Irvan, Jarrett or Pick 'Em for Talladega Quals?

Advance Auto Parts Qualifying Day: The Calm Before The Storm TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 3) -- It could be referred to as the calm before the storm. The calm is Advance Auto Parts Qualifying Day -- Friday, April 25 at Talladega ...

Advance Auto Parts Qualifying Day: The Calm Before The Storm

TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 3) -- It could be referred to as the calm before the storm. The calm is Advance Auto Parts Qualifying Day -- Friday, April 25 at Talladega Superspeedway, which will set the top 25 starting positions for the following Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series race. In addition, the field of up to 43 cars for the Birmingham Automobile Dealers 500K presented by EasyCare will be set in second-round qualifying Friday morning. Although it's the fastest day in NASCAR Winston Cup racing, it's considered by many to be the easiest two laps of the season. The storm is the Winston 500, scheduled to start at 12 noon Central time on April 27 at the "World's Fastest Speedway." One of the most competitive events of the season, it's considered by many to be the most stressful 188 laps of the year. While the two days differ tremendously, those who do well during Busch Pole Award Qualifying usually do well in the Winston 500. In the history of the event, the average starting position of the 27 winners is 4.2. No winner has ever started farther back than 16th, which was accomplished by Ernie Irvan in the 1993 Winston 500. Irvan also is the only winner in the 1990s to start outside of the top five. A pair of winners started from outside the front row in the 1990s, while another pair of victors started from the fourth position. "You say that qualifying isn't important at a place like Talladega because of the draft," said Jeremy Mayfield, whose only career Busch Pole came at Talladega last year in qualifying for the Sears DieHard 500. "But the guys who win always seem to start toward the front. "Qualifying at Talladega is probably one of the easiest days of the season for a driver. Now, the guys on the team might not think it's an easy day. We've been to Talladega when we've changed everything on the race car, and we've been to Talladega when we didn't change a thing." While those who qualify well seem to race well, a pole winner hasn't won the Winston 500 since track record holder Bill Elliott accomplished the feat in 1985. The Winston 500 has only been won from the pole seven times in its 27 years. "Things can go wrong during qualifying just like in the race," said Mayfield, driver of the Kmart/RC Cola Ford. "There's the wind you have to contend with, the gear ratio, you have to pay attention to your motor and your timing. So many things play a factor in qualifying at Talladega or Daytona. "There's a lot of things that can kill you two or three tenths of a second. If they kill you two or three tenths on the first lap, it will get you on the second lap too. "Qualifying day and race day differ so much. Both days are competitive, though. Qualifying is competitive. You're up against 40 other drivers and the clock. Race day it's you against 40 other drivers and you leave that place drained both mentally and physically. "It's a pretty intense weekend." Irvan won the pole for last season's Winston 500, edging teammate Dale Jarrett by less than one-tenth of a second. Irvan and Jarrett both qualified near 193 mph. Bill Elliott holds the qualifying record at Talladega Superspeedway for the most poles and the fastest lap in the history of the track, but it's been a while since the Dawsonville, Ga., driver has started on the front row at Talladega. During the 1980s Elliott owned Talladega qualifying, winning six consecutive poles and going four consecutive seasons with a front row starting position. From 1984 through 1987, he broke the track record three times and set a world record in 1987 with his 212.809 mph run. However, despite all of his past qualifying success, Elliott hasn't been on the front row since 1993 when he won the pole for the Sears DieHard 500. That was Elliott's last top-10 start at the 2.66-mile track. Advance Auto Parts Qualifying Day is Friday, April 25 with Busch Pole Qualifying for the Winston 500 at 3 p.m. Central time. Tickets are $10. For ticket information on April's "Track Attack Weekend" call the Talladega ticket office at (205) 362-9064.

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Ernie Irvan , Dale Jarrett , Jeremy Mayfield