- Gordon wins Talladega under caution: #24-Jeff Gordon won the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, getting in the lead just before the yellow flag was thrown when #25-Vickers spun. #8-Earnhardt Jr. felt he was ahead of Gordon, but says he will take the points [as he stays in the drivers points lead]. It is Gordon’s 3rd win at Talladega, 1st of the season and his 65th of his career [6th all-time]. Chevy has now won 11 straight Talladega races. The rest of the top five [there could be some scoring changes later] were #29-Harvick, #48-Johnson and #31-Gordon. The highest finishing rookie was #77-Brendan Gaughan with a 13th. There were 11 cautions for 55 laps, a new record for the number at cautions [9 was the record, but not a record for the most caution laps which was 62 in May 1972]. There were 23 drivers lead a lap and 54 lead changes.
Unofficial results at:
Jayski’s Aaron’s 499 Race Results/Awards Standings page
- Parts taken and work being done on cars at ‘Dega UPDATE: NASCAR inspectors confiscated a few parts in the Cup garage Friday morning before qualifying. Unapproved fuel cell gaskets were taken from the cars of #30-Johnny Sauter and #17-Matt Kenseth and unapproved windshield braces from the cars of #32-Ricky Craven and #48-Jimmie Johnson. #24-Jeff Gordon’s Chevy also required some work on its rear end before it passed inspection.(ThatsRacin.com)(4-23-2004)
UPDATE: NASCAR inspectors added to their collection of bad parts from teams over the weekend at Talladega. Topping the list: unapproved springs from the cars of #49-Ken Schrader, #45-Kyle Petty, #09-Johnny Benson, #9-Kasey Kahne and #32-Ricky Craven. Also seized were unapproved underpans from the cars of #88-Dale Jarrret and #00-Kenny Wallace.(ThatsRacin.com)(4-25-2004)
- Gary Nelson Explains Restrictor Plates: The restrictor plates used by NASCAR to control speed at its two fastest tracks, Talladega and Daytona, are like a heart monitor or an artificial leg. You hate having to have them, but you can’t do without them. The plate is a thin piece of steel, simple and bulletproof, about five inches square, and with four holes machined precisely so as to fit under the centers of the throttle bores. The holes have varied in size since the introduction of the plates in 1988, and currently are at 0.90625in (29/32nds). The plates are controlled by NASCAR and are installed and removed by NASCAR officials prior to competition events. The plate is intended to reduce the flow of air/fuel mixture from the carburetor into the intake manifold and hence into the cylinders, the ultimate goal being to reduce horsepower and speed. It is estimated that the restriction knocks about 300hp out of the engine, keeping speeds here and at Daytona in the 185-190 range, safely below the alleged "magic number" of 200mph.
There is a lot to this article by Ben Blake, see the full story at Speed Channel: click here and for some stats and history of the restrictor plate races at Daytona and Talladega since 1987, see my Restrictor Plate Page.(4-25-2004)
- Q&A with Mike Helton: One interesting Q&A: Q: We’re hearing that at Daytona in July you’ll require that teams qualify with race set-ups, then cover the cars and come back Saturday night.
Answer: "We’ve talked about it, but I’m not sure we’re ready to get that far. That goes to my point of making weekends more efficient. There is a conversation among the competitors with NASCAR right now – John Darby was the author of this – if you qualify, and we impound you basically after qualifying, what does that do? That’s the conversation John’s having in the garage area, as well as with the promoters. It has an impact on Daytona; it would have an impact on Talladega. We’re in that phase of talking about it right now. It has a possibility of happening, but it’s not near that point."
Full Q&A at Speed Chanel: Q&A with Mike Helton.(4-25-2004)
- Truex Eventually to the #15: ….so [Michael] Waltrip might have had reason to feel insecure. In fact, a man less certain of what he wants from the next five years of his NASCAR career and beyond would be inclined to suspicion, or even resentment. After all, Waltrip, who turns 41 Friday, has made his most important contributions to Dale Earnhardt Inc. in restrictor-plate races, winning four (his only career victories) since 2001. His drafting help has often been crucial to teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. But there are just four such races in the 36-event Nextel Cup schedule, and even Waltrip admitted after qualifying second for today’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway that "the cars are that good where we can be successful without each other." But according to DEI director of motorsports Richie Gilmore, there is no insecurity, no acrimony between the race team and Waltrip, because there are no "secret agendas." Though Gilmore said he wants to keep Waltrip "as long as we can," everyone knows DEI ultimately wants Truex in Waltrip’s #15 Chevrolet. "I think Michael has been great with that," Gilmore said. "Besides Junior, he’s been one of Martin’s No.1 fans. We’ve had that conversation about one day putting Martin in that car down the road when Michael moves on. And Michael supports that." It helps that Waltrip is too busy looking ahead to look behind. Waltrip, who owns a Busch team he runs out of a shop in his back yard, will field a Nextel Cup team for five races this season with veteran Kenny Wallace driving. That’s the first step of a master plan in which Waltrip sees himself phasing out of DEI and into a role as full-time owner. "I’d like to think that in five years I could have a Cup team or two that competes on a regular basis," Waltrip said. "I’d like to continue to run Busch for myself and continue to run for DEI until that deal runs itself out, maybe have a Cup team where somebody else would drive for me. I’ve enjoyed owning and developing a team more than people know." Gilmore said Truex could run some Cup races this season in the DEI #1 Chevrolet formerly driven part-time by John Andretti.(St Petersburg Times)(4-25-2004)
- StockCarFans.Com – Rumblings – Talladega: To say that we ended in controversy would be the understatement of the year…..Jeff Gordon was in front of Dale Earnhardt Jr (at least in the eyes of NASCAR) "at the moment of caution" today at Talladega Superspeedway and won the Aaron’s 499 (where’d that mile go?). As a wreck happened behind them coming out of turn 3, instead of a drag race to the start/finish line, we had a couple laps of "what’d you see" to determine the outcome. More on that later….
