Rain showers are possible during NASCAR’s 2013 Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
More than anything, unpredictability is what makes the 2.66-mile behemoth track intriguing. Three current drivers—Brad Keselowski, Brian Vickers and Ken Schrader—all earned their first career Sprint Cup victories at Talladega.
Beyond that there are plenty of other interesting storylines to watch at the track’s first 2013 event.
How will Danica Patrick respond after struggling since her impressive season-opening performance at the Daytona 500?
Will the new Generation-6 cars play a factor in shaking up the field this year?
Let’s highlight some essential viewing information and take a look at which drivers you should watch on Sunday.
Where: Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega, AL
When: Sunday, May 5 , at 1 p.m. ET
Streaming: NASCAR Race View
Lineup and Qualifying Order
|1||93||Travis Kvapil||Burger King/Dr.Pepper Toyota|
|2||35||Josh Wise||MDS Transport Ford|
|3||95||Scott Speed||Jordan Truck Sales/TrackingPoint Ford|
|4||11||Denny Hamlin||FedEx Express Toyota|
|5||31||Jeff Burton||Caterpillar Chevrolet|
|6||87||Joe Nemechek||MaddiesPlaceRocks.com Toyota|
|7||7||Dave Blaney||Sany Chevrolet|
|8||9||Marcos Ambrose||Stanley Ford|
|9||5||Kasey Kahne||Time Warner Cable Chevrolet|
|10||42||Juan Pablo Montoya||Clorox Chevrolet|
|11||22||Joey Logano||Shell Pennzoil Ford|
|12||20||Matt Kenseth||Home Depot/Husky Toyota|
|13||24||Jeff Gordon||Imron Elite Chevrolet|
|14||39||Ryan Newman||Haas Automation Chevrolet|
|15||15||Clint Bowyer||Peak Toyota|
*For full lineup and qualifying order check out NASCAR.com.
Talladega’s Recent Winners
|Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500||Matt Kenseth|
|Aaron's 499||Brad Keselowski|
|Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500||Clint Bowyer|
|Aaron's 499||Jimmie Johnson|
|AMP Energy Drink 500||Clint Bowyer|
|Aaron's 499||Kevin Harvick|
|AMP Energy Drink 500||Jamie McMurray|
|Aaron's 499||Brad Keselowski|
Drivers to Watch
As unpredictable as Talladega Superspeedway is, you won’t find a more consistent driver at the 2.66-mile track than Clint Bowyer.
Bowyer has racked up 151 championship points over the past four races there, according to Yahoo! Sports. Those points include a second-place finish at the 2011 Aaron’s 499 and a win at the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 earlier that year.
This year’s race has a different feel to it. Will Bowyer’s success continue at the restrictor-plate track with the change to the Generation-6 car? At Daytona, the last restrictor-plate track, Bowyer was in the top 10 but fell back during the final 50 laps.
Danica Patrick is hoping that she can catch fire at Talladega as she did at the Daytona 500 just a couple of months ago. The restrictor-plate season opener led to an eighth-place finish for the rookie. In the process she also became the first woman to win a pole on NASCAR’s biggest stage.
Her rookie season hasn’t gone as planned after that initial spark of hope, but she is hopeful this weekend’s race at Talladega will help get her back on track.
“It’s just being comfortable on these big speedways and comfortable with this pack style racing that I was so used to in IndyCar on the ovals,” Patrick said, according to David Caraviello of NASCAR.com.
Injured driver Denny Hamlin received clearance to race on Sunday at Talladega, according to ESPN’s David Newton. Hamlin has been sidelined since March 24 when he suffered a lower-back compression fracture during the final lap of the Auto Club Speedway event.
NASCAR tweeted a picture of Hamlin taking questions from the media on Friday:
PHOTO: @dennyhamlin takes media questions upon his return to track action following a back injury. #NASCAR http://t.co/xdx95hgQRU5/3/2013, 7:15:11 PM
Despite his excitement, the driver of the No. 11 car won’t likely make an impact. He’s expected to begin the race and then give way to backup driver Brian Vickers early on. By starting the race, Hamlin will receive any points his stand-in receives.