THE LEFT TURN
NASCAR at Talladega preview, picks
The time has finally come, it’s Talladega weekend. There is a lot to say about this racetack, it’s by far the most unpredictable on the schedule. We will see plenty of lead changes and three and four-wide racing. There is a good chance that during the second stage, the race will calm down, and we see more single file racing as the drivers try and save their equipment. The biggest key to the race will be to avoid the accidents and to know when to make the move for the win.
Last week's Bristol Dirt race featured one of the most memorable finishes in recent memory as Kyle Busch was able to steal the victory. In the final laps, Chase Briscoe and Tyler Reddick battled it out all the way to the white flag. Going into the last turn, it looked like Reddick was en route to his first win until Briscoe threw a hail marry and drove it in as deep as he could. Because of this, he spun out and collected Reddick. As this was happening, Kyle Busch came from third place to capture his 60th career victory. This victory was sort of ironic considering Busch's comment about Alex Bowman “backing into victories” but in the end, a win is a win. The win was Rowdy’s first in 29 races. This could very well be the catalyst to a great season for the two-time champion.
One driver who deserves some praise this season has been Ty Dillon. After a one-year hiatus from full-time competition in the Cup Series, Dillon has really been impressive considering this is a brand-new team. He currently has a 19.6 finishing average and has the most quality passes in the field. Last week, he scored his first top ten since October 2020 when he finished third at Talladega. It’s clear that this team has speed, and now they are going to a track where Ty is really good, overall he has a 10.5 average finish on superspeedways. He should be a good sleeper pick for Sunday.
Another driver to watch for this week is defending Talladega winner Bubba Wallace. This has been a frustrating season for Wallace and this 23 team. They have had numerous issues compound on top of each other. Last week, it was an engine issue that plagued this team. In the last six races, Wallace has had an abysmal 23.8 average finish. Luckily, superspeedways are where he shines. In the last three superspeedway races, Wallace has finished no worse than 2nd. He will have full support from his Toyota teammates, and he’s shown that he knows when to make the move and avoid the big one. This could be the turning point if he can get a good run. Look for Wallace to be a contender.
The driver I have winning this weekend is Ryan Blaney. This season, no one has been more consistent than him. In the last six races, his average finish has been 7.2, he also leads the points as well with the most stage points scored. Despite all this, Blaney has yet to win this season, but if there’s any place he can do it, Talladega is at the top of the list. He’s got two victories at this track, and he's won both on last-lap passes. When the race is on the line, there is no one I trust more than Blaney. Look for him to get his first win of 2022 to begin what could be a championship-caliber campaign.