FYI WIRZ:NASCAR's Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth Talk Big Talladega

Dwight Drum@@racetakeCorrespondent IIIOctober 20, 2011

Tony Stewart places an ear set for a practice run
Tony Stewart places an ear set for a practice run

Talladega Superspeedway presents NASCAR’s Good Sam Club 500 on the 2.66-mile tri-oval track with 33 degree banking in Talladega, Alabama. Fans not attending can view the 188 lap event on ESPN this Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

The Chase for the Sprint Cup is half over as contenders and other teams head into Talladega, always a big question mark for results. “Dega” is also home to “The Big One”, a multi-car crash that collects bunches of twisted race cars while ruining race hopes and sometimes championship dreams.

Now even more questions linger before the green flag because of NASCAR rule changes meant to limit tandem drafting.

Restrictor plates increased 1/64 of an inch to a diameter of 57/64 of an inch should add approximately seven to 10 additional horsepower. The more speed, the more unstable the cars, so tandem racing will be more difficult.

Plus, NASCAR decreased the setting in pressure relief valves by eight pounds per square inch. Cars will throw off water at lower temperatures and may not be able to sustain pushing, owing to higher temperatures.

Coming out of Talladega, the bottom half of the 12 Chase qualifiers could be beyond team ability to eliminate point deficits with only four races remaining in the season.

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After 32 of 36 NSCS races, the top-five Chasers, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart are separated by only 24 points. Their fresh comments about Talladega may give fans an insight into racing on NASCAR’s longest and fastest track.

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Ford)

“Our goal is to win this championship,” Edwards said. “We’re leading the points now - which really doesn’t amount to much with five races left, but we’re on track and we’re doing well. There are some tough races coming up for us.

“I’m racing as hard as I can trying to get every point I can. That’s how we’ve raced all season. It hasn’t worked out for some wins, but that’s mostly been strategy and stuff like that. I’ve found a balance where I’ve wrecked enough and made enough stupid decisions early on that I’m trying to be better at not giving them away. We’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing and if it works out, it works out. But the season isn’t like others. I think it’s going to literally come down to the last few laps at Homestead.”

Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Chevrolet)

“I don’t anticipate the restrictor plate change doing anything,” Harvick said. “I think the speeds will be a little bit higher. I think the pop-off valve will probably be a bigger change than the restrictor plate for sure. I don’t think it’s going to change the two-car tandem other than you’re going to have to switch spots a lot more to keep the engine cool.”

Matt Kenseth (No.17 Ford)

“It’s kind of different doing a team-style race because you can’t do it by yourself at these superspeedway tracks anymore, you need a partner in order to have a good race,” Kenseth said. “If you win or finish second, you know the other guy was just as responsible for your finish as you were in a way, so it’s definitely different.”

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)

“I don’t expect anything much different,” Busch said. “There are certainly some things they’re trying to do to separate us and get us apart from each other, which is fine. As far as Talladega goes, are we going to see much different of a race? Probably not. Maybe just a little bit more swapping in-between cars, that’s it.”

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Chevrolet)

“You have to have a partner,” Stewart said. “There’s no choice. And you both have to know where each other is going all the time, and that’s the hard part. Somebody has to lead. Somebody has to follow.

“Everybody is watching out for each other. Everybody knows that we can put each other in a bad spot in a hurry if we don’t give each other room. You don’t see guys blocking like we’ve seen in the past.

“I didn’t like the big packs we used to have to run in. I didn’t like that people always had to block. I never agreed with that. The good thing is, now we don’t have to do it either. If you get a run on a guy, you’re going to make an opportunity to pass them. You may not get it done, but at least you have that opportunity now.”

FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com.

Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained from official release materials provided by NASCAR and team representatives.

Photo credit: Dwight Drum at Racetake.com.

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