Bowyer and Keselowski know how to survive and succeed at Talladega

Superspeedway, site of Sunday's Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 and the fourth race in the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup, is considered by many to be the biggest wild card, or unknown, in the 10-race Chase.

Even so, more than a few drivers seem to have figured out the secret to not only surviving, but succeeding, at NASCAR's largest oval. And no, I'm not referring to NASCAR's most popular driver, wheel man of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Jr., either.

2012 Talladega Spring race winner Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing Dodge
2012 Talladega Spring race winner Brad Keselowski, Penske Racing Dodge

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Sure, Earnhardt boasts four wins, four-consecutive wins to be exact, at the Alabama superspeedway, but those wins came several years ago. I'm referring to current championship points leader Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge, and fellow-Chaser Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.

Keselowski not only heads into this weekend's race at Talladega as the most recent winner at the track, he's a two time victor there. His other win came in the spring race in 2009 -- a surprise win while driving the then-numbered 09 Chevrolet of Phoenix Racing.

Then, there's Bowyer. Bowyer's been the most successful driver at the track, as of late, especially when it comes to the fall Chase race at Talladega. After all, he's won the last two.

Despite recent success though, Bowyer's not looking ahead, past what may be his best track.

"It's going to be the wild card race," Bowyer said. "Things are so tight right now and the competition is so close it's literally a point or two here and a point or two there -- that's shaking up the Chase right now. Talladega can shake things up in a big way. It can propel you to the lead or bury you."

Sure, there are other drivers who have won at Talladega Speedway in the not so distant past, but Bowyer and Keselowski seem to be the two drivers among the bunch who stand out.

Keselowski's riding a Chase surge that has him making two Chase trips to victory lane, already, only three races into NASCAR's postseason. Not to mention that a win on Sunday would give him a sweep of one of NASCAR's biggest wild card tracks and make him a six-time winner so far this season.

And Keselowski thinks he is just now entering his best swing of the season.

"Now we get to part of the schedule where I think our strengths will shine," Keselowski said. "I love racing at Talladega. We have a lot of confidence going back there as the winner of the spring race."

Bowyer hasn't exactly been seen as the points leader at all this year, and 2012 may not be the first season in which he's won multiple races, but the driver is still considered to be having a breakout year, of sorts. He's in his first year at MWR, a team that's shown limited success the last several years. But he's led Michael Waltrip Racing this year -- into the Chase and multiple trips to victory lane.

It's going to be the wild card race.

Clint Bowyer

Considering Bowyer's recent success at Talladega and the turnaround he's been instrumental in at MWR, don't be surprised to see him run up front at the end of the race on Sunday to bring team owner Michael Waltrip closer to the top of the Chase standings.

"It's one of those races that I kind of look forward to," Bowyer said. "I've won a couple times there and enjoy it, but I also know what can happen there too."

Indeed, Talladega Superspeedway is a wild card race in which anything happens and oftentimes does. Even the two aforementioned drivers have been part of some of the unexpected finishes at the track. But unlike some of their competitors, they seem to know how to succeed amidst the unexpected.

"There is still a lot of racing left to go in this Chase, but I like our position in the standings, for sure," Keselowski said.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Michael Waltrip , Clint Bowyer , Brad Keselowski
Teams Team Penske , Hendrick Motorsports , Michael Waltrip Racing , Phoenix Racing
Article type Preview
Tags bowyer, dodge, featured, keselowski, penske, talladega, toyota, vincent, waltrip