Ride or race is the question NASCAR’s title contenders are considering as they prepare for Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
The fourth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup could be the one that shuffles the 12-driver field. The use of restrictor plates bunches cars, and the unpredictability of drafting and relying on partners often creates chaos.
So when qualifying ended Saturday, and Enumclaw’s Kasey Kahne sat on the pole for the first time at a plate race, drivers began discussing in earnest how they will attack the 500-mile event.
“We just really need to race and race hard,” Kahne said. “We’re a long ways back right now, and if we can’t make up points at a track like this, we probably aren’t going to make them up.”
Kahne’s lap of 191.455 mph bettered Ryan Newman’s 191.145, putting a pair of Chevrolets on the front row for today’s race.
Asked what it meant for Kahne’s strategy, he didn’t offer many details.
“It means I’m going to start first, that’s it,” Kahne said. “I’ll try to lead that first lap. If we’re up there, we’ll try to stay up there.”
That’s the big debate among drivers who differ on strategy for Talladega. Some may ride around in the back of the field waiting to make a late charge in an effort to avoid potential dicey situations, but some want to be aggressive and be out front as much as possible.
Kahne, who is sixth in the standings and trails leader Brad Keselowski by 32 points, insists he’ll race.
So will two-time defending race winner Clint Bowyer, who qualified third.
“Well, we’re in the front,” Bowyer said. “I’m going to try to stay there.”
Tony Stewart qualified fourth and was followed by Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., as Chase drivers took four of the top five spots.
Jeff Gordon will start sixth, and is followed by Carl Edwards, Trevor Bayne, Martin Truex Jr. and Sam Hornish Jr.
In all, Chase drivers took six of the top-10 starting spots. The other half of the Chase field is spread out all the way down to 23rd, which is where Denny Hamlin will start.
But Keselowski, who won at Talladega in the spring, wasn’t worried about where he’ll start.
“I think we’ve proven that the only lap that matters is the last one,” he said.
Parker Kligerman picked up his first career win by pulling away from the field as a last-lap wreck marred the NASCAR Truck Series race at Talladega.
A spin by Ron Hornaday brought out a late caution, and Jason White was leading with six laps to go on the restart. White was pushed by Kurt Busch into a breakaway lead, but Kligerman eventually got help from Johnny Sauter, who hooked onto his bumper and pushed Kligerman into the lead.
Funny Car title contender Jack Beckman set a national record en route to his fourth No. 1 qualifying position of the season in the Auto-Plus NHRA Nationals in Mohnton, Pa. Beckman powered his Dodge Charger to a time of 4.003 seconds in his first attempt. That was enough to certify his 3.989 effort from Friday as an NHRA national record. Beckman, who trails points leader Ron Capps by 17, will earn a 20-point bonus if he hangs onto the record after today’s eliminations. … Sebastien Loeb won four stages in Strasbourg to move closer to his ninth world rally title in a row. His strong showing in his native France came on a day when Norway’s Petter Solberg crashed into an electricity pylon after driving through a vineyard. Loeb extend his overall lead to 29.7 seconds.