One-quarter of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is in the books.  Before rushing to take a look at the standings to see where the drivers stack up, watch this weekend's race at Talladega Superspeedway.  The restrictor plate race is always a wild card that's sure to shake up the standings.

The race is notorious for cleaning out several cars, sometimes upwards of half the field, with a big wreck.  It could drop some unlucky contenders a few spots in the standings, but it's also an opportunity for the field.  Any driver could win this pack race, which means that it's the best time for the longer shots to sneak an early ticket into the postseason dance.

While there are no sure bets at Talladega, here are a few drivers to keep an eye on this weekend:

Green Flag - Dale Earnhardt Jr.

With five wins and four second-place finishes at Talladega, Dale Jr. could spoil the day for the hopeful underdogs.  It's worth noting that seven of those nine finishes, including all five wins, came in consecutive races from 2001-2004, and he hasn't been as strong at the track lately.  In one of the most odd statistical anomalies: in 2014, he finished 26th and 31st in the two Talladega races after having led 26 and 31 laps (respectively).  Perhaps he should try only leading the last lap on Sunday.

Yellow Flag - David Ragan

His only two career Cup wins have come in restrictor plate races: Daytona in 2011 and Talladega in 2013.  This could be his best opportunity to earn his way into the Chase and leaving a lasting impression with Joe Gibbs Racing before moving to the No. 55 at Michael Waltrip Racing next weekend.

Red Flag - Danica Patrick

Restrictor plate races tend to be very much a game of chance, and despite the hype she gets for strong Daytona performances, Danica hasn't replicated any such success at Talladega.  In four career starts at that track, she has an average finish of 26.8 and a best finish of 19th.  She did lead a combined 13 laps in last year's two Talladega races, but that doesn't make her a favorite.