Saturday, October 19, 2013

Matt Kenseth top rated driver heading into Sunday's Talladega race

Clint Bowyer is always one to watch at Talladega
LAS VEGAS - There was nothing really gained in any of Friday's practice sessions or Saturday's qualifying that was rained out, so there's no need to upgrade any driver to win Sunday's Camping World RV Sales 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. The bottom line here still remains that almost every driver in the starting lineup has a chance to win.

The first notion given that any pre-race practice session means little compared to 32 other races without the restrictor plates is that the teams don't care themselves. Kevin Harvick ran only 10 laps in Friday's first practice session, and his 34th fastest lap wasn't too impressive. But he'd prefer to practice conservatively than chance wrecking a brand new chassis specially made for this race.

The Richard Childress drivers have been missing the final practice ahead of plate races for a few years, so it's nothing new, but 13 other cars joined the RCR “I'm good” sentiment and didn't participate in happy hour either.

So where's the starting point to handicapping this race if there is no practice, in the usual sense, to go off of? I think it's fair to say Matt Kenseth has proven to be the most dominant in plate races this season, which also includes pre-season testing and Daytona speed weeks. He has yet to win any of the three plate races - two at Daytona and the other at Talladega in May - nor has he captured a top-5 finish, which further illustrates how hard it is to gauge Talladega.

However, Kenseth did lead a lap in all three plate races, including eight different times for 142 of the 192 laps run on Talladega's 2.66-mile monster layout in May. Kenseth also won this race last season while driving for Roush Fenway Racing.

One of the great stories to watch, along with lesser name drivers like David Ragan and David Gilliland competing for a win late, will be watching how point leaders Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson handle this race. Do they go all out and try to stay up front with hopes of leading the most laps, or at least one lap, or do they hang back out of trouble until 10 laps remain? This is the wild card race of the entire 10-race Chase, so chances are we may see a case of monkey-see, monkey-do.

Read More Here.........Final Driver Ratings

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