Commentary

The Good Bad Ugly - Aaron's 499

Updated: April 25, 2008, 12:21 PM ET
By Mark Garrow | Jayski.com

Mark Garrow provides driver trends for Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

* A driver with an asterisk next to his name needs to qualify for the race based on time.


• Allmendinger is returning to the team after being replaced by Mike Skinner. He is attempting to make his first start of the season and first Cup Series start at Talladega.
• He has one Craftsman Truck Series start here, with a fifth-place finish.


• Almirola is making his first Cup Series start at Talladega and his third start of the season.


• In 21 starts here, Andretti has four top-10s, two top-5s and an average finish of 24.5 and seven DNFs.


• Biffle has 10 starts here with a career-best finish of 13th with an average finish of 26th and four DNFs. He hasn't finished in the top-20 here since this race three years ago and has only two career top-15s.


• Blaney plans to utilize chassis No. 27 for the race here. This is the same chassis the team ran earlier this season in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, as well as last year in the fall event at Talladega when the team started on the outside of the front row and finished third.
• Blaney has made 14 Cup Series starts at the 2.66-mile superspeedway during his career. The veteran driver has started as high as second (2007) and scored his best finish at the track -- third -- last fall.


• Clint Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 233. This is the same car Bowyer raced at the Daytona 500. Bowyer was leading with 17 laps to go until he was spun out. As a result, Bowyer had a 24th-place finish.
• In four starts at the 2.66-mile oval, he owns a 27.5 starting average, a 30.3 finishing average and has finished just 522 of the 756 total laps over those four races (69 percent). Bowyer logged a career-best effort at Talladega last October when he came home 11th and completed all 188 laps.


• Jeff Burton will race Chassis No. 226 this weekend. This is the same car Burton raced to a 13th-place finish in the Daytona 500.
• In 28 Cup starts at Talladega , Burton owns two top-5 and 10 top-10 finishes.
• According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Burton is the sport's best green-flag passer at Talladega . Over the past six events here, he has completed 2,338 passes under green-flag conditions.
• Burton is the lone driver who has completed every lap of competition this season. Burton also has completed 82.8 percent of the total laps (2,235 of 2,699) running in the top 15 and leads all drivers with the most runs on the lead lap (2,694 of 2,699).


• In 14 starts here, Busch has 11 top-10s and four top-5s with a series-best average finish of 10th and a series-best average running position of 11.3. He finished third and seventh in the 2007 races at this track.
• He has a driver rating of 95.0 at Talladega, second-best only to six-time winner Jeff Gordon
• In 29 total plate races, Busch has 13 top-fives and 18 top-tens.


• Busch shined in the Daytona 500, also a plate track, placing fourth.
• Busch has led a total of 11 laps in six Cup starts at Talladega, and has finished inside the top 30 only once.
• The No. 18 M&M'S Team is bringing chassis #152 which made its debut in last year's fall race at Talladega, finishing 18th.


• This is Carpentier's first trip to the 2.6-mile tri-oval. Carpentier's only other restrictor plate racing experience came during the qualifying events at Daytona earlier this season.


• In 16 starts at Talladega, Earnhardt has five wins, seven top-5 finishes and nine top-10s. He has led 21.23 percent of the laps he's run on the 2.66-mile superspeedway (570 of 2,684 laps).
• Junior will drive chassis No. 88-478 for the Aaron's 499 this weekend. This is the same car Earnhardt used in February when he led 70 laps and won the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.


• Edwards will make his ninth Cup start at Talladega this weekend. In his previous eight starts, Edwards has accumulated three wins, one top-5 and three top-10 finishes.
• Edwards has an average finish of 21.7 here with two DNFs and has led a total of nine laps.


• Franchitti made his career-first stock car start at Talladega Superspeedway last October in the ARCA Re/Max race (started sixth, finished 17th).
• Franchitti is driving chassis No. 810. This is the same car Franchitti raced at Daytona International Speedway during the season-opening Daytona 500 (started 40th, finished 33rd).


