By Bob Priddy, Contributing Editor

(NASCAR)—Next up for NASCAR is Talladega, the series’ longest track at 2.66 miles, a restrictor plate race that sees cars nose to tail at 200-plus miles an hour until somebody makes the slightest mistake and then things get real messy real fast.

Take a ride with Joplin’s Jamie McMurray for the last sixteen laps of the race last year about this time. The traffic slows for a little bit because of a caution flag but then you get a passenger-seat view of a couple of Talladega restarts.  And about 20:20 in, you’re with him when he makes a BOLD move to get to second.  He and Kyle Busch duel for second place before McMurray gets it, finishing slightly behind Matt Kenseth.

No NASCAR driver has won four races in a row since Jimmie Johnson did it in 2007, and only eight have done it in the “modern era” of NASCAR racing (since 1972).   Kyle Busch has a chance to join that elite group but he’ll have to survive the chaos of Talladega to do it.  But he says winning the Powerball lottery might be easier than winning at Talladega. “But we’ll give it a go,” he says.

Talladega is NASCAR’s longest track at 2.66 miles.  It’s a restrictor plate race.  Busch’s career record there shows him with an average start of about 20 and an average finish of about 20.

McMurray has two wins there but his average start is about 20th and his average finish is about 22nd.  Clint Bowyer averages starting about 16th and finishing about 21st.  He and McMurray both have two wins at the track.  Busch has one win, in 2008.

(INDYCAR)—It rained again on the IndyCar race at the Grand Prix of Alabama in Birmingham, but not until the closing laps, and Josef Newgarden splashed his way to the checkered flag.  He finished almost ten seconds ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay.  Rain returned for the last fifteen laps of the 82-lap race.  The race was finished Monday after rain stopped it after 23 laps on Sunday.

The win is the 199th for Team Penske, the ninth in Newgarden’s IndyCar career.