*Villeneuve Attempts To Make Series Debut In The Loop: Chase Drivers Shine At Talladega All drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point to Talladega as the "wild card" track in the 10-race Chase. While Talladega's past does suggest...
*Villeneuve Attempts To Make Series Debut
In The Loop: Chase Drivers Shine At Talladega
All drivers in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point to Talladega as the "wild card" track in the 10-race Chase.
While Talladega's past does suggest an anything-goes show, over the last five races at the historic track, the top drivers have performed the best.
Seven of the top-10 drivers in Driver Rating are currently in the Chase, so figure the tight battle at the top to continue -- especially since two of the past three Talladega winners also sit one-two in the standings (Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon).
Jeff Gordon ranks first in Talladega Driver Rating with a 103.0. He also has an Average Running Position of 11.7 (fourth-best) and 680 Laps in the Top 15 (fourth-best).
Closely behind in the statistics standings is Johnson. Johnson has an Average Running Position of 12.4, a Driver Rating of 92.0 (sixth-best) and 670 Laps in the Top 15 (fifth-best).
Talladega could be a bright spot -- finally -- for Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Chevrolet). Both have struggled through bad luck in the early going of the Chase and find themselves 11th and 12th, respectively, in the standings.
Kenseth leads the way in Average Running Position (9.4), is third in Driver Rating (99.6) and second in Laps in the Top 15 (749).
Hamlin ranks eighth in Average Running Position (16.0) and ninth in Driver Rating (83.4).
Tony Stewart also should be a factor Sunday afternoon. Though he has excellent statistics at Talladega, it is one of only four tracks at which Stewart has not won.
At Talladega, Stewart has a Driver Rating of 90.8 (seventh-best), an Average Running Position of 13.9 (seventh-best) and has spent 544 Laps in the Top 15 (tied for sixth-most).
One driver who has struggled at Talladega is Clint Bowyer (No. 07 Jack Daniel's Chevrolet). In three starts, Bowyer has not finished better than 35th place. Bowyer is third in the standings, 14 points behind Gordon. He has a Talladega Driver Rating of 45.5, his worst at any track.
Around Town: Villeneuve Set For Talladega Debut; Alabama Gang Remembers Daytona 500s
On The Line: Harvick On Weekly NASCAR Teleconference
Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet) was the guest on this week's NASCAR teleconference. Harvick currently is fifth in the point standings, 126 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. Some highlights from the teleconference:
On his approach to the Chase:
"Our approach hasn't changed. We go and try to be as aggressive as we can every week and make our cars run as fast as they can to put ourselves into position to win. If you can't do that, then you have to make the best day possible out of the days that you're having."
"So you just go to Talladega with the mindset going as hard as you can and put yourself in the right position that hopefully you can find the least amount of troubles in that particular day."
On the point standings:
"It just seems like last year to me it seemed like things kind of started off the same way and as we went through the Chase they calmed down. I think every race is going to have the same little characteristics."
Villeneuve Attempts First Series Start
Jacques Villeneuve (No. 27 Bill Davis Racing Toyota) will be attempting to make his first career start in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series this weekend. Villeneuve, a former Formula One and CART champion, made his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sept. 22. He finished 21st, after starting seventh.
Villeneuve is attempting to follow Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) who followed a similar career path to the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.
"I get excited about being out there on the track with guys like (Jacques) and Juan that have won the Indy 500 and Formula One championships," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. "That's awesome for me to be out there racing hard with them. Jacques doesn't have much experience in these cars, but he's a world champ - he'll do OK."
Alabama Gang Reunites for 50th Daytona 500
Three members of the famed Alabama Gang will reunite at Talladega Superspeedway for a press conference as part of a special series looking ahead to the 50th running of the Daytona 500.
Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison and Red Farmer will reflect on their Daytona 500 appearances at 10:15 a.m. CT on Friday, Oct. 5 in the Ken Patterson Infield Media Center. Bobby Allison is a three-time Daytona 500 champion, winning in 1978, 1982 and 1988. Donnie Allison made 13 career Daytona 500 starts, with a career best finish of third in 1969 and Farmer made eight Daytona 500 starts.
Celebrity Chase Tracker Update
Week 3 of the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup has brought a new leader in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Celebrity Chase Tracker game. Musical group Hanson, who sang the national anthem at Chicagoland Speedway, correctly identified the points position of six Chase drivers and have moved into first place with 27 points. Big Boi (of Outkast) and Lil' Jon are second and third, respectively, followed by former New York Yankee World Champion Mickey Rivers and best-selling author Janet Evanovich.
Thirty-six celebrities from the sports and entertainment world are participating in this year's Chase Tracker game. The game is being hosted on NASCAR.COM and is open to fans. Almost 4,000 fans signed up to test their Chase predictions against those of celebrity NASCAR fans.
On Deck: Lowe's Motor Speedway Hosts Fifth Chase Race
The fifth of 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup will take place Saturday night, Oct. 13 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Kasey Kahne (No. 9 UAW/Dodge Dealers Dodge) is the defending winner of the Bank of America 500. He swept both races at LMS last season, but finished 23rd in the Coca-Cola 600 earlier this year.
Scott Riggs (No. 10 Valvoline Dodge) was the pole sitter for both races at LMS in 2006.
Jimmie Johnson is the active wins leader at the track with five. He won all four races at the track in 2004 and 2005.
Casey Mears (No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Chevrolet) won this year's Coca-Cola 600.
The Race: UAW-Ford 500
The Place: Talladega Superspeedway
The Date: Sunday, Oct. 7
The Time: 2 p.m. (ET)
TV: ABC, 1 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN; Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 128
The Track: 2.66-mile oval
The Distance: 500 miles, 188 laps
The Purse: $5,384,639
2006 Winner: Brian Vickers
2006 Pole: David Gilliland
Schedule (local/CT time): Friday -- Practice, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. and 2:45 -- 3:30 p.m.; Saturday -- Qualifying, 11:15 a.m.