The phrase ‘your guess is pretty much as good as mine’ must be uttered by each so-called skilled or handicapper anytime the NASCAR subject rolls into Talladega Superspeedway or Daytona Worldwide Speedway a minimum of a few occasions throughout the weekend.
Whereas that’s not fully true – we’re paid to assume deeply all week about how drivers will fare and that ought to give us just a little benefit – the aero-restricted superspeedways are essentially the most unpredictable programs NASCAR visits throughout the 12 months.
The tapered spacers aren’t any completely different that the restrictor plates. They’re meant to create dramatic drafting packs and the slight variation in throttle response just isn’t sufficient to permit a driver to get out of hurt’s method. It does give the phantasm of management, nonetheless, and over time patterns could emerge. Distinguishing these versus the occasional historic streaks with plates goes to be nuanced.
Every week earlier than writing the cheat sheets a script is run from the 600,000+ database that powers the information base that informs this editorial. It’s typically tweaked and reformed by instinct and intangibles; this week, the best method to have a look at the prediction is to permit it to easily run with little or no interference. A drier like Kevin Harvick is simply as able to profitable as he’s to be swept up by a ‘Huge One’ crash. The identical is true of Ty Dillon and Ryan Newman.
The Fantasy NASCAR victory this week will go to the participant who balances his roster with a sprinkling of marquee drivers, a preponderance of mid-pack alternatives, and the proper darkish horse.
1. Joey Logano
Logano has a knack for the massive tracks. He has completed within the prime 5 in six of his final eight begins. His different two ended disastrously with a 39th and 25th within the final two Daytona summer time races.
2. Aric Almirola
Almirola just isn’t essentially the primary driver one thinks of on plate tracks, however he has eight top-10s in his final 11 begins together with final 12 months’s win on this race.
3. Alex Bowman
Since becoming a member of Hendrick Motorsports, Bowman has completed within the again half of the sector solely twice in seven begins. His finest effort was a second-place to teammate Elliott at Talladega this spring.
4. Ryan Newman
Newman might be the optimum spoiler this week. In his final 9 makes an attempt at Talladega and Daytona, he has seven top-10s and a 15th. He virtually by no means will get in hassle within the draft.
5. Ty Dillon
It could appear just a little unusual to see Dillon ranked this excessive, however he has completed worse than 17th solely twice in 11 makes an attempt at Talladega and Daytona since he joined the sequence full time.
6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Stenhouse received the spring Talladega race and backed it up with one other victory at Daytona that 12 months. He has a pair of top-fives in 2016 and 2018 as effectively, however his finest effort on these two tracks to date this 12 months is a 13th within the Daytona 500.
8. Denny Hamlin
Hamlin received off to a superb begin in 2019 along with his Daytona 500 win. Since then, he is completed worse than 25th within the final two races on aero-restricted superspeedways.
9. Jimmie Johnson
Johnson might be one in all this week’s most nice surprises as a result of he has scored three top-10s in his final 4 aero-restricted superspeedway races – together with a seventh in final 12 months’s 1000Bulbs.com 500.
11. Paul Menard
Menard may not earn most factors this week, however he’ll most likely be an honest worth after ending 16th in his final two makes an attempt on the massive tracks.
12. Ryan Preece
An eighth-place end within the Daytona 500 this February is perhaps seen as an anomaly, however Preece backed that up with a 3rd within the spring Talladega race.
13. Erik Jones
Jones’ victory within the 2018 Coke Zero 400 sparked a three-race streak of top-10s on this monitor sort. His final two efforts resulted in a 19th at ‘Dega and 23rd at Daytona this 12 months.
14. Austin Dillon
It is a good week to unfold the wealth round and take some longshots with a purpose to differentiate your lineup. Dillon’s 2018 Daytona 500 win was surprising, however helped his followers win that week.
15. Daniel Hemric
The season received off to a nasty begin for Hemric. He completed 34th within the Daytona 500, however climbed to fifth within the first Talladega trial.
16. Matt DiBenedetto
DiBenedetto completed eighth at Daytona this summer time. If his current sample holds, that would be the solely top-10 on this monitor sort in 2019; he scored one per 12 months in 2017 and 2018.
17. Daniel Suarez
Within the final two seasons Suarez completed between 10th and 16th thrice at Talladega. 4 of his efforts at Daytona ended exterior the highest 30, nonetheless.
