NNS: Aaron’s 312 preview

May 3, 2012 No Comments

Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

Information:

Date: Saturday, May 5th, 2012

Location: Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega Alabama

Distance: 117 laps/ 311.22 miles

Time: 3:15 p.m. EST

Broadcast: TV—ABC with broadcast starting at 3 p.m. EST

Radio—MRN

Analysis:

The last time the NASCAR Sprint Cup series was at a Superspeedway, the winner came from 11th place coming out of turn four, to pull off the surprising win.

As the series moves to the biggest NASCAR oval, the 2.66 mile Talladega Superspeedway, another driver may be just as surprised as James Buescher was when he pulled into victory lane in Daytona.

Unlike the  other national series that implemented rule changes in the off season to try and curb the use of tandem racing—when two drivers drive bumper to bumper and draft off each other to go faster for a lap or two—the Nationwide series discovered in Daytona that they could still race tandem style. Although there was pack racing at Daytona, the tandem racing still ruled much of the race.

This weekend, like last year there will be tandem racing, but like Daytona there will also be pack racing. Also, like Daytona there could be a wild ending.

With the pack style racing there comes the possibility of a multi-car wreck that could take out several drivers. That is exactly what the final quarter lap of the Daytona race saw, when the top-10 drivers were all taken out in one wreck, allowing Buescher to capture the win.

When it comes to Talladega, the unique aspect of the track isn’t the fact that it is longer and has two more degrees of banking in the turns, it is the fact that the start/finish line is located near turn one, passed the tri-oval.

If Daytona, or past Talladega races are to be any indication, then if there are more than two drivers in contention for the lead with the checkered flag just hundreds of feet away, then driver will try just about anything to get themselves the victory.

Of the drivers that could find themselves in victory lane come Saturday, there are several factors that could decide who the driver that has a chance to win could be.

The first is experience at restrictor plate racing. Several drivers and in fact every single winner of the Nationwide races at Talladega have come from drivers that have all had at least one full year, and previous restrictor plate experience.

Another factor to watch out for may be more about survival than actually about having a strong car. A strong car will always help, but given the nature of pack racing, with 10 or more drivers driving less than a second apart, it takes one slip of the wheel to cause havoc.

Driving in the race this Saturday will be not only past winners of this event, Kyle Busch, who will try and carry the momentum from last’s weeks win into this weekend’s race. Dale Earnhardt Jr. who has won at Talladega in both the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide series will also be entered in the race.

Both of these drivers have experience and have proven to be lucky at restrictor plate tracks and could be a factor late in the race.

Although, knowing the tendancies of plate racing means that just about any car with a motor can have a chance to win as long as they are on the lead lap and near the front when the checkered flag waves.

By the numbers:

  • 56—most number of lead changes in a single race. (2011)
  • 35th—the furthest back a winner has started the race from. (Joe Nemecheck 2000)
  • 14—the average starting position of the winner at Talladega through 20 races (number rounded up.)
  • 12—the number of wins Chevrolet has at Talladega to lead all manufactures.
  • 11—the most number of caution periods there have been at Talladega. (2011)
  • 3—the most wins at Talladega for one driver. (Martin Truex Jr 2004-2006)
  • 2—the number of times a driver has won from the pole. (Tony Stewart in 2008 was the most recent).

Entry list:

  1. Kurt Busch
  2. Mike Wallace
  3. Elliott Sadler
  4. Austin Dillon
  5. Danny Efland
  6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  7. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  8. Danica Patrick
  9. Tim Andrews
  10. Jeff Green
  11. Brian Scott
  12. Sam Hornish Jr.
  13. Eric McClure
  14. Jeffery Earnhardt
  15. Joey Logano
  16. Tayler Malsam
  17. Ryan Truex
  18. Brad Keselowski
  19. Robert Richardson Jr.
  20. John Wes Townley
  21. James Buescher
  22. Justin Allgaier
  23. Kevin Harvick
  24. Brad Sweet
  25. Josh Richards
  26. Erik Darnell
  27. Timmy Hill
  28. Josh Wise
  29. Michael Annett
  30. Mike Bliss
  31. Chase Miller
  32. Scott Speed
  33. T.J. Bell
  34. Jeremy Clements
  35. Kevin Lepage
  36. Kyle Busch
  37. Johanna Long
  38. Mike Harmon
  39. Blake Koch
  40. Jason Bowles
  41. Joe Nemechek
  42. Cole Whitt
  43. Morgan Shepherd
  44. Kenny Wallace
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