Tag:Good Sam Club 500
Posted on: October 23, 2011 7:49 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 7:58 pm
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Burton, Blaney, Edwards post Talladega comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

JEFF BURTON:  Well, I don't know whether to be excited or upset.  After the year we've had, it's good to be in position to win a race.  Obviously Clint and I worked really well together the whole race.  Had some good luck along the way.  Whenever you leave here not wrecked, you ought to be happy.  At the same time I'm heartbroke we didn't win the race.  It would have been a big deal for us to get a win, would have been a great deal to Caterpillar, all our supporters.          

Having said all that, I don't know what I would have done different.  Clint and I finished first and second in one of the Duel races in Daytona.  I won that one.  It was really close.  Then honestly I thought he made his move a little too early.  I kind of gave him the bottom because you tend to be able to pull them back better.  He made his move really early.           

I thought I'd be able to pull back to him.  He had a lot of momentum when he made the move.  His car was a little quicker throughout the day, that's why we ended up with him pushing me.  When I was pushing him, we weren't as good together.           

Nonetheless, it was a good finish for us.  Again, I'd be interested in watching the replay, see what I could have done different.  These races, it's really hard to hold that guy off when he's coming.  We've seen that every time.  I thought I did what I needed to give myself a shot to win and at the end of the day it didn't work out.           

KERRY THARP:  We'll take questions for Jeff Burton.            

Q.  Jeff, you and Clint seemed to take the strategy of, Let's go ahead and run up front as much as we can today, while so many other tandems laid way back.  Did you expect to see them sooner or later?  Were you surprised not to see some of the Chasers who had been laying back?           

JEFF BURTON:  I thought they waited too long.  That next to last caution came out I thought that saved them.  I thought that gave them a chance.           

Having said that, that's all in retrospect.  I wasn't thinking during the race, They're waiting too long.  When that caution came out, Clint and I were where we wanted to be to win the race.  I didn't think any of those guys were going to be a factor.  You're always looking at what's coming behind you.          

At the end of the day, that strategy didn't work today.  I've seen it work.  It worked here in the spring.  I've seen it work.  I'm much happier when it doesn't work because I prefer to run in the front.  I'm not being critical of anybody.  I don't blame them, especially when it works.  We've seen races won here by people pulling that strategy.  It just didn't work out today.  But I've seen it work both ways.            

Q.  On the last lap, did you pretty much figure when y'all broke away for the last lap that he was going to make a move?           

JEFF BURTON:  I was going down the back straightaway, talking on the radio:  I bet you're thinking about what you're going to do right now.  I was going to ask him to give an old man a break, but I knew better than that.           

But, yeah, I knew he was going to make a move.  He was supposed to make a move.  He ain't supposed to push me to the win.  He's supposed to go and try to win.  That's what you get here.  If there's those two cars leading everybody, you're going to get that move.  Like we saw in the Truck race yesterday, a guy with nowhere to go, he's going to push somebody to win because that gives him the best chance to get a good finish.  The way this worked out we have broken off from everybody.            

Q.  When you appeared to get into him a little bit there, was that a matter of trying to hold position or purely accidental?           

JEFF BURTON:  I was trying to get my left front fender to his right rear quarter panel to slow him up.  We all do that.  I got a little closer than I wanted to and knocked him around a little bit.           

That wouldn't have been good if he would have wrecked, would it?  I was trying to get as close to him as I could get his momentum slowed down.  I got him slowed down, but a little too late.           

KERRY THARP:  Let's also hear from the other drivers here on the podium.  Our third-place finisher Dave Blaney.  Dave, you showed you were very strong out there this afternoon.           

DAVE BLANEY:  It was a great run.  Obviously we have to thank Brad Keselowski, stayed with us all day long every lap.  When you get somebody committed to you no matter what, it makes it a lot easier.  Then it's just timing at the end.  Worked out pretty good.  We were in the right place at the right time, squeezed through a couple holes, there you are.           

But still a solid day.  We had a really solid day going here in the spring, too.  Didn't quite make it to the end.  Really fun day for Tommy Baldwin Racing, Golden Corral.           

KERRY THARP:  Our points leader is Carl Edwards.  Carl now has a 14-point lead over his teammate Matt Kenseth.  Carl, talk about getting that points lead back up there and also the race here this afternoon at Talladega.           

CARL EDWARDS:  I don't know that I've ever been excited about 11th place.  This race was one that is nerve-wracking for everyone.  We came in here with a small points lead and we're leaving with a bigger one.  That's a huge day for us.           

