Every NASCAR fan and driver knows that the fall race at Talladega is the race that wreaks havoc on the Chase standings. Every Chase driver has the fall date at Talladega circled on their calendar. Why? Kurt Busch said it best: “You go into Talladega just hoping to survive and hoping that you’ve done enough before then just in case something happens.” Here is a brief recap of the standings following the Talladega fall race:
1. In 2004, Talladega was the 3rd race in the Chase. Jimmie Johnson entered the race 4th in the overall points standings, 56 points behind 2nd place Kurt Busch; he left in 9th, losing 100 points to Busch. Johnson would miss out on his first Sprint Cup championship by a scant 8 points.
2. In 2006, the fall race was moved to the 4th race in the Chase. That year, Brian Vickers spun teammate Jimmie Johnson into Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Fortunately for Johnson, he did not take a big hit in the points, and he went on to win the first of his 3 championships.
3. Last year, Carl Edwards trailed Jimmie Johnson by a mere 10 points on the eve of the Talladega race. A crash which caused damage to the entire Roush Fenway race team increased the points differential between Edwards and Johnson to 72 points.
This year, the fall race at Talladega moves to the 7th race of the Chase, leaving the Chase drivers only 3 races to recover from a bad race, so it’s anyone’s guess what effect the race will have on the standings this year.
So, after a discussion with F2 and GGW Commissioner photogr, the Beagle decided why wait until ‘Dega to create chaos with the standings, and thus came up with this week’s race format.
One of the constants in this year’s SYMT has been the number of field fillers and start & parkers who qualify above their talent on Friday only to revert to their normal lackluster performances on race day(as jon_464 always says, “you people know who you are”). All of us GGW racers have been plagued with this phenomenon over the course of the season- some more than others.
With that in mind, this week’s race will be a “Best of the Worst” race. As with the regular season, the starting grid will be set according to Sprint Cup qualifying with one small but important change- drivers will be assigned from the bottom up:
1st place GGW (Tez) will start 43rd
2nd place GGW (Stork) will start 42nd
3rd place GGW (F2) will start 41st
4th place GGW (SB) will start 40th
5th place GGW (Kristen) will start 39th
and so on until the field is set.
Now, before you get all bummed out over the prospect of being paired with Dave Blaney Joe Nemechek, or God forbid, Todd Bodine, there’s always the possibility that one (or more) of the top drivers could have a bad qualifying day. Don’t believe me? One only needs to look at this year’s Daytona 500 for proof. Matt Kenseth qualified 39th for the race and ended up as Victoria Lane’s date for the evening.
The starting grid will be posted to this blog and the Lug-Nuts group blog as soon as the Cup lineup is posted on Friday.
Good luck and let’s go racing.