Talladega’s Dark Horse

“It’s like a high-speed chess match.” That’s exactly how Danica Patrick likes to describe a race at Talladega. There are 43 cars running in close quarters, bumper to bumper, all battling for the win, each with an equal chance of seeing Victory Lane.

This is what makes a super speedway race so exciting; anyone can win it.

The last time the Sprint Cup Series visited Talladega Super Speedway; the David’s took down Goliath. Front Row Motorsports drivers David Ragan and David Gilliland finished 1-2 respectively, out-driving the likes of Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson to take home the win. A perfect example of how a dark horse can sneak up and swoop in for the unsuspecting win.

This weekend, for the final super-speedway race of the season, there are a few dark horses that could make it to Victory Lane for the first time this season:

Kurt Busch: Although Busch is in the Chase this season; he has yet to win a race. This weekend, he is bringing to like the classic paint scheme from Talladega Nights; Wonder Bread. Busch has never won a plate race but has 16 top-5 finishes in 51 starts between Talladega and Daytona. Getting a win in a Ricky Bobby inspired No.78 would be icing on the cake for Busch before he moves over to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.

The David’s: They both finished 1-2 in the spring race this season and David Ragan and David Gilliland both have another good shot at seeing Victory Lane. With a handful of top-5 finishes at plate tracks between them, these two know how to work together and get up to the front of the pack.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr: Although this Rookie has one previous start at Talladega in the Cup car, Stenhouse has shown major improvements over the last few weeks. Many predicted that this two-time Nationwide Series Champion would get that elusive win in his Rookie year and Dega may just be the place that it could happen.

Danica Patrick: She started off 2013 with a bang when she won the pole for the Daytona 500 and ran in the top-5 all day and although the first Talladega race didn’t end so well for Danica Patrick, this Rookie knows her way around a super-speedway. Two of her best finishes this season have come at plate tracks and the high speeds and close racing feeds well into her driving style. Keep an eye on the lady in pink; she could make history again in 2013.

With plate races like Daytona and Talladega, it is really anybody’s race. If you have a fast car and can stay near the front, you have a legitimate shot at taking the checkers. Tune in on Sunday to see who avoids the “big one” and takes a trip Victory Lane.