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Best in-car audio from Talladega Superspeedway
Relive the best in-car audio from the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway .
Dale Jr.'s four wins in a row at Talladega Superspeedway
Go back in time and watch Dale Earnhardt Jr. win an amazing four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races in a row at Talladega Superspeedway from 2001-2003.
Junior looks for more Talladega magic
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Talladega RELATED: Qualifying order TALLADEGA , Ala. – Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a simple explanation for the fan reaction at Talladega Superspeedway , site of Sunday's GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). "If you go to a race at Talladega , your driver can literally, possibly take the lead at any moment in the race," Earnhardt Jr., a six-time winner at the 2.66-mile track, said Friday. "You can't say that anywhere else. "So, with that comes a responsibility, I think, as a driver to try to make that happen because when you come off Turn 4 you can see a big difference in arms in the air and people excited about what just happened when you take the lead. … You can't create that anywhere else. "And they want you to keep doing that all day long because they just want to celebrate all day. They want to have fun. When you get up there and mix it up it gives them what they want. So, I think that is why I like running here and definitely makes it a unique experience as opposed to any other track we go to." RELATED: Every Earnhardt win at Talladega When it comes to lead changes, Talladega is the hands-down, foot-to-the-floor leader in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. In the spring race of 2010 and again in '11, there were an amazing 88 lead changes. In the fall race of '10 the lead changed hands 87 times. In fact, nine of the top 10 races for most lead changes took place here. Some of that can be traced to the rules packages of the day, but it's worth noting that the '73 race, held in the heat of the summer, featured 64 lead changes. Dale Earnhardt was one of the sport's best when it came to the 200 mph game of chance known as restrictor-plate racing, winning 10 times at Talladega and three times at Daytona. Maybe he couldn't really "see" the air as some thought, but the seven-time champion understood the nuances of drafting probably better than anyone. And Earnhardt Jr. has enjoyed similar success. Six of his 26 career victories have come at Talladega , where the Hendrick Motorsports driver is scheduled to make only two more starts. Only 17 races remain in the series' regular season, and 10 more after that, the playoffs that will determine this year's champion. Earnhardt Jr. has spent nearly two decades trying to reach the pinnacle of the sport and now just one final opportunity remains. RELATED: Junior opens up about retirement Twenty-fourth in points, winless thus far this season and with only a single top-10 finish, it's been a rocky start for the series' most popular driver. Three plate races provide three more opportunities, but no more than the others that have yet to be run elsewhere. If some feel this is a "must-win" race for Earnhardt Jr., he's not buying it. "That mindset might actually work and produce results for some guys," he said. "I don't know if that's probably the best way for me to go about it. But I definitely need to go in there and be aggressive and I know when I've won races here what approach I took that day that helped me get there. And I know I need to be a certain way mentally … to have success. "I don't buy the notion that we can't win anywhere but Talladega and Daytona; we have had a dry spell, I haven't won a lot of races, but we have won at other tracks in the past. But I think if I go in thinking this is a must-win, I'm probably going to make mistakes ... "I just know what I need to do, I'm going to go out there and try to do it. I've said it in the past, you've got to run the last 50 laps mistake-free. The guy that does that will win the race. … "Every move and decision and turn of the wheel has to be the right decision." There's concern, but trust too, he said. Trust in his team and crew chief Greg Ives and the Hendrick Motorsports organization for whom he has spent the last dozen years. "We've got a good set-up under the car and we are doing the best thing we can for ourselves to be competitive whether we are in the playoffs, whether it's the second race of the year or the last race of the year," Earnhardt Jr. said. "We take the best car we can and give it our best effort. "We just need to put together some races here. We've got to get a good handful of races under our belt that are finishes that we can be proud of and see where that nets us on the points deal, but it would be nice if we could just go ahead and get a win out of the way and get on with it." No matter the results, he said, "It's going to be a fun year." "I do think we can win some races," he said. "I really do." Earnhardt has seen the fans standing, arms raised in unison as he charged out of Turn 4 with the lead and the race on the line here at Talladega on numerous occasions in the past. Sunday, he hopes to see it once again. &amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;gt;
Brad Keselowski shares secret to success at Talladega
