Tony Stewart lost a spot in the points after last week's race in Martinsville...and he wants it back. With four of his last five starts at 'Dega finding Tony outside of the top ten at the end of the race, he needs to set a goal of duplicating his win in the 2008 AMP Energy 500. Other than that win, Stewart has taken the Checkered flag in the top ten on 11 other occasions. Tony find the top ten by the end of the day in more than 50% of his Cup starts at Talladega and in 54% of his Superspeedway starts. Will Tony get tricks or treats this year in his goodie bag?
Five-time Talladega winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. comes into this weekend with only two of his past five starts ending in a top ten finish. Dale's last top ten came in the Spring 2009 race in Alabama, his last two starts have given him 11th and 13th place finishes. He has flirted with the top ten in all but one of his last six Cup starts at this track. Earnhardt has never started from the pole position at this Superspeedway but coming off of a seventh place finish last week he should have quite a bit of confidence about this Halloween weekend.
Denny Hamlin currently resides in the second position for the Chase to the Sprint Cup Championship just six points behind Jimmie Johnson. Denny is in the best position anyone has been in after six Chase races to take over the points lead. With no wins at 'Dega and three top tens in nine starts, Denny posts a 19.3 average finish here. Hamlin has fought hard to gain on the points leader, however so don't expect a less-than-desirable average at this track to stop Denny from coming out with guns blazing.
Jamie McMurray won the AMP Energy 500 in 2009, finished in the runner-up spot in the 2010 Spring race; we have seen Jamie make things happen this year when he expects to do well. McMurray has 16 starts at the Talladega Superspeedway; six of those starts have given him top ten finishes at the end of his day. One-third of all of Jamie's starts at Superspeedways have resulted in top tens. After a pole start at the Auto Club Speedway, a win two weeks ago in Charlotte, a win in the AMP Energy 500 in 2009, and a second place finish at his last Cup start in Alabama McMurray is coming to town with some big plans for a Halloween party in Victory Lane.
Mark Martin brought home a second place finish in Martinsville last week; can he do it again in Alabama? Martin certainly has the edge on the rest of the field in regard to experience. Mark has 45 Cup starts at Talladega dating back to 1982. Over the course of these last 28 years Martin has posted just two wins but claims a top ten finish in more than half of his starts at this Superspeedway. One-third of Mark's 69 top ten finishes at Superspeedways have happened at Talladega.
Clint Bowyer is out f the Chase but his season is far from over. After a dismal week at Martinsville found him in the 4th turn wall less than a third of the way through the race, he finished 38th due to a rear gear failure after his team got him back o the track post-accident. Clint comes to Talladega with the desire to gain points on 11th place Greg Biffle who is 90 points in front of Clint. Bowyer can claim three top ten finishes at 'Dega in his nine Cup Series starts and finished in the seventh position here in the Spring. Clint is going to be racing for his first Cup win at in Alabama Sunday in the AMP Energy 500.
Gaining two places in the Chase after Martinsville, but still 246 points behind Chase leader Johnson, Jeff Burton comes to Alabama this weekend with 13 top ten finishes to his credit at this track. Finishing in the top ten in three of his last five starts at 'Dega helps Jeff with the confidence aspect and the mental side of this weekend's Halloween special. Jeff typically performs just barely better at the Fall race in Talladega than in the Spring. His Fall race average finish is 18.06 whereas he posts a 18.64 for his Spring race average finish.
The AMP Energy 500 practice on Friday will air at 2pm and 3:30pm on the SPEED Channel. Saturday brings us Live Practice, again on the SPEED Channel coming on-air at Noon. Raceday will be on the SPEED Channel from 10am until Noon. ESPN2 picks up coverage at Noon and will carry on until race coverage from Talladega starts on ESPN at 1pm. Don't miss this afternoon of Have-at-it-Boys racing on Halloween from the South.