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Talladega Is Dale Jr’s Playground – Will He Win Sunday?

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images for NASCAR

NASCAR is in Alabama this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.  The 2.66 mile speedway is the largest oval that the Sprint Cup Series drivers tackle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has five wins there.  But it’s been a long time since Junior has won.

Junior has had a great start to the 2012 season.  He’s ranked second in the drivers points standings and has seven top-10 finishes out of nine races so far this season.  And he’s coming off a second place run at Richmond last week.

You may remember that a year ago, Junior pushed his teammate Jimmie Johnson to the win here at Talladega.  This year, with NASCAR’s rule changes to eliminate tandem racing, things may be different.

Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR

Plus there are other factors.  Big packs of cars grouped together due to the use of mandated restrictor plates that keeping speeds under 200 mph.  Drafting is at a premium and who knows if or when the “Big One” will happen – a crash that eliminates a big portion of the field from contention.  Another issue could be how well teams keep engines cool in the combination of high heat and NASCAR’s rules to limit tandem racing.

One of Dale Jr’s other teammates qualified on the pole.  Here is how the whole field will start Sunday:  lineup.

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