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Waltrip had an opportunity to win Talladega last October until leader Tony Stewart triggered a multi-car accident trying to hold off the field. It collected Waltrip, who turned 50 this week and only runs restrictor-plate races anymore.

His last win was at Talladega in 2003, but he led four laps in the season-opening Daytona 500 and finished 22nd.

Waltrip used Friday’s practice to shake off the cobwebs.

“When you take off from Daytona until May, there’s so many things you need to orientate yourself with _ something as simple as just being able to see the water temperature and water pressure gauges in your peripheral without having to pay attention to them, understanding how the cars move when other cars come around you,” Waltrip said. “I have to do a whole lot of visualization, like after practice yesterday, this morning, before I race. I visualize what I saw in practice and what I think I’ll see during the race. And the other cats, it’s repetition; they were racing last weekend side-by-side, bumper-to-bumper all over each other, so theirs just comes natural.

“I have to really focus my mind on the task at hand in order to make sure I’m ready for it.”