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Aaron's 499 at Talladega

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Everytime we come to Talladega we get treated to a wild race and an exciting finish. This year it might just be the most wild race and the most exciting finish we have seen in a long time. Of course there are the handful of drivers that excel at these restrictor plate races that should compete for the win, but with the rule changes for the Chase this year there are going to be a lot of drivers with high hopes when the green flag drops tomorrow. Talladega can be a crapshoot meaning anyone with an engine can win this race. The drivers that know they can’t race themselves into the Chase on points, have had this date circled since they change the format. We could see someone we never would have expected race their way into the Chase with a win tomorrow. That means yes, even Danica has a shot at making the Chase with a win this weekend. That is going to make this race all the more exciting.


Stay Away From

Kyle Busch 12-1

While Kyle has won here at Talladega in the past, he doesn’t have the patience to really succeed here consistently and his average finish of 21.94 reflects just that. He is either hit or miss here. In his 18 starts he has just five top 10’s while he has ten finishes of 25th or worse.

Denny Hamlin 12-1

Denny has never really been a great restrictor plate racer. He will find his way to the front at some point before he fades away into the pack. In 16 starts here he has just five top 10’s and an average finish of 20.19 with no career victories.

Kasey Kahne 18-1

Kasey Kahne has never been a fan of these races. While they fit the eye of some drivers so well, the exact opposite is true for Kahne. At a track that literally anyone of the 43 drivers can post a solid finish, Kahne has just four top 10’s and twelve finishes outside the top 20 in 20 career starts. Kahne is one of those guys that seems to constantly find trouble and this track produces nothing but trouble.

Kurt Busch 20-1

Along with his brother and Kahne these guys just don’t have the patience to succeed in these races with any consistency. While his average finish is much better than the other two (16.73) he has never earned a victory at Talladega and we all know he has a habit of losing his cool and this is not a track where you can lose your cool and move forward.

Marcos Ambrose 75-1

Ambrose has never been good at this place. In 10 career starts he has just one top 10 finish and an average finish of 25.40. Something tells me that #9 car is going to be involved in the big one.

Best Bets

Jimmie Johnson 10-1

You know the rule, anytime you can get the #48 at 10-1 you bet him. While Jimmie might not be the greatest restrictor plate racer he does have the best crew chief at restrictor plate races. In fact that is how Chad started out. He earned his way in by excelling at these races and has gotten that #48 into victory lane twice here and three times at Daytona.

Dale Jr. 10-1

Jr. is certainly one of if not the favorite in this race. At a track that routinely produces first time winners in such a crapshoot race, Jr. has won here five times. While that is one fewer than teammate Jeff Gordon, Jr. has won his five races in 14 fewer starts than Jeff. He has also won won a total of eight restrictor plate races in 57 career starts. He will find his way to the front and will certainly be a factor before this thing is done.

Brad Keselowski 12-1

Brad has been fast this year and he has been fast in his career at Talladega. Of the active drivers with at least three career starts here Brad has posted the best average finish with a 14.2. He has started here just ten times in his career but he has already taken the checkered flag twice and at least one in memorable fashion that really saved his future career I might add.

Kevin Harvick 12-1

Harv has obviously had a lot of speed early on in this season, but he has had some notable issues. This week could continue either trend for the #4 team. Regardless, he is a really good restrictor plate racer, he has the nickname “The Closer” for a reason and what better type of race to close out with a win out of nowhere.

Best Value Bets

Jamie McMurray 25-1

Jamie Mac is a really underrated restrictor plate racer. He has four career victories at restrictor plate tracks including two here at Talladega including the last time we went racing here last fall. He always seems to find his way to the front at some point and a lot of the time he is up near the front when it matters at the end. 25-1 is great value for someone that has enjoyed such success in these races.

David Ragan 75-1

This is one of the guys with really high hopes for this weekend as far as his Chase eligibility goes. He won this race last year and hopes to win it again this year. By the way, of the active drivers with at least 11 career starts here Ragan holds the best average finish with a 14.21. If you are keeping track that means he is just .01 behind Brad for the best average finish among active drivers with at least three career starts here. He has four more career starts than Brad and he could wind up leapfrogging him after it’s all said and done.

Danica Patrick 75-1

Yes, Danica Patrick has a lot of value this weekend. Odds are she will get caught up in the big one but there won’t be another driver that benefits from their teammates more than her this weekend. All three of her teammates know how to get around this track and they are going to be working with her when they decide to try and march to the front. They did it in knockout qualifying this afternoon and got her into the third and final session earning a nice starting position. Which was really interesting to see the final 12 drivers sit on pit road for nearly three of the five minutes to try and avoid being the first car off and running since it would help the drivers that hang and sit in the back. The draft creates the speed and if you can use it to slingshot you up you have a better chance to post a fast time than if you are the one pulling someone else along. Anyways her teammates are going to take her with them to the front and she is going to have an opportunity to win this thing. At 75-1 she is a very good bet.

My Pick

Tony Stewart 12-1

For my money he is without a doubt the best restrictor plate racer that will take the green flag. Yes he has never won the Daytona 500 but he has won here once before and has a record 19 career wins at Daytona. Anytime there is a restrictor plate race being held, he should be the favorite. I know I have been picking him a lot this year, but he is due to break through after that injury and this is his best opportunity yet.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

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