.1
Jeff Gordon 40 6 15 19 3 839 11.5 16.4
Jimmie Johnson 22 2 5 9 1 234 10.2 17.7
Travis Kvapil 10 0 0 2 1 17 22.1 17.8

Who To Watch: As the defending spring Talladega race winner and two time winner at Talladega, Brad Keselowski leads all active drivers at the track with two wins, three top fives, six top tens, 31 laps led, and an average finish of 12.2 in eight starts at the track. Coming in just behind Keselowski is Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who has five wins, nine top fives, 13 top tens, 737 laps led, and an average finish of 15.0 in 26 starts. However, Earnhardt has not won at Talladega since the Fall of 2004 and only has five top tens in the eight years (16 races) since that last win, but Earnhardt can never be counted out at restrictor plate races, no matter the track.

Others that could find their way to Victory Lane this weekend include: Richmond winner and winner of the Fall race in 2010 at Talladega, Kevin Harvick; Tony Stewart, with one win, nine top fives, 13 top tens, and an average finish of 15.8, David Ragan, who hasn’t won at Talladega, but does have a Sprint Cup restrictor plate win at Daytona and a Nationwide Series win at Talladega under his belt as well as an average finish of 16.0; Kurt Busch, who has six top fives and 13 top tens in 24 starts and an average finish of 16.1; two time winner Clint Bowyer, who also has an average finish of 16.1 in 14 starts; Jeff Gordon, with six wins, but none since sweeping both races in 2007; and Jimmie Johnson, who has two wins, but has had horrible luck at restrictor plate races as of late, especially at Talladega.

Nationwide Series

If fans thought the season opener for the Nationwide Series at Daytona was wild, this weekend’s at Talladega is sure to provide just as many, if not more, thrills as that race did, due in large part to the two-car tandem drafting style that these drivers use in this series.

Driver Races Win Top 5 Top 10 Pole Laps Led Avg. Start Avg. Finish
Joey Logano 4 1 4 4 0 21 10.5 2.0
Kurt Busch 1 0 0 1 0 1 31.0 6.0
Trevor Bayne 2 0 0 1 0 23 22.0 9.5
Sam Hornish, Jr. 2 0 0 0 0 4 10.0 12.5
Danica Patrick 1 0 0 0 0 1 17.0 13.0
Brian Vickers 4 0 0 2 0 17 11.2 14.0
Justin Allgaier 4 0 0 2 0 0 19.2 15.5
Joe Nemechek 18 2 7 8 5 202 10.7 15.9
John Wes Townley 2 0 0 0 0 0 28.5 16.5
Kyle Busch 9 1 4 5 0 114 11.6 16.6

Who To Watch: Sprint Cup regular Joey Logano will be making his first start in the Nationwide Series for Penske Racing at Talladega and carries an impressive Nationwide Series record at the track with him. In four starts, Logano has one win, four top fives, four top tens, 21 laps led, and an average finish of 2.0. If Logano can reproduce those results that he obtained while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing with his new team, Logano will definitely be one of the favorites for the win on Saturday.

Logano isn’t the only favorite for the victory, several others will also be in contention, including: Kurt Busch, who will be teaming back up with Phoenix Racing, finished sixth in his lone Nationwide start at Talladega and won last July at Daytona, so he has ran well on restrictor plate tracks in the Nationwide Series; Trevor Bayne, who has two starts, one top ten, and an average finish of 9.5; Sam Hornish, Jr., the current points leader, has two starts and an average finish of 12.5; and Danica Patrick, who will be running for Turner Scott Motorsports, who has one Talladega Nationwide start and an average finish of 13.0.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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