Aaron’s 499 Preview and Pick
by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com
So this week we are headed to the 2.66 mile tri-oval known as Talladega. The straights have 16.5 degree banking in the front stretch and 2 degree banking on the backstretch with 33 degree banking in the turns. This is undoubtedly one of the most exciting races of the year. The track is usually very fast, and there are few races in Talladega’s history that have not suffered from ‘the big one’. I would expect no differently this weekend.
This track is basically owned by Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Sorry for all those who are not fans out there, but their history here is far more than impressive. Jr. has five wins at this track. While his last win was back in 2004, Jr. has shown strength among a Hendrick garage of inconsistencies. Gordon may have a chance to change that pattern, though, as he swept the races here last year. He has six wins here ranging from his early days back in 1996 to the present. Gordon has shown that he knows how to get around this track.
There is a lot of hype not only around Jr., though, but also around Jimmie Johnson. Johnson has been lurking over the last few races and seems more than ready to prove that last year was not a fluke. With ten wins and a rightly earned championship last year, Johnson has failed to live up to that feat, but then again, who could have a better record than that? That’s like telling Tiger Woods that shooting a game ten under par is bad because he shot 11 under last year. Anyway, I’m sure that Johnson is hungry for a win, but let’s be honest here. Every time I watch this race, I feel like Johnson is the cause of some major wreck and usually ends up involved in it. Most of the guys make it known that Johnson was the cause too. Shows you who they’re fans of!
All in all, I’d have to say that Gordon and Jr. historically have the best chances here. They both can drive this particular track, and we know that Jr. thrives on restrictor-plate tracks to begin with. Gordon can contend for a win, but his inconsistency this year is making me weary of calling him my number one pick. Then there’s Johnson. He wants a win and is quite capable, but his history here and his start this year are also making me wonder if he’s the right choice. My pick is going to be Dale Earnhardt Jr. this week. He is an expert at this track among the others that are on the circuit and has shown that he can contend for the win this year, if not the championship. Gordon and Johnson both have inconsistency issues that I am having a hard time getting past, but do not be surprised if either one of them end up in victory lane over Jr. They have what it takes. It’s just a matter of making it happen and not making mistakes this week.
Just as a recap, the top twelve in points as they stand right now are:
1. Jeff Burton
2. Kyle Busch
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Jimmie Johnson
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Tony Stewart
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Carl Edwards
10. Greg Biffle
11. Kasey Kahne
12. Ryan Newman
There have not been any practices or qualifying yet, so enjoy those this afternoon and this evening. I’ll be back with your review on Monday!