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Talladega speeds are fast in opening practice, faster than some anticipated

  Brian Vickers (L) and his crew chief Ryan Pemberton discuss Talladega drafting, as fellow crew chief Jimmy Elledge listens (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)  

   By Mike Mulhern

   Speeds were a bit more sporty than some teams had anticipated during Friday's first round of practice, 45 minutes, for Sunday's Aaron's 499, David Reutimann topping the chart at 198.5 mph in the draft.
   Greg Biffle, considered one of the fastest drivers on the tour, and making only his first runs in the new Talladega aerodynamic-speed version, says he was impressed with the closing rate in the draft. But he says he wants more RPM.
   "I was only out there about 12 laps, but these cars suck up in the draft really fast," Biffle said. "Almost too fast.
   "These cars have a lot of drag. You know the theory: put a bigger spoiler on 'em and give us a bigger plate and more power.
   "But there is so much drag when you pull out (to pass), you go backwards."
   But then Jeff Burton says "the closing rate is not an issue at all."
   "They are running faster than I thought they'd run in a pack," Greg Zipadelli, crew chief for Joey Logano, says.
   "These cars look pretty racey to me. Our driver is satisfied; our car drove good, and it sucked up good.
   "Now I know we've only had half a pack out there so far. When you get all 43 it might be different.
    "The closing rate – the cars close up good...but once you get close to the next car, the rate slows back down. You don't carry that closing rate."
   Passing? "Well, we passed, and we got passed," Zipadelli said. "But when you get 43 out there, and get three-wide, I don't know how it will shake out."
   A second practice session, of one hour, will tell more. However that may be all the practice these teams get before Sunday's race.

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