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Nascar at Talladega: Anything Can Happen at the Wildcard Super Speedway of the Chase (and Probably Will)…

If you listen to the drivers, hardly anyone of them is looking forward to Talladega and if you ask them why, it is because they have so little control over the outcome of the race being based on their performance in the race. They will be at the mercy of all the other drivers and that is why most, if not all of them, will be glad when this weekend is over.

Although the teams may not be looking forward to the Amp Energy 500 this weekend, most of the fans are anticipating the tight two and three wide racing that restrictor plate racing breeds. Even though some won’t readily admit it, they’ll be watching just to see the “big one” happen.

When it comes down to this fan’s opinion, I just like restrictor plate racing because it does keep the field close together and in tight packs. If you look at the article >>JAFV April 25, 2009 << I wrote back in April for the Talladega race in the spring, you’ll find even more reasons why I like it. Yes, I know it is much more stressful on the drivers and they have to concentrate every minute they are on the track, but there is still something to be said for the two and three wide racing when it comes to the fans and their point of view.

No matter what you think of restrictor plate racing, this weekend’s Amp Energy 500 will be the race that determines just how interesting the next three will be in the points race when it comes to the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Many hope that, somehow, the points’ battle will tighten up and put about three to four of the teams back into contention. They think the only way that is going to happen will be for Jimmie Johnson to finish well back in the pack. Even he and crew chief, Chad Knaus, are looking at this week as the one wildcard track that could put the brakes on their push for a historic fourth Cup Title in a row.

When you think about it, Talladega is a track that you can finish within a second or two of the winner of the race and still be in 20th to 30th place. It really depends on how tight the pack is as they take the checkered flag at the end of 500 miles. For those of you that are familiar with the Talladega track, you know it is possible for the cars to finish three wide, (maybe even four wide), and it doesn’t take that many rows to add up to 20 or 30, even 40 spots.

There is a lot of talk about the smaller restrictor plate they will be running this weekend as opposed to in the spring. Some think it is going to make for one of the most exciting races ever at Talladega. Others say it will be one of the most dangerous simply because everyone will be running that much closer together. Whichever way it goes, this fan thinks it is going to be one of the most unique races ever at the Super Speedway called Talladega.

From this fan’s view, two of the big questions have already been answered. The first is qualifying was rained out so they all will line up according to points. The second deals with whether or not a couple of cars can hook up and go several miles an hour faster than others that are in multiple car packs. According to my observations in practice, it looks as if there is still that possibility. For some reason, it didn’t appear that the cars that tried out the option, could run as good with cars of the same make (or, at least, the same teams) as they could with ones of another make. I didn’t have time to make a good comparison of which ones in particular could run the fastest together, but this could mean that teammates won’t necessarily be able to help each other as much as someone else may.

Now this is just my opinion, but speaking strictly from observation, (and no engineering degree), it could have something to do with the way the air travels over the cars and what happens to it when it enters the grill areas and how the two mix when they exit over and behind the second car. Admittedly, I have no idea what the possible differences are, or can be, between makes but something has to be different when two cars get together and go that much faster than two of the same make. I won’t even venture a guess and I will leave that problem and formula for another time and to those much smarter than me. (Still, it is interesting to ponder even if only for the moment.)

I won’t even try to pick a winner this weekend, (which seems to be a habit lately), because there is just too much that can happen. I do think there is a high possibility that this could be the week that a non-Chaser wins but I’m not sure if it will be a well known name or someone totally unexpected. Although it isn’t much of stretch of anyone’s imagination, I do think the Hendrick cars will figure in the mix at the end … unless they get taken out by one of the “Big Ones”… (Wow! You just gotta love Talladega…)

See ya next time…


(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)

© October 31, 2009 – all rights reserved

Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman


By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.