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Talladega EDITOR'S NOTE: In a rare first-person exclusive, Brad Keselowski gives his thoughts on racing at NASCAR's biggest track, Talladega Superspeedway . From racing the track on a video game to racing the pack in real life, Keselowski gives a glimpse into the "moves" that translate into Talladega success. Some drivers relish Talladega . Some drivers hate it. I still remember this time—it was probably 2003—and there was this video game called "NASCAR Racing 2003 PC." And I would run it and have a great time. There was this online community, and we would race all kinds of different tracks. It was a lot of fun, but there weren’t a lot of great drivers. I wasn't a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver then, but I was a decent online racer. We'd go to all these different tracks. We'd go to a Bowman Gray or a Dover or a Michigan, and I had a blast with that. But you'd only get maybe five or 10 guys who were any good, and the rest were intimidated, so it was almost like it was too easy. So this online league I was racing with started this thing where we would race on Tuesday nights, and we had this series where we would race on superspeedways, and like 80 to 100 people would show up and race it. Talladega was two of the races, and my bother (Brian) and I would race on it together. I remember winning those races and thinking, 'That's so cool to beat all these guys' and kind of almost falling in love with Talladega online. And so the first time I went there, it was a little bit of a shellshock being in a pack for real. It was a lot different from being in a pack on a damn computer—I can tell you that right now. But the moves and the techniques and all those things are really similar, and when you can slow it down and think of it as a giant chess match, where things aren't just happening—they're happening because you want them to, it starts to breed a lot of confidence in you. You feel comfortable at those tracks. And that why I’m looking forward to Sunday’s GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). MORE: Full Talladega schedule " 'Dega paint schemes You've still got to get over the wrecks and the big packs and all those things you know you’re susceptible to. You still have to get over that, and that's a tough challenge, but the moves to me are like a game of chess, and I enjoy that game. Learning the moves is like anything else in life. How do you learn to ride a bicycle? Sometimes you bust your ass. Sometimes you learn by watching somebody else and what they can do. What's interesting about Talladega is that it seems like every year—or maybe every three or four years—a new move comes out that no one has ever thought of, no one has executed before. That's what made Dale (Earnhardt) so special there. He was always creating the new moves. Because of that, he was always a step ahead. I think that continues to happen now. The great racers at Talladega are the ones that can innovate and create a new move that nobody knows how to defend. And that's really, really tricky. It takes a lot of research, a lot of timing, a lot of work, a lot of study. But some of it's just intuition and learning the hard way, too. STATS: Keselowski's 4 Talladega wins, more I guess what I’m trying to say is, like anything else in life, there’s a lot of ways you can learn. You can learn the hard way. Sometimes you learn because you just have a natural talent at it, or sometimes you learn from studying. I think it's really all three. In my first win in the No. 2 Miller Lite car, when I broke the draft on the final lap, someone else had made that move, but they made it at a time that wasn't critical to the outcome. Going into that race, I had that move planned, but not until the end when the timing was most beneficial. That won that race, and now that move is defunct. You always think you've found the next move, but you never know until the race is over, and it either worked or it didn't. But I can't tell you what it is—it's a trade secret. I think it goes in waves. I think you have a year or two where it’s like nothing's clicking, and you get frustrated. Then you find a new move, find a new technique, and things start to click, and you feel like you're in charge and dominant. And then everybody eventually catches up to those moves, or those moves are made irrelevant by rules changes and so forth, and you have to find a new one. I think there's a bit of an ebb and flow to it. At this point in time, we have a series of moves that are pretty strong, that have put us in a position to win a lot of plate races at Team Penske with a lot of things that Joey (Logano) and I have learned and worked on together. But those moves eventually will become irrelevant. There will be something different. Hopefully, it will last a long time, but history shows it won't. That's OK. I look at probably the last three years on the plate tracks, and I feel like Joey and I have been the most successful, and we hope to continue that. As told to Reid Spencer of the NASCAR Wire Service. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Talladega finish line placement affects strategy
