NASCAR National Series News & Notes – Talladega Superspeedway

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: YellaWood 500

The Place: Talladega Superspeedway

The Date: Sunday, October 4

The Time: 2 p.m. ET

TV: NBC, 1:30 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)

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: Ag-Pro 300

The Place: Talladega Superspeedway

The Date: Saturday, October 3

The Time: 4:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN, 4 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)

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series

Next Race: Chevrolet Silverado 250

The Place: Talladega Superspeedway

The Date: Saturday, October 4

The Time: 1 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 12 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 250.04 miles (94 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 25),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 94)

NASCAR Cup Series

Talladega Superspeedway offers unique challenge to Playoff contenders

The unexpected is expected when it comes to this Sunday’s YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The stakes are high and the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Round of 12 standings are tight as the series heads to Alabama. Last season’s Playoff race at the massive 2.66-mile superspeedway had 110 green flag passes for the lead – the most in this event since 2013.

The 2020 season marks the fourth consecutive year Talladega Superspeedway will host the fifth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2017-2020) – race No. 31 of the season. Talladega is the third different track to host the fifth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, joining: Charlotte Motor Speedway (from 2004 – 2014) and Kansas Speedway (from 2015 and 2016).

Talladega Superspeedway has participated in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs since its inception into the series in 2004 (Playoff Era 2004-Present). Talladega hosted the third race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs from 2004 – 2005, the fourth race from 2006 – 2008, the seventh race from 2009 – 2010, the sixth race in 2011, the fourth race in 2012 and then back to the sixth race in the postseason from 2013 – 2016. During the 2014-2016 seasons in the ‘elimination style’ Playoff format the sixth race of the Playoffs also served as the cutoff race for the Round of 12.

A total of 12 different drivers have won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races at Talladega Superspeedway; six of the 12 are active this weekend. Brad Keselowski (2017, 2014), Clint Bowyer (2010-2011), Jamie McMurray (2009, 2013) and Joey Logano (2015-2016) lead the series in Playoff wins at Talladega with two victories each. 

During the Playoff Era (2004-Present), the winner of the Talladega Superspeedway Playoff race has never gone on to win the title in the same season. But twice the Talladega Playoff race winner has finished runner-up in the championship standings at the end of the season: Jeff Gordon (2007) and Joey Logano (2016). 

A total of 12 different drivers have won the NASCAR Cup Series fifth race in the Playoffs; eight of the 12 are active this weekend. Hendrick Motorsport’s driverJimmie Johnson leads the series in wins during the fifth race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with three victories (2004, 2005, 2009 – all at Charlotte Motor Speedway).

Twice the winner of the fifth race in the Playoffs has gone on to win the title later that season; both happened at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In 2009, Jimmie Johnson won the fifth race in the Playoffs from the pole at Charlotte and then went on to win his fourth consecutive NASCAR Cup Series title – it was his third of four wins in the 2009 postseason. Then in 2014, Kevin Harvick won the fifth race in the Playoffs from the seventh starting position at Charlotte Motor Speedway and went on to win his first career NASCAR Cup Series title – it was his first of three wins during the 2014 postseason.

The worst finish in a Playoff race at Talladega by a driver that went on to win the title that same season was 24th by Jimmie Johnson in 2006. Last season’s champ, Kyle Busch finished 19th in the fifth race of the 2019 Playoffs at Talladega.

Five times a non-Playoff driver has won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway – the most of any Playoff track:

  • In 2005, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett won the Playoff race at Talladega; he was 14th in points.
  • In 2006, Brian Vickers won the Playoff race at Talladega; he was 16th in points.
  • In 2009, Jamie McMurray won the Playoff race at Talladega; he was 22nd in points.
  • In 2011, Clint Bowyer won the Playoff race at Talladega; he was 13th in points.
  • In 2013, Jamie McMurray won the Playoff race at Talladega; he was 14th in points.

Twice a non-Playoff driver has won the fifth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff:

  • In 2010, Jamie McMurray won the fifth race in the Playoffs at Charlotte; he was 14th in points.
  • In 2013, Brad Keselowski won the fifth race in Playoffs at Charlotte; he was 16th in points.

