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Fans may not like it, but playing it safe is often the best strategy at Talladega.
Drivers realize this is a long race. So many will adopt the strategy taken by drivers like Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon in recent years—riding around the back of the pack until the last 20 laps or so.
It's not possible to win the race until the end, but it sure is easy to end your day early with an ill-timed move, overly aggressive driving or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I expect there to be at least one Big One, but not until the final 10 percent of the race, and the total number of cautions will be surprisingly low.
The last several restrictor-plate races have seen record numbers of lead changes, but I expect that to change this Sunday. With fewer cautions to bunch up the field, the racing will get strung out and the day may be dominated by a small number of drivers.
There will be action from time to time and exciting runs by two-car packs carrying momentum for several laps at a time—especially at the end of the race. But for the most part, drivers will elect to play it safe and avoid putting themselves in dangerous situations, leading to a low number of cautions and fewer lead changes than in recent years.