2018 NASCAR Preview: Week 31 – Talladega

The Big One looms ever-present in Alabama..

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We’re into the Round of 12 – Chase Elliott, the victor last week, righted the wrongs of last year’s Dover race.  Now on to Talladega, a track about as unpredictable as one can be. Qualifying is in the books, very segmented up front: all four Stewart-Haas Fords, all four Hendrick Chevrolets behind them, and a pair of Gibbs Toyotas to close out the Top 10. How long will it stay so orderly?  We find out soon.

Here’s what to look for:

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Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford, walks to his car. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan | Getty Images)

–Another week, another Busch up front.  Kurt, this week, last snagged the Pole at Charlotte’s Roval the race prior.  As previously mentioned, he’s got a contingent of teammates surrounding him.  No wins here yet, but he finished 2nd in the Spring.

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Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Cummins/Rush Truck Centers Ford, walks through the garage during practice. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen | Getty Images)

–On the outside will be Clint Bowyer.  He’s not one of the guys that the experts have circled on their Championship Hopefuls list, but he’s certainly putting his face out there. He did win both the 2010 and 2011 Fall Talladega races, so he knows how to get it done here.  We’ll see if he can pull one out today.

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Joey Logano drives through the garage area. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk | Getty Images)

Joey Logano won the Spring race, our most recent winner on NASCAR’s longest oval.  It’s actually one of his best tracks by average, but he’s managed three 1st place finishes.  Feast or famine for Logano, if he isn’t in the Top 4, he’s 25th or deeper.

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Brad Keselowski celebrates with his crew in victory lane after winning Sunday’s Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. (Photo: Glenn Andrews, USA TODAY Sports)

–Last year’s winner was Brad Keselowski, Penske teammate to Logano.  He’s got an interesting record here, his first win coming with a bit of drama after holding his line in his first ‘Dega race, Tony Stewart wrecking as a result.  We don’t see a lot of wins out of rookies, but it just goes to show that anything can happen at this track.  The #2 has five here, looking for six today.

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Aric Almirola will start fourth in the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford (Photo Credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Aric Almirola had last week’s race in the bag before a late caution, and he could  bounce right back today.  He did take home the 2014 Daytona Summer race, another restrictor plate track.  He’s got his teammates surrounding him at the start.  And with the last six manufacturer victories here, he’s in the right make; have YOU driven a Ford lately?

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Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota, leads a pack of cars during practice. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images)

Coverage of the race starts on NBC at 2:00pm, green flag scheduled for 2:05pm.

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