What do you expect at Talladega Superspeedway? You expect the unexpected.
Every week we start looking at stats and how teams are performing and how teams have performed at this track and what their record is for this year, but everybody knows, those don’t mean anything at Talladega.
We’re going to go down there, we’re going to run for 188 laps, for 500 miles, and the outcome of the day may be determined by a decision that your driver makes coming through possibly the last corner of the last lap, maybe even just entering the trioval. You can have all the best strategy, you can have the fastest car making the most horsepower and absolutely and you have about one-tenth of one percent control over your destiny.
So who should one be watching this weekend? Better watch all 43 drivers.
It’s one of the races where Joe Nemechek or Dave Blaney could be considered a guy that could win this race. It certainly could be a race where a non-Chase driver prevails. But, of course, Brad Keselowski – who has a lot of momentum on this side right now with 12 top-10 finishes in his last 13 races, a stretch including three wins – did win the Talladega race in the spring.
Honestly, that part means nothing and these drivers would certainly tell you that.
Does that make it nerve-racking? It does. I lived it for a number of years as a crew chief. It’s like worrying about the weather. There’s not a thing you can do about it.
I’ve got to believe that one of the drivers that’s very apprehensive and has a lot of anxiety going into Talladega would be Jimmie Johnson. He has not even finished a restrictor-plate race in 2012. He has not had a finish better than 20th at Daytona or Talladega since he won the Talladega race in the spring of 2011.
He wrecked in the Daytona 500 on Lap 2. He got caught up in a wreck at the other Daytona race. He had an engine failure at Talladega, which certainly is out of his control.
The restrictor-plate races, they have not been good to Jimmie Johnson. But the odds say that he should come out of there pretty good.
You’re going to have drivers with different strategies at Talladega.
You’re going to have drivers that are going to go up there and try to lead this race and stay at the front, thinking that’s going to be the safest place. Then you’re going to have a variety of them, I can almost guarantee you that Jimmie Johnson will be one of them, that are going to try their best to stay far enough back to stay out of harm’s way until this thing gets into the late closing stages.