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Talladega TALLADEGA , Ala. -- There are several marked differences between Talladega Superspeedway and its sister restrictor-plate track, Daytona International Speedway. For one thing, Daytona has tighter corners. Handling is more of an issue at the 'Birthplace of Speed.' At Daytona, driving double-file through the corners is about all most drivers care to risk, whereas at Talladega , with its sweeping turns and higher banking, three- and four-wide is possible without calamity. Perhaps the most obvious difference between the two speedways is the placement of the start/finish line. At Daytona, its location in the center of the tri-oval is typical of most large tracks. At Talladega , on the other hand, you don't get to the stripe until you exit the tri-oval, past the exit from pit road. NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. wanted to give fans seated in the frontstretch grandstands at Talladega plenty of opportunity to see cars slingshot past each other in the tri-oval as they raced toward the checkered flag. And the location of the finish line certainly affects where drivers make their moves on the final lap. "That extra distance creates just a little bit different finish," said NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Brennan Poole. "Guys can try to set up a little differently and make some moves and make some things happen and wait a little bit longer. "It's still all about timing. If the start/finish line was in the tri-oval, maybe guys would do something a little bit different, and time it a little bit different." "They moved it there to bring the tri-oval more into play," added Elliott Sadler, who is competing in both the NASCAR XFINITY Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races this weekend. "It just adds more excitement coming down to the start/finish line -- definitely." &lt;/p&gt;
Kennedy knocks rust off to record fourth at Talladega
RELATED: Race results TALLADEGA , Ala. -- Ben Kennedy said he needed to "knock the rust off" his restrictor-plate prowess during Saturday's Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway . For the 25-year-old driver, that meant posting a career-best fourth-place result in only the second XFINITY Series start of his career. "Really happy with the finish," Kennedy said post-race. "Got to Joey (Logano) there at the end -- you're really only as good as whoever's behind us and how close they are behind us when they're all single file there for a while. We even lost the pack, just running wide open. So, it was a lot of fun and got a lot of out of it." Kennedy has a nearly-full plate this season, splitting 21 races between driving Richard Childress Racing's No. 2 Chevrolet (nine races) and with GMS Racing (12 races). His next turn behind the wheel comes up quickly at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27 with GMS Racing. "I'm just looking to be competitive," Kennedy said. "My goal was, laying out the options over the offseason, to go be in something that we could go win races in, no matter what series." While Kennedy has three full-time Camping World Truck Series seasons (2014-2016) on his resume, Saturday's Talladega race was his first start in one of NASCAR's three major series this season. Waiting for his turn has been "long," he joked. "It kills you sitting on the sidelines watching Truck and XFINITY races," Kennedy said. "But at the same time in the back of my head, I knew good things were to come, with RCR cars and running GMS as well. I'm really looking forward to the season. It was tough -- I still stayed busy with some Legends stuff -- but it's good to be back at the race track for a reason." With the 300-miler at Talladega marking only the second XFINITY Series race of his career (his series debut was at Iowa in 2016), Kennedy does believe he'll experience some growing pains as he continues throughout his season. "Honestly, just trying to get back in the car and get used to things again," Kennedy said. "This XFINITY car drives so different from what I'm used to. That's going to be a whole new learning curve." That being said, a fourth-place at always-menacing Talladega doesn't hurt a driver's self-confidence behind the wheel moving forward. "This (finish) gives you a lot of confidence and momentum and it's just one of the first times I've had some good fortune here at Talladega ," Kennedy said. "So, it's rare, but I'll take it." &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Part 2: The Intimidator's Day at Talladega
Editor's note: This story was originally published Oct. 21, 2015. MORE: READ PART 1 HERE The Build-up "That's what we've been wanting is being able to draft up and race these guys. I think the things they've done and changes they've made will make a difference. I think you'll see a better race, a closer race." -- Dale Earnhardt, NASCAR teleconference, Oct. 11, 2000. Bobby Labonte was steaming toward his first premier series championship, heading into Talladega with a commanding 252-point lead -- more than any driver could earn in one race under the former Latford points system -- over Jeff Burton. Dale Earnhardt ranked third, 258 points off the top with Dale Jarrett further back in fourth, 388 points in arrears. Dunlap: I think he saw those upcoming races as a real chance for him to make a run. ... Earnhardt was so focused on getting that eighth championship and, I think, at that moment that late in the season he had kind of felt it slipping away. Bobby Labonte: At the time where we were in points, it was risk over reward and if you were the chaser, it was easier to make those risks. If you're being chased, this is one of those places where you bide your time and you wait toward the end of it more. Dale Jarrett (driver, Robert Yates Racing No. 88 Ford): It was such an unknown. I won't say that I dreaded the race because I looked forward to racing there. We had been