After a string of short tracks, we’ve come to NASCAR’s fastest track on the circuit…but we’ll still be in close quarters! How does that happen? The term “four cars under a blanket” will be muttered today, and maybe even “nine cars” or “sixteen cars!” Long drafting lines and fast speeds will be the game today, but what about…The Big One? It is always looming, and for some of us, in more ways than one!
Here’s what to look for:
–Christopher Bell looked great in Round 1 of Qualifying, and even better in Round 2. He held a pretty wheel and was the only driver to get under 53 seconds. He’ll start out front today, with teammate Martin Truex Jr. right next to him on the front row. Finding a drafting partner near the start of the race is integral to early success.
–Brad Keselowski is our winningest active driver at Talladega (6 Wins!), and he won as recent as…last Spring! Things in 2022 haven’t been going exactly as the new owner-driver had hoped for, but maybe this is the wakeup he needs to get moving. His teammate-employee Chris Buescher is in the field as well, and the pair of them did great separately in the Duels at Daytona. Together for this race, is this the spark Keselowski’s season needs?
–Bubba Wallace won the Fall race, and he finished 2nd at each of the last two Daytona races. That is1.66 average finish through the last three Cup Series Superspeedway races, and you can’t argue with those numbers. The Talladega Win did come as a result of a rain shortened event, but he was there when the red flag hit, and the other two results hold a lot of water (he he), too.
–Ty Dillon is ranked 3rd by average finish of drivers in this race today. Can you believe that? 12.0 in eight attempts with a worst of 17th. That doesn’t seem right, but it is! Cherry on top with the Fall race last year, bringing his ride home 3rd. Picked up a Top 10 in the dirt at Bristol last week, and took in the USFL game last night. A little rest before putting in some heavy work; today he’ll start 20th.
–Daniel Hemric is 5th of active drivers, but he only has two Cup attempts here. 5th in the Spring 2019 race, and 26th in the Fall of the same year. He hasn’t run here in NASCAR’s top series since then, but [before yesterday] had a string of 5-12-4 in his last three attempts. Things didn’t go as planned on Saturday, finishing 34th. Today he’ll roll off 3rd!
Ok, we talked about The Big One earlier in relation to the monstrous wreck that seems to pop up in every Talladega and Daytona race. Our friends at The Food Channel have drummed up something else and we’re doing our best to maneuver our very own Big One’s the best way we can.
Finished Big One (Photo: Lisa Kuhmann)
There it is! A massive meatball stuffed with pulled pork, pepperjack and mozzarella, and BBQ sauce stuffed inside. They’re about the size of softballs, breaded in panko, and deep fried before being baked. A lot of steps there, but how will the payoff be? We broke into one early before the race, and many, it is a feast for the tastebuds. I had strong notes of the steak seasoning and pulled pork while Lisa felt the kick of the pepperjack. Nice job, Leese! I hope we’re not checking into Heartburn Hotel later, but what appeal to the eyes: The Big One!
Coverage of the race starts on FOX at 3:00pm, green flag scheduled for 3:20pm.