In total Talladega Superspeedway has hosted 102 NASCAR Cup Series races, 16 of the which have been Playoff events. The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway was held on Sept. 14, 1969 and won by Richard Brickhouse driving a Dodge for car owner Ray Nichels. The 102 series races at the high-banked superspeedway has produced 44 different pole winners and 49 different race winners – 12 of the 49 race winners are active this weekend. NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in victories at Talladega with 10 wins (1983, 1984, 1990 sweep, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1999 sweep and 2000). Playoff contender Brad Keselowski leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers at Talladega with five wins (2009, 2012, 2014 Playoff race, 2016, 2017 Playoff race); followed by his Team Penske teammate Joey Logano with three wins (2015 Playoff race, 2016 Playoff race and 2018). The youngest series winner at Talladega is Bobby Hillin Jr (07/27/1986) at the age of 22 years, 1 month, 22 days and the oldest series winner is Harry Gant (05/06/1991) at the age of 51 years, 3 months, 26 days.

Trying to Advance: Playoff race No. 5 clinch scenarios

The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs have reached the halfway point this weekend with the fifth race in the postseason – the YellaWood 500 – this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Heading into this Playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway only one of the 12 postseason challengers (Kurt Busch) has clinched a spot in the Round of 8, leaving seven spots still up for grabs with two races to go (Talladega and the Charlotte Roval).

Already Clinched

The following driver has clinched a spot in the 8-driver field of the next round: Kurt Busch.

Can clinch via Points

If there is a new winner, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 6th winless driver in the standings.

o   Kevin Harvick: Would clinch with 52 points

o   Denny Hamlin: Would clinch with 54 points

o   Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., and Joey Logano: Could only clinch with help

If there is a repeat winner, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 7th winless driver in the standings.  They would also clinch if there was a new winner among Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano or Chase Elliott and being 56 points above the 6th winless driver in the standings.

o   Kevin Harvick: Would clinch with 48 points

o   Denny Hamlin: Would clinch with 51 points

o   Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Chase Elliott: Could only clinch with help

o   Alex Bowman: Could only clinch with help (and cannot clinch if Joey Logano or Chase Elliott win)

Can clinch via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone:

o   Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola and Austin Dillon 

NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Outlook Following Race No. 30
RankDriverPointsStartsRace WinsStage WinsPlayoff PtsPts from Cutoff
1Kurt Busch (P)3,04130116In On Wins
2Kevin Harvick (P)3,10430976761
3Denny Hamlin (P)3,10130694958
4Brad Keselowski (P)3,05930473516
5Martin Truex Jr. (P)3,05830141615
6Joey Logano (P)3,05430262211
7Chase Elliott (P)3,05330282210
8Alex Bowman (P)3,052301499
9Kyle Busch (P)3,04330024-9
10Clint Bowyer (P)3,03230034-20
11Aric Almirola (P)3,02530025-27
12Austin Dillon (P)3,02029105-32
13Ryan Blaney2,098301313Eliminated from the Playoffs
14Matt DiBenedetto2,09230000
15Cole Custer2,08830105
16William Byron2,07530127

The Postseason Dozen at ‘Dega

The ‘wildcard’ aspect of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff event this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, can wreak havoc on the 12-driver Playoff field as they try to navigate all the challenges. But some have been better than others at the 2.66-mile behemoth of a track; below is a look at each Round of 12 driver’s career performance at Talladega.

Kurt Busch (No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) is currently 63 points behind Kevin Harvick in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings, but with his win last Sunday has already advanced to the Round of 8. The 21-year veteran has made 39 starts at Talladega but is still searching for his first Cup triumph. With eight top-five and 21 top-10 finishes, Talladega is statistically one of Busch’s better Playoff tracks. In the last seven Talladega races, his average finish is 12.86 with four top-10 results. He finished ninth in the Talladega race back in June.

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) comfortably sits atop the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings 61 points ahead of the Round of 8 cutoff. The 2014 series champion has made 39 career Cup Series starts at Talladega and holds one win (April 2010), seven top-five and 15 top-10 finishes. He scored a 10th-place finish in the Talladega race back in June.

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) is third in the Playoff outlook with a sizable 51 points between himself and the Round of 8 cutoff. The three-time Daytona 500 champion (2020, 2019, 2016) has made 29 series starts at Talladega Superspeedway posting one win (May 2014) eight top fives and 12 top 10s. He finished fourth in the Talladega race back in June.

