Time and again, we’ve heard this weekend’s Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway is the “wild card” of the Chase.
It’s supposed to be the race mostly likely to shake up the standings, even perhaps throw someone into the championship mix who has been on the outside looking in.
But there are two problems with that theory.
First, only three times since the Chase format was introduced during 2004 has the Talladega race produced a new points leader, most recently in 2007.
The second problem involves the drivers leading the series title race this season – Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson. They typically perform very well at restrictor-plate races, especially over the past five seasons.
Kenseth, who leads Johnson by four points with five races left, has an impressive 13.2 average finish in his past five Talladega starts, including a victory in this event one year ago.
Kenseth’s Daytona average finish over the past five points races is none too shabby, either – 15.2, including one victory.
Johnson’s average finish over the past five races at Talladega is 16.8, and his average over the same span at Daytona is 20. And he has three wins during that stretch at those tracks.
In either case, statistically speaking, there is a much greater chance of Kenseth and Johnson holding serve this weekend than for some vast shuffling of the standings.
But you never know. It is technically possible for the “Big One” to start at the front of the field.
“Since I started racing, my dream like many young racers, was to get to the top,” said Kligerman. “Now that Swan Racing has given me that opportunity, I hope to make the most of it.”
Kligerman, 23, is 10th in the Nationwide standings driving the No.77 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Harvick will drive JR Motorsports’ No.5 Chevrolet – a full-season car traditionally shared by multiple drivers. The driver lineup beyond Harvick is being determined.
“This is pretty cool to have Kevin a part of our team,” said team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. “I’ve known him for a long time. He’s an incredible racer. He will be a huge asset to JR Motorsports, our sponsors and our fans.”
Fans can vote once a day for one of 39 eligible drivers at MostPopularDriver.com. Voting will continue throughout the Cup season. The winner will be announced in December.
Kwasniewski, 18, followed up two victories with two poor performances to see his lead shrink from 40 points. But one of his series-leading five wins came at Virginia International Raceway’s road course during August.
Kwasniewski won the K&N Pro Series West championship in 2012.