Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Get Set for a Wild Talladega Day

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Get Set for a Wild Talladega Day

Article excerpt

Byline: DON COBLE

TALLADEGA, Ala. - All of a sudden, everyone likes the Car of Tomorrow - for now.

While there has been more concern and disdain heaped on NASCAR's futuristic race car, drivers seem to believe it will make Sunday's race at the Talladega Superspeedway even better.

The 2.66-mile race track is known for huge packs of traffic and plenty of passes for the lead. The new car, which is taller and wider, is supposed to take all that to a new level. The bulkier design, along with a front scoop bumper and a rear wing, should promote better racing, drivers said.

"It is going to be spectacular," said Jeff Gordon, who two weeks ago expressed concern with the new car. "As a driver, even the old car with the old rules, were a little more spectacular than as a driver you want. But it puts on a heck of a show and I think you are going to see the same thing, but even more so.

"We had 20-car packs; it got pretty dicey at times. When you put 43 cars out there, it is really going to be something else. I think that this car, I don't think their intention was to design it for Talladega, it is just the way the body style is, the way you can run a bigger restrictor plate, the wing with the wicker - all of that is only going to enhance the entertainment at Talladega. I expect for it to be pretty wild, be pretty crazy and be a heck of a show for the fans."

A spectacular race is exactly what NASCAR needs right now. Television ratings have plummeted during the Chase for the Nextel Cup. According to Nielsen Media Research, the first three races in the playoffs have seen significant drops in ratings compared to last year. Last week's rain-plagued crash-fest at the Kansas Speedway saw a 17.6-percent drop.

The fact so many Chase drivers crashed last week - most into each other - should create even more interest in the UAW-Ford 500. With drivers saying the racing will be even more exciting, NASCAR may revive interest in its 10-race playoff system.

"Make no mistake - Talladega has always been Talladega," Clint Bowyer said. "Every time you go there you're concerned about getting out of there and it's always kind of been a survival-fest. There always seems to be the 'big one' there. With this Car of Tomorrow and what we saw at the test, it's a little bit more [scary] than usual. You could push each other all the way around the track if you wanted to. Certainly you're going to have to back off in the corners in the tri-oval to keep them from going around. It's going to be wild. It's going to be the one that everybody is going to have their eye on and it's always been a track that will make or break you. And the one that can get out of there with a good finish is going to have a pretty good jump start on the rest of the Chase."

The Chase also took a hit at Kansas. Before the race, there were three drivers within four points of the lead and eight within 75 points. …

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