• Gilliland has an average starting position of 10.0 and an average finish of 15.3 at Talladega. Gilliland has completed 547 of 568 career laps at Talladega (96.3 percent). Gilliland's best career finish at Talladega is fourth which he achieved in the 2007 Aaron's 499.
• The team is running Chassis #543 this weekend. This is the same chassis the team ran at Daytona where they finished 28th.

Jeff Gordon


• Gordon, whose 12 restrictor-plate wins are the most of any driver, swept both events in 2007 at the 2.66-mile track. In the spring event, Gordon started from the pole and led a race-high 71 laps en route to victory. He was running in the top 15 for 161 of the 192 laps with an average running position of seventh.
• When the series returned to the track in the fall, it was during the "Chase for the NASCAR Nextel Cup" with the debut of the "Car of Tomorrow" (COT) on a restrictor- plate track. Gordon started 34th, spent only 45 of the 188 laps in the top 15 and had an average running position of 28th during the event. He led only one lap, the final one.
• Gordon has six wins, 13 top-5s and 16 top-10s in 30 starts here.


• Gordon owns four top-10 finishes in 14 races at the restrictor plate track. Gordon finished eighth at Daytona in February in the season's only other restrictor plate race.
• Gordon has an average finish here of 21.3 with three DNFs.


• The No. 11 team is lowering chassis JGR 188 off the truck at Talladega this weekend. This car made its debut at Daytona this year, starting fourth and finishing 17th.
• Hamlin has four starts here, but only one finish in the top-20, a fourth-place last fall.


• Kevin Harvick will pilot chassis No. 219 this weekend. This car drove to a 14th-place finish in the Daytona 500.
• In 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Harvick has one pole, three top-5 and seven top-10 finishes. Additionally, he has earned a 21.4 starting average, a 13.6 finishing average and has completed 2,633 of the 2,644 laps contested here.
• Harvick has competed in 28 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races on restrictor plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega), completing 98 percent of the laps. He has also collected one win (2007 Daytona 500), two poles, six top-5 and 12 top-10 finishes. Additionally, he has led 142 laps and has recorded only one DNF (did not finish).


• Sam Hornish Jr. recently captured repeat top-20 finishes in NASCAR competition. He earned a 20th-place finish two weeks ago in the NASCAR Cup Series at Phoenix International Raceway, and during the Cup Series off-week, Hornish Jr. finished 13th in the Nationwide Series road course event in Mexico City.


• In 12 Cup Series starts at the 2.66-mile tri-oval, Johnson has completed 94.8 percent of competition laps. He has one win (May 2006), four top-five and five top-10 finishes. His average starting spot is 8.1 and average finish is 17.8.


• Kahne has eight starts here with one top-5 finish and an average finish of 20.4 with one DNF.
• Kahne has led 12 laps here and has completed 84.7 percent of the total possible laps.


• In 16 starts, Kenseth has achieved three top-5 and six top-10 finishes. All three of Kenseth's top-5 finishes have been achieved in the fall race at Talladega. His best finish in a spring Talladega race is sixth place, captured in 2006.
• Kenseth has completed 2,835 of 3,020 (93.9 percent) laps attempted at Talladega -- he has led a total of 131 laps there -- 70 of which have been led over the past three years.


• Kvapil has an average starting position of 16.7, and an average finish of 17.7 at Talladega. He has completed 566 of 572 career laps at Talladega (99.0 percent) and has led for one lap. His best finish is 16th which he achieved in the 2005 UAW-Ford 500.


• Labonte has 30 starts here with 11 top-10s, six top-5s, a win, and an average finish of 17.2 and eight DNFs. He has led 153 laps here and has completed 94.5 of the total possible laps.


• In 48 starts here, Marlin has 17 top-10s, 10 top-5s, two wins, and an average finish of 19.4 and 15 DNFs. He has led 453 laps here and completed 86.8 percent of the total possible laps.


• McDowell is making his first-ever Talladega start in NASCAR this weekend. He has starts here in the ARCA RE/MAX Series.


• In 11 visits to the 2.66-mile speedway, Jamie McMurray has posted four top-10 finishes. On average, McMurray runs better in the Talladega spring race. In five spring races, McMurray averages a 10.2 finish. In the balance of fall races, McMurray averages a 24.1 finish at the superspeedway.
• McMurray is racing RK-529, the same car he drove in this year's Daytona 500, finishing 19th.


