Halloween brought out a lot of the crazies to the Talladega Superspeedway, as many fans decided to dress up and bring out their ghoulish garb for the first of four consecutive months with national holidays.
But, the action that occurred on the 2.66-mile tri-oval certainly lived up to all the hyped-up craziness .
Our creatures made strong picks this week, all taking drivers who have been great at restrictor plate tracks, particularly at Talladega. Unfortunately, at the end of the day, only one of the picks ended up working out for the better.
The sentimental favorite when this track comes on the schedule is Dale Earnhardt Jr., and coming off a week where he drove to the front and gained a top-10 finish, he was riding high. So, when it came to the draft, he was to the front early and often.
But late in the going he made just one critical drafting mistake as he got into the rear of Jeff Burton, sending him into the fence and him into the wall with a battered No. 88 "Legend of Hallowdega" Chevrolet. Even after repairs, Junior was no where in the realm of where the car was before and finished a very disappointing 39th.
The other two strong picks that didn't turn out well were Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray. McMurray got caught up in a late wreck and then found himself with a flat tire, ending up in the wall just out of turn two.
Even with repairs, the Dale Earnhardt Tribute car would finish 36th.
Busch himself didn't have as good a race as he wanted. Sure he led laps, but when it mattered most, he was at the back of the pack and got caught up in the final wreck that ultimately ended the race. Busch would come home in 30th.
At the end of the day, it was RCR drivers Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer going for the victory. Harvick, who already had a battered car after getting caught up in a wreck with Marcos Ambrose, got the push to the lead at the white flag. Bowyer, meanwhile, was on the inside lane and looking for his chance at victory.
Suddenly, the No. 43 of A.J. Allmendinger goes tumbling on the straightaway, and the race is over. Now, it came down to video and timing loops to determine the winner. Both Harvick and Bowyer waited, with Bowyer doing a burnout for the official call.
Finally, after reviewing the video of when the caution lights came on, Bowyer was awarded his second win of the season, with Harvick coming in second.
It took a total of 87 lead changes, the second-most in NASCAR history, to make this 500-mile race an epic encounter. But at the same time, Bowyer's win ends a streak for our creatures.
This would be the first race in the Chase that none of the writers picked the winner. In fact, it's the first time since Atlanta that no writer correctly picked the driver taking the checkered flag.
But that doesn't mean that the second-place finish of Harvick didn't do any good. Four writers picked him, and the points have tightened up slightly.
Here's where everyone stands after the Amp Energy Juice 500:
Rob Tiongson (6,169) Kevin Harvick finished second (3)
Dustin Parks (6,086) Kevin Harvick finished second (5)
Misan Ayuka (6,014) Kurt Busch finished 30th (4)
Christopher Leone (5,984) Kurt Busch finished 30th (5)
Kara Martin (5,962) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 39th (3)
James Broomhead (5,916) Jamie McMurray finished 36th (4)
Billy Fellin (5,900) Kevin Harvick finished second (5)
Alan Wade (5,900) Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 39th (3)
Kyle Brandt (5,727) Kevin Harvick finished second (2)
NEXT RACE: NASCAR doesn't have to do much traveling this week, at least in theory. Racing will stay down south, but will move two states west.
The tide has rolled, because next on the schedule is the Texas Motor Speedway. It's one of the most popular tracks for the fans, and the track personnel go out of their way to make this one of the biggest attractions in the sport.
The saying is "Everything's Bigger in Texas," but the stakes have certainly increased in the Chase. The top three are separated by just 38 points. The gap increased slightly, but the title hunt closed up immensely.
Creatures, it's time to cowboy up. Send in your picks for the AAA Texas 500 by Thursday, Nov. 4 by 7 p.m.
NOTE: I will e-mail everyone a list of who they have already chosen, so that there is less risk of accidentally choosing a driver already picked to win.
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