Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Ends drought at a place that has been very good to him.
Jeff Gordon: Sweeps Talladega and starts to run down Johnson in the Chase.
WHERE: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway
WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday
WEATHER: Partly cloudy, high in the upper 80s
TV: Coverage begins at 1 p.m. on ABC
RADIO: Motor Racing Network
RACE DISTANCE: 500 miles (188 laps)
TRACK LENGTH: 2.66 miles
Rules are rules, but it's still tough
A.J. Allmendinger, Boris Said and Scott Riggs went faster than everybody in the top 35 in owner points during Saturday's UAW-Ford 500 qualifying, but they were topped by eight cars with which they were fighting for the right to be in today's race.
That didn't sit well with Said, who went home despite having the 10th-best lap.
"NASCAR's got to do something about the rules," he said. "It's terribly unfair that the top Ford in 10th place goes home. An independent (team) has no chance, and for the 10th-place car to go home is completely insane."
Dave Blaney, who was second fastest, disagreed.
"You're only looking at everybody you're racing to get in," Blaney said. "It doesn't matter where you are on the board. It can be 30th."
Brian Vickers, who won this race in a Chevrolet last year, will start third today in his Toyota.
"For us, the position we're in, we're used to it," he said. "We see that week in and week out. In racing that's a hard thing to swallow ... but there's a reason our points structure is what it is." -- DAVID POOLE
Biffle cuts qualifying in half
The standard procedure in qualifying on a restrictor-plate track has been to ride around in the high groove on the first lap, get the engine wound up and then go around the bottom on Lap 2.
Greg Biffle tried something different Saturday, going for broke on one lap.
"We wanted to try just to see if we could get all of the speed out of the car on the first lap and it seemed like it may have worked out," said Biffle, whose lap at 186.014 mph secured 20th place.
The idea wasn't something the team spent a lot of time planning.
"We just decided we'd try it four or five minutes ago," Biffle said. "With qualifying here, everybody knows that track position isn't early as important as it would be somewhere else, so we just decided to try one lap. We don't really have a lot to lose." -- D.P.
Richie Gilmore, director of motorsports for Dale Earnhardt Inc., returned to home Friday after having stroke-like symptoms. Gilmore was evaluated at a hospital in Birmingham, Ala., and was diagnosed with a "minor aneurysm," but not a stroke, DEI spokesman Kevin Woods said. It is unclear when Gilmore will return. -- J.U. Bobby Labonte ought to get at least get half-credit for being the fastest car among those in the top 35 in owner points. He'll start eighth. "It doesn't feel much different," Labonte said of the car of tomorrow, "but it will in a 43-car pack." -- DAVID POOLE
Dale Jarrett had the eighth-fastest lap in qualifying but he will start 43rd. Why? The top 35 cars in owner points are guaranteed spots. The seven fastest non-exempt cars then get in on speed. Those cars are arranged based on qualifying speeds to fill Pos. 1-42. If there's a past Cup champion eligible to take a provisional, he starts 43rd. Otherwise, the next-fastest time fills that 43rd position. It works that way every week, but when Jarrett drops from eighth to 43rd you notice it more. -- DAVID POOLE
Remember what happened at the end of this race last year? Brian Vickers scored a controversial victory after contact on the final lap that sent Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. spinning at the end of the backstretch. Don't go to sleep on Vickers today. He can drive this kind of race, and this year at times he's run very well.
Watch for NASCAR to call a couple of penalties for excessive bump-drafting early today, like basketball officials calling a game tight at first to get control. NASCAR doesn't want the bump-drafting to get out of hand, but it also doesn't want to make a call late that might determine the outcome. -- DAVID POOLE
|13.||1||Martin Truex Jr.||Chevy||186.816|
|26.||8||D. Earnhardt Jr.||Chevy||185.783|
|Failed to Qualify|
|47.||06||Sam Hornish Jr.||Dodge||187.262|