I cannot believe how much Greg helped us today.  I owe him a lot.  Greg stuck with me all day.  The last lap, he was driving my car from back there.  We got separated.  He was screaming, Go, go, go.  Then somehow he found me again, pushed us back up through there a little bit          

Just a very, very good day.  Just really appreciate Subway being onboard.  Good to get them a good finish.  Even though it's not a win, it's a big battle in the war, a huge day for us.           

KERRY THARP:  We'll continue with questions.            

Q.  You said you did everything that you could coming off of turn four.  Would you have done anything different if that hadn't been your teammate?  Would you maybe not have been as nice?           

JEFF BURTON:  Hell, I didn't think I was nice.           

No.  I mean, obviously I'd do something different now if I knew it wasn't going to work.  But I did everything I thought I needed to do.  It just didn't work out.           

I try really hard to race everybody the same.  I don't know what else I could have done, whether it was a teammate or not.  I actually ended up getting into him.  So I don't think there was anything different I could have done.           

Q.  Carl, given the dynamics of Talladega, is the best you can hope for here to work with a teammate as best you can, like Greg, and basically pray that nothing happens?           

CARL EDWARDS:  Yes, it's a very spiritual event (smiling).           

You just have to hope that the guy sticks with you.  Yeah, I don't know how to describe it to you guys.  You were asking Jeff if he would have done anything different.  Everybody leaves this race and thinks of a hundred thousand things they could have done different.  It's a tough, tough race.  If you finish it with your car intact...           

JEFF BURTON:  You feel damn lucky (laughter).           

CARL EDWARDS:  ...you feel like you got away with something.            

Q.  To pile on about things that could have been done differently, Carl, do you think in retrospect, did you and Greg wait too late to start to come to the front?  Is it fine as it turned out?          

CARL EDWARDS:  Hell, no, Ed.  We did it perfectly.  It worked out great.  If you look at the things that could have happened or should have happened, we probably should have had a couple green-white-checkereds the way people were bouncing off each other.  If I had it to do to do over again, I would do it exactly the same.  It could be better or worse.  At the end of the day we had a shot at it.  Our car was intact.  We could drive up there.  That was our mission.           

But, yeah, if I would have known it went exactly like it went...  I'm not even going to say that.  It went well for us.  It was good.            

Q.  Carl, is your heart still pumping?  Is the adrenaline still flowing?  Are you happy to be out of that car and getting back to normal?  Jeff, will you reflect on RC's hundredth win?           

CARL EDWARDS:  Yeah, I've never been so excited to go to Martinsville in my life.  I'm ready to rock.           

JEFF BURTON:  Driving for Richard has been a pleasure.  I have a lot of respect for Richard.  I've only had three car owners in my Cup career.  All three of them I have a lot of respect for.  To be able to be at Richard's has meant a lot to me.           

When I came in, it was a struggle.  They were struggling.  It's been built back up to be able to contend for championships.  We haven't won any, but we've been contending for them.           

He's a good man.  I like him.  I'm comfortable with him.  You can say anything about him as far as a competitor.  He is a supreme competitor.  The main thing is he's a good person.  He's got a good heart.  He's honest.  He represents our sport.  He doesn't always do the right thing.  None of us always do the right thing.  But he generally has a care and a passion for the sport.  It's an honor to drive for him.            

Q.  Carl, your drafting day, was it kind of a building process?  Seemed for the first half of the race you two had a difficult time staying together.  There was a point at which it looked like you switched positions and you pushed.  There was one time when you lost Greg and it looked like Trevor Bayne picked you up.           

CARL EDWARDS:  There were times when we kind of did our own separate things.  But our plan was always to be within sight and come back and work together at the end.  We knew we could only do that if our cars were together.           

It is easy to look at the outcome of the race.  I kind find joked around with Ed when he asked.  Say, Wow, you finished 11th.  If you went sooner, you would have finished better.  I still believe the plan we had worked out well.  I'm happy with the outcome.  If you can't look at it from my perspective, 2008 we came in here, I think Ed brought that one up earlier, came in here and I was ultimately frustrated with myself for taking myself out at this race.  That was my first goal, not to take myself out.  I was prepared to lose the points lead, but I wasn't going to accept making a mistake and losing control of my car.            

