When the Sprint Cup Series rolls into Talladega Superspeedway this weekend, its Friday schedule consists of two 55-minute practice sessions.
At a track where restrictor plates even the playing field and create pack racing, how important are those two sessions in preparing to race at the 2.66-mile track?
Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. wouldn’t put up much of fight to keep it on the schedule.
“Line up by points and go racing,” Truex Jr. declared in a release.” I don’t think we need to practice there. We could show up, maybe have a 20-30 minute session to check for oil leaks or any rubbing or dragging. That’s essentially all we do there anymore.”
Truex has competed in 20 races at Talladega and has recorded six top-10 finishes while his lone top five was in 2006.
Jamie McMurray, who has won at the track in 2009 and 2013, described restrictor-plate practice sessions as “extremely laid back,” the exact opposite of what to expect on race day.
“You run your 10 laps and if your car doesn’t have any tire rubs, that’s pretty much it for practice,” McMurray said. “The race itself is really all about surviving and getting to the end, trying to put yourself in a good position in the last 25-30 laps to have a chance to win.”
Even Justin Allgaier, in his second full Cup season, shares the sentiments of those who have been racing at the level for more than a decade.
“There’s really not a whole lot for us to do in the practice sessions,” said Allgaier, driver of HScott Motorsports’ No. 51 Brandt Chevrolet. “How the Brandt Chevy feels when we unload it off of the truck, that’s what we’ll have for the race. We are on a good roll as team, so if we can avoid all of the accidents during the race, we’ll have as good of a shot as anybody at winning the race on Sunday.”
Not everyone has the same opinion as Allen Iverson when it comes to practice at Talladega. One veteran who sees value in the two practice sessions is Matt Kenseth, who has visited Victory Lane at Talladega once, winning there in 2012.
“The biggest thing every time you go back (to Talladega) is you get in practice,” Kenseth said. “You get around other cars and you see who is fast and who is slow, who your car goes fast with and who it doesn’t. You always want to be with your teammates or with your manufacturer, but sometimes your car just won’t go fast with theirs, so you have to figure that out and try to get yourself in the right position during the race.”
The first Sprint Cup practice at Talladega begins at 2 p.m. ET on Friday and airs on Fox Sports 1.