Dale Earnhardt Racing Teams anticipate Talladega challenges
13 October 1999
Steve Park: Racing Talladega Like Playing Prevent Defense In NFL
Sunday's rain that forced a Monday race at Charlotte makes for a short workweek for the NASCAR Winston Cup teams scrambling to get their cars ready for Friday's qualifying at Talladega Superspeedway. Restrictor-plate racing makes aerodynamics a priority and has made testing and repeated trips to the wind tunnel mandatory for teams expecting success. #1 Pennzoil Monte Carlo driver Steve Park says you have to give the other drivers more room than normal and take a lot less if you expect to avoid the large multi-car wrecks common to restrictor plate racing.
Steve Hmiel, Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s Technical Director, On The Short Work Week:
"In most cases the Talladega and Daytona cars are so different in their setup and the logic you apply to them in terms of springs, shock absorbers and sway bars that it's a shock no matter when it comes on the schedule. It's like the road racing cars, no matter what happens the week before you have to apply a whole different methodology on how you get your racecar ready. The fact that we lost Monday because of the rain in Charlotte will hurt us somewhat so we are going to have to stay a little bit late each night this week. Ultimately in won't effect our performance, but it does take a little bit longer to get a speedway car ready to go as it does a Watkins Glen or Sears Point car.
"We tested Talladega about three weeks ago and saw a lot of things in that test that we wanted to change on our cars. If we hadn't wanted to change things then we would have been ahead, but based on what we learned at the test and what we learned at the wind tunnel before the test we changed a lot of things on the body of the car. It has left us a little bit crunched for time but we will be in good shape."
Steve Park on Restrictor Plate Racing:
"Racing at Talladega is like playing prevent defense in the NFL. You will allow the other guy to do some things you normally wouldn't allow all in the hopes of avoiding the big play or in our case at Talladega the big wreck. But you can't play so much prevent defense that you prevent a victory. That's the trick. You want to be very cautious and give the other guy plenty of room and if everyone does that then you can avoid the big wreck. It's been done before. But you also have to be aggressive if you expect to finish well. Leading a race is always great but at Talladega you need to lead the race to make sure you aren't in the wreck. Keep all the crazy stuff behind you I guess is the strategy."
Second Half Point Standings
Points Since Daytona
1. Jarrett 1753 2. Gordon 1751 3. Stewart 1743 4. Martin 1725 5. B.Labonte 1708 6. Earnhardt 1677 7. J.Burton 1502 8. Wallace 1489 9. Park 1463 10. Skinner 1359
Race: Sunday, October 17th, 1999 in Talladega, AL
TV: ESPN 1:00pm/et
1998 Race Winner: Dale Jarrett
Track/Race Length: 2.66 mile oval, 188 laps, 500 miles
Practice: Friday, Oct 14th, 12:30 - 2:30pm/et; Saturday, Oct 15th, 9:15 - 10:30am/et
Happy Hour Practice: Saturday, Oct 16th, for 1 hour after the ARCA race, TV-ESPN2-4pm/et(tape delay)
Qualifying Draw: Friday, Oct 14th at 11:30am/et
First Round Qualifying: 2 laps for positions 1-25, Friday, Oct 15th at 4:30pm/et, TV-ESPN2 and live via MRN radio/internet(link below)
Second-Round Qualifying: Saturday, Oct 16th at 11:45am/et for 2 laps, positions 26-36
Event Qualifying Record: Bill Elliott, July 1986, 209.005mph
Track Qualifying Record: Bill Elliott, April 1987, 212.809mph
Last Year's Pole Sitter: Ken Schrader, 196.153mph
Pit Road Speed: 55mph
Superspeedway: 2.66-mile trioval 48 feet wide (12-foot apron)
Turns: Banking: 33 degrees Length: 3,750 feet Radius: 1,100 feet
Trioval: Banking: 18 degrees
Frontstretch: Chute length: 2,150 feet (from turn to middle of trioval)
Total length: 4,300 feet Banking: Minimal for drainage only
Backstretch: Length: 4,000 feet Banking: Minimal for drainage only