Ryan Blaney – Ryan Blaney isn’t a bad restrictor plate racer. He’s pretty good at playing follow the leader. Historically at these venues he’s a driver who stays in line and as a result he’s able to come home with good finishes. This year at plate tracks he’s scored the 8th most points and has a 14.0 average finish. In 2 of his 4 Talladega races he’s finished in the top ten. This spring Blaney avoided the carnage and as a result he was able to come home with a 9th place finish. Last fall he had his worst result and finished 43rd after his engine blew up. Before his problem he typically ran between 8th and the mid-teens. In spring 2015 Blaney had a quality showing at Talladega. He started 3rd, finished 4th and earned the 4th best driver rating. The end of the race was single file and he stayed in line so he was able to earn his good result rather easily. In fall 2014 when he raced a third Penske car he led 16 laps and finished 22nd. At Daytona in July Blaney finished 14th.
Chase Elliott – This spring Chase Elliott had a successful Talladega debut and ran well throughout the event. He started on the pole, finished 5th, earned the 3rd best driver rating and led 27 laps. Out of the Hendrick drivers he was by far the class of the field. Daytona is the other plate track on the schedule and it hasn’t been kind to him this year resulting in finishes of 32nd and 37th. One fantasy aspect I’ll note about Elliott is that he’s won 2 of the 3 poles at plate tracks this year. Overall the 24 car has won 5 of the last 7 poles on this track type.