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Team Penske Ford) is the active ‘Titan’ of Talladegadue to the fact he has more wins at the 2.66-mile superspeedway than any other active driver with five victories (2009, 2012, 2014 Playoff race, 2016, 2017 Playoff race); including his first-ever Cup win in 2009. Keselowski already has won once this postseason (Richmond) and is currently fourth in Playoff outlook with just 16 points up on the Round of 8 cutoff. In 23 series starts at Talladega, the 2012 champion has totaled seven top-five and 11 top-10 performances. He finished 19th in the Talladega race back in June.

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) holds on to fifth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff outlook following Las Vegas with just 15 points up on the Round of 8 cutoff. Talladega is statistically one of Truex’s worst tracks in the postseason. He has made 31 series starts at Talladega putting up two top fives and eight top 10s. He finished 23rd at Talladega back in June.

Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford) is sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs just 11 points ahead of the Round of 8 cutoff. Logano heads to Talladega with the second-most wins (three) at the 2.66-mile track among active drivers. Plus, two of his wins were Playoff races. In total he has made 23 series starts at Talladega posting eight top fives and 10 top 10s to accompany his victories. He finished 17th in the Talladega race earlier this season. 

Chase Elliott (No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) is seventh in NASCAR Cup Series Playoff outlook inside the Round of 8 cutoff by just 10 points. The Georgia native heads to Talladega looking to keep his Playoff hopes alive. Elliott has made nine series starts at Talladega posting one win (2019), three top fives and four top 10s. Rebounding from his most recent performance at the track will be important as the Hendrick Motorsport’s star was caught in an incident and finished 38th back in June at Talladega. 

Alex Bowman (No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) clings to the eighth and final transfer spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs; just nine points ahead of the Round of 8 cutoff. Bowman has made 10 starts at Talladega posting one top five and three top 10s; including a seventh-place finish earlier this season. Bowman has yet to win at Talladega but did finish runner-up in the April 2019 race. 

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) hangs on to ninth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings just nine points behind Alex Bowman in the final Round of 8 transfer spot. Busch predicted he would be eliminated in this round following the Bristol race and this weekend could certainly assure his prophecy if he does not get a good finish. The Las Vegas native has made 30 starts at Talladega posting one win (April 2008), six top fives and eight top 10s. He finished 32nd at Talladega earlier this season.

Clint Bowyer (No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) hangs on to 10th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, 20 points behind Alex Bowman in the final transfer spot to the Round of 8. Fortunately for Bowyer, Talladega is one of his better tracks in the postseason. In 29 starts the veteran has collected two wins (2010 and 2011 Playoff races), seven top fives and 13 top 10s. He finished 25th in the Talladega race back in June.

Aric Almirola (No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) grips the 11th spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs 27 points back from the Round of 8 cutoff. But if the last eight races are any indication of how they will do this weekend than this is the guy to watch. The 2018 Talladega Playoff race winner has recorded eight straight top-10 results, including five top-five efforts, with an average finish of 5.125 during that span. He was fourth in last fall’s YellaWood 500 while third earlier this year in the GEICO 500.

Austin Dillon (No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) finds himself in the 12th and final spot in the Round of 12 Playoff standings 32 points behind the Round of 8 cutline. Piloting the No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, which has 12 triumphs at Talladega, Dillon has three top-10 efforts at the 33-degree banked venue with a best result of third in May of 2016. Over the last seven races, his average finish is 25.14. He was sixth in last year’s Playoff race but finished 39th earlier this season after being caught in an incident.

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

NASCAR releases 2021 Cup schedule – NASCAR this week announced the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule, a historic slate that includes the introduction of three new racetracks – and new layouts at two iconic venues – to the sport’s top level. Not since 1969 has NASCAR added this many new venues to its premier series schedule. The 36-race slate includes races at three new road course layouts, and the first Cup Series dirt race in more than 50 years.

“We developed the 2021 schedule with one primary goal: Continue to take steps to create the most dynamic schedule possible for our fans,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “Extensive collaboration between NASCAR, the racetracks, race teams and our broadcast partners allowed NASCAR to create what promises to be an exciting 2021 schedule of races.”

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