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2012 Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway

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2012 Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway

2012 Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway

Logo Courtesy of NASCAR

2012 Aaron's 499:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. hasn't won a NASCAR Sprint Cup points race in his last 138 tries. This Sunday the 2012 Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway may be his best opportunity to snap his winless streak. Can Dale Earnhardt Jr. get the job done this weekend or will his frustrating losing streak continue?

Tickets:

Speedway ticket office 1-877-Go2-DEGA

The Track:

Talladega Superspeedway is the longest track on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit measuring 2.66 miles. A steep 33 degrees of banking in the corners and 18 degrees in the front tri-oval make handling a secondary consideration. Talladega is big, fast, and all about horsepower and drafting.

Race Distance:

188 laps = 499 miles

The Big Picture:

Last week in Richmond point leader Greg Biffle finished back in 18th place which allowed second place finisher Dale Earnhardt Jr. to put a serious dent in his point lead.

Junior is now just five points behind Biffle and having a great 2012 in spite of his winless streak.

The 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings:

  1. Greg Biffle
  2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -5
  3. Denny Hamlin -9
  4. Matt Kenseth -10
  5. Martin Truex Jr. -22
  6. Jimmie Johnson -24
  7. Kevin Harvick -25
  8. Tony Stewart -31
  9. Carl Edwards -51
  10. Ryan Newman -59

Storylines:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be squarely in the spotlight this weekend. Junior has five previous wins on the high banks of Talladega Superspeedway but hasn't been to a NASCAR Sprint Cup Victory Lane ceremony in a points paying race since June of 2008. Is this Sunday's Aaron's 499 Dale Earnhardt Jr's best chance to break his 138 race winless streak?

Those five wins that Junior has at Talladega are a bit dated now though. He last scored a Talladega win back in 2004. That was a very different type of restrictor plate racing from the partner racing that we saw in 2011 and the hybrid pack-partner racing that we saw in Daytona earlier this year.

Junior is on a roll though in 2012. He currently sits second in points just five points behind leader Greg Biffle and is fresh off one of his best runs of the year. Dale's second place effort in Richmond last week was matched only by his second place effort in the only other restrictor plate race of 2012.

Maybe, just maybe, this is the week that Dale Earnhardt Jr. breaks the streak and establishes himself as a legitimate championship contender.

Media Coverage:

TV: FOX Sunday, May 6th, 12:00PM Eastern.

Radio: MRN and SIRIUS Satellite

Actual Race: 1:00PM Eastern

Recent Events:

2011 Polesitter: Jeff Gordon

2011 Winner: Jimmie Johnson

Last Year:

Last year Jimmie Johnson tied the closest finish in NASCAR history by edging out Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon in a three-wide thriller. The final margin of victory was just .002 seconds.

Before the finish that had fans on their feet one of NASCAR's 2011 bad boys Kurt Busch wasn't making any friends on the track as he caused at least two wrecks during the race. The biggest of these was the "Big One" on lap 90 when Trevor Bayne, Kasey Kahne, David Ragan, Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose crashed when Kurt Busch spun the car that he was drafting with.

Predictions:

Picking a winner in a restrictor plate race is a crapshoot. "The Big One" can eliminate a top contender in the blink of an eye but we can look back to Daytona to see who has fast restrictor plate cars in 2012.

Roush-Fenway Racing finished first and third in Daytona as Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle combined to lead 94 laps of the race with Kenseth getting the win.

For my top pick this week I'm going to reverse that and pick Greg Biffle for the win this week in Talladega. The point leader needs to bring his car home in one piece and the best way to stay out of trouble is to stay out front.

Although the Roush-Fenway guys lead a lot of laps in Daytona it was Denny Hamlin who lead the most laps. Hamlin had a fast car all day in Daytona and brought it home in fourth. Hamlin knows how to plate race and he makes a great backup pick this week in Talladega.

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