October 23, 2011 in Sports

Drivers expect anything at Talladega

From Wire Reports

Anything can happen in a Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

“You could see the checkered flag and be leading this race and still have no clue what is going to happen,” said Carl Edwards, who leads the series standings entering today’s Good Sam Club 500. “There is no telling what is going to happen and I would be lying to you if I said I enjoyed it.”

This weekend, NASCAR will attempt to do it a little differently. The two-car drafting that has become commonplace at restrictor-plate tracks first appeared in limited form at this race a year ago. In the first three restrictor-plate races this season, the tandems have dominated the racing at Daytona and Talladega, something over which many race fans have voiced their displeasure.

NASCAR officials adopted some rule changes this weekend, hoping they could alter the dynamics of the racing. The restrictor-plates were increased in size slightly, which should boost speeds, and the pressure-relief valve on the cars’ cooling systems were recalibrated in hopes it would prevent cars from remaining locked in the two-car drafts for extended periods.

With no testing prior to this weekend, teams had little idea how the changes would affect the racing. However, in two practice sessions on Friday, there seemed to be little change.

Hendrick dominates

Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson gave Hendrick Motorsports a sweep of the front row at Talladega Superspeedway.

Martin posted a lap at 181.367 mph in Saturday’s qualifying. Johnson was second at 181.360 to give the Chevrolets from Hendrick the first two starting spots in today’s race. It’s the third time this season Hendrick cars have swept the front row for a superspeedway event.

Wallace proves super sub

Mike Wallace proved to be a suitable substitute for Elliott Sadler at Talladega Superspeedway. Wallace picked up his first victory in the Truck Series since 2000 when Ron Hornaday Jr. pushed him to the win. Wallace was making his 115th career start in the series, but only second this year.

He drove a Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet in place of Sadler, who stayed home awaiting the birth of his second child.

Hornaday finished second and was followed by championship contender James Buescher.

Wheldon remembered

Of all the indelible moments from Dan Wheldon’s public memorial service – fellow IndyCar drivers Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan serving as pallbearers, his father carrying his racing helmet and country music star Wynonna Judd singing two gripping songs – the heart-wrenching letter from his wife cut deepest.

Susie Wheldon’s letter to Dan left few eyes dry in the First Presbyterian Church of St. Petersburg, Fla.

Wheldon, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, died last Sunday in IndyCar’s season finale at Las Vegas. He was remembered Saturday not only as a champion but as a devoted husband, caring father, loyal friend and beloved son.

“My sweet Dan, my whole body is aching, down to the deepest part of my soul,” Susie wrote in a letter read by family friend Michael Johnson. “I keep thinking this is a bad dream.”

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email