Amp Energy 500 Preview and Pick to Win

Race: Amp Energy Juice 500
Date: October 31, 2010
Track: Talladega Superspeedway
Time: 1 pm ET
Channel: ESPN
by Virginia Vroom of

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From the short tracks, back to the super speedways this weekend as we head to Talladega! In fact, 10 years ago, Talladega was the last race that Earnhardt Sr. won. That being said, only 10 active drivers still remain from that time. We are going to see this weekend if any of those 10 drivers can pull it into victory lane this weekend.

Last weekend’s race at Martinsville was nothing short of great racing as usual. I will say that there was quite a bit of aggressiveness on the track in terms of dealing with bumping and moving people out of the way. The most notable retaliation was that involving Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch. Going into the turn, Gordon had the momentum and pushed Kurt Busch out of the way. Busch decided he didn’t like that and blatantly spun out Gordon. I understand being upset and Gordon did physically move Busch, but spinning out Gordon and costing him a run at the championship was uncalled for. That’s complete lack of regard for the other racers. Busch could’ve just as easily moved Gordon out of the way in the same manner that Gordon had moved him. Regardless, Gordon is now statistically still running for the Championship, but for all practical matters, he is pretty much out.

This weekend, though, could change the face of the Chase again being that we are going to the track where anything can happen. Talladega is a 2.66 mile tri-oval with 33 degree banking in the turn, 16.5 degree banking on the frontstretch and 2 degree banking on the backstretch. The frontstretch also boasts a whopping 4300 feet with the backstretch coming in at a respectable 4000 feet. That’s nearly 4 times the size of the backstretch or frontstretch at Martinsville!

The important thing to remember in this race is the drafting component. Ten to 15 cars can change positions within a lap because of simple line drafting. Teammates get together, friends get together, and every once in a while we see enemies get together to push each other to the front of the pack. Tires are important here as fresh rubber tends to increase speed and guys with fresh tires in a draft can blow past anyone on old tires.

The notable strong runners here include Tony Stewart and really all of the Hendrick drivers. Another silent runner is Jamie McMurray who has been running consistently well on the super speedways. We always have to watch out for the typical front runners like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, especially being that Harvick is the defending winner of the spring race here. Based on the way that people have been running and also the results from this track, I’m going to have to pull for Harvick this weekend. He’s been strong in and strong out recently and is trying to push his way back to the top of the standings. He’s consistently in the top 10 if not the top 5 and has been maintaining a consistency not met be many other drivers.

Here is a recap of your current top 12 in the points after Martinsville:

1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Denny Hamlin
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Kyle Busch
5. Jeff Gordon
6. Carl Edwards
7. Tony Stewart
8. Jeff Burton
9. Kurt Busch
10. Matt Kenseth
11. Greg Biffle
12. Clint Bowyer

This may be the closest that the points have remained through the Chase ever! There are only 6 points separating Johnson from Hamlin and only 62 from Johnson to Harvick. Statistically as I mentioned earlier, even Jeff Gordon at 203 points out can still win, but that’s not really practical. Kyle Busch has quite a bit of work to do as well if he has any chance of salvaging a championship this year. He is 172 points behind. Stay tuned for this weekend’s race at Talladega as we watch these guys try to battle it out for the championship! It’s still anyone’s game!