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NASCAR Talladega

Dale Jarrett used good pit strategy to get by Ricky Rudd at Martinsville, and win for the second consecutive race. In the process, he extended his lead in the points over Jeff Gordon. He and Jeff Gordon have arguably been the most impressive drivers this year.

And after a week off, NASCAR shifts from the shortest track on the circuit at Martinsville, to the largest and fastest track at Talladega, Alabama. Talladega is the most competitive and most exciting track on the circuit as cars will race 4 wide in sections, and one small mistake can lead to a major pileup. In fact in an accident 2 years ago, Jeff Gordon cut down a tire while leading, and ended up taking out over 15 cars. 

As with Daytona, the cars will use restrictor plates at Talladega, which bunches up the cars even more. But the question has to be asked – will the Fords be able to compete in this race, given their poor finish at Daytona? At the Daytona 500, the Ford cars had a distinct disadvantage in aerodynamics and it showed with a best 8th place finish. The Earnhardt owned Chevrolets took the top 2 positions, but the dominant drivers in the race was a Dodge car – Sterling Marlin, who probably would have won, if not for a cut tire late in the race. 

The best driver at Talladega recently, had arguably been Dale Earnhardt Sr., who won the last race at the track over a surprising Kenny Wallace. It appears, however, that Kenny Wallace is not going to be competitive this year. Dale Jarrett was very impressive at the track prior to last year with 5 consecutive top-5 finishes including a victory, but last year he finished 15th and 17th respectively in the 2 races at the track. Add to that the fact that the Fords may be at a disadvantage with the restrictor plates, and Dale Jarrett’s attempt at 3 straight victories will be difficult. Jeff Gordon has always been impressive with restrictor plate racing, and last year he recorded a victory and a 4th place finish at the track. Other drivers, which must be considered because of good finishes in restrictor plate racing, are the Labonte brothers (Bobby and Terry), Ricky Rudd, Sterling Marlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Rusty Wallace will try again to get his first restrictor plate victory but considering his futility in that regard until now, it is unlikely that he will be competitive in this race – especially in his Ford.

Talladega is always chalking full of excitement so be sure to watch. It will be televised on FOX at 5 p.m. GMT on Sunday, April 22. Enjoy the race.

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