NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup heads to the track considered to be a "wild card" in the 10-race competition, Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, for the Sunday, October 7 Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500. Why is it a "wild card?" Because you never know who will collected in the inevitable "Big One" - or when it's going to occur. These five Chase drivers are at opposite ends of the standings going into Talladega, but with their track records there, may be a little bit closer by the end.
Brad Keselowski - HOT - Keselowski has two wins in the first three Chase races, and he has two wins at Talladega: his first Cup Series win back in 2009 for Phoenix Racing and this past spring's race. Keselowski is consistent at the 2.66-mile superspeedway, with five top 10 finishes in just seven races there. One thing is certain following last weekend's race at Dover: if a race comes down to fuel consumption, Keselowski is a likely winner.
Jimmie Johnson - HOT - Johnson also has two wins at Talladega, most recently in the first visit of the 2011 season. Johnson, who has just nine top 10 finishes at Talladega in 21 races, finished 35th with an engine issue in the spring race this season, but in the Chase so far, his worst finish is fourth.
Clint Bowyer - HOT - in addition to sitting fourth in points, Bowyer has won the fall race at Talladega the past two seasons; he has seven top 10 finishes in 13 races at the track. The Michael Waltrip Racing driver has two wins so far this season, and has three top 10 finishes in the first three Chase races.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - LUKEWARM - Earnhardt Jr. has quietly maintained his seventh-place standing in the Chase with finishes of eighth, 13th and 11th in the first three races. But like a true Earnhardt, he excels in the restrictor-plate races, with five wins and 13 top 10 finishes in 25 races at Talladega, including a ninth-place finish in the spring race.
Jeff Gordon - NOT - while Gordon does have six Talladega wins on his resume, the track was not kind to him in the spring, where, in spite of starting from the pole, he finished 33rd following an accident. He dug himself into a hole after the first Chase race, and even with two straight top three finishes at New Hampshire and Dover, still sits 48 points behind Keselowski with seven races to go.
Source: "Statistical Advance: Analyzing the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500," NASCAR Media, October 1, 2012
Paula is a long-time NASCAR fan who also covers the sport at Examiner.com and Skirts & Scuffs.
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