All bets are off when Talladega enters the picture

A good season can turn bad in a hurry if things go awry at Talladega. The crown jewel of Alabama has a mind of its own, writes Mark Ashenfelter.

Updated: October 5, 2007, 11:14 AM ET
By Mark Ashenfelter | ESPN.com

With less than a lap remaining last October at Talladega Superspeedway, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were sitting pretty. Not just in the race itself -- they also were in favorable position in the Chase for the Nextel Cup.

That changed in an instant once Brian Vickers made contact with then-teammate Johnson, sending Johnson's car into Earnhardt's. Both spun as Vickers went on to win, while Earnhardt and Johnson were left thinking of the finish that got away.

Earnhardt ...

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