I watched the qualifying today...yeah, I know...and it was pretty impressive. A.J. Allmendinger had a very terrific speed of 191.111 mph that held up until almost the very end when it was Jeff Gordon's turn. Gordon ran an unconventional lap around the bottom of the track that allowed him to push past Allmendinger with a speed of 191.623 mph.
Jeff Gordon has won at Talladega five times (but so has Dale Jr. who hasn't won a race in 138 tries...yikes!) and has not had a very good season so far. Getting the pole position at Talladega, while not really all that significant in terms of outcome, is at least a psychological boost for Gordon. Jeff has a talent for doing well at the super speedway tracks here and at Daytona.
Michael Waltrip who usually is in the booth providing color commentary during NASCAR races will be competing in this one. Waltrip who is also famous (or infamous) for his NAPA Auto Parts and Aarons Rental television commercials will be starting from the ninth position...not bad for someone who hung it up several years back.
Talladega is the longest and fastest of the tracks on the NASCAR circuit and is known for having some of the worst wrecks and multi-car pileups of the racing season. Because of this (for those of you who don't know and probably don't care but, hey, I'm rolling) NASCAR requires a restrictor plate to be installed on the intake manifolds of the engines. This limits the cars' top speeds and also lengthens the amount of time needed to get there. Usually it takes one entire lap (2.66 miles) to get up to top speed. The drivers and their mechanics are constantly working to squeeze every bit of advantage that they can find out of the cars to overcome this handicap. The most notable way this is done is "drafting" where two or more cars drive bumper to bumper. Drafting allows two or more cars to actually go faster than one car by itself. But you can't draft indefinitely because the radiator gets starved for air and then the engine overheats so you will see cars sliding sideways out of a draft formation to cool their engines down. These situations describe a very intricate and delicate dance at speeds over 200 mph that result in some very spectacular crashes when someone makes a mistake.
Should be a great race tomorrow. It usually is. The green flag drops at noon ET.