NASCAR: Talladega -- Expect To Wreck

By James Williams
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Talladega is a town of about 16,000 people located in the hills of eastern Alabama just about 50 miles outside of Birmingham. This small southern town is home to Talladga International Speedway, a massive tri-oval that, at 2.66 miles, is the biggest oval track on the NASCAR circuit. It is a track known for racing four-wide, awesome speeds and big-time crashes.

Sunday the Camping World RV Sales 500 is one of those races that drivers either love or hate. There is no middle ground when it comes to the plate races at either Talladega or Daytona. This is a track that is famous for it multi-car crashes. “Dega” carries the distinction of being both the  most exciting track in NASCAR as well as by far the most vexing.

You can bet that “Fab Five,” the Chase for the Sprint Cup’s leaders Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch have only one thing on their minds: stay out of the Big One.

Their game plan for Sunday is very simple. Repeat after me: do not wreck the car.

Consider this — the last time NASCAR came to “dega” in May, seven of the drivers in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup — Kurt and Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne — all finished 30th or worse.

Depending on what happens Sunday, NASCAR Sprint Cup points leaders Kenseth and/or Johnson could truly make this is a two-man race for the championship — or even a one-man race — or there could be as many as six to eight drivers who leave in legitimate title contention. I know what you are saying, “Boy, he went out on limb with that prediction.”

Try picking a winner with any degree of certainty at this race track — good luck with that one. You’d have better chance of hitting the lottery. Alright, you want a winner for the race on Sunday? Here is my best guess.

In the three most recent races at Talladega, the most consistent driver has been the points leader Matt Kenseth. He has one win and an average finish of fourth, which would seem to give him an edge. Kenseth drives ‘dega like you have to if you want to win, and that means aggressively.

How many wrecks will we have on Sunday? Who will it take out of Chase contention? This is why watching races at Talladega are so much fun; there is no dominate force here, anything can happen and this track never disappoints.

Rant Sports columnist James Williams is a seven time Emmy Award winning  producer, director and writer. Follow him on Twitter @Wordmandc and add him to your Google circles.

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