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Fantasy Racing: Talladega

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, October 30 2009

talladega ampAmp Energy 500
Talladega Superspeedway
Sunday November 1, 1PM ET, ABC

Race Facts: Because of Carl Edwards’s high flying incident in the spring, restrictor plates for this race are 1/64th of an inch smaller than they were in April. What does that mean? Absolutely nothing, except that it will take the cars a fraction longer to get up to speed… Talladega has the same percentage as Martinsville of winners who have started in the top 10. 58 of 80 winners have started top 10… The alst Talladega race to go caution free was the fall race in 2002. That’s not happening Sunday… Jeff Gordon started from 36th when he won in 2000. That’s the furthest back a race winner has ever started. Tony Stewart came close though, starting 34th in that “was it legal?” duel between he and Regan Smith last fall… I don’t think I need to remind everyone of who has the most wins at Talladega, do I?

Drivers to Watch:

Ryan Newman: The afterthought in Edwards’s flight (well, ok, he was the launching pad) finished third in that race, and has four top 10 finishes in his last five Talladega races. And who knows what would have happened in that other race had his engine not expired just 48 laps into the race. Newman is quietly one of the better restrictor plate racers in the series, and given that he’s got Hendrick equipment, he’s as good a bet as anyone to finish near the front of the field.

Kyle Busch: This is more of a hunch pick than anything given that Busch has only one top 10 finish at Talladega (his win in the spring of 2008), but Busch has become a familiar staple at the front of the field at Talladega and Daytona. He’ll have a great car for Sunday’s race, and will more than likely lead some laps. Of course, with a good run, everyone will be hailing Dave Rogers as Busch’s savior, but come on, it’s a restrictor plate race. With a good car and some luck, I could win a restrictor plate race as a crew chief.

Brian Vickers: What’s the over/under on clips from Vickers’ 2006 win being shown during the race? 3? And of course, they’re not going to be shown because he won, but rather how he won. Vickers has been pretty good at Talladega, with four top 10 finishes in his last six races, and Team Red Bull needs a good finish to get some momentum going for 2010.

Drivers to Watch Out For:

Martin Truex Jr.: To say that Truex is snakebitten at Talladega may be an understatement. When he’s been running at the finish in Alabama, he’s done well. Problem is, he’s only been running at the finish in two of nine Talladega races. In those other seven races, his highest finish is 21st, only because so many other cars wrecked that day in 2005. While Truex does have the car capable of having a great finish, with those odds, he’s definitely not worth the risk.

Mark Martin: There’s a reason that Martin avoided Talladega when he ran a partial schedule the last two years. And of course, Martin finished last in the spring race, adding even more to his bad luck theme at Talladega. Much like Truex, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Martin had a great finish or even won the race. But it would be even less of a surprise if Martin got caught up in an accident that wasn’t his own

Michael Waltrip: Don’t let Waltrip’s past restrictor plate history fool you. His last top ten finish was a third in 2006, and that was when he was driving for DEI. Since then, Waltrip hasn’t finished higher than 14th. Add in the fact that his team has been a step or two behind his teammates this season, and it’s not a recipe for success.

Stone Cold Lock of the Week:

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: I went with Junior at Daytona and got burned, but I’m going back to the well again. After dominating Talladega from 2001-2004, Junior has just two top 10 finishes since then. However, he finished second in the spring race, and seems to be on the verge of putting together a strong finish after flashes of competence over the first half of the Chase. And since it’s Talladega, I’m betting on the Earnhardt magic.

Last Week:

To Watch: J. Gordon 5th, Hamlin 1st, Bowyer 19th

To Watch Out: Ku. Busch 17th, Biffle 25th, Martin 8th

Stone Cold Lock: Stewart 10th

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, October 30 2009
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