NASCAR & Auto Racing

Race day at Talladega

Observer's Picks

DAVID POOLE

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Ends drought at a place that has been very good to him.

JIM UTTER

Jeff Gordon: Sweeps Talladega and starts to run down Johnson in the Chase.

Race Information

UAW-Ford 500

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.

Briefly

 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

Observations

 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

Saturday's Qualifying



Pos. No. Driver Car Speed
1. 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota 189.070
2. 22 Dave Blaney Toyota 188.838
3. 83 Brian Vickers Toyota 188.779
4. 78 Joe Nemechek Chevy 188.471
5. 00 David Reutimann Toyota 188.459
6. 27 J. Villeneuve Toyota 188.215
7. 49 John Andretti Dodge 187.798
8. 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge 187.284
9. 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge 187.258
10. 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge 187.119
11. 20 Tony Stewart Chevy 187.057
12. 45 Kyle Petty Dodge 186.827
13. 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevy 186.816
14. 96 Tony Raines Chevy 186.761
15. 88 Mike Wallace Ford 186.692
16. 12 Ryan Newman Dodge 186.663
17. 18 J.J. Yeley Chevy 186.467
18. 11 Denny Hamlin Chevy 186.202
19. 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevy 186.133
20. 16 Greg Biffle Ford 186.014
21. 31 Jeff Burton Chevy 185.956
22. 42 J.P. Montoya Dodge 185.938
23. 07 Clint Bowyer Chevy 185.826
24. 7 Robby Gordon Ford 185.797
25. 17 Matt Kenseth Ford 185.783
26. 8 D. Earnhardt Jr. Chevy 185.783
         
Pos. No. Driver Car Speed
27. 38 David Gilliland Ford 185.725
28. 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge 185.625
29. 25 Casey Mears Chevy 185.542
30. 15 Paul Menard Chevy 185.463
31. 99 Carl Edwards Ford 185.323
32. 66 Jeff Green Chevy 185.212
33. 40 David Stremme Dodge 185.061
34. 24 Jeff Gordon Chevy 185.051
35. 26 Jamie McMurray Ford ownpts
36. 5 Kyle Busch Chevy ownpts
37. 29 Kevin Harvick Chevy ownpts
38. 01 Aric Almirola Chevy ownpts
39. 70 Johnny Sauter Chevy ownpts
40. 21 Ken Schrader Ford ownpts
41. 2 Kurt Busch Dodge ownpts
42. 6 David Ragan Ford ownpts
43. 44 Dale Jarrett Toyota 187.658
    Failed to Qualify  
44. 84 AJ Allmendinger Toyota 187.596
45. 60 Boris Said Ford 187.423
46. 10 Scott Riggs Dodge 187.328
47. 06 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge 187.262
48. 36 Jeremy Mayfield Toyota 187.130
49. 09 Sterling Marlin Chevy 186.696
50. 4 Ward Burton Chevy 185.963
51. 37 Kevin Lepage Dodge 185.765


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