Sunday afternoon 43 drivers will take the track at Talladega for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series Aaron’s 499, and every one of them has a realistic chance of winning.
Mother Nature for the second week in a row had a say and with severe weather coming on Saturday, NASCAR cancelled qualifying. This means the lineup is set up by points, giving Jimmie Johnson the pole for Sunday’s race.
Unlike any other track the series comes to Talladega qualifying means the least because you pit in a pack here.
When you come to Talladega you can’t help but expect to see Tony Stewart up front or near the front on race day. I do not think this week will be any different. Stewart since 2005 has an average finish of 16.1 and with an average running position of 14.3.
Stewart always finds his way to the front and Sunday he hopes to be there at the checkered flag.
Another driver to watch is Jeff Gordon, he leads all active drivers with six wins. His most recent win is the fall race in 2007. The last four races have not gone very well for him; he has no top 10 finishes since.
Gordon will start fifth but that doesn’t mean much, he was running in the top 10 last spring and before lap 10 was caught up in a wreck.
Another driver I am going to be watching is Carl Edwards. He hasn’t shown the type of speed or dominating performances like he did in 2008.
He is coming to Talladega after getting in a wreck at Texas. He dropped in the standings out of the top 12 to 15th. He needs to finish the race on Sunday because he cannot afford another bad points’ day.
My three dark horses are : Paul Menard, Regan Smith and Jamie McMurray.
Weather could also be a factor on Sunday. There is a possibility of rain in the morning which could push back the start of the race.
I haven’t even touched on avoiding the big one. The big one is the one wreck that takes out multiple cars, it can happen up front or mid pack or even in back. The wrecks can occur when someone taps someone the wrong way, or someone gets loose underneath someone.
Really you cannot avoid them at Talladega, because you are right on top of each other. It’s these wrecks that make Talladega so tense from the drop of the green flag.
The Aaron’s 499 is Sunday on FOX at 1 ET.