Qualifying: Sadler adapts best

Elliott Sadler, confronting new car-body measurements as NASCAR experiments with throttle response and aerodynamics at the restricted tracks, came out on top Friday evening in qualifying for Sunday's EA Sports 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

Qualifying: Sadler adapts best

Sadler lapped in 50.415sec (189.943mph) to edge Jamie McMurray by a healthy 0.146sec, an unusually large margin for a plate race. The gap between first and second was greater than the gap between second-place McMurray and ninth-place Bill Elliott.

Jimmie Johnson was third, followed by Sterling Marlin, Jeff Gordon, and Sadler teammate Dale Jarrett. Meanwhile, superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr., winner of a record four straight races at this track (including a controversial victory in April), was banished to the rear after the rear of his car was found to be fractionally low in inspection after qualifying.

NASCAR requires that the right-rear quarter-panel be at a height of 35in to ground, with a tolerance of 0.25in. According to team members, the car measured 0.0625 beyond the tolerance.

Earnhardt, who was 11th-fastest in the time trials, saw his speed disallowed and was forced to take a second provisional, the 38th spot. Points leader Matt Kenseth also needed a provisional and will start 37th.

Junior had to start at the back in April due to an engine change but had made his way to the front after 20 laps, on the way to a victory tainted by an apparent violation of NASCAR race procedure (driving below the yellow line to make a pass). The rule was not enforced and the victory stood.

In addition to all that, Junior still is fighting off the effects of a hard crash last week at Dover, which left him with a minor concussion (he was not cleared to race until Wednesday) and a very sore ankle.

What most are watching more closely are NASCAR's new aero rules, revealed two weeks ago and specific for this race. NASCAR frequently has used the fall Talladega race to try out car and procedure modifications with a view toward the next year's Daytona 500. This week, in an attempt to give drivers more throttle response, thus making them feel less helpless in the tight, aero-controlled packs created by plate racing, the cars have more spoiler and less restriction to the fuel flow.

"I think it's going to help the drivers with the throttle response," Sadler opined. "I think before, with so much horsepower taken away from the motors, we felt like if we had to lift any and got out of line any at all that we could not get back in line or we would be left too far behind. Now with the way the spoilers and the restrictor plates are done, I think we can be a little more patient.

"I think it's going to be a tighter pack, but I do think the drivers will be able to make better decisions. I'm just speculating right now until I get in practice tomorrow morning. The closing rates are going to be a lot different, so we just have to go off that and make some adjustments."

And, truly, Talladega doesn't give a real good read on what would happen at Daytona, assuming NASCAR adopts the package.

"This place is as wide as a football field, and you're in the corner so long and it's so high-banked that handling is not an issue," he added. "I think they could come out here and shave half of our spoilers off and it's not going to affect us here like it will at Daytona."

shares
comments
Earnhardt Jr declared fit for Talladega

Previous article

Earnhardt Jr declared fit for Talladega

Next article

Talledega: Waltrip wins bruising race

Talledega: Waltrip wins bruising race
Load comments
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Plus

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organisation - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR
Aug 31, 2021
The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin Plus

The F1 nearly-man winding back the clock in NASCAR’s European cousin

A multiple F3000 race winner, Marc Goossens was on the precipice of making Formula 1 in the 1990s - but a lack of budget left him without a path to the promised land. Turning to an illustrious racing career in sportscars, Goossens left the endurance circuit to try his hand at racing stock cars - and now calls the NASCAR Euro Series home

NASCAR
Jul 1, 2021
Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR Plus

Why a British prospect is trying to make it in NASCAR

There has never been a full-time British driver in the NASCAR Cup. But Alex Sedgwick, who is rising through the stock car ranks, wants that to change and could be a trailblazer for European talents to reach the top echelons of the NASCAR ladder

NASCAR
Feb 28, 2021
How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport Plus

How Earnhardt’s death changed American motorsport

It's 20 years since legendary driver Dale Earnhardt Sr died at the Daytona 500, but the legacy of his crash continues today through the pioneering safety work done by NASCAR

NASCAR
Feb 18, 2021
The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021 Plus

The NASCAR subplots to keep an eye on in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season

NASCAR
Feb 12, 2021
How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career Plus

How a second-chance NASCAR ace is rebuilding his career

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a shot at redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith

NASCAR
Feb 11, 2021
Autosport's top 5 NASCAR machines Plus

Autosport's top 5 NASCAR machines

The American stock car scene is more famous for its close racing and occasional punch-ups, but there have been some fantastic machines too. As part of Autosport's 70th anniversary celebrations in 2020, we picked out five of its best

NASCAR
Jan 3, 2021
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Plus

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future

NASCAR
Nov 17, 2020