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

Race Capsule

Talladega Superspeedway
  • What:

    Race 29 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, AL

  • When:

    October 3, 2004 2:40 pm EDT

  • Laps:

    188

  • Track Length:

    2.66 miles

  • Race Length:

    500.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $5,199,159

Drivers to Watch

Jeff Gordon Reclaimed the top spot in the standings in his quest for a fifth NASCAR championship with a third in the MBNA America 400 last weekend; had entered the "Chase" as the leader but fell to third following a seventh-place finish in Sylvania 300 two weeks ago; beginning with back-to-back wins in Dodge/Save Mart 350 and Pepsi 400, has recorded 10 top-10 finishes in last 13 races; has a circuit-leading five victories this year, with most recent coming in Brickyard 400 on August 8; has three career wins here, including the checkered flag in Aaron's 499 in April; trying to become only the second driver (Dale Earnhardt in 1990) to win three restrictor-plate races in one season.
Elliott Sadler Only driver to have position unchangeD during the "Chase", holding steady in sixth place; finished 20th in Dover last weekend after being guilty of a pit lane speeding infraction with 25 laps to go which him forced to re-enter pit lane and observe the 35-mph limit before returning to competition; had taken checkered flag twice this this year, including a win in California which clinched his berth in the championship run; one of only three drivers to be in the top 10 the entire season; views Talladega as the wild card race: "No matter how good you think you're gonna be or how good your car is, how good you qualify, it's just a case that when you have 43 guys on top of each other for a 3 1/2 hours, anything can happen. It's just a dangerous race."
Matt Kenseth Defending series champion crashed into a tire barrier filled with water entering pit lane on lap 120 in Dover last week and took a 32nd, dropping three spots to seventh in the standings; ran second in first race of the "Chase" in New Hampshire two weeks ago; has finished outside the top 20 three times in last four races after posting five top-10 finishes in the previous six; fifth on the circuit with 16 top-10s, including back-to-back victories in Subway 400 and UAW DaimlerChrysler 400; engine problems were to blame for a 42nd - his worst finish of the season - in Aaron's 499 here in April.
Kurt Busch Opened "Chase for the Nextel Cup" with a victory in New Hampshire two weeks ago to sweep both races at NHIS and move into a tie for the lead in points; led for 12 laps and ran fifth in Dover last weekend; trails Jeff Gordon by one point in the standings; has three wins this year among his 11 career checkered flags; has five top-five finishes and 14 top-10s, including six in the last eight races; an accident led to a 36th-place finish - tied for his worst of the season - here in Aaron's 499 in April; ran third in Talladega 500 in 2001 and finished sixth in this event last year.
Won pole and finished seventh in Dover last weekend but slipped to 10th in the standings, 157 points behind Gordon; victimized by crash initiated by Robby Gordon on lap 64 in first "Chase" race and finished 35th; recorded fourth career Cup victory - his first in 142 races - three weeks ago; last win previously was in Pocono 500 on June 19, 2000; has 11 top-10 finishes this year; has won three poles here, including his first career pole in 1996; best finish on this track was a fifth in this event in 1998 - his only top-10 in 20 races here; hoping experience here will work to his advantage: "You don't see new teams come into Daytona and Talladega and immediately run good. It just takes time to get there. ... We're getting there with the two cars from Evernham Motorsports."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Fell from first to third in the standings - 18 points behind Gordon - following a ninth in MBNA America 400 at Dover International Speedway last weekend; was one of five drivers to lead at least one lap in Dover; has taken the checkered flag four times this year, with most recent in Bristol on August 28; second on the circuit with 13 top-five finishes and tied for second with 17 top-10s; put together four consecutive victories on this track from October 21, 2001 to April 6, 2003 and leads all active drivers with four wins here; ran second in both Aaron's 499 here in April and in this event last year; he (2002) and his father (1990, 1999) are the only drivers to sweep both races in a season here since 1982.
Jimmie Johnson Gordon's teammate ran 10th in Dover last weekend to post just his second top-10 finish in last eight races; had 12 top-10s in previous 14 races, culminating in a victory in Pennsylvania 500 on August 1; tied with Mark Martin at 57 points back in standings but holds tiebreaker with a 4-1 advantage in wins over Martin; leads circuit with 15 top-five finishes, including a fourth here in April, and is tied for second with four victories; ran into engine problems and was saddled with a 34th in this event last year before recording seven consecutive top-10 finishes, including six top-fives, to close out the 2003 season.
Mark Martin Finished a distant second (8.149 seconds) behind Ryan Newman in MBNA America 400 at Dover International Speedway last week after taking his lone checkered flag of the season on that track earlier in the year; moved up two spots to fifth in the standings, 57 points behind Gordon; finished 13th in first event of the "Chase" in New Hampshire two weeks ago; has six top-five finishes in the last nine races after managing just two through the first 19; won twice on this track, including a series-record speed of 188.354 mph in winning Winston 500 on May 10, 1997.
Ryan Newman Led 325 laps and took checkered flag in MBNA America 400 last week, marking his third win in the last four races in Dover; was his second win of the year after posting a circuit-high eight victories in 2003; climbed up a spot to eighth in the standings, 107 points behind Gordon; has won five poles this year and leads all drivers with an average start of 8.25; tied for fifth with nine top-five finishes, including three in the last five races; took a 33rd in first race in the "Chase" after encountered engine problems late in the race; finished fourth in this event amidst eight top-10 finishes in final 10 races last year.
Tony Stewart Rebounded from a 39th in New Hampshire - the result of a crash induced by Robby Gordon - in the first race of the "Chase" to run sixth in Dover last week; still dropped a spot to ninth in the standings, 135 points behind Gordon; tied for fifth on the circuit with nine top-five finishes this year; posted wins at Tropicana 400 and Sirius at Glen in 2004; qualified a season-worst 37th before running 22nd in Aaron's 499 here in April; finished third in this event to begin a string of six consecutive top-fives last year.