With 12 victories combined at Talladega Superspeedway and Daytona International Speedway, Jeff Gordon is the all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leader in restrictor-plate victories. As he approaches his 700th career start, can the four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion make it a baker's dozen in the Aaron's 499?
While Sunday marks Gordon's 699th start, he is still "anxious" ahead of his 41st race - but first in the new Generation-6 Chevrolet SS - at the 2.66-mile high-banked track.
"I'm certainly very anxious to see because Talladega is a bigger, wider race track compared to Daytona," said Gordon, who will drive a specially painted No. 24 IMRON® Elite Chevrolet this weekend. "In Daytona, I feel like we learned a lot about being patient and picking and choosing your moments to try to make passes. I certainly tried to make some that didn't work out and cost us a lot of positions.
"The unknown is with this bigger, wider track, are we going to be able to complete those passes that we weren't able to earlier this year at Daytona?"
In 40 starts at Talladega Superspeedway, Gordon's six wins, 15 top-fives and 839 laps led are the most among active drivers. He also has three poles and 19 top-10's at the Alabama track. But with all that experience, there are still many unknowns leading into Friday's practice sessions.
"Handling was a big issue at Daytona when you were around other cars on longer runs," said Gordon, who is 14th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. "That doesn't normally seem to be the case at Talladega, but we won't know until we start drafting in practice and run the race."
While there are unknowns, Gordon believes there is a constant that will be seen on Sunday - an exciting finish.
"At Daytona, it was extremely exciting during the closing laps," said the 87-time race winner. "And that always seems to be the case at Talladega, too. I think that is something the fans will see again this weekend.
"Edge of the seat for them. 'White knuckle' for the drivers."