NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
 
                      === Chase gets wild at Talladega ===
 
 Talladega, AL (SportsNetwork.com) - The one track on the 10-race Chase for the
 Sprint  Cup  that concerns  the championship contenders  the most is Talladega
 Superspeedway.
 
 Talladega,  a 2.66-mile  racetrack, is  known as  the wild  card event  in the
 Chase,  and it could shake up the point standings in a big way. Next week, the
 series will run at Martinsville, which is another unpredictable race since its
 the only short track in the playoffs.
 
 "Talladega and Martinsville, they keep me up at night," said Carl Edwards, who
 is  one of  the drivers in this  year's Chase. "You don't know what's going to
 happen at those places. Those are the wild cards in the Chase."
 
 Heading into Talladega, the sixth race in the Chase, Matt Kenseth holds just a
 four-point  lead  over Jimmie  Johnson. Kevin  Harvick is  third in the points
 standings  (-29), followed by Jeff Gordon (-36), Kyle Busch (-37), Greg Biffle
 (-58) and Kurt Busch (-59).
 
 Eighth through 13th are: Clint Bowyer (-63), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-66), Edwards
 (-67), Joey Logano (-75), Ryan Newman (-78) and Kasey Kahne (-81).
 
 When  the  series most recently competed  at Talladega in May, Kenseth had the
 dominant  car,  leading a total  of 142 laps. A  major crash involving a dozen
 drivers occurred on the backstretch in the closing laps, which set up a green-
 white-checkered finish. Kenseth led the way for the final restart, but Edwards
 moved ahead of him to take the top spot heading into the final lap.
 
 With  pushing  help from his  Front Row Motorsports teammate, David Gilliland,
 David  Ragan passed Edwards for the lead in turn 4 on the last lap. Ragan went
 on  to  win the race,  while Gilliland crossed the  line in second and Edwards
 third. Kenseth ended up finishing eighth.
 
 "If  we have the  speed that we had the first time (this year) at Talladega, I
 look forward to that because we led pretty much all day," Kenseth said. "But I
 ended  up  figuring out how  to mess it  up on that last green-white-checkered
 there.  We  were leading on the  last lap and got  beat. I wasn't in the right
 spot."
 
 Kenseth  has  performed well at  Talladega and  Daytona -- the two restrictor-
 plate  tracks --  in the past. He  won last year's Chase race at Talladega, in
 his  final season  with Roush Fenway Racing. Kenseth also won the 2012 Daytona
 500.
 
 Johnson  has been  very impressive in the restrictor-plate races this year. He
 scored  a season-sweep  at  Daytona and  finished fifth  at  Talladega in  the
 spring.
 
 "Honestly, I'll be anxious to get out of (Talladega)," Johnson said. "I'm just
 ready  for  it to happen,  and go on  and race from  there. Last year, I don't
 think  we finished  a restrictor-plate race, and this year, we've had two wins
 and  the other was in the top-five. So, I hope this trend of top-five finishes
 stays alive in Talladega. That's what we're going to need."
 
 Johnson  finished  17th at  Talladega one  year ago.  The five-time Sprint Cup
 champion  entered that  race five  points behind  leader Brad  Keselowski, but
 after  he was involved in a 25-car accident that happened on the final lap, he
 trailed Keselowski by 14 points.
 
 Keselowski   finished   seventh  at   Talladega  and   later  won  the  series
 championship. Johnson finished third in points (-40).
 
 The  winner  at Talladega has grabbed  the lead on the  last lap in six of the
 previous seven Sprint Cup races here.
 
 Tony  Stewart led  the way during the  final lap of last year's Chase event at
 Talladega, but Stewart triggered the big one when he made contact with Michael
 Waltrip.  Earnhardt, who  was  caught up  in the  wreck,  suffered his  second
 concussion within a six-week period. He missed the next two races in the Chase
 -- Charlotte and Kansas.
 
 "The  one track  that I  probably  look forward  to the  least is  Talladega,"
 Earnhardt  said.  "The track can be  a bit of a  lottery on how you finish and
 how  that  affects your  points. I  really like racing  at Talladega, but that
 track  being a part  of the Chase, it's really a guessing game on what's going
 to happen to you there."
 
 Earnhardt  has  five wins at  Talladega, including four  in a row from October
 2001  to  April 2003. He has  not won a race  here since the fall of 2004. His
 late-father,  Dale Earnhardt  Sr., holds the record for most victories at this
 track with 10.
 
 Jeff  Gordon leads  all active drivers with six wins at Talladega, including a
 season-sweep  in  2007. Gordon has  12 career restrictor-plate race victories,
 which  is  more than any  other driver. He finished  second at this track last
 fall.
 
 "With  the big-pack racing, there is always the chance of the big one," Gordon
 said. "You have to approach this race with a positive attitude, fight to avoid
 whatever  may  occur and  hope that  you come  out of  it with  a race car. It
 doesn't even need to be in one piece. It just needs to get across the (finish)
 line with a decent finish."
 
 Forty-four teams are on the entry list for the Camping World RV Sales 500.
 
 Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Sunday, Oct. 20. Race: Camping World RV Sales
 500. Site: Talladega Superspeedway. Track: 2.66-mile oval. Start time: 2 p.m.
 ET. Laps: 188. Miles: 500. 2012 Winner: Matt Kenseth. Television: ESPN. Radio:
 Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.
 
 
 10/18 16:04:42 ET

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