Aaron’s 499 Picks

Race: Aaron’s 499
Date: Sunday May 5, 2013
Track: Talladega Superspeedway
Time: 1 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Betting Handicapper, Predictem.com

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Richmond turned into quite the spectacle of a weekend between RCR guys being arrested after the Nationwide race to tempers flaring at the conclusion of the Sprint Cup race. There were issues between Stewart and Kurt Busch with Joey Logano also having his fair share of disagreements again as well. The night just turned into a mess for a ton of drivers. With Kyle Busch looking to win the race and being wrecked out to other drivers just having some serious tire problems, Richmond is probably one they’re all going to want to forget.

Although that was short track racing, Talladega may do the same to these guys this weekend. This track is on the opposite end of short track racing, but the results tend to be just as unpredictable. The biggest difference is that usually groups of cars tend to be the victims here instead of one or two at a time.

When we take a look at Talladega, we see just how different it is from Richmond and the other short tracks. It is a 2.66 mile asphalt tri-oval with nearly 33 degree banking through all of the turns and 16.5 degrees through the tri-oval. There is only 3 degree banking through the 4000 foot backstretch. The frontstretch boasts a whopping 4300 feet. That means a lot of speed boys and girls! These cars go in excess of 200mph with qualifying speeds in the same range. What really differentiates this track from the others is its superspeedway status. That means that there is a lot of focus on aerodynamics here. While things like tires play a role, these guys are going to be concerned with making and maintaining friends throughout the day. If they are unable to stay in the draft, they can kiss their hopes goodbye. I think that we are going to see line drafts instead of 2-car drafts like we were seeing with the COT cars. These Gen-6 cars lend themselves to the old school style of racing. That is the kind of racing that I like to see.

If we take a look at the history of the winners here, we see that Brad Keselowski is the defending champ here. I venture to say that this weekend probably isn’t going to defend his title. He has hit a slew of bad luck and has not had the best cars recently either. It will be interesting since he’s running a Ford car, but I still wouldn’t count on him to win. I think that I am going to be taking a long-shot at this one and pulling for Clint Bowyer. He’s feisty. That’s what you want to see heading into these superspeedways. He’s got fight in him that will undoubtedly push him to the front of the pack. Bowyer also has experience with wins at Talladega. On the flip side, we should see strong runs from Richmond’s winner, Kevin Harvick. It seems like once he gets a win under his belt, he starts to pick up the pace for the rest of the season. Other names to watch for are both Busch brothers and also the entire Hendrick garage. They always put together strong runs regardless of the track. Here’s the look for your potential winners this weekend:

Winner: Clint Bowyer
Middle of the Road Pick: Martin Truex Jr.
Dark Horse: Marcos Ambrose

Truex has been very strong this year and typically stays in the lead packs in these types of races. Ambrose is hit or miss. He either does really well or very poorly. I’m thinking that he’s going to be strong. Ambrose just has to learn how to maneuver out of bad positions and avoid the “big one”.

The points are still ever-changing, but there have not been any movers in or out of the top 12 since Richmond. Here’s the recap of the current top 12:

1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Carl Edwards
3. Kasey Kahne
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Clint Bowyer
6. Brad Keselowski
7. Kyle Busch
8. Greg Biffle
9. Kevin Harvick
10. Paul Menard
11. Aric Almirola
12. Jamie McMurray

There are still those big names missing from the top 12. I dare to say that we are going to see some drivers move in and out of those top 12 spots this weekend after Talladega though. This race is just so unpredictable with guys you’d expect to do great ending up at the back of the pack and those dark horses at the front just because of the nature of the racing here with the bump drafting, combined aerodynamics, and sheer unpredictability of wrecks occurring. This one is sure to be an awesome race, especially with these new cars. Stay tuned for an awesome Sunday afternoon of racing at Talladega Superspeedway!