Good Sam Club 500 Free Picks
(The Spread) - The second half of the chase for the championship kicks off this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway and the Good Sam Club 500.
This will be the highest speeds we’ll see all year, as Talladega is known for its steep banking and drafting, not to mention it usually offers dramatic final laps.
Talladega is the Chase race that the title contenders fear the most, since the unpredictable can happen at anytime, including the "big one.” We’re of course referring to a major pileup involving numerous drivers that could drop them from contention for the championship.
The key this week for drivers is staying out of trouble and avoiding the "big one." Kevin Harvick is one of the best on plate tracks, while Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth are average at best on these types of surfaces. Look for most of the drivers to hang back this week to avoid trouble and make one big run late in the race.
When it comes to plate racing Kevin Harvick is one of the best and always seems to be in a good spot to win, which is important on these types of tracks. Since 2010, he's won an event at Daytona and Talladega with only one finish outside of seventh in seven combined starts and has three consecutive top five finishes here. We look for Harvick to win and take over the lead for the championship this week.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth at Talladega in April while pushing teammate Jimmie Johnson to the win. In 23 career starts at Talladega, Earnhardt has won five times and has a career average finish of 14.6, which is one of the best among current drivers. Earnhardt will likely be pushing Johnson once again, so look for him to be in contention and in a good position to win his first race in a long time on Sunday.
Live Long Shot
Clint Bowyer has three consecutive top tens at Talladega and he’s one of the best pushers in the series. We expect he’ll be pushing our top pick on Sunday so we think he’ll be in contention at the end of the race. Earlier this year he finished second in the three-way photo finish and led more laps than anyone that day. Even though Bowyer is leaving RCR at the end of the year, we think he will do all he can to win the race or help his teammate win the championship.
2011 Good Sam Club 500 Information
Race Date: Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011
Location: Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, AL
Pre-Race: 1PM ET
Green Flag: Approx. 2:14PM ET
TV Coverage: ESPN
Radio Coverage: MRN
Track Type: Oval (188 laps)
Opening Odds: Good Sam Club 500