NASCAR Preview

Last Updated Wednesday, Jul 20, 2005 5:27 pm, EDT

Race Capsule

Talladega Superspeedway
  • What:

    Race 9 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, AL

  • When:

    April 25, 2004 1:30 pm EDT

  • Laps:


  • Track Length:

    2.66 miles

  • Race Length:

    500.00 miles

  • Purse:


Drivers to Watch

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Comes to one of his favorite tracks five points ahead of Kurt Busch for the lead in the points standings; placed third at Martinsville last week to pass Busch, becoming the third different points leader in as many races; has six straight top-10 finishes at Talladeaga; set a record at the 2.66-mile oval by winning here for the fourth straight time last April, when he passed Matt Kenseth with three laps to go; nearly made it five in a row at Talladega, but could not catch DEI teammate Michael Waltrip here last September.
Has one win at Talladega Superspeedway; the fall race in 1998 when he picked up an extra $1 million as part of the former Winston No Bull program; has 13 top-10 finishes lifetime at Talladega; has enjoyed success in restrictor-plate racing, winning the Budweiser Shootout in February and finishing 10th in the Dayton 500; "I think the important thing to do, especially at tracks like Talladega and Daytona, is to pace myself because I don't want to get myself in a position that could create problems early in the race because it's 500 miles," Jarrett said. "We saw in February how the field did get strung out because some cars out there don't seem to handle things quite as well after running 15 to 20 laps."
Jimmie Johnson Was fourth at Martinsville last week to climb two spots top fourth in the standings, but was not content with that result; "I guess we won at Darlington with a fifth-place car and then we finished fourth (at Martinsville) with a car we felt we could have won the race with," Johnson said; Has four top-10 finishes in his last five races; started from the pole and finished seventh in his first appearance at Talladega in April 2002, but has been outside the top 10 in three races since.
Jeff Gordon Was hindered by a pothole at Martinsville last week, causing damage to the right side of his front spoiler; the damage caused him to make three pit stops, but he still led a race-high 180 laps and placed sixth for his third straight top-10 finish and sixth on the season, which is tied with leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth for the most in the Nextel Cup Series; has qualified among the top 10 in six of his eight starts this year; raced to victory in Talladega in July 1996 and April 2000 and was among the top 10 in both races here last year.
Elliott Sadler Is fifth in the standings for the second straight week after finishing 12th at Martinsville; is one of just four drivers to be among the top 10 in the standings all season; started and finished third at Talladega last April and won the pole here in September before placing 30th.
Kevin Harvick Finished 19th at Martinsville and dropped two positions to 10th in the standings; had just one top-20 finish in his first four starts at Talladega, but was second and seventh in the two races here in 2003; "We're thinking we have a great chance to win," Harvick said about the upcoming race. "You know you have to miss the big wreck and that's probably the biggest thing going in. You know you have a 50-50 chance of being in the right spot."
Kurt Busch Finished 11th at the Advance Auto Parts 500 at Martinsville last week and dropped out of the top spot in the standings; had three straight top-10 finishes before Martinsville and now is five points behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. and seven in front of Rousch Racing teammate Matt Kenseth; finished third in the Aaron's 499 in 2001 and 2002 before placing 19th last year; in the September 2003 race at Talladega, started 39th and finished sixth for his fourth top-10 showing in six career appearances here.
Kasey Kahne The top rookie on the Nextel circuit finished 21st at Martinsville, marking just the third time this season that he finished outside the top 15; his four top-5 finishes are tied with Jimmie Johnson for second in the series; is 34 points in front of Scott Wimmer in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings; will make his first Nextel start at Talladega, but qualified on the outside pole in a Busch race here last spring; caught in a multi-car accident in that race and finished 38th.
Matt Kenseth The 2003 Winston Cup champion has dropped one spot after each of the last two races to third, but is just seven points in back of Roush Racing teammate Kurt Busch and 12 behind leader Dale Earnhardt Jr.; had a strong finish at Martinsville as he did not move into the top 10 until lap 127, but managed to place eighth; has been among the top 10 in the standings in 42 straight weeks, which is the longest current streak on the circuit; has three top-10 finishes in eight career starts at Talladega.
Tony Stewart Dipped two slots in the standings to No. 6 after finishing 14th at Martinsville; it is just the second time this season that he is below fifth in the standings, but he is just two points behind Elliott Sadler; has never won a restrictor-plate race, but has five top-3 finishes in 10 career starts at Talladega; he was runner-up in both races here in 2001 and again in October 2002.