Gentlemen – and lady – get ready to roll the dice.
It’s Talladega time, on a 2.66-mile superspeedway that could double as a super-sized craps table.
On most other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekends, the list of favorites is long but nothing like that for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499.
Would you believe any one of the 43 starters celebrating in Victory Lane?
Talladega Superspeedway is known for surprises. Ten different drivers have posted first victories in NASCAR’s premier series at ’Dega. Some, like defending race winner and 2012 series champion Brad Keselowski, Davey Allison, Ken Schrader and Brian Vickers, used the victory as a springboard to future success.
Others – Richard Brickhouse, Dick Brooks, Lennie Pond, Ron Bouchard, Bobby Hillin Jr. and Phil Parsons – never won again.
Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson might be a good pick. So, too, last year’s Talladega winners Keselowski and Matt Kenseth.
At the other end of the spectrum, why not Front Row Motorsport drivers David Ragan and David Gilliland?
Never a winner in Sprint Cup, Bob Jenkins’ Front Row Motorsport is an emerging organization that has performed best on NASCAR’s restrictor-plate tracks. The team’s two top-five performances came at Talladega and Daytona.
Gilliland finished third in the 2011 Daytona 500; Ragan fourth in last fall’s Chase race at Talladega.
Ragan finished seventh in the Aaron’s 499 a year ago. Gilliland posted a ninth-place finish in the previous year’s event.
Maybe not so much a long shot after this year’s Daytona 500 is Danica Patrick. Patrick became the series’ first female Coors Light Pole winner, ran among the leaders throughout the Daytona 500 and finished a solid eighth.
Patrick never has driven a NASCAR Sprint Cup car at ’Dega but finished 13th in 2012 in the track’s NASCAR Nationwide Series event. She’ll return for Saturday’s Aaron’s 312 in a Chevrolet out of the Turner Scott Motorsports stable.