18. Bubba Wallace
Time will inform which of those are anomalies: Wallace’s 4 top-15s in eight begins at Talladega and Daytona or the 38th and 39th he earned on these tracks earlier this 12 months.
19. Martin Truex Jr.
The excellent news for Truex followers is that he completed second in final 12 months’s Coke Zero 400. The dangerous information is that’s his solely top-10 since 2016 and one in all solely two top-15s.
20. Chris Buescher
Buescher practically earned his first Talladega top-10 final spring when he crossed below the checkers 11th. Final fall he fell to 21st and this spring he was 30th.
21. William Byron
Byron entered the summer time Daytona race with a finest end of 20th on the massive tracks. Nobody anticipated his second place within the Coke Zero 400.
22. Kyle Larson
Larson is joyful along with his win final week at Dover as a result of the plate tracks haven’t been type to him. He has just one top-10 within the final three seasons at Talladega and Daytona.
23. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer has some critically good runs on the aero-restricted superspeedways like his second-place end on this race final 12 months, however that’s his solely top-10 on this monitor sort up to now two seasons.
24. Chase Elliott
Sure, Elliott received the spring Talladega race, however 4 of his final begins on the Huge Tracks landed exterior the highest 30. This week will likely be nerve racking for final week’s last-place finisher.
25. Ross Chastain
Chastain has truly been very constant on the Huge Tracks with 4 leads to the mid-20s at Talladega and Daytona up to now two years. His different two begins resulted in a 10th within the Daytona 500 and a 30th on this 12 months’s Coke Zero 400.
26. Brendan Gaughan
Gaughan might be going so as to add place-differential factors this week irrespective of the place he qualifies. He is performed that in 11 of his final 12 makes an attempt at Daytona and Talladega.
27. Corey LaJoie
LaJoie must be thought of as one of many prime darkish horse contenders this week. In 2018 he is completed 18th within the Daytona 500, 11th in ‘Dega’s spring race, and sixth within the Summer season Daytona duel.
28. Landon Cassill
After ending 22nd or worse in his earlier 4 aero-restricted superspeedway makes an attempt, Cassill practically cracked the highest 10 at Daytona this summer time. He completed 11th.
29. Michael McDowell
With 4 top-10s on the Huge Tracks within the final 4 years, McDowell clearly is aware of race within the draft. All of these got here at Daytona, nonetheless.
30. Kevin Harvick
Harvick has momentum on his aspect, however he hasn’t completed within the prime 15 on a plate monitor in his final 5 makes an attempt.
31. Ryan Blaney
Two issues are sometimes in play on the Huge Tracks. Darkish horse success means the favorites don’t excel. Blaney has solely three top-10s on this monitor sort within the final 4 seasons.
32. Brad Keselowski
Since profitable this race in 2017, Keselowski has amassed a median end of solely 27th up to now two seasons. His excessive water marks have been a 12th within the Daytona 500 and a 13th at ‘Dega.
33. David Ragan
In 2017, Ragan earned three top-10s at Talladega and Daytona. Final 12 months, he scored a sixth and 15th on these two tracks. To this point in 2019, his finest effort netted a 23rd.
34. Parker Kligerman
In three begins at Daytona and Talladega this 12 months, Kligerman has completed progressively worse with a low of 31st within the Coke Zero 400.
35. Matt Tifft
The Coke Zero 400 was extraordinarily type to a bunch of darkish horses. Tifft completed ninth there, however his first two makes an attempt on this course sort resulted in outcomes exterior the highest 35.
36. Joey Gase
Gase completed 18th in final 12 months’s version of this race. Something can occur on these tracks if a driver avoids the ‘Huge One’ crash.
37. Reed Sorenson
Maintain a detailed eye on drivers which can be usually on the backside of the pack. Sorenson completed 18th this spring at Talladega,
38. Austin Theriault
4 Cup begins don’t present lots of seat time, however Theriault has a pair of 32nd-place outcomes as his excessive water mark. Considered one of these got here on the 2-mile monitor in Michigan.
39. Spencer Boyd
Nothing prepares a driver for the chaos of a Cup race on one of many aero-restricted superspeedways, however Boyd has some laps on the 2-mile Michigan Worldwide Speedway.
40. Blake Jones
With three Okay&N begins to his credit score, plus seven ARCA, 5 Xfinity, and three Cup begins, Jones goes to be a fish out of water this week within the No. 77.