THE LEFT TURN
NASCAR: The Geico 500 goes down this Sunday at Talladega
The time is here. NASCAR heads to the world-famous Talladega Superspeedway for the Geico 500. This track is easily the biggest and baddest racetrack on the face of the planet. Coming into this weekend, the drivers will not have any practice or qualifying sessions so it will be interesting how this changes things. NASCAR will also be implementing more safety regulations including extra roll bars, and they will also be cutting back on horsepower from 550 to 510. The reason for these changes was to try to prevent an accident like we saw at Daytona with Ryan Newman. This could very well mean a much different race on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how this impacts the race.
We will also be seeing fans this weekend as it was announced a few weeks ago that Talladega will allow up to 5,000 spectators including limited camping. While it isn't exactly the full crowds we typically see here, it will be a relief to see at least some normalcy. Last week, Denny Hamlin went on to claim his 40th career victory after fending off Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney. It appeared as if Elliott was on his way to victory until he approached the lapped car of Joey Logano. With Logano still mad about his run-in with Chase at Bristol, he didn't make it easy on Elliott as he held him up and all through the backstretch clearing a path for Denny to take the lead. When the dust settled and Logano was asked about it in a NASCAR Sirius interview, Logano responded by saying "you think I am going to make his life easy after two weeks ago?"
Overall, I have to commend him on how he got back at Elliott. There weren't any wrecked race cars and when it was over, Elliott still had a chance to win. I would like to think that after this, the beef is over, but we will have to see in the coming weeks what's next between these two. While Hamlin was the winner, the story of the race had to be Tyler Redick. The rookie driver went on to claim his first top five finish of the season and his third top ten of the season. This young man has proven that he can run with the best of them week in and week out and what makes it all the more impressive is that his average starting position is 21.4. To see him charge all the way through the pack has been one of the most exciting things about this season. He has rejuvenated this race team and I would not be surprised if he was to win a race this season. Look for Reddick in the #8 Camaro to be a threat.
Another driver who has really been doing a great job these past couple of weeks has been Michael McDowell. The journeyman driver has finished both fourteenth and fifteenth in the last two weeks at Homestead and Martinsville. McDowell has done a great job over the past few weeks and appears to be in position to have another good run this weekend at Talladega considering how good he is at plate tracks. I look for McDowell to be a dark horse contender for a win this week, but the driver that I have winning is Ryan Newman. As we all know, tracks like Talladega and Daytona have been awful to him. He has been involved in some of the worst wrecks on tracks like these, including his vicious crash at Daytona in February. But this week, I think things will be different.
After all, he does have the highest average finish among all drivers on these types of tracks and has been a football field away from winning here twice. Seeing Newman win here would be one of the biggest feel-good stories not just of this year, but in NASCAR's history and I think the veteran will get it done come Sunday. Look for Newman to come back and find redemption and win his first race since 2017.