Green Flag Ready To Wave For Aaron's 499
Like a good mystery novel, Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway is expected to be suspenseful until the very end.
A field of 43 cars will take the track beginning at 1 p.m. CDT for the 188-lap race. And the drivers agree that the one certainty about the race is that nobody is sure exactly what will happen during the final frenetic laps.
“There’s no way of predicting how these races are going to play out at the end,” said Tony Stewart, who will start on the front row for the race alongside pole-sitter Joe Nemechek. “It’s all instinct and being in the right place at the right time at the end.”
Some drivers manage to be in the right place more often than others. Jeff Gordon has won six times at Talladega, including both races last year, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has five victories at the track.
“We always come into this race feeling like the favorite,” Earnhardt said, “and I’d like to keep it that way for a long time.”
A victory Sunday would be especially sweet for Earnhardt, considering that he has not won a race anywhere since the 2006 season.
“We’re looking forward to getting that win,” said Earnhardt, who qualified ninth. “You think about it and dream about it. You want that feeling. You want to be able to celebrate like that.
“We have a great opportunity this weekend to win here at Talladega. We’ve had a lot of success here. There’s going to be a lot of strong competition, but we have a good shot. We have a good race car.”
Stewart, meanwhile, has yet to win a Cup race at Talladega, though he has finished second six times and he did have a breakthrough victory at the track Saturday in the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series.
“You just hope on the last restart that you’re in position to be up close to the front,” Stewart said. “You can get shuffled back at this place so easily. There’s no perfect strategy.
“You just have to hope that you’re in the right position at the right time to be there at the end, and then hope that you have the help that you need to get the rest of the way there.”
The recent repaving of the 2.66-mile tri-oval has increased the ability of drivers to make daring passes, increasing the number of possibilities and the level of uncertainty.
“They repaved the race track, and it’s enabled us to get away with a lot more,” Clint Bowyer said. “You can almost get away with too much now. You have to be conscious of that.
“You have to realize the potential of the cars and the race track. Because right now the race track has a little bit more potential than the cars do. We just have to be mindful of that.”
There always is the potential for exciting racing at Talladega Superspeedway, and Sunday’s race is not expected to be any exception.
“You’re going to see huge packs. You’re going to see a lot of three-wide racing, 40 cars deep,” Sprint Cup points leader Jeff Burton said. “This is just a different type of racing.”
“It’s awesome,” Bowyer said when asked what it’s like to race at Talladega. “We’re three-wide, four-wide, and you just don’t get that anywhere else. You don’t get that sensation anywhere else we go.”
Driver introductions for the Aaron’s 499 are scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m. CDT Sunday. The 188-lap race is set to start at 1 p.m.
Tickets are still available to the Aaron’s 499 by calling 1-877- Go2-DEGA, by logging onto www.racetickets.com, and are also available for purchase on-site at the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office located on Speedway Boulevard at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
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