NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: GEICO 500
The Place: Talladega Superspeedway
The Date: Sunday, June 21
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 500 miles (188 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 120), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 188)
2019 Race Winner: Chase Elliott
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Unhinged 300
The Place: Talladega Superspeedway
The Date: Saturday, June 20
The Time: 5:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 5 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300.58 miles (113 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 25),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 50), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 113)
2019 Winner: Tyler Reddick
NASCAR Cup Series
Next up for Cup: Talladega Superspeedway with fans
NASCAR announced a plan to introduce the return of fans to its race events last week, which includes the GEICO 500 NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, June 21 (on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
NASCAR’s modified event procedures, protocols and number of attendees have been finalized with guidance from public health officials, medical experts and local, state and federal officials. In order to adhere to local social distancing guidelines, a limited number of guests (5,000) will be allowed in the frontstretch grandstands/towers for the GEICO 500 NASCAR Cup Series race. In addition, there will be limited motorhome/5th-wheel camping spots available outside the track high atop the Alabama Gang Superstretch.
“Our frontstretch grandstands and towers are massive, measuring an incredible eight tenths of a mile long,” said Talladega Superspeedway President Brian Crichton. “That provides us ample room to be able to welcome race fans back with plenty of safe distancing between guests. NASCAR and the track staff will continue to work with health and government officials and be ready to provide a safe experience for the NASCAR fans in attendance.”
The offer is open exclusively on a first-come, first-served basis to fans who purchased tickets or reserved camping for the originally scheduled GEICO 500 on April 26 and live within 0-150 miles of the track. The geographical limitations are being implemented to limit travel and reduce risk. Eligible fans may use their April event credit to select new seats or may purchase seats, if preferred, through the following options:
- Visitwww.talladegasuperspeedway.com/return for complete details or click here
- Respond to an email offer sent to Alabama TSS spring ticket customers within the 150-mile radius
- Call 1-877-Go2-DEGA
This weekend will be the 103rd NASCAR Cup Series race hosted at Talladega Superspeedway, dating back to the very first series event at the track on September 14, 1969 – a race won by Richard Brickhouse. Since then, the 102 Cup races at Talladega have produced 44 different pole winners, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott with eight poles. The Cup Series has also seen 49 different race winners at Talladega, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt with 10 victories. Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Talladega with 13 victories, with Chase Elliott’s victory in this race last season breaking the tie they had held with Richard Childress Racing (12 wins). Twelve of the 49 different winners are active this weekend, led by Brad Keselowski with five wins.
Notable series facts about Talladega:
- Since the advent of electronic scoring, the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway is the April 17, 2011, race won by Jimmie Johnson over second-place Clint Bowyer with a margin of victory of 0.002 second – the margin of victory is tied with the 2003 Darlington race as the closest finishes in the series using electronic scoring.
- Talladega Superspeedway leads the series all-time in the number of lead changes in a race with 88 (happened twice, most recently in 2011) and the number of leaders in a race with 29 (April 2010).
- There have been 14 NASCAR Cup Series races resulting in NASCAR Overtime at Talladega – most recent was the Oct. 2018 event.
- Prior to this weekend, only one NASCAR Cup Series race held at Talladega Superspeedway was not run on its scheduled date. The April 27, 1997, race was postponed due to inclement weather to May 10, 1997 – Mark Martin won the event.
- A total of 11 different drivers have won their first NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (5/7/2017), Brad Keselowski (04/26/2009), Brian Vickers (10/08/2006), Ken Schrader (07/31/1988), Phil Parsons (05/01/1988), Davey Allison (04/30/1987), Bobby Hillin Jr. (07/27/1986), Ron Bouchard (08021981), Lennie Pond (08/06/1978), Dick Brooks (08/12/1973) and Richard Brickhouse (09/14/1969). Twenty drivers entered this weekend at Talladega are still looking for their first career NASCAR Cup Series victory.
New Rules Package for ‘Dega: What you need to know
The NASCAR Cup Series cars will have a new rules package this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway aimed at improving the overall safety of the vehicles. These rules changes were implemented in a May 1 technical bulletin and include lessons learned from the investigation into the No. 6 car incident at Daytona.
The changes are as follows:
- Addition of a lower main roll bar support bar #20 / intrusion plate and upper main roll bar support bar #21 (mandatory superspeedways, optional elsewhere).
- Elimination of aero ducts at superspeedway tracks.
- Reduction in size of throttle body from 59/64” to 57/64” (superspeedways only).
