Sunday, October 23, 2011

Mark Martin Snags Talladega Pole; Simoncelli Perishes in MotoGP

Mark Martin is all smiles after taking P1 at Talladega
NASCAR's ageless wonder Mark Martin upstaged his younger competitors with a pole run Saturday at Talladega that was only 0.002 seconds faster than Jimmie Johnson. One of only four drivers to top 181 mph during qualifying yesterday, Martin will have his work cut out for him today as the tandem drafting style of racing will prevail today for 500 miles on NASCAR's biggest track. Speeds will be significantly higher in the draft today, as two cars running together punch a larger hole in the air and allow both to go faster. Happy hour speeds were in excess of 195 mph on Friday and everyone will be looking for a "dance partner" today. As Jimmie Johnson said in his post-qualifying interview yesterday, he just wants to be "in the picture" near the end. If you are in the photo frame coming to the finish line, you have a chance to win today. An additional $100,000 is also on the line for the driver who leads the most today, but only if there are more than 100 lead changes at the line during the race. For a race distance scheduled for 188 laps, that should not be too difficult if today's race is anything like the other restrictor plate races this year where lead changes were frequent. My guess is the driver's will do everything they can to claim that leader bonus and Lord knows they don't need any incentive here at Talladega where everything is big. Including the wrecks. Following this post is a quick photo gallery from yesterday's qualifying activity. It looks like I will be back on top of the tallest grandstand on the tri-oval again today for Associated Press. I had a good day yesterday and hope for a safe day for all concerned.

Angel themed name tag honoring Dan Wheldon
There are tributes everywhere this weekend for Dan Wheldon, from the Lionheart stickers each car bears above the driver's side door to the angel themed name above the door of the non-qualified car of TJ Bell. I am doing a personal tribute by wearing the William Rast Racing t-shirt and hat I got at this year's Indy 500, which Danny of course won in dramatic fashion.

As I sit here in the media center at Talladega Superspeedway, I can't help but mention that the day has already begun on a sad note with the news from MotoGP that Marco Simoncelli lost his life in a racing accident and my heart aches for fans of all forms of motorsport who must endure this kind of news. But we carry on as those we have lost would want us to do, and that's race. Life is short. Tell someone you love them.

Marco Simoncelli at The 2011 Indianapolis Red Bull US MotoGP 

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