Is a David poised to slay another Goliath at Talladega this weekend?
MAY 01, 2014 6:00p ET
We always tell you that tracks like Daytona and Talladega are the "great equalizers." By that we mean that because of the draft and pack racing, the playing field is more equal than ever before. A small one-car operation has just as much chance of winning as the mega-teams like Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing. Just look at the dark horse -- David Ragan -- who won at Talladega last year.
I was thinking about AJ Allmendinger's chances this weekend. Now let's be honest: He has a terrible record when it comes to Talladega. However, I talked to AJ recently and he's had some bright moments already in the nine races this season. A big part of that is his team's strategic alliance with Richard Childress Racing.
Now with the technology that has been provided them along with the engines that are being provided to them from RCR, they believe they have a really strong car. Additionally, this is the same car they had at Daytona, so they have somewhat of a proven product there.
That's somewhat a key for all these teams. If you were able to get through Daytona and come home with your car in one piece, that helps a lot in the preparation for Talladega because you worked on that same car for two weeks in Daytona. So if you have a car that's proven it has speed and drivability in it from Daytona and you bring it back here to Talladega, I think that gives you an advantage.
So if you want to look for a dark horse this weekend, AJ would be a good candidate. He's got enough experience now. He says he's evaluated where his weaknesses are when it comes to restrictor-plate racing, and he's made some changes in his driving style. Now that he knows he has a fast race car, he can be a little more cautious and a little more deliberate during the race, and that could prove very beneficial at the end.
So AJ is one I am going to be watching along with the driver I mentioned earlier, David Ragan. He's won at Daytona and Talladega. He's shown he's made great strides and is a pretty savvy racer, especially on the restrictor-plate tracks. I don't think this year should be considered any different for David. So don't for a second underestimate David's chance again this weekend, either.