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Heat May Not Be Biggest Problem At Talladega

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 6 2012

Tandems and rain drops are the hot topics in the garages at Talladega today. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer

TALLADEGA, Ala. – A few random thoughts on race morning at Talladega…

After all the talk about the effects the heat will have on engines during the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, the big weather news on Sunday morning is of another variety. A few rumbles of thunder and a steady shower greeted early risers and arrivers at the speedway.

The radar screen show more weather to the north and the yellow and green blobs moving toward Talladega, but it doesn’t yet have the feel of a rainout….

Based on the finish of Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, despite the hype about the pack being back, when it comes down to racing for the checkered flag, the tandem is still king. Tandem racing led to the crash that sent Eric McClure to a Birmingham hospital via air ambulance and was a factor in the finish.

Joey Logano pushed Kyle Busch to the front of the pack on a green-white-checkered run to the finish, then pulled out and passed him just as the two approached the finish line.

That seems to indicate that being the leader off Turn Four on the last lap is akin to being a sitting duck.

At least Kyle Busch sees it that way. “If you’re leading, being pushed – plan on finishing second,” he said. “That’s all there is to it.”

But Busch also said the Cup cars are running considerably hotter than the Nationwide cars, with water

The lead is not the place to be at Talladega these days. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

temperatures around 240 degrees in the pack. That seems to indicate that pushing at the end, which would send temperatures even higher, would be a quick way to cook an engine.

As of 8:45 a.m. Sunday there was no official update on McClure’s condition….

If the outcome of the penalties announced following rules infractions at Richmond are any indication, NASCAR’s chief appellate officer John Middlebrook has taken some of the bite out of NASCAR’s penalty process.

After Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Sprint Cup team had its penalties overturned for the most part after being tagged for rules violations at Daytona in February, the NASCAR world was closely watching for the next round of infractions.

Last week, six Nationwide Series crew chiefs were been fined and placed on probation for having unapproved modifications to the front bumper area of their cars.

They are Luke Lambert (No. 2 team), Danny Stockman (No. 3 team), Trent Owens (No. 30 team), Jimmy Elledge (No. 31 team), Ernie Cope (No. 33 team), and Mike Shiplett (No. 38 team).

Interestingly, neither the Nationwide teams nor the drivers were docked any points, and in today’s racing world, if points aren’t part of the penalty, there’s no real problem….

DanicaMania moves to Darlington Raceway this week, and the Track Too Tough to Tame could be the

Danica Patrick is headed to Darlington. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Brian Lawdermilk)

high-profile driver’s biggest test yet. At Talladega on Saturday, she walked away from a last-lap run-in with Sam Hornish Jr. without speaking to the same TV reporters who had covered her every move in the race.

Stay tuned…

Veteran race promoter H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler shed a little light on a press release by Charlotte Motor Speedway that said that the idea to install lights at the track was Bruton Smith’s.

Wheeler told ESPN that the release was wrong and that the lights were his idea.

“I usually let Bruton spiel on, but this one got me,” Wheeler said. “He would take credit for the sun and moon if he could.”

Smith, who split with Wheeler in 2008 after the two worked together for more than 30 years, responded to Wheeler’s comments.

“I’m not going to comment on anything about him at all,” Smith said. “I don’t pay attention to what he [Wheeler] thinks. He’s a former employee. I can’t possibly think about anything about him, period.”

– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 6 2012
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