Talledega Sundays – NASCAR Preview of this Week’s Cup Race
Blake Smith has been slaving over a hot keyboard and is here with this week's NASCA:
Weekend Preview: Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500
The tour makes their 4th stop of the chase this weekend in Dixie land, at Talladega Superspeedway. This race is known as the “wildcard” of the Chase. After Sunday, the championship picture will be a little clearer, depending on who makes it out of Talladega in one piece.
Some drivers and teams arrived at the 2.66 mile-oval a little early this week for a test session on Wednesday. Seven teams put the redesigned 2013 cars to a test on Talladega’s high banks in preparation for February’s Daytona 500. The new cars turned competitive laps both while drafting and single-car runs. NASCAR officials were on hand to analyze engine performance as well as drafting performance. With a different car, we'll look at what it's going to take for [restrictor] plate size and some other things, but the main concern is how the cars draft, how they react in the draft, and obviously to get more one-on-one racing," said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. "All of the input that we have from the drivers and the teams so far has been pretty good." Additional test sessions for the 2013 are scheduled for the rest of the season.
After reports surfaced in Atlanta that Office Depot would not be returning to the #14 Stewart-Haas team in 2013, an announcement was made on Thursday as to just who Stewart would have on the hood of the car next season and beyond. According to the Springfield-Mo News leader, “After the smoke cleared, Tony Stewart emerged from his #14 Chevy in the parking lot of Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World to a thunderous ovation from about 600 fans who gathered to hear confirmation of what many already suspected. "I want to introduce you to Tony Stewart, new driver of the Bass Pro Shops Chevy," Bass Pro founder Johnny Morris said late Thursday afternoon. Additional details are set to be released on Friday in Talladega.
There are forty-four drivers entered for this weekend’s race at Talladega. David Reutimann will be returning to the 10 car, filling the seat for part-time driver, Danica Patrick. Trevor Bayne is also entered for this weekend as well as Michael Waltrip in the #55 Aaron’s Dream Machine. Both weekend practice sessions are scheduled for Friday, with qualifying to be held on Saturday afternoon.
Last week’s winner, Brad Keselowski will be behind the wheel of a new chassis this weekend and is hoping to get his 3rd win in 4 weeks. Reigning champion, Tony Stewart has elected to bring Chassis # 14-565, which has been utilized at superspeedways since the 2010 Daytona 500. Fan favorite, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be bringing the chassis that he has raced at all super speedways this season, with an average finish of 8th.
As mentioned last week, Sunday’s race will be the final one for Kurt Busch in the #51 Phoenix Racing entry. Owner James Finch, who has always had a very competitive super speedway program has yet to announce who will fill the seat of his #51 for the last 6 races of 2012. My pick for victory lane this weekend is Kurt Busch, look for a strong last showing in the #51 on Sunday.
Tune into coverage of Sunday’s event beginning at Noon on WBKR and WBKR.com. For a complete wrap up of the weekend’s event and interview with the winners, tune into “NASCAR LIVE” with Eli Gold beginning at 6PM on Tuesday.
-- Blake Smith