Will Alabama Behemoth Produce Surprise Winner
|Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 ARRIS Toyota, speaks to the media during|
a press conference prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 29, 2016 in Talladega.
When restrictor-plate racing, anything can happen. This has been true at Talladega where surprise winners sometimes emerge from the field. Most recently, David Ragan visited Victory Lane with Front Row Motorsports (spring 2013) and Brad Keselowski took the checkered flag with Phoenix Racing (spring 2009).
With the advent of the win-and-your-in Chase format, a surprise Talladega winner would get more than just the thrill of winning, he/she would earn a spot in NASCAR’s playoffs.
"That’s fun for us going to a place like that knowing we have a shot at winning and to say that is legitimate," said Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the less-funded No. 83 BK Racing Toyota. "If things fall right you can win. So that’s neat. When we come to all the regular superspeedways, wins for us are if you finish in the top half of the field because we’re a smaller team, and if we finish in the top 20, that’s beating a lot of really good high quality cars. But when you go to the superspeedways, it throws a lot of that out the window."
Fans should look out for Clint Bowyer, who has run poorly this season, but owns two Talladega victories. Also, Wood Brothers Racing’s Ryan Blaney placed a career-best fourth at the Alabama track last season and should prove interesting to watch.
Conversely, do not count out Edwards, who is known around the track as ‘Cousin Carl’ due to the fact that he is a first cousin once removed to fellow NASCAR driver Ken Schrader. Edwards thrillingly bumped teammate Kyle Busch on the final lap of last Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 to pass him for his second win in as many weeks.
Edwards has been dominant the last three races, leading the most laps in each of them. He ranks first on the Chase Grid on the strength of two wins, five top-fives and eight top-tens He will be hunting for his third straight win in Sunday’s GEICO 500 joining Busch as the only other driver to attempt the feat this season.
However, the No. 19 Toyota driver has never won at Talladega. Carl’s best finish at the Alabama track was third in spring of 2013. So if he wins tomorrow – that could be considered a ‘surprise’ both as the continuation of a winning streak and his first win at ‘Dega.’
Fun Fact – Who Owns the Most Consecutive NASCAR Wins?
Richard Petty sits on top of the list in BOTH first and second place: