By Jennifer Lowe

NASCAR columnist

Brenda Jackson, mother of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kelley Earnhardt Miller, died this week following a long battle with cancer. She was 65.

Jackson spent most of her life involved in NASCAR. She was one of four children born to NASCAR fabricator Robert Gee, who built cars for many drivers, including Dale Earnhardt. Jackson married Dale Earnhardt Sr. in 1972 before the couple separated and she remarried. She worked as an accounting specialist for JR Motorsports since 2004.

Dale Jr. paid tribute to his mother on Twitter.

“I’m glad her suffering has ended and she can be at peace,” he tweeted. “She would be in tears of happiness over the words of support and remembrance she’s been shown today. Our family appreciates it as well. She will live in our hearts forever.”

On a happier side of things, high speeds, drafting and the “Big One” is coming up this weekend!

What’s super cool is that the cars will have 550 horsepower this weekend, up 100 horsepower from the 450 they previously ran. The drivers who participated in a February test with the new specifications at Daytona approached 200 mph when working together. 

“We’ve never had anywhere near this much horsepower at a restrictor track before,” Martin Truex Jr. said. “It’s going to be a whole new learning experience, just like every other week this year, I suppose.”

Could we see a return of tandem racing — the bumper-to-bumper style that can send drivers through the field and, hopefully, into the lead?

That could be fun! Dangerous, but fun.

How I wish I was going to be there this weekend! I love everything about it and miss it terribly, but I’m hoping everyone who is going sees an exciting race. There is nothing worse than going to a race at Talladega Superspeedway and no one wants to draft or pull out to go to the front. A single-file finish at Talladega is the most disappointing thing in NASCAR, in my opinion.

Who do you think is going to win? I don’t even guess at this track anymore because many drivers have gotten their first — some only — win at Talladega. Last-lap passes can change everything and it’s happened many times. The last four races ended that way and statistics show nearly 26 percent of total races end in last-lap passes.

You don’t have to lead most of the race or even a single lap as long as you’re leading when the checkered drops. 

Seriously, you don’t want to miss racing at Talladega this weekend. Coverage begins Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOX.


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