Posted 05/04/2012 at 04:49 PM
Aric Almirola showed once again in Friday’s final Talladega practice session that he was faster than everyone while in the draft. Almirola had the top speed of the first session earlier in the day and then laid down a fast lap of 196.725 in the final practice.
Joining Almirola for the second straight practice atop the charts was Matt Kenseth at 196.685 mph, good enough for the second fastest speed. Kenseth had been third quickest in the earlier session.
Only 34 of the 46 drivers attempting to qualify even attempted a lap in this final session because they got all they needed to know earlier and, of course, there is no need to wreck the car for data that can’t be translated into race conditions. There isn’t a way to simulate what is actually going to happen in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499, but there is a strong possibility that something bad can happen out there while practicing making it pointless for some.
Although the No. 43 car has run well in plate races of late, it is still kind of a feather in the cap for Mike Ford who is making his debut as Almirola’s crew chief this week. Ford had been Denny Hamlin’s chief for the last six years, and all six years they made the Chase. Being fastest in both practices shouldn’t hurt their confidence on Sunday.
Sunday's race will definitely be a crap shoot with almost everyone who qualifies having a chance. Even after practice, the best formula to deciding who will win still comes down to throwing darts blindly at a bunch of numbers. Although, if the dart lands on No. 43, you might feel a little more comfortable with your chances on Sunday. Incidentally, Almriola's odds to win at the LVH Super Book in Las Vegas were 100-to-1 prior to this practice.
Practice 2 Top-5 Speeds:
1) Aric Almirola 196.725
2) Matt Kenseth 196.685
3) Greg Biffle 196.105
4) Denny Hamlin 195.692
5) Regan Smith 195.620