Q.  Carl, there was much made before the race about the Ford edict, Roush Fenway, to all stay together, the manufacturer loyalty.  Jeff Gordon was displeased at the end with Trevor Bayne for leaving him.  What do you make of how that transpired?  Do you feel the Fords had the plan, stuck together?           

CARL EDWARDS:  Well, first thing, I don't know what happened with Trevor and Jeff.  Trevor is a stand-up guy.  I'm sure he did whatever he thought was best.           

It's not like we got together and planned to do anything, at least I wasn't part of a plan to make things hard on anyone else.  That was not the idea.  The plan was that we should stick together as Roush Fenway and as a Ford group and try to help one another the best we can.         

I thought we did a good job with that.  I saw other teams doing the same thing.  But you never know what's going to happen.  We didn't think that plan was going to go through to the end.  We thought a number of us would be crashed or have trouble or something like that, in which case people would mix up partners and stuff.            

Q.  Carl, was there a specific reason you asked in the driver meeting about lifting on the last lap?           

CARL EDWARDS:  Yeah.  Thanks for asking.  I feel like the biggest risk we have here is what I talked about on Friday, that we have a wreck, then people would come to this conclusion in their mind through whatever, that they're going to stand on the throttle, drive through the wreck, that's the cool or the right thing to do.  I feel that's the biggest risk we have, is an accident where a guy is upside down, stopped, something like that, and us as competitors don't really know what point we're racing to.          

If we see something like that, I think a lot of folks are reluctant right now in the sport to lift.  They think it's cool to stay on the throttle.  You can't ask competitors to just quit driving and not try to get everything they can.  I hope that NASCAR will kind of clarify that stuff a little more in the future so we don't have a problem because of it.            

Q.  It may be a case of a lesser of two evils, but what in y'all's minds is the ideal package?  The one you have now, the one in the past?  What would make the racing better?           

JEFF BURTON:  I don't think anybody wants to answer that.           

I personally think that there is an advantage to the tandem thing.  There's some disadvantages to it.  The one thing it does do is it does separate the field a little bit.  That's not all bad.  I've come here for a long time.  Every time I come here, I'm pretty sure I'm going to get in a wreck.  That's a little odd way to race.           

To me the tandem thing creates wrecks.  But overall I think there's less cars wrecked because of the tandem thing versus not having it.  So I think overall it's better.  It does spread the pack out a little bit.  But it doesn't do it in a way that's boring.  The other way to spread the pack out is to make the cars drive bad and the fans aren't going to like that.           

To me this accomplishes a little bit of spreading the pack out without making the racing boring.  Because of that I think they ought to keep it the way it is and not hamper our ability to tandem draft because it doesn't hurt the quality of racing.           

I was fortunate to run in the front all day.  There was a lot going on in the front.  I don't know why, if you watched that race, how any part of that race was boring.  That's just my opinion.            

Q.  Jeff, been a tough year, really tough year.           

JEFF BURTON:  For you or me (laughter)?            

Q.  When you're leading coming to the checkered like that, you got a guy behind you that's your teammate, are you happy to be sitting in here with a good finish, not stuffed in a wall?  Are you livid that you lost?  Is it any worse because of who beat you and how?           

JEFF BURTON:  Well, I'm pissed off and I'm happy all at the same time if there is such a thing.  Anytime you come here and you can get a top 10, have a car that's not torn up, you have to at least be somewhat happy with that.           

However, to come that close and to lose it is disheartening.  It's always worse to lose 'em close.  But it's a lot better being in a position.  To be perfectly frank about it, since the first race at Phoenix, we haven't been in position to win a race.  We haven't sniffed it.  That is awful.  It's terrible to come to the racetrack week in, week out.  You come optimistic, you leave dejected.           

At least today the dejection is about having a good finish and not finishing it off.  Of course, I'm going to go home and watch the video a thousand times and wonder what I could have done different.  But I'm heartbroken, but at the same time I'm happy if there is such a thing.            

Q.  Carl, with you and Matt out front 1-2, it's not a very big points lead, but do you look at this thing and say, At least Roush Fenway Racing can almost kind of take a breath here and say that we're in pretty good shape?          

CARL EDWARDS:  No, no.  That would be nice.  I'd love that.  We'd have to have a hundred-point lead to take a breath.  Anything can happen.        

I'm proud of our team, where we've come from, how far we've come in the last 18 months.  It's unbelievable.  It's a testament to how hard everyone's willing to work, how much responsibility everyone's willing to take for the things we needed to fix.           