very successful at Talladega , but with the unknown and being in the midst of a championship battle was something that we were a little bit leery of in making the right choices and the right calls, so, as always, you're on edge racing at Talladega . In addition to the ratcheted-up championship pressure, teams and drivers also faced polarizing new aerodynamics rules that altered the looks of the cars and the type of racing they produced. McReynolds: The aero package was interesting. NASCAR had been searching all throughout the early part of 2000. ... In the summer of that year they took about 10 or 12 of us down to Daytona to do a test, and it was really an open sheet of paper. We went down there and they told us to bring all types of spoiler material and aluminum. I don't know that they really knew what they wanted to try and we just started trying things. Helton: We'd kind of eased up to it, but back in those days, we would kind of settle in on what we would use at the Daytona 500 by the Talladega race and use it there so that everybody would get used to it or we'd find any hidden ghosts and goblins in it before we unveiled it at the Daytona 500 . Bobby Labonte: I think we were there for the test and it was like some people liked it and some people didn't. If I went from 18th to first on the last lap, I loved it. I didn't like it quite as good at the end of the day. Childress: As good as I can remember back, we had the package with the wicker on the spoiler and the wicker across the roof. It was a whole new package and the cars really drafted, really raced. Nemechek: We called that the old taxi cab strip and they put a lot of drag in the car and turbulated a lot of air. … Once the air hit that thing on the roof, there were some very unique things going on with that, and I think between our two teams we were able to understand that quicker than most. Kenny Wallace (driver, Andy Petree Racing No. 55 Chevrolet): Andy Petree was by far, in my opinion, the best at getting the most out of his race cars on the superspeedways at Daytona and Talladega . He was the king of aerodynamics and getting the car low to the ground. Petree: I loved it. In my opinion, it was one of the best packages that we ever had for restrictor-plate racing because it kept the cars obviously in a big pack, but it made a big, huge hole in the air and it took a lot more power to push that aero package, so the car had more power, more response and I thought it was one of the best packages they ever had. Bobby Labonte: Back then, we didn't run a pack of 43 cars in a full pack like you do today. I don't think we circled it as much as these guys do, say in the last five or 10 years, but it was somewhere you knew that just whatever happened, you could be running in the top five one lap and then 18th the next lap. Hailey: There was a tremendous amount of unknown with the new wicker bill across the top of the car. We had no idea what we were in for. A new aero package had drivers and crew chiefs wondering how their respective cars would react in traffic. This No. 3 Chevrolet Monte Carlo had no problem adjusting. The vehicle that carried Dale Earnhardt to his final NASCAR victory still resides in the team museum. Though the aerodynamic devices were intended to slow and bunch up the cars, the speeds shown in early practices were deemed too fast. That led to NASCAR officials making a change to the size of the restrictor-plate openings -- from 1 inch to 15/16ths -- just before final practice in an effort to further slow the cars. The modification added an extra layer of intrigue to what was already shaping up to be a true wild-card race. Petree: They had a restrictor-plate size, if I recall correctly, it was a one-inch plate that we started with, which made quite a bit of power. So we sat on the pole with the 33 car (Nemechek) and that one-inch plate changed everything as far as restrictor-plate motors. Helton: I don't think it would be called unprecedented, but it wasn't something we did every superspeedway race, but we also watched very closely the top speeds, and so if I recall correctly, it seems to me like this package during practice produced some speeds that had crept up and the aero package around the car was still such that the lift-off speed was critical to us. We shrunk the plate in the middle of that event to get the speeds in a better position for the event. Skinner: The aero platform, the whole rules thing with the engine package that they brought, for some reason everything was perfect on our car that weekend and we were extremely fast. And then NASCAR decided to put a smaller plate on, and I went up into the NASCAR truck and raised hell. It didn't take Mike Helton long to come out of his chair and explain to me that NASCAR had been there long before I was and it will be there long after I'm not. His job is to make sure that we don't put cars in the grandstands and keep our fans safe, and he basically just shut me right up and they did what they wanted to do anyway. Hailey: At that time, I was actually the dyno operator in the shop, so it was my job to run the engines on the dyno. We did a lot of testing before each race because we always had the idea, 'They may go a little smaller restrictor plate or they may go a little larger.' So we had a little background. We knew kind of what to do if they changed restrictor plates as far as the engine, as far as the tuning and everything, so it wasn't a big surprise that we had to change it. We were ready.
