NASCAR

Kansas on tap but 'Dega is lurking

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Talladega Superspeedway Oct. 20.
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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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We are only two races away from heading back to Talladega Superspeedway. To me, Talladega has always been and will continue to be a huge wild-card race in the Chase. We have three guys who are evenly matched in the Chase and in a blink of an eye, their day could be ruined by something not of their making at Talladega.

It doesn’t matter how good Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch are. You can be in the wrong place at the right time and end up the victim. Despite all the different strategies teams have tried over the years, there is no place to hide.

Some like to ride in the back for the majority of the race and then come to the front when it’s “GO” time. Some try to stay up front all day long and hopefully out of the “eye of the storm,” as we call it.

There is no exact science when it comes to Talladega. It simply is a balls-to-the-wall race. Unfortunately, when you lay it up there like that, you just never know when they are going to get busted.

Talladega is a great equalizer. Every single car in the race has a chance to win. Talladega plays no favorites. The key is being at the right place at the right time. If you can capitalize on that, then you are a hero.

Go back and look at some of the names who have won at Talladega in the past. You’ll find yourself scratching your head going, “Who is this, where did they come from and where are they now?”

The racing at Talladega simply produces that. I’m not knocking any driver, but at Talladega a start-and-park team has the same chance of winning as the powerhouse teams like Joe Gibbs Racing or Hendrick Motorsports.

Understand that Talladega is its own animal. It is not Daytona. There is only one Talladega and the one Talladega is expressly unique. It is unbelievable and sometimes unexplainable. Sometimes the outcome is really good. Other times the outcome is really, really ugly.

All it takes is one driver being too aggressive at the wrong place and you being in that wrong place, and your day is ruined.
 

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