What to watch for – Talladega

April 14, 2011
by Lee

It does not seem that long ago that we witnessed the Daytona 500 and the two car hookups that dominated the race. Daytona ended with a story book ending with Trevor Bayne keying up the radio as he took the checkered flag by saying “are you kidding me?” We now move to the eighth race of the season at Daytona’s sister track, Talladega.

We know on Sunday that we will see the return of the two car hookup for much of the race. The drivers are going to need a dance partner all day long if they expect to reach the checkered flag first. The first thing that I am going to look for in this race is who is going to hook up with Bayne. Bayne showed in his first restrictor plate race that he can hang with the big teams and knows how to race safely in that style. Well, he can race as safe as is allowed for restrictor plate racing. There no way of saying at this point who will match well with Bayne, but be sure that some drivers will be willing to try. The Magic 8 Ball is telling me it will Jeff Gordon.

The next question on my mind for the Aaron’s 499 is will we see another surprise winner. The restrictor plate tracks are an equal playground for all of the teams in the race to bring home a win. The track is not going to require a lot of adjustments to make the car feel good to the driver. Drivers will just have to mash the gas and hook up with another competitor to make it to the front. Anyone who can avoid the wrecks and hangs around to the end, will have a chance to get to the front on the last lap.

This is the track that we all have to also expect Dale Earnhardt Jr. to continue the parade of ending long winless streaks in the series. Obviously you cannot count out any driver in this race, but you know that Jr. is going to be gritting his teeth and holding it wide open for the entire race to get the victory that has eluded him. The fans in Alabama will take a long time leaving the track should Jr. put the #88 Hendrick powered machine in victory lane on Sunday.

There is some not so great news for Talladega starting with some concerns for Friday. A major weather system is expected to come through on Friday afternoon and evening with severe thunderstorms and the possibility of long track tornados. Talladega is infamous for its infield camping and partying that goes on during the race weekends. I recall last year, or the year before that, that a similar situation occurred on Friday before the race. Hopefully the storms will not be too severe, but if you are at the track on Friday, keep an ear to the weather radio for potential warnings or emergency information.

The second item of not so great news for ‘Dega is ticket sales. Rumor has it that 12,000 seats are going to be covered with the advertisement tarps. Hard to believe that Talladega might look empty on Sunday when it will probably be one of the most exciting races of the season.

Some great news for NASCAR on the sponsorship side of things this week as well. STP is coming back into the sport as a sponsor. STP will be have sponsorships at tracks and on Richard Petty Motorsports cars. Kansas will see its Cup race in June be named by the STP 400. It will be good to see a previous long time sponsor jump back into the sport.

The IZOD IndyCar series will continue to try to put us asleep with another road course on Sunday at Long Beach, California. What is there to look for in this race? I basically will look for Will Power to get the pole and lead all the laps like he did last week. There is not going to be a lot of on track passing again in this race. Qualify well, and you probably will have a good day assuming you do not have mechanical issues.

In other IndyCar news, the challenge of getting into the Indy 500 field is growing. Forty two entries have been submitted for the race this year. Bump Day could be one of the most exciting we have seen in years. We will have full coverage of the Month of May from Indianapolis Motor Speedway with tweets and articles from Dave. Dave is lucky to live in Indianapolis and will bring us all the action leading up the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Normally I put my fantasy racing pick of the week in my early week article, putting it here this week. I am going to go with Tony Stewart for the win this week. Stewart has had the cars to get it done twice now, but a pit road mishap and a speeding penalty have taken away chances to win. Stewart has never won in the Cup Series at ‘Dega, but I think he gets it done this week. With that pick, it probably means Stewart destroys the car early in the race.

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TV Schedule

Nationwide Series: ESPN2 at 3:00 PM Eastern

Sprint Cup Series: Fox at 12:00 PM Eastern

IZOD IndyCar Series: VS at 3:30 PM Eastern

The wreck of week is Martin Truex Jr. getting bumped by Kevin Harvick on the backstretch of Texas, hitting the wall, and then getting clobbered by Mark Martin:

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