Talladega Race Recap

The Key Moment - First Ricky Rudd, then Tony Stewart latched onto the rear bumper of Earnhardt's car and pushed him into the lead from tenth place to the lead in the final four laps of the race.

In a Nutshell - It's Talladega, an Earnhardt is back in Victory Lane and all is right across the Earnhardt nation tonight. It might be a good time to buy stock in Budweiser.

Dramatic Moment - Earnhardt's charge from tenth to the lead in the final four laps.

The 29, 30 and 31 RCR cars teamed up to run down the DEI 8 and 15 cars just before the final pit stops.

Elliott Sadler's rolling over, landing on all four wheels and finishing the race.

What They'll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week

Why wasn't the caution flag thrown when Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle wrecked on the back straight racing towards the white flag? Safety workers were out on the track as the field continued running at full speed.

What secrets have DEI learned about these plate tracks?

NASCAR now mandates the body contours through templates and issues the plates, rear springs and rear shocks at Talladega. Are they going to start mandating what the drivers have to have for breakfast the morning of the race too?

How much will NASCAR fine Junior for his colorful language in victory lane? Are they going to deduct points too?

Jimmy Spencer was complaining Saturday night his car wasn't getting any airtime on TV. I guess he found one way to get his car on TV, huh?

It's beginning to look for a three man battle for the championship. Oddly enough that's exactly how it would have played out under the old points system too.

What's the deal with Elliott Sadler? There's something not right with that boy.

Who are these NAMRF people and what do they want?

Can Mayfield and Johnson still rally back and win this year's title or are they out of it?

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Title-contender Jeremy Mayfield used up his Mulligan at New Hampshire when he caught a piece of Robby Gordon's ill considered revenge on Greg Biffle. Sunday he got caught up in another wreck not of his own making which in all likelihood doomed his Quixotic championship hopes.

Jimmie Johnson led early but the title hopes of the once presumptive champion took a severe blow when his car began running hot and eventually cooked an engine. Johnson fell five spots to ninth in the standings and is 172 points out of the lead with seven races left to run.

Michael Waltrip had been running second entering the pits for his final stop but he cut down a tire under caution and had to pit again relegating himself to a 25th place finish and losing his one more best chance to win a race this season.

Sterling Marlin had enough gas to finish the race without pitting but he clipped Bobby Labonte trying to avoid cars entering the pits and was sent hard into the outside wall.

The one driver who has been able to run with Earnhardt on the plate tracks this year, Jeff Gordon, clipped Kasey Kahne after Kahne got into the wall on the penultimate lap. Gordon finished nineteenth.

The "Seven Come Fore Eleven" Award For Fine Fortune

Mike Scearce, jackman for the Goodwrench team, was hit by the 29 as Harvick slid into the pits. He was knocked onto pit road as most of the field entered the pits but not only got up without being hit he actually completed the pit stop as well.

Casey Mears fell off the lead lap after a penalty for speeding on pit road but rallied back to a seventh place finish.

Despite having to change the battery three times, severe over-heating problems and rolling over coming to the white flag Elliott Sadler finished the race.

Robby Gordon managed to hang onto his car when the windshield was completely coated with oil in three wide traffic. A quick caution allowed him to dive onto pit road to have a tear-off removed.

A slow pit stop and damage to the rear of his car dropped Matt Kenseth back to thirtieth position but he was able to rally back to a fourteenth place finish.

Tony Stewart thought he had a transmission going bad halfway through the race but the tranny held together and he finished sixth.,

Worth Noting

Earnhardt Jr. now ranks second on the all time winners list at Talladega with five victories trailing only his father who won ten times here. Earnhardt has won four of the last six Cup races at Talladega and finished second in the other two.

Earnhardt's win was the twelfth consecutive victory for Chevrolet at Talladega. Six of the top 10 finishers drove Chevys. Ford and Dodge had two drivers finish in the top 10 on Sunday.

Brendan Gaughan scored his first ever career top 5 finish. He was the top finishing rookie. Scott Riggs finished eleventh and was the only other rookie on the lead lap at the end of the race.

Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon are now tied for the most victories scored this season with five a piece. Gordon still has twenty top 10 finishes to Junior's eighteen. Jimmie Johnson continues to lead all drivers with fifteen top 10s in this season's 29 races. Junior is next on that list with fourteen.

Junior now has four straight top 10 finishes and top 10s in five of the last six races including two wins.

Kevin Harvick scored his first top 5 finish since the Talladega race in April.

Dale Jarrett now has back to back top 5 finishes for the first time this season.

Kurt Busch now had three consecutive top 5 finishes and is the only driver in the championship chase to score top 5 in all three of the Chase races.

Tony Stewart finished sixth for the second consecutive race. It is not known if he wanted to kick Robby Gordon's ass after the race.

Casey Mears scored his first top 10 finish since Watkins Glen.

Ward Burton scored his first top 10 finish since Fontana in May.

Mark Martin's fifteenth place finish was his worst since the Brickyard.

Jimmie Johnson scored his sixth DNF of the 2004 season.

Rusty Wallace hasn't scored a top 5 finish since he won at Martinsville in May.

Casey Mears had top 10 finishes at both this year's Talladega races.

What's the Points?

Earnhardt Jr. takes over the points lead and is now thirteen points ahead of Kurt Busch who remains in second. Former points-leader Jeff Gordon dropped two spots to third and is 61 points behind Earnhardt.

Tony Stewart made the biggest points advance in the top 10 moving up three spots to sixth. Matt Kenseth moved up one spot to fifth and Ryan Newman moved ahead a spot to seventh.

Jimmie Johnson had the worst day of any of the title contenders falling five spots to ninth. Elliott Sadler fell two spots to eighth. Jeremy Mayfield remains tenth in the standings but is now 280 points out of the lead and barring some miracle eliminated from title contention.

Under the old points system Jamie McMurray would still be ninth in the points and Jeremy Mayfield would have fallen to thirteenth. Kevin Harvick would have been just sixteen points out of the top 10 and Dale Jarrett would have been 58 points out of the top 10 in twelfth.

Under the old points system Earnhardt still would have been leading but Jeff Gordon would have been second just ten points behind Junior. Thus the points battle actually would have been closer under the old system. Go figure.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) We'll give this one four cold cans of Bud. Anytime a plate race ends with nobody hurt the race is awarded an extra can.

Next Up - Going to Kansas City/Kansas City here I come/They got a tepid little race track/and watching it sure makes my brain go numb.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2004

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