Friday, October 3, 2008
Rusty Reckons: Talladega
'Dega in Rusty's house is almost as good as Christmas, just exchange ham and presents with beer and pizza. Restrictor plate racing in Alabama is like no other racing in the world. The high banks of Daytona require speed and handling. A car must be able to cut through the air and handle well in order to win. At 'Dega it's all about speed. Pure, raw, red-blooded speed.
'Dega also requires something else to get into victory lane . . . a Chevrolet. In the last few years, Ford's won twice and Toyota once, but otherwise it's been like a rock. And often times that rock has either an HMS or DEI logo on the side. Dale Jr. (when at DEI) and the Jeff & Jimmie combo (at HMS) have a combined total of 12 wins at Dega. These guys know how to drive a fast car, but they also have a knack to avoid the big one.
If there's one sure bet in racing it's that there will be a big one at 'Dega. Some nut, in probably some rag tag rink dink team or the shrub will do something dumb. With cars running inches apart in huge packs, the smallest mistake can have big consequences. The enusing carnage can take as many of 15 cars out in a matter of seconds. It's what the non-NASCAR fans watch for and the real fans dread. Rusty's spent plenty of 'Dega Sundays standing on the coffee table yelling at the TV . . . "DID JUNE BUG GET THROUGH? DID JUNE BUG GET THROUGH?".
So, what does this mean for your fantasy picks? This is actually a big gamble, but I think it's an easy one. On the B side, you've gotta take Junior. As a fan, I've gotta do it, but I really think that it's a good choice. The stands will be full of Junior fans able to scream above the roar of the engines when he takes the point. These fans will fuel him. He's won here 5 times. It might be a gamble, but it's a smart one.
Now, I've already mentioned the dominance of HMS's duo of Jeff & Jimmie, so for the A list, it's gotta be one of those two, right? Nope! I'm going to go with another Jeff . . . Jeff Burton. The safety advocate from VA hasn't won at 'Dega, but he's been able to collect 10 top 10's and 2 top 5's in 29 starts. He also drives for Richard Childress, the winningest owner at Talladega, thanks to the Intimidator. Needing to save Jimmie and possibly Jeff for other tracks, Rusty's going to gamble again and go with Burton.
Lastly, the C list. Michael Waltrip came so close in May. He was leading on the final laps before blowing an engine. He's won at 'Dega before, though he's not visited victory lane since his now infamous exit through the roof of his car. Still, with a need to start a C list driver, and Waltrip with the best performance among that group, it's not a bad choice.
- J Burton (31)
- D Earnhardt Jr. (88)
- M Waltrip (55)