- Updated roll bar padding specifications (mandatory at all tracks beginning June 1).
- Oil reservoir tank or overflow expansion tank must contain a check valve (mandatory at all tracks beginning with Talladega).
- Slip tape must be applied along the entire length of the lower rearward facing surfaces of the rear bumper cover and extension (superspeedways only).
Joe Gibbs Racing regains form
Joe Gibbs Racing has put everyone on notice that they have regained their winning form when Martin Truex Jr. collected his second Martinsville Grandfather clock of his career on Wednesday, and then on Sunday in a weather delayed event at Homestead-Miami, Denny Hamlin captured his third victory of the season (Daytona, Darlington). And as a result, Joe Gibbs Racing has tied Team Penske for the series-most wins in 2020 at four each.
Heading into Talladega this weekend, Joe Gibbs Racing is hoping to build off of the early success. Not only does Hamlin lead the series in wins this season, he also leads the JGR stable in wins at Daytona and Talladega (all-time) with four (three Daytona 500 wins and 2014 May Talladega); followed by NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart with three (2008 Oct. Talladega and 2005, 2006 July Daytona), two-time series champ Kyle Busch with two (2008 July Daytona, 2008 April Talladega), NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett (1993 Daytona 500) and Erik Jones (July Daytona) each have one. The only current JGR driver still looking for his first win on a superspeedway is Martin Truex Jr., but he does have two runner-up finishes at Daytona.
Though two Joe Gibbs Racing drivers are locked into the Playoffs on wins (Hamlin and Truex), all four JGR teammates will be looking to advance their position in the driver standings – Truex (sixth, -53 back from the points lead), Hamlin (seventh, -68), Kyle Busch (ninth, -104) and Erik Jones (18th, -190). Both Busch and Jones are still looking for their first wins of the season.
While the momentum might be at their backs following Homestead-Miami, the organization will still look to snap a Talladega winless streak that dates back to Hamlin’s win in 2014 – the last time a Toyota visited Victory Lane at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Last season in this race, Kyle Busch was the highest-finishing JGR driver in 10th; followed by Erik Jones (19th), Martin Truex Jr. (20th) and Denny Hamlin finished 36th after being involved in an incident.
Unpredictability is one of the assets of Talladega that has fans so intrigued by the races, and that might be even more ramped-up without practice leading into the race this Sunday, but the series season wins leader (Hamlin) seems unphased.
“. … We’ve run a different package at superspeedways almost every other year,” said Denny Hamlin following his win in Miami. “We’ll adapt pretty quickly. So, for me there is not really any concerns. … These drivers are so good; they’re going to figure it out pretty quick.”
Hamlin also leads his teammates in average finishing position at Talladega heading into the weekend with a 19.0; followed Busch (20.2), Truex (21.4) and Jones (28.1)
Team Penske is tops at Talladega
You do not have to be a statistician to know who the best at Talladega has been as of late – Team Penske. Over the last 11 races at Talladega Superspeedway, Team Penske has celebrated in Victory Lane in seven of them (63.6%); including the most recent – last October’s race, when Ryan Blaney beat Ryan Newman in a thrilling photo finish.
In total, Team Penske has eight wins at the Alabama track among three drivers – Brad Keselowski (four wins: 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017), Joey Logano (three: 2015, 2016, 2018) and Ryan Blaney (2019).
Despite the crew chief shake up to start the season, all three Team Penske drivers are in the top five in points with a third of the season in the books. Leading the way are veterans Keselowski and Logano, who have both secured their spots in the Playoffs with wins this season (two wins each) and both have racked up Playoff points through stage wins. Logano is currently third in the driver standings, 29 points back from Kevin Harvick in the standings lead, and Keselowski is fourth in the standings; 51 points back from Harvick.
But this weekend, could be the one Blaney takes the spotlight and gets his first win of 2020. Just one point behind his teammate Keselowski, in fifth in the driver standings, Blaney is the highest ranked driver without a win this season. But he has been incredibly consistent posting six top fives (tied for series-most) on the year.
“I enjoy speedway racing. It’s just kind of a different deal,” said Blaney. “I’m excited to see the new rules package. We are going to get a firsthand look at it right in the race, no practice. I’m excited to see what that does.”
Blaney has made 11 starts at Talladega posting one win, two top fives, three top 10s and an average finish of 19.0.
He continued, “As far as the momentum side, yeah, you feel good for sure, stringing together some decent runs. But it is hard to kind of carry that over to Talladega. You just never know what can happen.”