We're doing well.  It's fun.  I'm a little nervous about Matt, honestly, 'cause I know how good he is and how good his team is.  Having him in second doesn't make me breathe easier competitive-wise.            

Q.  You said in January you felt better going into this year than you did at the end of '08.  Has it panned out that way or would you have needed more wins?  Is it coming true?           

CARL EDWARDS:  I still feel we're performing better because we're a better team now.  I feel like now we are a better team than we were in 2008.  I feel we're fast for reasons that are more fundamental reasons.  We have better engines, our engineering is better, our cars are better.  We don't just have a trick, a skewed rear-end housing, a new car we figured out quick or something like that.  I feel like we are competitive week in and week out.           

Even when we have a bad day, it always seems that one of our teammates runs really well and we have someone we can lean on.  I still feel better about this year than 2008.  Just glad to be in the position I'm in.  It's amazing to drive these Fords right now for Jack.  It's a lot of fun.            

Q.  Dave, could you talk a little bit about what that means for Tommy Baldwin Racing, what it means for you going forward with this finish?           

DAVE BLANEY:  Well, it's huge for a race team.  It's a tiny little team.  This racecar we've got, it was a Bill Davis car 2007, 2008.  It's not a killer.  It's a big, big accomplishment for us to come out.           

This is a track you can do this.  You can't hang in all day.  With Brad Keselowski's help we could hang in all day and took advantage of getting a big push at the right time.  That's what it comes down to here, having a car that will roll the last couple laps to do that.  It all just worked out.           

Q.  Dave, with this tandem racing, it does get strung out a little bit.  Were you surprised that Clint and Jeff were able to scoot away as big as they did in that one lap?  How did that happen?  You were the closest one that could have possibly seen them.           

DAVE BLANEY:  I don't really know how it happened.  I believe I started 14th and Brad was 15th on that green-white-checkered.  I didn't see how the top five, what happened to them in the first corner.  I have no idea.  But that was odd to see them get that far away that quick.  That is obviously what made it a different kind of race.  Like Jeff said, exciting racing, whether it's tandem or packs, stressful on the drivers, exciting for the fans.            

Q.  Dave, do you feel any better after the April race here?  You also were in a position for a nice day and didn't get it in the end through no fault of your own.      

DAVE BLANEY:  I was happy how we ran that day.  Didn't work out, didn't get the finish.  Performed well.  Hung in there all day.  Same thing today.  Yeah, you feel great when you get the finish out of it.

But, again, just really happy for Golden Corral.  I think the spring race here might have been the first or second race, they just started up with us.  Stayed with us all year.  Lets us race more than we could without them.  Just legitimizes Tommy Baldwin's team more and more, see where we can go.

 
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Posted on: October 23, 2011 6:58 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 11:37 am
 

Speed Read: Talladega

By Pete Pistone





COMPLETE GOOD SAM CLUB RESULTS AND BOX SCORE

Good Sam Club 500 Race Recap 

It was clear from the very first practice session of the weekend that the two car (and as it turned out truck) tandem-drafting phenomenon would be on full display this weekend at Talladega. 

Despite NASCAR’s shot at breaking up the pair racing with bigger restrictor plates and a tweak to the cooling systems of the Sprint Cup cars, the same nose to tail pod racing that has been a staple of restrictor plate competition remained intact. 

There were moments of some pretty thrilling racing Sunday and in the end another typical Talladega photo finish between Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton. 

For the record, overall I’m not a fan of it at all. 

But for the life of me I’m not sure what NASCAR can or should do to eradicate it. 

Tandem racing is simply the next evolution of plate racing and the result of a perfect storm including the shape of the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Trucks, new pavement at both Talladega and Daytona, tire compounds and the physics of drafting.

"It wasn't much different except for we are all nervous about blowing water out of the radiator," said Carl Edwards about the change to his cooling system. 

I’m by no means an engineer but after talking to many people much more versed on the subject than yours truly, time will most likely be the cause in the eventual disappearance of the pairing up. 

As both track surfaces wear out, less grip will be the biggest factor in tandem racing fading away. 

"You can't change the inherent nature of the cars when the cars get out there, whereas there's a lot of grip and drag," said Brad Keselowski. "Those are the things that you have to change if you want to break up tandem racing.” 

Also the new Sprint Cup body style in 2013, which is expected to not allow cars to square up as easily behind one another, will also play a role in changing plate racing yet again. Let’s hope so. 