Elliott's 'Chase U' a big hit with Talladega college students
RELATED: Read more about 'Chase U' TALLADEGA , Ala. -- This crowd of college students was certainly happy to see Chase Elliott. Standing in the outfield of Talladega Superspeedway , they cheered and yelled over the sound of booming rap music for their favorite No. 24 driver's entrance into his Chase University tailgate appearance on Saturday afternoon. Several more asked for autographs, many photos, which Elliott obliged. Picture college students from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia -- or even Indiana, as a fan clad in a Hoosiers cap said -- all together at one tailgate. Except they're rooting for one team here -- Elliott's No. 24 team. "This place is just so well-known for the party, I guess, and people coming and getting rowdy here," Elliott told NASCAR.com on the way over to the event. "So, I think that's probably why more than anything and then that reputation that it has attracts local college students." RELATED: Get the scoop on Chase's special shoes for Talladega Saturday's Chase U appearance was the sixth for Elliott, who started this initiative back in October 2016 because he wanted to provide an affordable good time for college students at the race track. A $24 ticket with a valid college ID grants a student admission to the entire weekend experience, including the race and the tailgate with music, games and more. "I think it's a bargain, really," Elliott said. "There are a lot of things that come along with it for that price. From that side, the race tracks have been great and really good to work with and support that." While Elliott's budding racing career keeps him from having a typical college experience, the Chase U initiative has allowed the 21-year-old to have a little taste of it at the race track. "I have a lot of friends that are in school, so I kind of see some of the things that they do and some of the things that they're interested in," said Elliott, who met three of his buddies at Saturday's tailgate. "So (I) thought it might be a cool way to invite people like that to have a good time. "… To me, (it has been fun) to see some of the different towns that we’ve done it in, some of the different schools and surrounding cities. Just getting to see … the diversity there is fun to see and how people kind of do things different." RELATED: Hooters rewards fans when Elliott nabs a top-five finish Standing up on stage in front of a rather boisterous crowd, Elliott seemed to jell just fine with the collegiate crowd. An avid Georgia Bulldogs fan, Elliott gave a playful thumbs-down to the Alabama fans when the Crimson Tide was brought up, but showed his stamp of approval when the announcer asked if there were any 'Dawgs in the crowd. Talladega was one of the first places the Chase U initiative was implemented last year and a track where Elliott hopes to host another at in the fall, he says. Because for these college students -- and a young driver like Elliott -- it's all about the fun. "I think this one here last year was probably my favorite one here at Talladega ," Elliott said. "It was a good turnout; we’re having a great time. And that's really all I'm trying to provide is a fun time. Everybody wants to have fun. That's why people come to races, I hope, and that's my main goal." &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Allmendinger, Elliott collected in 'Big One' at Talladega
RELATED: Race results " View from No. 88 " Elliott rides along the wall TALLADEGA , Ala. -- Just when it appeared there would be no "Big One" at Talladega Superspeedway and drivers would exit the 2.66-mile monstrosity with nothing more severe than a mild case of fatigue, AJ Allmendinger made contact with Chase Elliott, Elliott made contact with the wall, Joey Logano made contact with Elliott and cars turned -- over, sideways and every which way. It was, indeed, the "Big One" at Talladega , and its toll on Sunday's GEICO 500 field was not surprising. Officially 18 of the 40 cars that started the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race were involved to some degree. Some had dings and dents. They were the fortunate ones. Elliott's No. 24 Chevrolet came off the ground after being broadsided by Logano. Allmendinger's No. 47 Chevy wound up on its roof. The three were among those running inside the top five, which made avoiding the spinning, crashing cars a bit of a challenge for those behind. The wreck unfolded just shy of Lap 170 in a race only scheduled for 188, bringing an end to what had been a somewhat clean -- if tense -- afternoon of racing on NASCAR's largest track. Nine of the 18 cars went to the garage, not to be seen again. Elliott and Allmendinger chatted after each was evaluated and released from the track's infield care center. "He just apologized," Elliott said. "I don't know that it was really his fault, per se. He had a big run and he kind of got to my bumper and just happened to be in a bad spot coming up off the corner, skewed a little bit to my left rear. "And when that happens, it just unloads these cars too much." The Hendrick Motorsports driver, still seeking his first career victory, finished 30th. MORE: Danica involved as well with a hard hit " Wildest 'Dega wrecks Allmendinger remained buckled in his overturned JTG Daugherty entry while rescue workers righted the vehicle. "I'm fine … happy I didn't get hit upside