Date: Sunday, May 6, 2012
Location: Talladega Superspeedway —Talladega, Ala
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Distance: 188 laps/500 miles
Broadcast: TV- Fox with coverage beginning at noon ET
Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN) or Sirius XM Channel 90
Notes and Analysis:
When you head to the Talladega Superspeedway, you just never know what to expect. From on-track action to what takes place on the infield, you just never know—and sometimes don’t want to—what’s exactly going to happen.
Last year, we saw the two-car-tango take center stage at both Daytona and Talladega. But, with NASCAR’s new rules regarding the cooling systems and front grille openings, the element known as “pack racing” is back in full force at both tracks.
And as we saw at Daytona, cooling was definitely an issue for teams and drivers.
So as we head to Talladega with 80° and 90° temperatures in the forecast this weekend, the issues of cooling will not be going away anytime soon. NASCAR has stated that even with the hot temperatures, they will not do anything to change the way cars are cooled this weekend.
Normally when you’re looking for favorites and drivers who will contend to win, you can usually rely on past races at the track. This weekend however is not the case.
We saw in the Daytona 500 that some of the drivers that were masters of the two-car-tango struggled getting back to the pack drafting that drivers now deal with.
And we saw at Daytona that the drivers who were masters of the tandem and pack draft were the ones who could stay up front the entire night.
If you’re looking for a couple drivers to do well this weekend at Talladega, look no further than Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin.
Earnhardt Jr., who has 5 wins at Talladega, comes into Sunday’s race sitting second in the points after his seventh top-ten finish of the season last weekend at Richmond.
From 2001 through 2003, Earnhardt Jr. won all five of his Talladega races, including the season sweep of the 2.66-mile track in 2002.
Although he hasn’t won at the speedway since 2003, Earhnardt Jr. has remained a force to reckon with each time NASCAR takes the high banks in Alabama.
Denny Hamlin on the other hand has never won at a restrictor plate track. But, he has been a contender to win seemingly ever since the introduction of the Car of Tomorrow.
In the past four Talladega races, Hamlin has finished in the top-ten three times. The only time Hamlin didn’t finish in the top-ten in those four starts was this race last year when he finished 23rd.
If you’re looking for an overall organization that’s been strong at Talladega over the past races, look no further than the Richard Childress Racing organization.
Three of the last four Talladega races have been won by drivers in RCR cars at the time of their respective victories.
The stretch of wins began with Kevin Harvick’s last lap pass on Jamie McMurray to win the 2010 running of the Aaron’s 499. Later that year in October, former RCR driver Clint Bowyer was leading at the time of caution when A.J. Allmendinger rolled his No.43 on the front-stretch. Bowyer then defended his 2010 Talladega victory by ousting RCR teammate, Jeff Burton, at the line to pick up his only win of the 2011 season.
Even though Bowyer is now with the Michael Waltrip Racing team, don’t count him out as the MWR car then driven by David Reutimann pushed Harvick to a second place finish in the October, 2010 race at Talladega.
However you slice it, this weekend’s race at Talladega surely will be one of the most entertaining races of the 2012 season to date.
By the Numbers:
- 13- Out of 85 races at Talladega, only 13 of them have been won from the pole position. (Jeff Gordon in 2007 is the most recent)
- 8- Bill Elliott leads all active drivers with eight Talladega poles.
- 36th- The position Jeff Gordon started in 2000 when he won at Talladega, the furthest back a winner has started in track history.
- 3- The number of times Talladega has gone caution free. The last was October, 2002 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his third-straight Talladega race.
- 1- On two occasions, the winner of a Talladega race has only led one lap. Brad Keselowski was the last in 2009.
- 10- Dale Earnhardt leads the way with 10 Talladega victories. His last win came in October,2000. His 76th and final win.
- 212.809 mph- Bill Elliott’s amazing qualifying record set back in 1987. This is the fastest qualifying speed in NASCAR history.
Fantasy Racing Picks:
“A” Drivers: Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards
“B” Drivers: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton, Regan Smith, Kurt Busch
“C” Drivers: Michael Waltrip, Trevor Bayne, Dave Blaney
*Note: Using an online randomize site isn’t a bad idea for this weekend*
Entry List for the Aaron’s 499
- #1 Jamie McMurray (Bass Pro Shops/ Tracker Boats)
- #2 Brad Keselowski (Miller Lite)
- #5 Kasey Kahne (Farmer’s Insurance)
- #9 Marcos Ambrose (Stanley)
- #10 David Reutimann (Tommy Baldwin Racing)
- #11 Denny Hamlin (FedEx Express)
- #13 Casey Mears (GEICO)
- #14 Tony Stewart (Office Depot)
- #15 Clint Bowyer (Aaron’s-Alabama National Championship)
- #16 Greg Biffle (O’Reilly’s)
- #17 Matt Kenseth (Best Buy)
- #18 Kyle Busch (M&M’s)
- #20 Joey Logano (Dollar General)
- #21 Trevor Bayne (Motorcraft/ Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center)
- #22 A.J. Allmendinger (Shell Pennzoil-AAA)
- #23 Robert Richardson Jr. (North Tx. Pipe)
- #24 Jeff Gordon (DuPont)
- #26 Josh Wise (Morristown Driver’s Service)
- #27 Paul Menard (Menard’s-Turtle Wax)
- #29 Kevin Harvick (Rheem)
- #30 David Stremme (Inception Motorsports)
- #31 Jeff Burton (CATERPILLAR)
- #32 Terry Labonte (C&J Energy)
- #33 Tony Raines (TBA)
- #34 David Ragan (TBA)
- #36 Dave Blaney (Golden Corral)
- #38 David Gilliland (Taco Bell)
- #39 Ryan Newman (BASS PRO)
- #42 Juan Pablo Montoya (Target-Kraft)
- #43 Aric Almirola (Verifone Sail)
- #47 Bobby Labonte (Bush’s Beans)
- #48 Jimmie Johnson ( Lowe’s)
- #49 J.J. Yeley (JPP Absorbents)
- #51 Kurt Busch ( Phoenix Construction)
- #55 Michael Waltrip (Aaron’s Color Your Way)
- #56 Martin Truex Jr. (NAPA)
- #78 Regan Smith (Furniture Row)
- #83 Landon Cassill (Burger King- Dr. Pepper)
- #87 Joe Nemechek (AM/FM Energy-Wood Pellet Stoves)
- #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (National Guard)
- #93 Travis Kvapil (Burger King-Dr. Pepper)
- #97 Bill Elliott (TBA)
- #98 Michael McDowell (Curb Records)
- #99 Carl Edwards (Fastenal)