I’m willing to wait but admit to getting impatient. To me the worst part about the tandem style – outside of how it’s sapped the excitement level out of the middle portion of races - is how “team orders” among race organizations have been accelerated. 

If you’re a fan of someone who is not deemed to be as important inside a race team as perhaps another driver running for a championship, you can pretty much forget about celebrating with your guy. The sacrificial lambs at Hendrick, Roush and RCR were plentiful on Sunday, which is understandable in trying to win a title but a bitter pill to swallow for those unfortunate non-Chase drivers and their fans. 

The new rules did seem to have at least some impact on the proceedings and at times there was a combination of both tandems and pack racing going on. 

I don’t expect NASCAR to have any magic formula for the next plate race, which happens to be the Daytona 500 to kick off the 2012 season, and we should completely prepare for a repeat of this year’s four restrictor plate races. 

Hopefully that prognosis will change in 2013. 

But for now expect more of what we saw Sunday in Talladega.

 

RISERS  

Dave Blaney

Proved his magnificent run at Talladega back in the spring was no fluke with a career-best third place finish on Sunday. Blaney and the Tommy Baldwin Racing team are the poster children for staying at this incredibly tough game of big league stock car racing. TBR was perhaps a race or two from closing its doors not so long ago and has now secured its spot among full-time operations thanks to performances like Sunday’s. 

Brad Keselowski

Helped Blaney to the third place finish by playing the role of pusher in their tandem but didn’t do his chances in the Chase any harm by coming home fourth. Stayed within eighteen points of the lead and sits third heading to Martinsville keeping the underdog rooters’ hopes very much alive. 

Michael Waltrip

Say what you want for Michael Waltrip the on-air personality but the guy can sure drive a car on a restrictor plate track. Showed he still has the drafting mastery that helped win so many times at Talladega and Daytona back in his DEI days with a ninth place finish.

 

FALLERS   

Kyle Busch 

His second place finish in Charlotte last Saturday night now just a distant memory after disaster struck Sunday at Talladega. Got caught up in the day’s multi-car melee just past halfway and a broken track bar mount was the final damage that doomed Busch and more than likely ended his championship bid. 

Kevin Harvick 

The restrictor plate track magic finally ran out for Harvick who was a pre-race favorite and decidedly in the mix for the win Sunday until the mid-race accident that put at least a major dent in his title hopes. Harvick has driven battered race cars to good finishes at Talladega in the past including last October’s miraculous finish with a severely damaged No. 29 Chevrolet, but there was just too much to overcome this time around. 

Kurt Busch 

Just a victim of restrictor plate racing with nowhere to go except into Bobby Labonte as part of a vicious end of race crash that more than likely knocked the Penske Racing driver out of the championship. The bad news for Busch and crew chief Steve Addington is the rhetoric about possible changes to the No. 22 team next year will heat up big time now that the title run is probably over.

 

RADIO WAVES   

(Choice comments and communications from drivers and crew chiefs)  

“Let's get this thing fixed. They are going to wreck again. It just matters how many laps we complete." – Kevin Harvick after his accident

"I've got three words: Stay with me." – Marcos Ambrose to Paul Menard on drafting strategy 

“I want to be a help to the Toyota family, but I don't want to shoot myself in the foot." – Michael Waltrip on working with Denny Hamlin

“This thing is far from over, but you guys have been perfect. Help me to stay calm no matter what." – Carl Edwards 

"I don't know what to tell you buddy, that's the best I can tell you right now." – Chad Knaus to Jimmie Johnson after repairs from a late race incident 

'Well Mark, I think it's time 4 us 2 go. I wish it was later in the race, but don't think we have much of a choice.” – Jeff Gordon to teammate Mark Martin

 

RACE RATING  

On a scale of one to five "Pistone Pistons" I’ll give Sunday’s Good Sam Club 500 a three. Still not a fan of the tandem racing but there was more pack-style racing this time around than in recent Talladega trips. There were some very nervous moments throughout the day that thankfully ended up with everyone being safe. And as is usually the case in today’s version of plate racing the dash to the finish was spectacular. Where the evolution of this style of competition goes next is anyone’s guess but I think most are a bit relieved to get out of the 2011 edition for now.

 

DOWN THE ROAD

The Sprint Cup Series moves from the longest and fastest track to the smallest and slowest for next Sunday’s TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. But just because the venue will be only a fraction of Talladega don’t expect the action to be any less. Martinsville is perhaps the last true short track in the series and the rough and tumbled spring visit there is no doubt fresh in every driver and team’s minds heading into Sunday. As the Chase field whittles down to just a handful of title contenders, the little half-mile track in Virginia figures to play an important part in the championship picture.
  

