By admin | October 19, 2011
By Richard Allen
This year’s Daytona 500 introduced the racing world to prolonged 2×2 racing on NASCAR’s two restrictor plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega. The tandem form of racing had been employed before but not necessarily for such extended numbers of laps. But this year’s three previous plate races have essentially gone the full distance with drivers and cars running in dual formations.
Coming into Sunday’s race at Talladega, NASCAR has enacted a couple of rule changes they hope will break up the two car teams and induce more of the fan preferred big pack racing. Increased holes in the restrictor plate itself as well as adjustments to the cars’ cooling systems are the fixes the sanctioning body believes will at least force drivers to swap positions more often.
At best, that’s all those modifications will cause. Team engineers have had time since the changes were announced to make adjustments that will allow their drivers to get the most out of the cars. The racing may not look exactly like that of the other three plates races but the similarity will be very close.
With all that said, teams will almost certainly have at least one not so subtle rule going into the final laps of the Good Sam Club 500 on Sunday. Those drivers within an organization who are in contention for the Chase title are to be pushed by those who are either not in the Chase or already out of contention.
Remember in the first Talladega race of 2011 when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. pushed Jimmie Johnson to a win? With points being as they are, expect that same scenario this time around.
During July’s race at Daytona, Matt Kenseth shoved Roush Fenway Racing teammate David Ragan to victory. Look for the roles to be reversed on Sunday. And within that same company, Greg Biffle will no doubt line up behind Carl Edwards as well.
Considering that the Richard Childress Racing cars have wasted few opportunities to push Kevin Harvick under caution on non-plate tracks, the chances are high that one of them will be assisting him instead of the other way around. And, Kyle Busch will have either of two Joe Gibbs Racing teammates to choose from that may lock onto his rear bumper.
The only team that might actually have some doubt as to who will lead the two car parade to the checkered flag could be Penske Racing as both Kurt Busch and Brad Keselowski are still in contention.
A few years ago when listening to team radios confirmed, as many already believed, that Formula 1 drivers operated under team orders, that form of racing and its teams were strongly condemned. Many around NASCAR believed that such a situation would never occur in less team oriented stock car racing.
Does anyone out there believe that the scenarios mentioned above will not play out at Talladega, provided of course that all of those cars are still running at the end? Radio transmissions from earlier in the season have already indicated that contenders are taken care of within some of the organizations. With the Chase for the Championship winding down and with the possibility that a single point could decide the series championship, expect that to be very much the case in a race that will require teamwork anyway.
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