10. He’s almost 46, you know.
NASCAR’s top two series each put on a whale of a show at Talladega Superspeedway this past weekend, producing a pair of thrillers that left the TV cameras on high alert from start to finish. Of course, that’s not a new thing when it comes to Daytona and Talladega; and because of the nature of restrictor-plate racing, action at these tracks becomes very tricky to cover. In a matter of seconds, a driver can go from leading the race, to being shuffled back to 28th place, to spinning through the tri-oval and wrecking half the field.
Anything can – and as we saw Sunday – will happen at Talladega. The new car provided exciting racing for the fans and good runs for some drivers, but provided plenty of headaches for others. Wheelmen like Juan Pablo Montoya and Travis Kvapil had surprisingly strong finishes, while Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards’s days ended early with tire problems, more evidence that the superspeedway is more of a crapshoot than anything else. With that in mind, come in and see who survived to stay on this week’s HOT list, as well as who could really go for a good run at Richmond this weekend.
1. Aye, Aye… Captain! – The United States Navy has announced the formation of an 88-person Boot Camp as a recruiting gimmick dubbed the “Dale Jr. Division,” in conjunction with the Navy’s sponsorship of the sport’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his JR Motorsports NASCAR Nationwide team. Dale Jr. will drive the No. 83 JR Motorsports NASCAR Nationwide series Chevrolet at Lowe’s Motor Speedway on May 24th to kick off the recruiting campaign; selected recruits will then be sent to Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois in August, at which time Earnhardt Jr. will commission the division. Following the completion of the seven-to-eight week course, Earnhardt Jr. will again visit “his” recruits.
As the NASCAR traveling circus made its way to Alabama last weekend for the running of the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, it was expected that the bubble drivers would do well entering Saturday’s qualifying session. After all, the top eight spots for the fall race were taken up by teams outside the Top 35; in that event, their qualifying setups easily outpaced those “safely” in the field, who were more focused on a winning combination for Sunday.
Q: What are the odds that Rick Hendrick is able to put together NASCAR’s version of the “Dream Team” by adding Tony Stewart to his team of Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson? In the big picture, would that team be good or bad for the sport?
Values of gas and opinions aside, when things get really messy, writer/editor wise, I am sometimes forced to drop the dreaded journalistic F-bomb! No, not that one (in this case, anyway); but sometimes, it becomes necessary to remind them that long before I became their journalist, I was, in fact, a fan first. I remind them that the very concept for this wonderful column was conceived in the inner sanctum of a gloomy, yet gloriously smoke filled tavern, in the middle of a cornfield.
The Cup stars head to northern Alabama this weekend to the longest and fastest track on the schedule, the Talladega Superspeedway. It’s the first time that the series comes back to a plate track, having run at Talladega last fall in the new CoT configuration. That car, along with a newly-paved track, resulted in a very long single-file run last year; but expect to see a more competitive race this time around now that the drivers have a better idea of how the car will react in the packs that result from plate racing. Read on to see what the experts have to say in order for you to navigate the waters of tricky Talladega…
Today’s Question: Last fall’s race at Talladega was a freight train event, in part due to the drivers’ fears surrounding restrictor-plate racing. Is it just time to take the plates off, or are the plates a necessary evil in order for speeds to stay down and drivers to stay safe?
The Sprint Cup Series was idle this week while the Nationwide Series teams went to Mexico City. Given the huge cost of the trip, should it be the other way around? Is it time for the Cup Series to have a race out of the country?