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Posted on: October 22, 2011 2:55 pm
 

Mark Martin takes Talladega pole

By Pete Pistone

GOOD SAM CLUB 500 STARTING LINEUP

Mark Martin put his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in the number one starting position for Sunday's Good Sam Club 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Martin turned a lap of 181.367 mph around the 2.66-mile track to earn the pole in Saturday's qualifying session.

His Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson will start outside the front row.

Clint Bowyer, Trevor Bayne and Jeff Gordon were the fast five.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Paul Menard, David Ragan, Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman rounded out teh first ten qualifiers.

Kyle Busch will start 34th in a backup car.

Sunday's Good Sam Club 500 is slated for a 2:14 p.m. ET green flag.

 
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Posted on: October 21, 2011 6:10 pm
 

Reutimann leads, Kyle Busch to back-up car

By Pete Pistone

GOOD SAM CLUB 500 FINAL PRACTICE

David Reutimann was on top of the speed chart in Friday's final Good Sam Club 500 practice session at Talladega Superspeedway while Kyle Busch was forced to a backup car.

Reutimann, who earlier in the day had the windshield of his car along with teammate Martin Truex Jr. and Michael Waltrip Racing satellite team JTG Daugherty driver Bobby Labonte confiscated by NASCAR for "unapproved modifications," led the way in the final tuneup before Saturday morning's qualifying session.

As has been the case throughout the day's practices, teams again hooked up in two car tandem drafting despite NASCAR's new Talladega rules put into place in hopes of breaking up the pairs. MWR's Truex Jr. was second quick.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Joey Logano and Kyle Busch were next on the list. However Busch was forced to a backup car after damaging his primary mount. Busch flat spotted a right front tire during a mock pit stop run, which later exploded on track causing damage to the No. 18 Toyota.

Qualifying to set the field for the Good Sam Club 500 is slated for 12:15 p.m. ET on Saturday.

 
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Posted on: October 21, 2011 5:55 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 5:59 pm
 

NASCAR confiscates Waltrip Racing's windshields

By Pete Pistone

NASCAR took the windshields belonging to the three Michael Waltrip Racing entries Friday at Talladega Superspeedway.

The sanctioning body termed the three windshields from cars driven by David Reutimann, Martin Truex Jr. and Bobby Labonte of JTG Daugherty Racing as having "unapproved modifications." The windows were put on display behind the NASCAR hauler during Friday's practice sessions.

NASCAR officials expect fines and penalties to be handed down to the team later this week.

 
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Posted on: October 21, 2011 4:21 pm
 

Greg Biffle leads opening Talladega practice

By Pete Pistone

GOOD SAM CLUB 500 FIRST PRACTICE 

Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards led the way in Friday's opening practice session at Talladega Superspeedway. The two car tandem drafting style of racing was back in full sight despite NASCAR's new rules package.

Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon and Marcos Ambrose completed the fast five.

Sprint Cup teams will get a second practice session later Friday before qualifying on Saturday morning.

 
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Posted on: October 21, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 3:47 pm
 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. not a fan of new rules

Posted by Pete Pistone

Count Dale Earnhardt Jr. among those drivers who don't think much of NASCAR's new rules at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend and in fact Junior thinks they could cause more harm than good.

Earnhardt had these comments during his media availability session at Talladega on Friday:

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE RULE CHANGES ARE GOING TO DO TO AFFECT THE TWO-BY-TWO DRAFTS OR IS ANYTHING GOING TO CHANGE UNTIL THE TRACK AGES?

I think that there are a lot of different variables that created the tandem racing, it was kind of the perfect storm, if you will. We had the cars, the new COT and how the bumpers line up perfectly. How flat both end of the car are, so you are able to push people without picking them up off the ground or doing anything too crazy. Then you have the latest technology when it comes to asphalt and paving, which you are seeing tracks like Charlotte, that place should have aged quite a bit by now, since it was repaved and it is as if the place has not aged at all. There is tons of grip there and you saw that in the type of race we had there last week. It was kind of the perfect storm, a lot of different variables they did kind of choke down the plates on the cars a little bit before this most recent change, what they have been doing is slowing the cars down a little bit. That is just going to increase our ability I think to have the tandem racing. I really don’t know if it will change much, we will just have to get out there and see. I don’t expect it to change really at all.

