Rain could cause practice times to set starting lineup
by Mark Edwards
May 04, 2013 | 3466 views |  0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Carl Edwards posted the fastest time in Friday’s first practice session at Talladega. (Photo by Bill Wilson)
Carl Edwards posted the fastest time in Friday’s first practice session at Talladega. (Photo by Bill Wilson)
TALLADEGA — Practice makes perfect, as they say, but for Sunday’s Aaron’s 499, it could make more than that.

Qualifying is set for today, beginning at 11:10 a.m., but according to the National Weather Service in Calera, the possibility of rain is 100 percent. If the wet weather washes out qualifying, the lineup for Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway will be set from Friday’s practice times.

Carl Edwards ran during the first practice session, posting the fastest time at 199.675. He was followed by Martin Truex Jr. at 199.650 and Marcos Ambrose at 199.608.

“We were inside talking about needing to get a draft and put as big a number up on the board as possible,” said Danica Patrick, who was 23rd in practice while driving the No. 10 Chevrolet.

Cars are required to have restrictor plates at Talladega Superspeedway, which can cause drivers to bunch up in a pack. For Jeff Gordon, who was ninth in practice, that makes starting position a little bit more important than it is otherwise.

“It’s not crucial here, but I think it’s important and with what we learned at Daytona, I think track position is more important these days as a restrictor plate race than they used to be.”

It’s possible the rain could let up and allow drivers to qualify. The Talladega Superspeedway has the NASCAR drying system at the track, which should dry the track in fewer than two hours.

“I certainly would like to qualify,” Gordon said. “I think our team has an excellent shot at being on the front row or pole. We typically qualify well here. I would like to see us qualifying, but we can’t be guaranteed that the weather is going to come and rain this thing out (today). We’ll be prepared for both scenarios.”

Kevin Harvick said the possibility of a rainout affected Friday’s practice.

“I think everybody is halfway convinced that practice will line up the cars for Sunday’s race,” he said.

Rain likely also will affect the Aaron’s 312, which is Nationwide Series race at Talladega. That race is set for 1 p.m. today on ESPN.

“The forecast is terrible. … We’ll run whenever we can,” driver Sam Hornish Jr. said. “The thing about the forecast being the way it is though is it does kind of bring another factor in that if we do get going tomorrow, and it is scheduled to rain throughout parts of the day, you really have to try to be up front all day long.

“You never know when those sprinkles are going to come out and the race is going to be over once you get to halfway. That will add a little different point of view and interest.”

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter @MarkSportsStar.
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