Jeff Gordon’s victory was #65 for his career (he’s 7th on the all-time win list) and first since he won at Atlanta last October. It was his 7th plate win and first since he won this event in 2000. Oh yeah, it was worth a paltry $320,258 from the over $5.7M in posted awards.
Now, we’re not gonna condone what happened at the race’s end by the fans, but it certainly shouldn’t have been unexpected. NASCAR fans aren’t stupid. They know that "freezing the field at the moment of caution" isn’t worth the PR paper it’s printed on! ‘Splain me how they can freeze a field at Nashville a couple weeks ago in the Busch race when you’ve got four cars sliding through the grass on the backstretch in a cloud of dust? Oh, we do it when they get back up to pace car speed……but don’t pass anybody under the yellow, either. NASCAR doesn’t have the technology…..plain & simple. And, the fans know it. The fans shouldn’t have done what they did, but the last time this happened NASCAR became more forthcoming (the last red flag lap) with their rules. And, since nobody from NASCAR was gonna go out there and stand in front of that Gadsden grandstand and explain it, the fans expressed their displeasure. It’s really a shame too, cause up till lap 183 we’d had about as good a race as we can get….plate or not.
There’ll be a lot of talk about how this gives our sport a black eye, but it was a moment like this that many consider the defining moment in NASCAR history….a fist fight in turn 3 at Daytona International Speedway. Out of that, improvement came…..hopefully we’ll see the same after today. What a hot race…..lotsa overheating today.
The "Big One" came on lap 84….11 cars sent spinning when Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch made contact.
Jeff Burton (7th) had his best finish since he was 7th at Rockingham last November. He’s the 26th driver to score a Top-10 this season….we’ve still got a ways to go to reach last year’s number of 42.
Brendan Gaughan (13th) had his career-best finish this week. He was 17th at Martinsville last week.
Johnny Sauter (14th) tied his career-best finish today. He was 14th at Rockingham in February.
Ricky Rudd (17th) had his best finish since he was 15th at Martinsville last October.
Jimmy Spencer (20th) had his best finish since he was 14th at Rockingham last November.
Eric McClure (26th) did a commendable job in his first Nextel Cup start.
Kerry Earnhardt (35th) had his career-best finish today. He was 43rd in his only other Cup start at Michigan in August of 2000.
Jeff Gordon has 4 Top-10’s in a row.
Jamie McMurray has 4 Top-10’s in a row.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has 5 Top-10’s in the last 6 races.
Jimmie Johnson has 5 Top-10’s in the last 6 races.
This Week’s Elevator…UP: The Operator of the Week is a lonely Jamie McMurray (+26). DOWN: The Big Dropper was Ward Burton (-30), Scott Riggs (-29), Joe Nemechek (-28), and Sterling Marlin (-22).
With 55 lead changes amongst 23 drivers it comes as no surprise that….Mark Martin led today for the first time since he led once for one lap at Richmond last September. Dale Jarrett led today for the first time since he led twice for 25 laps at Kansas last October. Jimmy Spencer led today for the first time since he led once for 9 laps at Homestead last November. Brian Vickers led today for the first time since he led once for 11 laps at that same Homestead race. And, Eric McClure led today in his first Nextel Cup race. That means we’ve now had 36 leaders this season…..last year’s number was 48.
Jeff Burton (33rd to 28th) made the best move forward in the standings, while brother Ward (19th to 25th) went in the opposite direction.(StockCarFans.Com Nextel Cup Newsletter)(4-26-2004)
- Cingular helps War Vet to see race: When the green flag drops in Talladega on Sunday, James Mayne will be one of the most excited fans at the race regardless of which driver crosses the finish line first. That’s because the lifelong motor sports fan from Fyffe, Alabama, will be attending his first ever stock car race VIP-style as the grand prize winner in the ‘Ultimate Cingular Sports Experience’ sweepstakes. Mayne, a Vietnam War veteran, submitted his winning sweepstakes entry at the Scottsboro, Alabama, Cingular store and received the news that he was randomly selected as the contest winner on Thursday. Thanks to Cingular, he will also get the chance to have a VIP experience at his second stock car race ever, as the ‘Ultimate Cingular Sports Experience’ also includes airfare to see the big race in Indianapolis on August 8th. Mayne’s perks include:
* VIP experience to the stock car race in Talladega on April 25th and the race in Indianapolis on August 8th
* Roundtrip airfare for two to Indianapolis
* Three days, two nights hotel accommodations in Indianapolis
* A Meet and Greet with Team Cingular’s NASCAR driver Robby Gordon
The ‘Ultimate Cingular Sports Experience’ sweepstakes was executed throughout Alabama from April 1-19th. Entry methods included text to win "RG31" for Cingular customers and register to win at participating Cingular stores in Alabama. The sweepstakes was supported with in-store POP and radio spots/on-air mentions.(Career Sports & Entertainment PR)(4-25-2004)