Undoubtedly, one of the very best ever to race at Talladega was Dale Earnhardt Sr. In fact, he won his last race ever at 'dega. He was killed at Daytona in 2001 on the last lap of the Daytona 500. For awhile, it seemed that his son was to be his successor on the track, either Dale Jr or Michael Waltrip. However, those drivers who looked up to him, who paid attention when he talked and watched how he raced on the track quickly got the hang of racing on a Restrictor Plate track, and many figured it out. There are miles of footage of Dale Sr racing at the two tracks and because he was the best, NASCAR commentators constantly analyzed his style and talked about how he could "see" the draft. Since his death we've seen Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and others show that they, too, can race on these big speedways.
The trouble with that is trying to stay out of trouble when the "Big One' strikes. Even a small single car wreck can wreak havoc on a car, with flying debris, overcorrections and bad pit stops.
So, some drivers, like Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards, have resorted to "hanging in the back". Other drivers have utilized the same strategy, but for some, like Dale Jr, that is boring. It is for the fans as well. It has been said that NASCAR fans love cautions. That isn't quite the case. NASCAR fans love close racing and the presentations we have seen lately have not been races. The only thing that has made them a little more exciting is those cautions, warranted or not, that bunch the cars up into packs again. Then the drivers can show they actually know how to pass another car that is going somewhat the same speed as they are.
Are we likely to see closer racing this week at Talladega? Who knows. We shouldn't see the two car tango, due the changes NASCAR made over the winter, but pack racing is a given. Talladega HAS gone caution free before, so that is a possibility, as well.
One thing for certain. We will see drivers working together, not necessarily because they like each other, but maybe because their cars run well together. Undoubtedly the Hendrick cars will team up, but they are likely to utilize Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart if they are "in the neighborhood". The Fords will stick together, even though Jeff Girdib kujes running with Trevor Bayne.
And will we see a Green White Checker finish? That, too, is likely. After all, it IS Talladega, baby.