2009 Amp Energy 500 Preview and Pick – Talladaga Super Speedway

Race: Amp Energy 500
Date: Sunday November 1, 2009
Track: Talladega Superspeedway
Time: 12 pm ET
Channel: ABC

By Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com


This weekend, it’s the race that everyone race fan loves. We are talking about the super speedway that makes and breaks these drivers’ dreams. Talladega is where it’s going down, and there’s definitely not a lack of drive in these guys. With the Chase coming to an end here in about a month, the drivers have to give it all they’ve got. It’s now or never.

Talladega is undoubtedly one of the absolute best races of the season. With two races on the schedule, it’s clear why the drivers and the fans alike flock to this place and love every minute here.

This super speedway consists of a 2.66 mile tri-oval with 33 degree banking in the turns. The backstretch boasts a mere 2 degrees with the frontstretch at 16.5 degrees. The drivers can pick up speeds up to and over 200 miles an hour on the 4300 foot frontstretch and 4000 foot backstretch. This track is truly a masterpiece.

It’s really fun coming from such a volatile short-track race like Martinsville into a super speedway like Talladega because the drivers ran hard last week. They had tempers flaring on and off the racetrack, and with no break, they bring it all to Talladega. The difference is, you can’t make laps up here. If you screw up at Talladega, you screw up big time. That’s the key. You have to stay out of trouble on these tracks. If you don’t you’re bound for an extremely disappointing day.

Another key to this track is fighting the non-Chase contenders. For whatever reason, those guys fight hard here. The lap cars fight to get their laps back while the tail end of the field fights to not lose a lap. It’s a constant battle no matter where you are on the track.

Additionally, another important element that you will find is the bump-draft where cars line up, bumper to nose to bumper and push each other down the track. The cars create down force that creates more speed via aerodynamics and getting the nose down on the ground. That’s why keeping the cars clean here is so important. At Martinsville, you can lose 2 fenders and win the race. If you do that at Talladega, you have zero down force and have no way to keep up the speed that the leaders have. Essentially, if you damage your car, your day is as good as over.

Tires, track position, and clean fenders are key here. If you have those three elements along with a few friends, you’re going to have a good day. Historically, Jr., Kyle Busch, Gordon, and Stewart are key contenders here. Keselowski is the defending champ for the spring race, but while I like the guy, it was kind of a fluke win. This weekend, I think that I am going out for a hail Mary.

My Pick: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

He NEEDS to win. He NEEDS to prove to everyone that he’s not just Sr.’s boy. He’s a great race driver with some realllllllly bad luck. Jr. has consistently improved over the past couple of weeks, but again, has run into some unfortunate bad tides. I think Jr. nation needs to stand up and support him. He does great things on the super speedways and learned a lot from his dad. If Jr. can get some help from buddies Stewart and Waltrip and even some from his own teammates, he has a shot. He could win this thing, guys.

Other than Jr., look for Stewart and Waltrip to have strong runs. The Hendricks guys are going to be tough to beat as usual, but it is possible. The Busch brothers are also some good ones to watch.

Here’s a recap of your current top 12 in the points:

1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Mark Martin
3. Jeff Gordon
4. Tony Streart
5. Juan Montoya
6. Kurt Busch
7. Ryan Newman
8. Greg Biffle
9. Denny Hamlin
10. Carl Edwards
11. Kasey Kahne
12. Brian Vickers

With only 4 races left in the season, this one is going to be a huge factor in the Chase. Look for the tempers to carry over from last weekend and also for everyone, including the non-Chase guys to be racing for that win.