For the first in ten years, I am going to miss the spring race at Talladega. Since moving to Kansas, I have missed the last two fall races, but I did make it back for the Spring race last year.
Of course, as soon as I miss a race, the greatest paint scheme in NASCAR in years happens (pictured above). I can just hear ole Ricky Bobby yelling "if you aint first, your last" every time the car rolls by. A Talladega Nights car...at Talladega? Brilliant! Big props to Kurt Busch. I cant think of a better team, or driver to sport that "ME" paint scheme. It is perfect in so many ways for Kurt.
That paint scheme is just so symbolic of the freak show that is Talladega. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. Most races are events, Talladega is a special. From the stories of revelry and debotury from the infield and camps sites to the truly unique type of racing that goes on at superspeedway racing.
Speaking of which, drivers expect the racing to be a little different this year that it has been in recent races. NASCAR has gone to huge lengths to break up the two car tandems and return superspeedway racing to the tradition pack racing.
“I think we’re going to see somewhat of the same thing at Talladega as we saw at Daytona," said Kyle Busch. "We’ll see how exactly it playsout. You’ll see less tandem drafting -- more pack drafting. We’ll see how much pack there is, if we can go two-wide, three-wide, if the middle’s fast, if not."
His teammate Joey Logano, tends to agree," You’re going to see a little bit of both -- you’ll see the pack racing, then you’llsee guys trying to go for it. Two car tandems at the end, blowing water out of them, blowing motors up. It will be fun."
And while a lot of people look forward to the "big one" at plate races, for me, it's the sheer unpredictability. It's seeing Trevor Bayne win the Daytona 500 or Brad Keselowski win his first Sprint Cup race at Talladega. And all though both those guys are big time names now, both were running for small, part time race teams at the time they won.
“Restrictor plate racing is very unpredictable," said Juan Pablo Montonya. "Especially if you’re running in a big pack like we are again. You have to have a lot of luck on your side; especially in the closing laps when everyone is charging to the front."
As for who runs well here, as I said before, it is a bit of a crap shoot. But Emporia native Clint Bowyer is never a bad bet, he's won two of the last three races in Alabama, and was second in the other race. Also good here is a driver that 90% of the fans in stands would like to see win, one Dale Earhardt, Jr. But really the list of potential winners is too long to get into here. It is truly a place were anyone can win...and everyone else is last.