TALLADEGA, Ala. — Typically the lineup breakdowns will have plenty of stats. But this is Talladega, and it might just be better to roll dice trying to predict success at the restrictor-plate track.
Rookie Brian Scott, a Nationwide Series regular who has competed in just three Cup races this year, is on the pole for the Aaron’s 499 on Sunday, but that doesn’t mean much as far as predicting the finish. The driver starting at the rear of the field, Martin Truex Jr., could win this race and no one would be surprised.
Here’s a look at how they’ll roll off Sunday with Richard Childress Racing and RCR alliance cars all in the top-six:
1. Brian Scott, Richard Childress Racing No. 33 Chevrolet — Running in his fourth Cup race of the season. Finished 25th in the Daytona 500 and now on the pole. Learning curve started before but really starts now. Car is officially under the "Circle Sport Racing" banner but when Scott drives it, the car is a fully RCR-prepared and staffed car with some Circle Sport support.
2. Paul Menard, Richard Childress Racing No. 27 Chevrolet — Has a second and a fourth at Talladega. It’s possible he wins and he’s fast. He’s starting second.
3. AJ Allmendinger, JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 Chevrolet — Coming off a season-best sixth at Richmond. At 17th in the standings, this team has to be stoked. Starting third, shows the strength of the Richard Childress Racing reach as JTG is part of RCR alliance along with the guy starting fourth.
4. Casey Mears, Germain Racing No. 13 Ford — Eye is much better. No need to tape it open so he can see what he’s doing Sunday.
5. Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet — Has to be happy that Bass Pro Shops is sponsoring him for a couple of races. And it’s well deserved that the first comes at Talladega. Photos of him driving Tony Stewart’s car with the Bass Pro Shops logo last year are all over the place as he was airborne perpendicular to the ground here last October.
6. Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet — Has a tendency to get airborne at Talladega. If he keeps all four wheels on the ground, he’ll probably leave with a smile.
7. Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 Chevrolet — She was looking for the top tailgaters at Talladega. Just like getting to the front at 'Dega, it’s easy to participate. The key is having the endurance and the moxie at the end.
8. Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet — Just how crazy is restrictor-plate racing? Harvick is a solid restrictor-plate racer and he hasn’t finished in the top-10 in his last five Talladega races.
9. Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet — A little weird for Kurt Busch to be at Talladega and not have a “cool” paint scheme. Wish the Me or Wonder cars could come back. That was fun times, and seriously, think it helped relax Busch.
10. Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing No. 99 Ford — Edwards finished ninth at Richmond last week. That would be OK, but that was his best finish in five races since his Bristol win.
11. Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet — It appears he needs everything to fall into place to get a win as he has had great cars but “only” the series points lead to show for it.
12. Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet — Stewart right now is on the outside looking in of the Chase field. He won’t hesitate, as we’ve seen, to throw a block, if necessary, for a chance at the win.
13. Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing No. 2 Ford — Will Keselowski have any friends Sunday after his postrace antics last week? Will he care?
14. Michael McDowell, Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Ford — The only driver whose sole chance was to get in on speed who actually got in on speed.
15. Aric Almirola, Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Ford — Almirola hoping that historic number can run well at historic NASCAR track.
16. Joey Logano, Team Penske No. 22 Ford — Coming off the win at Richmond, Logano already has two wins this year. Might be the biggest surprise of 2014 but he had a little bit of downer Saturday as this was the first time he didn’t advance to final round of qualifying.
17. Michael Annett, Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 7 Chevrolet — Hasn’t raced at Talladega in two years since an injury kept him out of the Nationwide race here a year ago.
18. Brian Vickers, Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55 Toyota — Quietly putting together solid season. He’s 10th in the standings. Don’t count him out at Talladega. Remember October 2006?
19. Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota — Changed an engine Friday night so starts in the rear Sunday. I’m sure he’s not all that concerned about that. But team also has a little bit of body damage from qualifying and he has to hope it will be OK for the race.
20. Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet — He hasn’t won a trophy this year but he showed why he’s a winner this week with his foundation’s 5K race and its announcement of significant donations to five education programs through its “Helmet of Hope” program.
21. Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota — He’s second in the standings but still without a win this year. His lone win at Talladega came in October 2012.
22. Reed Sorenson, Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 36 Chevrolet — Thankfully was pulled out of his fiery vehicle by Hendrick crewmen last week at Richmond. Great rebound by advancing to second round of qualifying Saturday.
23. Trevor Bayne, Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford — Could it be like another 2011 Daytona 500 win for Bayne and this team? The hope from that win will carry on for years.
24. Ryan Truex, BK Racing No. 83 Toyota — First Sprint Cup restrictor-plate race of the season as he didn’t make Daytona 500. He regained his confidence in restrictor-plate racing with a solid run in the trucks later in the week at Daytona.
25. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford — Whenever a driver signs a sponsor, it often impacts another. The other driver was Stenhouse this week as Nationwide moving to Dale Earnhardt Jr. means he loses a sponsor who has him for seven races this year.
26. Marcos Ambrose, Richard Petty Motorsports No. 9 Ford — Incredibly honest in talking about his punch on Casey Mears. Always refreshing when a driver stands up for what he did and explains unapologetically for his actions. Sure, the act cost him $25,000 but it might have been $25,000 well-spent.
27. Clint Bowyer, Michael Waltrip Racing No. 15 Toyota — Of all the drivers who attended the barbecue sauce wrestling Friday night at Talladega, who do you think was among them? Oh yes he was.
28. Michael Waltrip, Michael Waltrip Racing No. 66 Toyota — He knows how to race on the plate tracks, and that is why he puts himself behind the wheel for four races a year.
29. Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet — Got a little too excited in Nationwide qualifying and nearly wrecked car. Key for him will be patience.
30. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet — Hard to believe his last win at Talladega was in October 2004. That’s a long time to tease Junior Nation.
31. Cole Whitt, BK Racing No. 26 Toyota — The good thing is he has two teammates in this race.
32. Jamie McMurray, Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet — He won here last October. Wouldn’t be a surprise to see him win here again.
33. Alex Bowman, BK Racing No. 23 Toyota — Was 23rd in the Daytona 500. If he stays out of trouble, could finish better Sunday.
34. Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota — Don’t count out Hamlin. Remember how strong he was at Daytona.
35. Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing No. 16 Ford — This writer had trouble thinking of a comment for Biffle's non-descript season before qualifying. After that qualifying result, having trouble of thinking of a comment for Biffle after qualifying.
36. Josh Wise, Phil Parsons Racing No. 98 Ford — Has Dogecoin as his sponsor thanks to Reddit community. Gotten the friendly Wise some pub.
37. Terry Labonte, Go FAS Racing No. 32 Ford — Running the restrictor-plate races this year and then likely calling it a career.
38. Justin Allgaier, HScott Motorsports No. 51 Chevrolet — Knows it doesn’t matter where you start, it’s where you finish.
39. David Ragan, Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford — Who won a year ago at Talladega? This guy.
40. David Gilliland, Front Row Motorsports No. 38 Ford — If he has the chance, he’ll make the pass on David Ragan. Didn’t have much a chance last year.
41. Landon Cassill, Mike Hillman Racing No. 40 Chevrolet — Cassill has this team 31st in owner points despite having failed to qualify for two races earlier this year. That meant that he didn’t have to sweat out qualifying.
42. Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet — Kahne admits he was frustrated earlier this year but says team is on right path. He won’t really know until next week when they get back to an intermediate track. Car was too light in post-qualifying tech so he's starting in the back of the field.
43. Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Chevrolet — Truex was fastest in practice. He has a good car. That means others definitely will work with him, possibly quickly up to the front. He was 38th in the original qualifying but then didn't meet height requirements and had his time disallowed.
Source : http://www.sportingnews.com/nascar/news/talladega-starting-lineup-breakdown-for-aarons-499-nascar-sprint-cup/68p5vdm3pjks1p0xheyswvc9c