If you could pick just one person to win this weekend’s Amp Energy Juice 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, it may be best to pick either Jamie McMurray or Kevin Harvick. In the past year on the restrictor plates, it seems that the races come down to a battle between them with one of them winning.
In the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in July, Harvick took the win after working with McMurray for most of the race.
In the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega in April, Harvick took the win there also as he made a textbook last lap move on McMurray coming through the tri-oval on the final lap.
In the Daytona 500 at Daytona in February, McMurray took the win in the biggest race of the year after getting a jump on Harvick on the final restart.
In this race last year, McMurray won the race after holding on the late charges at the end from the field.
The last restrictor plate race not won by either was at Daytona last July where Tony Stewart turned Kyle Busch on the last lap.
The success of neither driver is a surprise as both drivers have been frontrunners at the restrictor plate tracks throughout their career.
For Harvick, in his past 19 starts at Talladega, he has one win, four top-fives, eight top 10s and an average finish of 15.5. His restrictor plate success also includes two Daytona 500 victories.
For McMurray, in his past 16 starts at Talladega, he has one win, five top fives, six top 10s and an average finish of 18.1. His restrictor plate success also includes a win in the Coke Zero 400 in 2006.
So who could break the streak?
Well, it could be Tony Stewart as he was the last one before them to win a race and has always been strong on the restrictor plate tracks. In 23 starts at Talladega, he has one win, nine top-fives, 12 top-10s and an average finish of 14.8.
Then there is Stewart’s past wingman – Dale Earnhardt Jr. Before Harvick and McMurray at the beginning of the decade, Earnhardt was known as the king of restrictor plates as he was always in the thick of it for the win, including his four wins in a row at Talladega. In 21 starts, he has five wins, eight top-fives, 11 top-10s and an average finish of 13.3.
However, it could also be someone that’d surprise everyone – Kurt Busch or David Ragan. Busch holds the best average finish at Talladega with a 12.8, while Regan has the second highest at 13.3. Could they finally break through in the win column?
No matter what way this swings, it’ll definitely be an interesting race as Talladega always provides exciting side-by-side three-wide racing with a dramatic finish, as of late. Will this trend continue or will things change as Talladega gets haunted by Halloween, becoming Hallo-Dega?