Sport Talladega presents daunting, mysterious challenge for most drivers

18:21  12 october  2017
18:21  12 october  2017 Source:   Los Angeles Times

Dale Earnhardt Jr. reveals his motivations for final Talladega race

  Dale Earnhardt Jr. reveals his motivations for final Talladega race Talladega Superspeedway is Earnhardt country and Junior wants to send his fans off with a final win at the Alabama track.Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Junior (six) are responsible for 16 wins at NASCAR's longest track but the only thing to expect at Talladega Sunday is the unexpected.

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Watch: 'Big One' collects Busch, Truex at Talladega

  Watch: 'Big One' collects Busch, Truex at Talladega A massive crash at Talladega brought out the red flag with 17 to go in the Alabama 500.In restrictor-plate racing, a simple slip can cause a wreck as cars are separated in the draft literally by inches. That's what happened in Turn 3 at Talladega as Martin Truex Jr. was trying to create space and hit the rear of Kevin Harvick, who turn teammate Kurt Busch igniting a huge wreck that collected out playoff drivers Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Matt Kenseth and others.

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Some NASCAR drivers laughed, others cringed, but they all had something to say about Talladega.

Sunday's Alabama 500 is at the famous (or infamous, depending on whom you ask) track, and even at Charlotte it dominated conversation among drivers. Kyle Larson said he hates Talladega. Martin Truex Jr., who ended up winning Sunday's Bank of America 500, said he doesn't know why he struggles so much at Talladega.

In fact, just about every driver who mentioned Talladega also mentioned disliking Talladega.

But not Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who is 12th in the standings and desperately in need of a solid result to propel him into the third round of the playoffs. He's figured out how to race at Talladega, perhaps better than anyone else left in the playoffs.

Keselowski captures crash-filled race at Talladega

  Keselowski captures crash-filled race at Talladega Brad Keselowski picked up the win he needed to continue his championship chances with a victory Sunday.RELATED:  Race results

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The track is one of two restrictor-plate tracks on which the Cup Series races (Daytona is the other), and Stenhouse has seemingly solved them both. His only two Cup wins this year came at those two tracks, and if not for those victories, he almost certainly wouldn't be in the playoffs.

So Stenhouse probably isn't too afraid of Talladega, but everyone else is. That means this weekend is going to be crazy. Likely the only thing you can say for sure is that something unpredictable is bound to happen.

What makes Talladega so daunting, so mysterious for drivers? One, the speed. It's one of the fastest tracks in NASCAR, with drivers routinely topping 200 miles per hour. Then there's the history of big crashes there, which is both too long and too gory to try to capture in a few paragraphs. But maybe even more than those, there's just something about Talladega that causes weird things to happen - almost as if it's cursed.

That curse isn't just a myth or some kooky movie plot (although "The Legend of Hallowdega" did come out in 2010), but there are stories to back it up.

Like when Bobby Isaac parked his car during the 1973 Talladega 500 and quit racing altogether, allegedly because he heard "a voice" telling him to do so.

Or last year, when both Truex and Brad Keselowski blew their engines and their championship hopes midway through the race.

So far, Stenhouse seems to be the only driver who has conquered (or bypassed) the Talladega curse. Maybe he will again and push through to the third round of the playoffs. Maybe he won't and he'll fall victim this time.

But whatever happens on Sunday, know this - nobody knows what is coming at Talladega, or who the curse will strike down next.

Avoiding the Talladega wrecks gave Ryan Newman a chance at victory .
Ryan Newman managed to avoid all the accidents in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega and his reward was the opportunity for a victory. Unfortunately for Newman, that didn’t pan out.Newman found himself lined up second behind race leader Brad Keselowski on a restart with three of 188 laps remaining in Sunday’s Alabama 500.With two to go, Newman moved into the lead with some help from Denny Hamlin only to see Keseleowski’s Team Penske teammate, Joey Logano, help push Keselowski back to the lead on the final lap and on to the win.

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