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NASCAR Preview for Talladega

Talladega Superspeedway (Getty Images)

Just five races left in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship and this week it’s off to what some call the “wild card” race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Safety has always been a major concern in auto racing and with the death of Dan Wheldon last weekend at Las Vegas it brings the issue front and center at a track that’s had plenty of controversy over the years. SAFER barriers, the HANS head and neck support device and even the design of the cars themselves have improved driver safety since the death of Dale Earnhardt 10 years ago.

Jimmie Johnson walked away unhurt after a hard hit into the wall at Charlotte but at a track like Talladega there’s always the concern about the “big one”. Johnson says the biggest concern is keeping the cars on the ground because once they go airborne you can’t count on anything. That’s why cars at Talladega and Daytona have restrictor plates to keep the speed down. But it leads to packs of cars running inches apart at up to 200 miles an hour inviting the big wrecks.

A rule change for this race will allow a slightly larger restrictor plate that will allow for an additional 7 to 10 horsepower.

Points leader Carl Edwards enters the weekend with a five point leader over Kevin Harvick and seven up on last week’s winner at Charlotte Matt Kenseth.

Five-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson is 35 points back, but still not too far back for him to rally over the last five races to win another title.

The Truck Series is also at Talladega this weekend. Kyle Busch has won the last two truck races at Talladega and he’s the only Sprint Cup driver entered.

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