After practice at Talladega, it's immediately clear that the 2x2 racing so loathed by so many fans isn't going anywhere, at least not entirely. While drivers did report some overheating of engines after running a few paired-up laps, cars were able to sync up and run in tandem as in past years. Here's a breakdown of the pairings:
Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle
Matt Kenseth and David Ragan
Kevin Harvick and Paul Menard
Kyle Busch and Joey Logano
Kurt Busch and Regan Smith
Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte
Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin
Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin
Brad Keselowski and Dave Blaney
Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers
Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer
AJ Allmendinger and Marcos Ambrose
David Reutimann and Martin Truex Jr.
Edwards and Biffle posted the fastest time, with Martin and Gordon second and Ambrose and Allmendinger third. Kahne and Vickers were the only other pair to top 197 mph in testing.
"As weird as the two-car racing is, I believe it's safer than the big packs," Carl Edwards said afterward. "That's not because there are fewer wrecks. It's because there are fewer cars that can be involved in the wreck." Edwards has more experience with potentially catastrophic wrecks at Talladega than most, having been involved in a spectacular wreck in 2009 that injured several fans.
"I think if we went back to the pack," Edwards added, "NASCAR would have to slow it down more."
[For the sticklers among you, that photo is from Thursday's fuel injection testing. Same basic philosophy applies.]