Will the New Car be Good to Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Talladega?

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Last week NASCAR was at Richmond International Raceway where Dale Earnhardt Jr. quietly finished the race in tenth place. This week NASCAR is at a race track that is at the other end of the spectrum.  This week is the Aaron’s 499 from Talladega Superspeedway.

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.

Each week we use driver ratings to determine which driver is good here.  This week, throw those ratings out since this track is all about cunning, speed, strategy and nerves.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. owned this track from 2001 until the spring race of 2003 winning an unprecedented four races in a row.  He won the race again in the fall of 2004.  He is tied for the most wins by an active driver with Jeff Gordon at five races.  For the record though Jeff spread his wins out, and hasn’t won since 2007.

Dale Jr.’s record with the old car of tomorrow (Generation 5 car) at Talladega is miserable with only five top ten finishes in sixteen races; his highest is a second place finish in 2009.  It is very easy to say that the Generation 5 car was not good to him.

This year NASCAR goes to Talladega with a new car, the Generation six car. A car that by all accounts does not draft as well as the Generation 5 car because it punches a bigger hole in the air.  The bumpers don’t line up so there can’t be tandem drafting. All of the characteristics of drafting at a restrictor plate tracks with the Generation five car are changed.

At Daytona, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second and had a chance to win the race. Look for him to return to his glory days with the new car at Talladega Superspeedway. By the way although he has had miserable finishes the sixteen races he still has the second highest driver rating.

Talladega is a lottery because the guy who wins has done something right and earned it.” Dale Jr. said, “You just really don’t have quite as much control over your own destiny here as you do at other racetracks. And I think that will always be the case. But some guys are making it work. Somebody’s going to win the race, and I want to be that guy.

If you can’t get to the Talladega Superspeedway the race will be broadcast on Fox Sunday May 5th at 1 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for RantSports.com.

Follow him on Twitter @brian_jr1 during the race and throughout the week for more NASCAR news and commentary. On Facebook at NASCAR News and Commentary. On Pinterest at NASCARnews. Also add to your network on Google.

Top 12 Driver Rating at Talladega
Jeff Burton…………………………… 91.4
Dale Earnhardt Jr………………….. 89.6
Matt Kenseth………………………. 88.9
Brian Vickers………………………. 87.3
Kurt Busch…………………………. 86.1
Brad Keselowski………………….. 85.6
David Ragan……………………….. 85.5
Denny Hamlin……………………… 84.9
Tony Stewart………………………. 83.5
Jeff Gordon…………………………. 83.1
Jamie McMurray………………….. 81.7
Kyle Busch………………………… 81.1
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2012 races (16 total) among active drivers at Talladega Superspeedway


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