Hot 20 – Not everyone loves Talladega, but not everyone is normal

by Ron Thornton On Wed, Oct. 10, 2018

TALLADEGA, AL - OCTOBER 15: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Mountain Dew Chevrolet, and Chase Elliott, driver of the #24 NAPA Chevrolet, lead the field at the star of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 15, 2017 in Talladega, Alabama. Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images.

Talladega. Do you need any more incentive to watch the action this Sunday? It is Talladega, dammit!

Flying around in aircraft formation inches apart at 200 mph. That would be good enough to force me into the Depends, especially if I were in the passenger seat. It is a track that causes skid marks to appear everywhere. One wobble, one mistake, and a whole bunch of folks find themselves in a world of hurt. It does not have to happen. Just the threat that it could, on each and every lap, is enough to watch, to wonder, and to marvel at the skills of the boys going round and round.

Just the nature of the beast allows almost all to hold out hope that victory could be their own, legends and no frill competitors alike. Many of the greatest names in the sport have won at least three times there. Bobby Allison. Brad Keselowski. Buddy Baker. Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Darrell Waltrip. Davey Allison. David Pearson. Jeff Gordon. Joey Logano. How sweet it would be to be included among those names.

More than a few have had that honor over the past 50 years. The big names boycotted the first race in 1969. Too dangerous, they said. It gave Richard Brickhouse his lone Cup victory. Peter Hamilton had four career wins, two with his sweep in 1970. James Hylton won twice during his career, including the summer of 1972. Dick Brooks claimed his one and only a year later. Same track, same solitary milestone for Lonnie Pond, Ron Bouchard and Phil Parsons.

Talladega is a track that plays no favorites. A legend or a no name can claim victory, and both can expect one hell of a ride at any time on any corner for any reason. To you, an Elliott could just mean a boy who once played with a funny looking alien fellow and ate Reese’s Pieces. Or a Busch is just a cold beer. Or someone named Kyle must mean a chap who does rap (never heard of the guy, personally). None of that would detract from your Talladega experience.

If you base your television viewing on how many times it causes you to exclaim “Holy Crap!”, might I suggest Talladega.

1. CHASE ELLIOTT – 1 ROUND WIN (3056 Pts – 2 Wins)
It is time for Bill to remove the training wheels. The boy no longer needs them.

2. KEVIN HARVICK – 3101 POINTS (7 Wins)
Harvick just hired my 85-year old mother-in-law to join his pit crew. She starts Sunday.

3. KYLE BUSCH – 3096 POINTS (7 Wins)
The knob is gone next year and, no, I am not referring to the driver.

4. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 3069 POINTS (4 Wins)
Along with Blaney, the Most Popular Driver contenders include him and the names listed above.

5. JOEY LOGANO – 3064 POINTS (1 Win)
Lately, he has been a Top Five guy at Talladega, and that is something he would like to continue.

6. KURT BUSCH – 3054 POINTS (1 Win)
Surviving the Roval and Talladega is not an easy thing to do, but here is hoping.

7. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 3054 POINTS (3 Wins)
Almirola’s drive to Victory Lane took a detour into Keselowski…and stopped there.

8. RYAN BLANEY – 3043 POINTS (1 Win)
Blaney’s Roval win was no accident, but it sure was assisted by one.

9. ARIC ALMIROLA – 3033 POINTS
Can he bounce back after Dover wreck? Sure, he bounced off Keselowski, didn’t he?

10. CLINT BOWYER – 3033 POINTS (2 Wins)
Feels sick about ruining the day for Almirola. Feels even sicker about ruining his own.

11. KYLE LARSON – 3031 POINTS
Good luck and determination got him here, but he will need more than that to continue.

12. ALEX BOWMAN – 3009 POINTS
Sometimes you do not want anything to do with Aric and Brad. Not a damn thing.

13. AUSTIN DILLON – 2101 POINTS (1 Win)
Avoid a wreck and he just might finish…but that has not happened at Talladega for a while.

14. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 2098 POINTS
I am loaning Jimmie my 2008 Chrysler Pacifica so he can at least get his parade laps in.

15. DENNY HAMLIN – 2094 POINTS
The way he is driving he obviously does not know he has been eliminated from contention.

16. ERIK JONES – 2079 POINTS (1 Win)
“How cool would it be to own this cardboard cutout of me in your house?” Not for a grown man.

17. RYAN NEWMAN – 629 POINTS
Just killin’ time.

18. DANIEL SUAREZ – 593 POINTS
About losing his ride, “When you don’t have anything good to say, it’s better not to say anything.”

19. PAUL MENARD – 591 POINTS
Some drivers worry about such things as sponsorship. I wonder if Paul understands why?

20. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – 581 POINTS
At the moment, he is having a better season than McMurray. Hey, at least it is something.

** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)SpeedwayMedia.com. **

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