Drivers looking for redemption at Talladega By Brett Borden TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 22, 1999) Randy LaJoie won at Daytona, but since then he's had some hard luck. Redemption. It seems to be the word of the week at Talladega Superspeedway.
Drivers looking for redemption at Talladega By Brett Borden
TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 22, 1999) Randy LaJoie won at Daytona, but since then he's had some hard luck. Redemption. It seems to be the word of the week at Talladega Superspeedway. Some drivers are seeking to even the score with the speedway itself in Saturday's Touchstone Energy 300. Others seek to make things square with the speedway's trioval sister track, Daytona International Speedway. And others just want to get things pointed in the right direction.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a monstrous season last year, with seven victories and a NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division championship that was based on consistency. This year his No. 3 ACDelco Chevrolet team has struggled by comparison -- even if it's an unfair comparison. Despite not making it to Victory Lane yet in 1999, he still sits just one point away from the top spot in the standings, behind Elton Sawyer.
How fitting would it be if he could take the lead with a victory at a track that provided one of the few speedbumps on his road to the championship last season? In last season's Touchstone Energy 300, Earnhardt started 4th and was having a good run until lap 24, when 11 cars, including the No. 3, were involved in a multi-car accident, relegating Earnhardt to a 32nd-place finish.
Add to that a disappointing 16th-place finish at Daytona earlier this year following another accident, and it's easy to see why 'Little E' feels the big tracks owe him one.
"I am ready to redeem myself on the superspeedways, especially after Daytona," he said. "My team is giving me a little bit of a hard time about the condition my cars have been in after the superspeedway runs."
Glenn Allen doesn't hold any grudge against Talladega, but he is champing at the big-track bit after a disappointing turn of events at Daytona in February. Allen, who finished 6th at Talladega after starting 40th last year, had one of the stronger cars in practice at Daytona until an accident in the inappropriately named Happy Hour made him start 34th. He still finished 16th, and brings the same No. 38 Barbasol Chevrolet to Talladega this weekend.
"It was a great car until we were caught in that accident during the last practice," said Allen. "We've put it all back together and think we'll have a good run here with it. I feel like we have improved our set-up for qualifying, hopefully a little bit better than everyone else. Once we're in the race, I know we'll have one good race car."
Randy LaJoie had one really good race car at Daytona, winning the season-opening NAPA Auto Parts 300. But once the season got rolling, the wheels seemed to come off the Bob Evans Chevrolet's wagon, and the other cars have been eating LaJoie's for breakfast lately. He'd like to bring home the bacon Saturday.
"The season started off exceptionally well," he said. "I won the season-opening race at Daytona. I left there with the points lead and Bob Evans came on board. Even though we all want to win races, the end-of-the-year championship is our ultimate goal. It seemed like at Darlington our luck started to change. We've been disappointed that all our hard work hasn't exactly shown on the track, but we know everybody has a little bad luck every once in a while. This Bob Evans team will just keep digging because I know we've got the team to run up front and win more races this year."
Brad Loney is after redemption, period. In last year's Touchstone Energy 300, Loney moved all the way up to 13th in the field when he became involved in a multi-car accident, the same one that had collected Earnhardt. He finished 36th, injured his sternum and ribs, and received a mild concussion. He brings an injured elbow and banged-up ribs into this year's race.
"Having last week off has helped my recovery but I am still sore," said Loney. "When I get on the track, though, I don't notice any pain. I just don't want to cause any further injuries. Aside from all this injury business I am ready for this weekend and actually pretty excited. I believe we have the potential to put the Coyne Textile Services Chevrolet up front and keep it there. We proved we could run fast at Daytona (he finished 10th) and finding drafting partners should be a little easier."
Source: NASCAR Online