I don't know about you, but my heart starts pumping a little faster on Talladega weekend. As Jeff Burton says, Talladega is probably the easiest track to drive, when you're all alone, but add 42 other drivers, and it's a recipe for disaster.
Dario Franchitti will attempt his first ever Nextel Cup start this weekend, at the track that's famous for the BO, or the "Big One". Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch have all expressed their concern over this fact. I don't blame them at all. Dario is a great driver in his own right, and I think he can drive a stock car just as well as any other rookie. Note that I say stock cars, because in stock cars, Dario Franchitti is a ROOKIE! That doesn't mean he can't drive them. It just means he's not used to them and all their quirks and warts.
Fans of F1, CART, and all other open wheel series often say, with a sneer, that anyone can drive a "taxi". I'd like to hear what people like Sam Hornish and Juan Pablo Montoya think about that. These boys have been driving taxis for a while now, and JPM has won, but I think even he would tell you it's not as easy as it looks. Tony Stewart came up through the ranks in open wheel race cars as well, and even though he's won 2 Cup championships, it was never easy for him.
What attracts these heroes of the open wheel world to Nascar? I think it's 2 things: Money and the Challenge.
Nascar pays very well, and even though most of the drivers in F1, IRL, etc. could retire today and never work again, they all know that Nascar pays better.
The Challenge part of the equation comes from going from the best technology available to a big, clunky car with a big engine, and it weighs a whole lot more than anything they've ever driven on the track. Great driving skills can make a rookie good, but I'm not sure Dega is the best track to start a rookie. One inch either way may mean the difference between the Big One or just a little scrape.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. has not given up his drive to keep his at least 1 win a season record going. Talladega is a great track for him, and even if he doesn't have a great car, you can look for him to be charging to the front all day. Dale Jr. wants to win one more in the 8 before he goes on to bigger and better things in the 88 next year.