Iracingone Raceday: Talladega/I

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TALLADEGA, Ala. - This year’s Aaron’s 499 wil have to go a long way to top the 2004 edition. Jeff Gordon broke the stranglehold of the powerhouse DEI team last year when a late race cuation ended the race with the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in front of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s DEI Monte Carlo.

DEI was shooting for its sixth straight Talladega win coming into last season’s race with Earnhardt, Jr. and teammate Michael Waltrip combining on the five race winning streak.

Gordon added another restrictor plate win to his record with his win in last February’s Daytona 500 and looks to make it two straight plate wins in this year’s Aaron’s 499.

But in addition to having his hands full with the likes of DEI and Gordon’s own Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson, Richard Childress Racing’s Kevin Harvick laid claim as a contender on Friday by winning the pole.

Car owner Richard Childress will be looking to add to his record nine career Talladega NEXTEL Cup Series wins, which came with the legendary Dale Earnhardt at the wheel. In addition to his regular trio of Harvick, Jeff Burton and Dave Blaney, Childress has another Earnhardt in his stable this year - Dale's son Kerry.

“We were always so successful with Dale here, and we’ve run second with Kevin a couple of times,” Childress said. “Running Kerry – Kerry had one of the best runs of his career in the spring at Talladega last year. I’d love to see him up front leading the race and have a shot to win.”

DEI suffered through another poor restrictor plate track qualifying effort, just as it did at Daytona. Earnhardt, Jr. (36th) and Waltrip (38th) were beaten by part-time teammate and Saturday's Busch race winner Martin Truex, Jr. (32nd).

The Roush Racing powerhouse, which has won four of the season's first eight races, is hoping to break into the plate track contenders on Sunday.

“We’ve always run decent at Talladega but I haven’t posted any spectacular finishes yet,” said Greg Biffle. “It’s a fun track to race on since it is so forgiving and so big. It is more forgiving than Daytona. Restrictor plate racing can be fun; there is never a dull moment and there is never an in-between.”


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