It is Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Time to Shine at Talladega

By Brian Berg Jr.

Last week we were at the 3/4 mile Richmond International Raceway where there was some close racing and controversy.  Although Dale Earnhardt Jr. did not win the race, he did finish second and moved to second in the Sprint Cup Standings within five points of the leader.  This week we move on to bigger and hopefully much better and highly exciting racing.  This week NASCAR takes their game to the Talladega Superspeedway for the Aaron’s 499.

The Talladega Superspeedway is the biggest and fastest track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule.  The track is a 2 and 5/8 mile tri-oval with 33 degrees of banking in the turns, 16.5 degrees in the front stretch.  Unlike all the other tracks on the schedule, the start and finish line is actually at the end of the front stretch instead of the middle.  This makes for some really exciting finishes.

Talladega is known as one of the restrictor plate tracks where drafting and pack racing is the norm except since the debut of the new cars, two car tandems have been prevalent.  This style of drafting is where two cars following each other are 2 to 4 MPH faster than a group of cars doing the same.  At the season opener at Daytona NASCAR worked hard at the rules for the car to reduce and/or eliminate two car tandem drafting.  Since this will be the first time at Talladega since these changes, we don’t know for sure how they affected this track.

Expect the racing this weekend to have a lot of pack racing but there might be some 2-car tandem racing in order to move past a pack.  At the end of the race there may be some drivers willing to risk all by doing the 2-car tandem to win the race, as such there might be a lot of overheated cars and engine failures.  This might be more of a problem if there happens to be a late caution flag and a Green White Checker finish.

At most tracks the NASCAR Driver Ratings indicate which driver has a rating better than another driver in order to pick the top ten drivers.  Unlike other tracks the driver ratings are low and are pretty close to one another.  This indicates that there truly is statistically no advantage.  Picking a winner here really is a crap shoot.  Put the top twelve drivers and some of your favorites in a hat and draw.  If that is not acceptable, figuring it more scientifically, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is only 5 points back in the standings from Greg Biffle, he is having a career year, has the second highest driver rating of 90.2, had a series leading four consecutive victories and the highest average finish (15) than any other driver.  He needs to win and this is his track.  If  he does win he will get Hendrick Motorsports its 200th victory.

If you cannot get to the track, the race will be on Fox at 12 PM ET.  Follow me on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race.  Who do you think will win?  Please let us know by Ranting below:

Top 12 Driver Rating at Talladega
Jeff Burton 91.3
Dale Earnhardt Jr 90.2
Denny Hamlin 88.7
Joey Logano 88.6
Brian Vickers 87.3
David Ragan 87.1
Kurt Busch 86.2
Tony Stewart 84.3
Matt Kenseth 83.7
Jeff Gordon 82.6
Jimmie Johnson 81.9
Juan Pablo Montoya 81.8


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