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Talladega the Chase wild card? Statistically speaking, no

APTOPIX NASCAR Talladega Auto Racing
DALE DAVIS - AP
Tony Stewart (14) flips over as Kasey Kahne (5), Clint Bowyer (15), Dave Blaney (36), Terry Labonte (32), Regan Smith (78), Jeff Burton (31), Jimmie Johnson (48), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88), Paul Menard (27) and David Ragan (34) crash around him during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala., Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012.

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  • Next Race

    Camping World 500

    Where: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway

    When: 2 p.m. Sunday

    TV: ESPN

    Radio: Motor Racing Network

    Last year’s winner: Matt Kenseth



Time and again, we’ve heard this weekend’s Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway is the “wild card” of the Chase.

It’s supposed to be the race mostly likely to shake up the standings, even perhaps throw someone into the championship mix who has been on the outside looking in.

But there are two problems with that theory.

First, only three times since the Chase format was introduced during 2004 has the Talladega race produced a new points leader, most recently in 2007.

The second problem involves the drivers leading the series title race this season – Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson. They typically perform very well at restrictor-plate races, especially over the past five seasons.

Kenseth, who leads Johnson by four points with five races left, has an impressive 13.2 average finish in his past five Talladega starts, including a victory in this event one year ago.

Kenseth’s Daytona average finish over the past five points races is none too shabby, either – 15.2, including one victory.

Johnson’s average finish over the past five races at Talladega is 16.8, and his average over the same span at Daytona is 20. And he has three wins during that stretch at those tracks.

In either case, statistically speaking, there is a much greater chance of Kenseth and Johnson holding serve this weekend than for some vast shuffling of the standings.

But you never know. It is technically possible for the “Big One” to start at the front of the field.

Notes

Kligerman will make Cup debut at Texas: Nationwide Series regular Parker Kligerman will make his Cup series debut in the Nov.3 race at Texas Motor Speedway with Swan Racing.

“Since I started racing, my dream like many young racers, was to get to the top,” said Kligerman. “Now that Swan Racing has given me that opportunity, I hope to make the most of it.”

Kligerman, 23, is 10th in the Nationwide standings driving the No.77 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Harvick to join JR Motorsports: Kevin Harvick, a two-time champion in what is the Nationwide Series, has signed with JR Motorsports and will compete in a minimum of 12 Nationwide races next year with the organization.

Harvick will drive JR Motorsports’ No.5 Chevrolet – a full-season car traditionally shared by multiple drivers. The driver lineup beyond Harvick is being determined.

“This is pretty cool to have Kevin a part of our team,” said team co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. “I’ve known him for a long time. He’s an incredible racer. He will be a huge asset to JR Motorsports, our sponsors and our fans.”

Most popular voting continues: With nearly a million votes counted, there is still time for fans to push their favorite driver into the lead for NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver award.

Fans can vote once a day for one of 39 eligible drivers at MostPopularDriver.com. Voting will continue throughout the Cup season. The winner will be announced in December.

Kwasniewski looks to clinch title: Dylan Kwasniewski leads Brett Moffitt by five points heading into the K&N Pro Series East season finale Friday at Road Atlanta.

Kwasniewski, 18, followed up two victories with two poor performances to see his lead shrink from 40 points. But one of his series-leading five wins came at Virginia International Raceway’s road course during August.

Kwasniewski won the K&N Pro Series West championship in 2012.

Truck crew member suspended: Marshal Faust, a crew member in the NASCAR Truck Series, has been indefinitely suspended for violating the sanctioning body’s substance-abuse policy.

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