NASCAR

Talladega wreckage part of the game

Goinâ¿¿ for broke
As Greg Biffle and others experienced in May, Talladega races often don't end well.
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Jeff Hammond

Jeff Hammond is a former NASCAR crew chief who led Darrell Waltrip to two of his three Sprint Cup championships. The duo also teamed up to win the 1989 Daytona 500. Prior to that, Hammond was the jackman for Cale Yarborough for all three of his Cup championships. He has 43 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief. Follow him on Twitter.

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Obviously, championship leader Matt Kenseth and second place Jimmie Johnson have separated themselves from the rest of the remaining 11 Chase drivers. You still have Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch who might be within striking distance. A lot of race fans have been asking me if Talladega on Sunday is their last chance to make a move and put themselves right back into the Chase hunt.

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NASCAR Sprint Cup and Truck Series action at Talladega. See the best scenes from the weekend!

To me the answer is no, but I say that also realizing this weekend is equally a chance for those three to be taken once and for all out of championship contention in this 2013 season. Talladega is everything you hear us call it. It’s a wild-card race. It’s the big variable. It is its own animal.

As we always say, anything can happen at Talladega and usually does. If they have an early-race crash and a lot of the front-running Chase drivers are taken out, yet someone like Clint Bowyer can keep his nose clean all day, then you are going to see a major points swing.

It’s this type of unknown and swing race that makes your past record at Talladega really not mean anything. Seriously, anyone can win Sunday – anyone. Talladega is the great equalizer and that makes it extremely difficult to predict a winner, let alone the top five finishers. If you want to go look at some amazing statistics, go look at the long list of past winners at Talladega that never won another race, sometimes in their career.

That is a clear indication of how Talladega creates great surprises that we have seen even as recent as earlier this year. Talladega is the place for the bizarre and unexplainable. There is no rhyme or reason – it’s all about where you are coming off of Turn 4 heading for that long run back to the checkered flag. So many things can happen up to that point.

Believe me, every driver and, in particular, every crew chief knows that in Sunday’s race, if their car gets destroyed, at least they don’t have to have one ready again until Daytona. I hate to use the word expendable, but every single one of them enters Sunday’s race expecting to have to replace their race car by the end of the afternoon. Everyone realizes that it is totally out of their control when it comes to racing at Talladega.
 

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