5th race of the 2017 Monster Energy Cup Series playoffs; 2nd race of the round of 12.
Playoff format – top 16 will be eligible to win the Monster Energy Cup “Chase for the Championship”. All of the points are made even amongst drivers 11-16. The winner (Martin Truex Jr) gets 15 additional points, 2nd place gets an additional 10, 3rd gets 9, 4th gets 8 etc.. going down to 1 point for the 10thplace driver (Chase Elliott). This is the last race before the field drops down to 12, after the next 3 it goes down to 8, after the next three it goes down to 4 with the final race being the Ford EcoBoost 400.
What: Alabama 500
When: October 15th
Where: Talladega Superspeedway
2016 Winner: Joey Logano
Track: Talladega Superspeedway. There is a great USA article out this week which basically states: "Talladega, a guaranteed thrill machine". When you hear the words Talladega, everyone immediately thinks of the history and excitement of this track.
Martin Truex Jr. He had a wreck here last year but after 2 wins in the last 4 races (the other two were a 4th and 5th place finish) he is simply the best racer on the circuit right now. He looked so dominant last week at Charlotte.
Jamie McMurray. He has 2 top 5 finishes in his last 3 races here (the other was a 19th place finish). He’s fresh off back to back top 10 finishes at Dover and Charlotte and could be a solid bet for a top 10 possibly top 5 finish this weekend at the Alabama 500. Additionally Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney (all whos starts are within 3 for me) don’t have a great track record here so I will go elsewhere and preserve those starts for deeper into the playoffs.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. I picked Ricky for the Geico 500 given his strong track record here and he rewarded me with a win. He now has 4 top ten finishes across his last 4 races at Talladega with one win. He’s sitting on the cusp in 12th and will desperately need a big finish here to make the cut down to 8. He’s finished in the top 20 the last 3 races but not the top 10, that will happen this weekend.
David Ragan. He finished 10th here earlier this year and was 24th here last year in the playoffs. I’m fresh out of Erik Jones starts and Daniel Suarez was 19th earlier this year (despite him being off 3 straight top ten finishes, I think he defers outside this weekend and then bounces back next week at Kansas. I’m looking down the stretch with limited starts.
Paul Menard. He had a 9th place finish at the Geico 500 here earlier this year, he finished 13th here in the playoffs last year and while he is fresh off no top ten finish in 13 straight races, his top 10 starts aren’t back to back they are one split between a bunch of 10-20 place finishes. I think he gets a top ten finish this weekend.
Year to date stats:
A Drivers: Avg Finish 12th (33rd percentile)
B Drivers: Avg Finish 15th (39th percentile)
C Drivers: Avg Finish 17th (47th percentile)
Dark Horse Drivers: Avg Finish 18th (50th percentile)