The one thing, and I hate to quote Jeff Gordon, I hate to speak for anybody but he brought up a good point, we were talking about this style of racing and I was thinking you know it is good that we are going to get a bigger plate, cause I think going faster is a way to sort of break up the tandem drafting. I had seen that in some test that we did at Daytona, where the plate change mid-test and it changed the way the draft worked and it changed how we did tandem draft  with just a small adjustment in the plate. But the one thing that they changed in the radiator with the release value, we will probably have to swap sooner, if we are going to push each other around the race track we are going to have to swap more often and when we do make position changes. Say you are working with your partner out there and you got to change more often, that is when it is going to get crazy because you lose a lot of speed and the guys that are not changing that are behind you come flying up on you really quick and if they do not have a lot of room and everybody doesn’t know what is going on, bad things can happen.

The change in the radiator to make us change more often, I don’t really see what we are trying to accomplish there and how that can bring about any good. I think that will just put us all in difficult situations, more often cause when you make a swap it is a difficult situation for the other drivers that aren’t swapping that have to dodge you and hope they know where you are going and what you and your teammate are trying to do, because you lose so much speed in the process of making that swap.  Everyone is sort of making a lot of calculated guess out there if that is happening more often that is a little bit troublesome but, I don’t think it will  be that big of a deal, but I just don’t know what that change was really for other than to make us swap more. I don’t like the tandem drafting, but hopefully some of these changes will make us do that less but I don’t know. So much grip out there, the main factor I think is the grip of the track. There are some other things that plan in the role too.”

 
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Posted on: October 21, 2011 9:57 am
Edited on: October 21, 2011 10:31 am
 

Race preview: Talladega

By Pete Pistone




Good Sam Club 500 Preview
 

Picking a winner at Talladega Superspeedway is as futile an exercise as predicting lottery numbers or when Adam Sandler may make a funny movie. 

In short it’s impossible. 

The mammoth 2.66-mile Alabama track has always been a mystery since it opened its gates back in 1970. The advent of restrictor plates in the late 1980s, mandated in an effort to slow the cars down after speeds surged to the low 200 mph range, only added to the unpredictability. 

But now there’s an even newer wrinkle thrown into the mix with a pair of rules in play for Sunday’s Good Sam Club 500 that no one knows exactly what they’ll do to the racing. 

The recent repaving of Talladega and its sister restrictor plate track in Daytona has given birth to tandem racing, the phenomenon of two cars hooking up nose to tail to draft around the giant speedways. 

The style of racing was a novelty at first that has worn off with most fans accustomed to seeing the huge packs of 25-30 cars circling Talladega lap after lap – a thrilling if not nerve wracking spectacle. 

So in an effort to perhaps return to the pack style of racing and move away from “Noah’s Ark” pairing up, NASCAR mandated a larger restrictor plate for this weekend’s race as well as making an adjustment to engine cooling systems. A recalibrated pressure relief valve won’t allow drivers to tuck in behind a rear bumper of another car for too long or risk overheating issues. 

But what impact these new policies will have on the competition is anyone’s guess. 

"It's a step to make us pass more,” said Jimmie Johnson, who begins his attempt to climb back into the championship picture Sunday after falling 35 points behind leader Carl Edwards. “I don't think we are going to be able to stay connected as long. Any time you put a bigger plate on the cars, it allows for a larger closing rate with more opportunities to pass with more power.” 

Some don’t think the rules modifications will make any difference whatsoever.

“No, I don’t expect anything much different,” said Kyle Busch. “As far as Talladega goes, are we going to see much different of a race? Probably not. Maybe just a little bit more swapping in-between cars, that’s it.” 

But that potential added swapping back and forth has other drivers a bit concerned that the danger level may actually increase even without the return of pack racing. 

"I know that a lot of people don't like us running nose to tail like that, but it's far more dangerous doing more swaps," said Jeff Gordon, a six-time winner at Talladega. "It causes far more chances to have crashes when you're swapping, especially at the end of that race where you are in the middle of a pack and all of a sudden two cars just swap. So I'd rather us not have to swap. I think the racing would be better and it would be safer."

Sounds like we should all get ready for yet another chapter in Talladega’s fickle history to be written on Sunday.

 

Talladega Superspeedway 

Track Size: 2.66-mile  

Race Length: 500 miles 

Banking/Corners: 33 degrees  

Banking/Frontstretch: 16.5 degrees

Banking/Backstretch: 2 degrees

 

Qualifying/Race Data 

2010 pole winner: Juan Pablo Montoya (184.640 mph) 

2010 race winner: Clint Bowyer (163.618 mph, 10-31-10)   

Track qualifying record: Bill Elliott  (212.809 mph, 4-40-1987)   

Race record: Mark Martin (188.354 mph, 5-10-97)

  

Race Facts 

There have been 84 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Talladega Superspeedway since the track opened in 1969; two a year every year except the inaugural season, which had just one.      

Richard Brickhouse won the first NASCAR Sprint Cup race.       

Bobby Isaac won the first NASCAR Sprint Cup pole in September 1969. Isaac won the first three poles there.      

35 different drivers have won poles. Bill Elliott leads all drivers with eight poles.       

41 different drivers have posted victories, led by Dale Earnhardt Sr. (10). Jeff Gordon leads all other active drivers in victories, with six. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is second among active drivers in victories with five.      

Richard Childress Racing and Hendrick Motorsports have won more than any other organization at Talladega with 11 wins each.       

33 of 84 races have been won from the top-two starting positions, including 13 from the pole; 23 have been won from a starting position outside the top 10. The most recent driver to win from the pole was Jeff Gordon in 2007 (spring).       

The furthest back in the field a race winner started was 36th, by Jeff Gordon in 2000.      

Mark Martin’s pace in the 1997 spring race set an all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup record for the fastest race ever. He won the caution-free race with an average speed of 188.354 mph and covered the 500-mile distance in two hours, 39 minutes and 18 seconds.       

The 2010 spring race set the all-time and track records for lead changes (88) and lap leaders (29). The lead change record was matched last April. The previous highs were 75 lead changes (set on May 6, 1984) and 28 lap leaders (set on Oct. 5, 2008). Both previous records also were set at Talladega.    

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had four consecutive victories (October 2001 through April 2003), the most ever by a driver there. Buddy Baker (three – May 1975 through May 1976) is the only other driver to win more than two consecutive races there.     

Since the inception of electronic scoring in 1993, every race that has ended under green has had a margin of victory under half a second.       

The season’s spring race tied the March 16, 2003 Darlington race won by Ricky Craven for the all-time record of the closest series finish (0.002 seconds) since the inception of electronic scoring.  

 

Who’s Hot at Talladega 

Kevin Harvick – Rides a string of three straight Top 5 Talladega finishes into Sunday’s race. Richard Childress Racing has become one of the premier restrictor plate teams and Harvick is near the top of the list of drivers who have mastered its recent evolution. Ready to move into the second half of the Chase with a strong outing. 

Clint Bowyer – The defending race winner joins his teammate Harvick as a plate master. Don’t let Bowyer’s lame duck status with RCR lead you to believe he’s not trying to end his tenure at the organization in victory lane before season’s end. Sunday might be his best shot of the five races left on the schedule. 

Jeff Gordon – Sure he’s out of the playoff race and will have to wait until next year to try for a fifth Sprint Cup Series championship. But with Hendrick power and his uncanny ability on plate tracks, Gordon is a favorite on Sunday. Has a pair of Talladega Top 10s to his credit heading into the weekend.

 

Who’s Not 

A.J. Allmendinger – His up and down ride of recent weeks has a good chance to head the other way this weekend after a good finish last Saturday night in Charlotte. Talladega has not been one of Allmendinger’s best tracks with a 26.7 average finish in six career starts. 

Kyle Busch – Yes, he has a Sprint Cup win at Talladega. But Busch also has been knocked out by four crashes in his career. Only a 24.2 average finish in thirteen starts at Talladega including 25th and 35th his last two times out. Unless he reverses that trend on Sunday his title hopes will most certainly be over. 

Martin Truex Jr. –  There are two Top 5 finishes buried in Truex Jr.’s Talladega resume. But it’s the other eleven starts to keep in mind. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver has an average finish of 24.2 to deal with and came home 13th back in the spring race.

 

Notebook 

Construction began on what was then known as the Alabama International Motor Speedway on May 23, 1968.     

The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on Sept. 14, 1969.      

The name changed to Talladega Superspeedway in 1989.  

Fourth repaving completed on Sept. 19, 2006.

There have been 103 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in Alabama.

66 drivers in NASCAR’s three national series (all-time) have their home state recorded as Alabama. 

There have been seven race winners from Alabama in NASCAR’s three national series.

 
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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com