down," he said. "It's just Talladega . It's all it is. … The No. 18 (Kyle Busch) and No. 24 of Chase, they were kind of moving around and at the time I think (Kevin) Harvick got behind me and we were shoving." Elliott "opened the door," said Allmendinger, who was credited with a 31st-place finish, "and then kind of closed it and I tried to check up a little bit and tapped him, and when I checked up it was a big wreck after that." As for Logano, twice a winner in the fall race here, the view out the windshield of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford was a disturbing one. "I saw Chase tank-slapping it down the backstretch," Logano said. "I was hoping he'd turn to the left when he started spinning, but he went up the race track and I was just sitting there in the outside lane saying, 'Oh, I'm going to be the first one there and I can't get away from him.' " Logano finished 32nd, with he and most of the others involved officially making it to Lap 168 but no more. "That's kind of a bummer," he said. "It's part of it and part of superspeedway racing. Sometimes you win these things and sometimes you get caught up in them." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Part 3: The Intimidator's Day at Talladega
Editor's note: This story was originally published Oct. 21, 2015. MORE: READ PART 1 HERE " READ PART 2 HERE The Race "Historically, just the mere mention of the word 'Talladega' has been enough to give the drivers chills and the fans thrills." -- Dr. Jerry Punch, ESPN pre-race, Oct. 15, 2001. ESPN's pre-race show wrapped, having covered the major stories entering the race: the restrictor-plate change, Hamlin's injury and the championship race. Once the green flag flew, few clear favorites emerged. Pole winner Joe Nemechek was shuffled back at the start and failed to lead any of the 188 laps; 59-year-old Dave Marcis jumped up to lead Lap 2, the final lap that he led in his 35-year career; and 21 drivers set the pace for at least one lap. But four drivers -- Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Bill Elliott and Jeff Gordon -- spent the most time out front, each leading more than 25 laps. The thrills lived up to their billing, even as drivers became more familiar with the race's aerodynamic traits. Dale Jarrett: We were all learning as we went along and it made for great racing, entertaining. I really quite honestly don't know why we didn't do more of it. Helton: It's a typical 500-mile superspeedway race where early in the day, particularly with something new like that package, you'd see drivers -- I wouldn't call it experimenting -- but getting used to it and figuring out what they could do later in the day. And then in the middle, it settles down and then toward the end, it picks back up and everybody starts moving around, but the best I remember from that race that year, it never stopped. Punch: I think I made some comment, 'I don't know why they sold tickets, sold seats that day at Talladega because no one has used them. They've been standing since they waved the green flag. That's how good it is.' Dave Marcis (owner/driver, Marcis Auto Racing No. 71 Chevrolet): I remember running up front that day a little bit. I think I remember Tony Stewart was running second at that one time when I got the lead. I got by Tony and really was clear. I should have gone down and blocked that inside lane when I got by him, but I didn't and then he got a push from some other people and he got back by me. Elliott: My biggest goal was to get to the end of the race, regardless of what you had to do. The problem back then was you had so many guys that were like the bull in the china closet syndrome that thought it was the last lap just 10 laps into the race. You just had to deal with it. Lawrence: I remember that day, (Earnhardt) said, 'My car's really fast, it just won't lead.' So I think his whole plan was the whole time to do exactly what he did, to kind of ride around then and then take the lead right at the last. … He had a plan, I guess you could say. With the jumble for positions in full swing, several drivers spent the early stages trying to steer clear of the fray up front. It marked one of the earliest uses of a strategy that's now fairly common at Talladega -- running at the back. Jeff Burton: I remember having that conversation with Rusty saying, 'Hey look, I think I'm gonna go ride around in the back,' and Rusty saying, 'Hell no. You can't do that. That's crazy.' But, again, the whole thing about the closing rate was so fast. There were a lot of things going on that me and many other people believed there was gonna be a big wreck and just try to stay the hell out of it. Rusty Wallace: I'm not the type of guy nowadays and late in my career where I would want to go to the back. I don't like that. I've watched it many times and seen 'em wreck in the back, the middle and up front. And so going to the back, to me, doesn't make a lot of sense. McReynolds: That's one thing (Earnhardt and Skinner) did have in common -- they never believed in laying back. Their goal was to go up there and lead every lap that they possibly could. I know when I worked with Dale I would always try to encourage him in practice at Daytona or Talladega , 'Hey, how about getting back in the pack a little bit. Let's see what this car will do in a pack.' And his response was, 'Nope, because I don't plan on being back there.' </p>