Talladega is sure to be full of surprises -- and the Big One
It is one of the oldest saws in the sport: You can't predict Talladega.
The biggest track on the Sprint Cup schedule, the 2.66-mile tri-oval delivers more surprise winners than any other stop on the circuit.
If I were a crew chief, here's what I would tell my driver right before he hopped into his car for the start of Sunday's Aaron's 499 at 'Dega:
That would be my strategy, and it's one that I expect several drivers will adopt once the engines fire. Why hang back early? Because the likelihood of a big wreck up front seems as high as ever.
When NASCAR announced that it would largely let drivers police themselves this year, the sport's governing body also said that it would no longer restrict bump drafting through the corners at Daytona and Talladega. This wasn't a big issue in the season-opening race at Daytona, but I think it will lead to some wrecks on Sunday because there are plenty of desperate drivers in the sport right now who are willing to do desperate things. This wasn't the case at Daytona, where everyone was tied in the points and everyone believed they were legitimate championship contenders.
There are three clear favorites to take the checkers on Sunday --
Gordon also is one of two best plate racers in the sport (the other is Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and he has six career wins at 'Dega, which is more than any other active driver. The fans in the grandstands surely won't like it -- the last time Gordon won here in the heart of Earnhardt country his No. 24 Chevy was showered with beer cans -- but late on Sunday afternoon it says here he'll be in Victory Lane.
One more prediction: He'll follow the above strategy to a tee.