Team Penske finished fifth (Logano), 13th (Keselowski), and 15th (Blaney) in the Spring Talladega race last season, then in the Fall they finished first (Blaney), 11th (Logano), and 25th (Keselowski).
Ford power has been on display at ‘Dega
Over the last 15 NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway one manufacturer has stood above the rest, and it is not even close. Ford and Roush Yates Engines has won 11 of the last 15 Talladega Superspeedway NASCAR Cup Series races – a winning percentage of 73.3%.
In one word, Ford has been – dominant.
Led by the seven wins of Team Penske and followed by the two victories of Roush Fenway Racing and the single wins of Stewart-Haas Racing and Front Row Motorsports Ford has nearly been unstoppable. (see chart below for breakdown of wins of last 15 Talladega races)
|1||Ford||Matt Kenseth||Roush Fenway Racing||Sunday, October 7, 2012|
|2||Ford||David Ragan||Front Row Motorsports||Sunday, May 5, 2013|
|3||Chevrolet||Jamie McMurray||Chip Ganassi Racing||Sunday, October 20, 2013|
|4||Toyota||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Sunday, May 4, 2014|
|5||Ford||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Sunday, October 19, 2014|
|6||Chevrolet||Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||Hendrick Motorsports||Sunday, May 3, 2015|
|7||Ford||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Sunday, October 25, 2015|
|8||Ford||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Sunday, May 1, 2016|
|9||Ford||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Sunday, October 23, 2016|
|10||Ford||Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.||Roush Fenway Racing||Sunday, May 7, 2017|
|11||Ford||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Sunday, October 15, 2017|
|12||Ford||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Sunday, April 29, 2018|
|13||Ford||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing||Sunday, October 14, 2018|
|14||Chevrolet||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports||Sunday, April 28, 2019|
|15||Ford||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||Monday, October 14, 2019|
In total, nine different manufacturers have won in the NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway; led by Chevrolet with 41 victories; followed by Ford with 29, Mercury (seven), Buick (six), Oldsmobile (six), Dodge (four), Plymouth (three), Toyota (three) and Pontiac (two).
Playoff Outlook: Big names on the outside looking in
With seven drivers already locked into the NASCAR Cup Series postseason on wins, Talladega Superspeedway could be the golden ticket for one lucky driver to add his name to the Playoff list as 10 former Daytona and Talladega winners are entered this weekend who are still looking for their first victory of 2020.
|PLAYOFF BUBBLE FOLLOWING HOMESTEAD-MIAMI|
|Rank||Driver||Points||Leader||Next||Pts From Cutoff|
|17||Tyler Reddick #||279||-184||2||-2|
|21||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||218||-245||13||-63|
|22||John Hunter Nemechek #||209||-254||9||-72|
|24||Christopher Bell #||196||-267||10||-85|
*Former Daytona & Talladega series race winners are bolded.
Of the 10 drivers looking for their first win this season, seven of them are ranked inside the top 16 in the driver standings and could currently get into the postseason on points. Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney leads the way as he is the highest ranked driver in the standings, plus he won at Talladega last season. Blaney currently has a comfortable lead (132 points) above the postseason cutoff.
Next are the Busch brothers, Kyle has two wins at Daytona and a win at Talladega back in 2008 and Kurt won the 2017 Daytona 500. Kyle Busch is 80 points up on the postseason cutoff heading into this weekend, and Kurt is up 59 from the cutoff.
Seven-time series champ, Jimmie Johnson is also looking to get his first win of the season and snap a winless streak that dates back to 2017. Fortunately, Johnson has found success at both Daytona (two Daytona 500s) and Talladega (two wins: 2006, 2011). Johnson is only 43 points up on Reddick in 17th, the first spot outside the Playoffs.
Next on the list are Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola. Bowyer has two wins at Talladega (2010, 2011) and Aric Almirola has won at Daytona (July 2014) and Talladega (Oct. 2018). Bowyer is a mere 34 points up on the postseason cutoff and Almirola is up 24 points.
And last of the 2020 winless drivers inside the top 16 in points that has formerly won at Daytona or Talladega is Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon. He is currently in the 16th spot, just two points ahead of his RCR teammate and Sunoco rookie Tyler Reddick in 17th. Dillon won the 2018 Daytona 500. He has made 13 starts at Talladega posting one top five and three top 10s.
Erik Jones (July Daytona), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2017 Talladega and July Daytona) and Ryan Newman (2016 Daytona 500 winner) are the three former superspeedway winners just outside the top 16 looking for their first win of 2020.