News & Media

Busch knows Talladega just a big race of chance

October 21, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service,

Stats freaks and number crunchers, Kyle Busch has a message for you: take the week off.

That's because the Sprint Cup Series moves to Talladega Superspeedway, and those hoping to dope out Sunday's Good Sam Club 500 by looking at the past are just wasting their time.

"It's such a crapshoot there in the last 20, 30 or 40 laps that you never really know who is going to win, what's going to happen, and where the wreck is going to come from."


Busch underlined that feeling this week when, reminded that he is a former race winner at the biggest oval on the Sprint Cup schedule, he semi-scoffed.

"It doesn't matter at all," he said. "It's such a crapshoot there in the last 20, 30 or 40 laps that you never really know who is going to win, what's going to happen, and where the wreck is going to come from."

The last things Busch needs are crapshoots and wrecks.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver from will start Sunday's race in the thick of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. With five races left to go in the 10-race playoff, he is fourth in points and just 18 behind leader Carl Edwards.

He has been up and down in the first five Chase races with a worst finish of 22nd in the opener in Joliet, Ill., and best finish of second last Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

After last week's result, Busch sounded pretty optimistic about his chances for winning his first Cup championship this season.

"We have to keep finishing like this," Busch said. "It's all it takes. It's not that hard. We finally finished where we ran except we didn't. We still lost a position, which is four points essentially because you get three bonus points for winning a race. Again, it's frustrating, but we'll take it and if we can finish second from here on out, then we might win this deal."

But finishing second at Talladega can never be taken for granted.

There are a number of reasons why Busch -- and many other teams -- feel that way, even to the point of calling the Talladega Chase event an "X-Factor race."

It's not really the size of the 2.66-mile track that makes racing there so bizarre and unpredictable. It's the shape, with its big, arcing corners and 33-degree banking, which allows the Cup cars to blow through the turns without the drivers having to lift off the gas. And it's the restrictor plates, which are placed on the engines to scrub power but which also tend to force cars into packs -- and, for the past couple of years, into two-car tandems.

This weekend, teams and drivers will face new X factors. The size of the plates that teams will use will increase by 1/64 inch and will provide the teams with an additional 7-10 horsepower.

Additionally, the pressure relief valve -- or pop-off valve -- on the cars' cooling system will be re-calibrated to reduce the pressure by approximately 8 pounds per square inch compared to this past April's race at Talladega.

Busch yawned when the changes were mentioned. Still Talladega, he said.

"No, I don't expect anything much different," Busch said. "There are certainly some things they're trying to do to separate us and get us apart from each other, which is fine. I don't have a problem with that one bit. I actually like it. As far as Talladega goes, are we going to see much different of a race? Probably not. Maybe just a little bit more swapping in-between cars, that's it."

Busch's lone victory at Talladega came three years ago. His average finish is 24.2 and he has DNF'd there five times. He has not had a top-five in the past six races.

Who's Hot/Who's Not

• Kevin Harvick has finished in the top 10 in six of his past seven restrictor-plate races.
• Clint Bowyer has been 12th or better in seven of the past eight Talladega races, including a win last fall and a second-place run in April.
• Joey Logano has scored top-10 finishes in four of his five career starts at Talladega.
• Mark Martin has finished 11th or better in his past three Talladega starts.
• Kevin Harvick has top-five finishes in the past three Talladega races, the longest current streak.
• Carl Edwards was sixth at Talladega in the spring, but that is his only top-10 in the past nine races there.
• Matt Kenseth has finished 14th or worse in the past nine Talladega races.
• In five of the past six races at Talladega, Ryan Newman has finished no better than 23rd.
• Kurt Busch has been 18th or worse in five of his past seven Talladega starts.
• Kasey Kahne has finished no better than 21st in six of his past seven races at Talladega.

Good thing those are just numbers.

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