The Backstretch Blog's Race Day: The Thin (Double Yellow) Line Between Love& Hate
There is no grey area at Talladega Super Speedway. As a driver, you either love it or you hate it. This track and Daytona have rules that are unique to just them. From restrictor plates to no passing below the double yellow line, these differences give today's race a particular set of challenges. "There's always a bit of anxiousness when you're headed to Talladega," said Kyle Larson. "I haven't historically run great at restrictor plate races, but I think Daytona this year showed that our shop has made some real gains on the super speedway cars." But it's those restictor plates that make it such a wild card. Everyone runs roughly the same speed and in a huge pack. In the past, drivers who aren't particularly fond of plate racing would hang out in the back of the pack and wait until the final laps of the race to make a move. With the change in the points system, they can't really do that any more. "I think the stage racing will definitely change the strategy of how I will race this race," said Ryan Newman. "In the past, I would drop to the back and make a run at the front when there was less than 50 laps to go. I think we'll see what we saw in Daytona earlier this year. I think you may see a few guys drop back for just a little bit but at some point, they will run to the front or at least run to their best position to get points. It really is no different than any other track. You still have time to kind of put yourself in position or wait to put yourself in position." There are 10 former 'Dega winners in today's race, lead by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who has six wins. Junior, who is continuing his farewell tour, nearly grabbed his first career pole at Talladega, but instead will have to settle for P2 starting spot. "Hopefully, we will get one before the year is out at one of these plate tracks," said Earnhardt, Jr." I know the guys have been so close at Daytona and Talladega for so many years, so it would be great to do it this last season together. Just came up a little short today, but the car is fast and it will be good for Sunday." Start on the pole will be another Junior, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. It's Stenhouse's second career pole. Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth and Knoxville native Trevor Bayne round out the rest of the top five starting positions. "I'm proud to make it to the final round and have a good run at it," said Bayne. "All the Fords look fast and it doesn't really matter where you start here because it's such a chaotic race and it's the luck of the draw on how you finish, but it at least puts us in a good position to start the race and to stay out of trouble. We know we've got a fast car and everybody knows we've got a fast car, so maybe they'll be willing to work with us." The green flag is set to drop at around 2:20pm on the Geico 500. You can watch the race on our sister station FOX Tri-Cities, WEMT.