• Casey Mears earned his career-best finish at Talladega last October when he placed sixth. In 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at the track, he has recorded a total of three top-10 finishes.
• Mears has had a strong showing in the three restrictor plate races this season. At Daytona, Mears finished sixth in the Shootout and posted a fourth-place finish in the first Gatorade Duel. During the Daytona 500, he was running third when he was involved in an accident with only six laps to go.


• Menard has three starts here with three DNFs. All his finishes are 34th or worse.


• Jimmy Elledge takes over crew chief duties for the No. 42 team. Elledge has been with CGRFS for five years and led the No. 41 team since joining the company.
• Not only has Montoya run twice in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway, he also made his stock-car debut at the 2.66-mile track in 2006. Montoya has finishes of 31st and 15th here, respectively.


• Nemechek has 26 starts here with five top-10s, a top-5, and an average finish of 23.9 with nine DNFs. His best finish was third in the 2000 fall race and his best finish in the spring race was sixth in 2001.


• Newman has three top-5 finishes in 12 starts at the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway. Newman's best finish was a fourth place run (during the fall races in 2003 and 2005). His car for winning the Daytona 500 is at the Daytona museum, so they've had to build a new car.


• Petty has 52 starts here with 19 top-10s, four top-5s, and an average finish of 18th with nine DNFs.


• Ragan visited Talladega Superspeedway twice in 2007 with his best result being a 17th-place finish in the spring race.


• Reutimann has two Cup Series starts here, finishing 32nd and 22nd here last year, respectively.


• Riggs has seven starts at Talladega with one top-10 finish and an average finish of 21st with one DNF. He finished 11th in this race a year ago and was 21st in this year's Daytona 500.


• Sadler has made 17 starts at the 2.66-mile track earning three poles, one top-5, two top-10s while completing 2,896 of 3,208 laps (91.3 percent).
• Led 11 races, the last 10 consecutively, for a total of 98 laps. Started 39th and finished 15th in this race last year; led once for two laps.


• Schrader has 45 starts here with 12 top-10s, six top-5s, a win, and an average finish of 21.6 and 15 DNFs.


• Smith's best-career finish at Talladega is a ninth in last year's Truck race and has starts in all three of NASCAR's top-three series.


• Sorenson has recorded four Cup starts at Talladega, averaging a 35th-place starting position and a 25th-place finish. His best finish was earned during his last visit to the 2.66-mile tri-oval in October 2007 when he crossed the finish line in 10th (started 28th).


• Stewart has finished second at the 2.66-mile oval six times in his 10-year career in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
• At the 2.5-mile Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway -- Talladega's restrictor-plate cousin -- Stewart has scored two Sprint Cup wins (July 2004 and 2005) and five wins in such non-point races as the Budweiser Shootout (2001, 2002 and 2007) and the Gatorade Duel (2005 and 2007).
• In the past 13 restrictor-plate races (2005-2008), Stewart has led 539 of the 2,428 laps available (22.2 percent). And in his 37 career restrictor plate races, Stewart has led a total of 715 laps, 532 laps led at Daytona and 183 laps led at Talladega.


• Truex has six starts here with two top-10s, a top-5, and an average finish of 23.7 and four DNFs.
• Truex finished this race 10th last year.


• Vickers has seven starts here with three top-10s, two top-5s, a win, and an average finish of 21.3 and three DNFs.


• He will start in his 44th race at the 2.66-mile track. His best start is 1st (Oct. 7, 2007) and best finish is 1st (Sept. 28, 2003). Waltrip has earned seven top-5 and 13 top-10 finishes at Talladega. His average start and finish is 19th.
• Waltrip has completed 7,097 of 8,023 laps (88.5 percent) at the track and has led a total of 196 laps in competition.


• Wood is making his first-ever Cup Series start at Talladega and his second-ever series start.


• Yeley has five starts here, with a career-best finish of 11th and an average finish of 21.8 plus and DNF.

Mark Garrow covers fantasy racing for ESPN.com.

Mark Garrow

Fantasy Racing
Mark Garrow covers fantasy racing for ESPN.com.