Anything can happen at Talladega Superspeedway, where last year’s Sprint Cup races brought about two surprise winners.
And with this year’s overhaul of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, a dark horse springing an upset doesn’t just mean pulling one over on the big boys.
It could very well mean being able to fight for a championship.
Last spring at ‘Dega, David Ragan and David Gilliland pulled off a 1-2 finish for the small Front Row Motorsports team, while Jamie McMurray earned his first Sprint Cup win in three years when he took the checkers there last fall.
But that’s not the only time Talladega’s free-for-all nature has yielded a shock result.
Take the 2009 spring race, where a young Brad Keselowski led only one lap – the final lap – in earning his inaugural Cup win for the Phoenix Racing team.
Keselowski was a ways off from the leaders before he hooked up with Carl Edwards in the draft. At the white flag, the two had taken the lead but as they headed for the checkered flag in the tri-oval, Keselowski went inside and turned Edwards, who was hit by another competitor and sent skyward into the catch fence.
An equally memorable ‘Dega finish came in the fall of 2006 as Brian Vickers was chasing then-Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the final lap.
But down the backstretch, Vickers moved with Johnson to the inside and tapped him, which sent Johnson spinning into Earnhardt.
When the ensuing caution froze the field, Vickers was found to be leading the way and was awarded his own first win in the Cup Series – much to the annoyance of the heavy Earnhardt fan base in the grandstands.
Will we see another unexpected result this weekend? It’d only be fitting at Talladega, which has taught us time and again to expect the unexpected.