NASCAR Cup Series News & Notes – Talladega Superspeedway

Eight different winners in nine races to start the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season and this weekend’s GEICO 500 (Sunday, April 24 at 3 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) serves up a platter of opportunity for a ninth different winner to pull into Victory Lane and secure their spot in the Playoffs.

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: GEICO 500

The Place: Talladega Superspeedway

The Date: Sunday, April 24

The Time: 3 p.m. ET

The Purse: $7,420,008

TV: FOX, 2:30 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)

Construction began on what was then known as the Alabama International Motor Speedway on May 23, 1968. The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway was held on September 14, 1969, and the event was won by Richard Brickhouse, from Rocky Point, North Carolina, driving a Dodge for car owner Ray Nichels. The average speed of the first race at the 2.66-mile track was 153.778 mph.

The name of the facility changed to Talladega Superspeedway in 1989, and the surface underwent its fourth repaving on September 19, 2006. In total, there have been 105 NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway; one series event in 1969, and two races per year since 1970.

A total of 44 different drivers have won at least one pole at Talladega Superspeedway in the NASCAR Cup Series; 23 of the pole winners have won more than one. Six of the 44 Talladega NASCAR Cup Series pole winners are active this weekend. Busch Light Pole Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday, April 23 at 11 a.m. ET on FS1.

Active NASCAR Cup Series Pole Winners at Talladega Superspeedway

Pole Winners (6) Poles Seasons
Chase Elliott 2 2019, 2016
Kevin Harvick 2 2018, 2005
Austin Dillon 1 2019
Kurt Busch 1 2018
Martin Truex Jr 1 2016
Ricky Stenhouse Jr 1 2017

In total, 15 of the 105 (14.3%) NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway have been won from the pole or first starting position; the most recent to accomplish the feat was Denny Hamlin on October 4, 2020.

But the outside front row (second place) starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other starting position at Talladega (19.05%).

The 105 NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway have also produced a total of 50 different race winners; 25 of the 50 have won multiple times at the 2.66-mile track. This weekend 10 of the 50 NASCAR Cup Series Talladega race winners are entered into the event.

Active NASCAR Cup Series Race Winners at Talladega Superspeedway

Active Race Winners (10) Wins Seasons
Brad Keselowski 6 2021, 2017, 2016. 2014, 2012, 2009
Joey Logano 3 2018, 2016, 2015
Ryan Blaney 2 2020, 2019
Denny Hamlin 2 2020, 2014
Bubba Wallace 1 2021
Chase Elliott 1 2019
Aric Almirola 1 2018
Ricky Stenhouse Jr 1 2017
Kevin Harvick 1 2010
Kyle Busch 1 2008

NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Talladega Superspeedway with 10 victories (1983, 1984, 1990 sweep, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1999 sweep, 2000). Brad Keselowski leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in wins at Talladega Superspeedway with six victories; including taking the checkered flag in this race last season (2009, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2021).

This Sunday’s GEICO 500 will be 188 laps (500 miles) in length and broken up into three stages. The first two stages will be 60 laps each and the final stage will be 68 laps.

‘Dega doesn’t disappoint

Known as one of the most competitive tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway is the perfect stage for the wild side-by-side action NASCAR fans love and this weekend’s GEICO 500 (Sunday, April 24 at 3 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is expected to produce just that.

Talladega Superspeedway holds the all-time record in green flag passes for the lead in a single NASCAR Cup Series event with 219 green flag passes for the lead set on October 20, 2013.

Talladega Superspeedway also holds the all-time record in total green flag passes in a single NASCAR Cup Series event with 23,765 total green flag passes throughout the field set on October 20, 2013.

Last season, Talladega Superspeedway was the class of the field in passing. The Talladega Superspeedway NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race (October) produced 123 green flag passes for the lead; the most in a single event during the 2021 season, followed by Daytona International Speedway’s regular season finale with 121, Talladega-1 with 80, Las Vegas with 56 and the Daytona 500 with 45.

The April 2021 Talladega Superspeedway NASCAR Cup Series race produced the most total green flag passes throughout the field in a single event in 2021 with 9,738 total green flag passes; followed by Daytona-2 (9,097), Talladega-2 (8,852), Las Vegas (4,057) and Indianapolis RC (3,744).

Kings of ‘Dega & Daytona

The art of ‘Drafting’ on tracks like Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway is a skill not every driver can master, but for the ones that learn to manipulate the air to their benefit at nearly 200 mph have found the spoils of Victory Lane in some of the NASCAR Cup Series’ biggest races.

No driver has been more successful in points-paying races at both Daytona and Talladega than NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt with 13 combined victories – 10 wins at Talladega (1983, 1984, 1990 sweep, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1999 sweep, 2000) and three wins at Daytona (1990, 1993, 1998).

In total, 87 different drivers have visited Victory Lane at Daytona and Talladega in the NASCAR Cup Series. This weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, 10 active drivers have won at the 2.66-mile track and 17 have either won at Daytona or Talladega. Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski with six victories (2009, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2021) leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in Talladega wins.

Active Daytona & Talladega NASCAR Cup Series Winners

Rank Active Drivers Total Wins Daytona Wins (Season) Talladega Wins (Season)
1 Brad Keselowski 7 1 (2016) 6 (2021, 2017, 2016, 2014, 2012, 2009)
2 Denny Hamlin 5 3 (2020, 2019, 2016) 2 (2020, 2014)
3 Joey Logano 4 1 (2015) 3 (2018, 2016, 2015)
4 Ryan Blaney 3 1 (2021) 2 (2020, 2019)
5 Kevin Harvick 3 2 (2010, 2007) 1 (2010)
6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr 2 1 (2017) 1 (2017)
7 Aric Almirola 2 1 (2014) 1 (2018)
8 Kyle Busch 2 1 (2008) 1 (2008)
9 Austin Cindric 1 1 (2022) 0
10 Bubba Wallace 1 0 1 (2021)
11 Michael McDowell 1 1 (2021) 0
12 William Byron 1 1 (2020) 0
13 Justin Haley 1 1 (2019) 0
14 Chase Elliott 1 0 1 (2019)
15 Austin Dillon 1 1 (2018) 0
16 Erik Jones 1 1 (2018) 0
17 Kurt Busch 1 1 (2017) 0

 First-Time Winners happen at Talladega Superspeedway

23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace scored his and the organization’s first NASCAR Cup Series career win last season in the October Talladega Superspeedway race. In the process, Wallace became the 12th different driver to get his first career win at the behemoth 2.66-mile superspeedway; joining active drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2017) and Brad Keselowski (2009).

First-Time NASCAR Cup Series Winners at Talladega Superspeedway

First-Time Race Winners (12) Date
Bubba Wallace Monday, October 4, 2021
Ricky Stenhouse Jr Sunday, May 7, 2017
Brad Keselowski Sunday, April 26, 2009
Brian Vickers Sunday, October 8, 2006
Ken Schrader Sunday, July 31, 1988
Phil Parsons Sunday, May 1, 1988
Davey Allison Sunday, May 3, 1987
Bobby Hillin Jr Sunday, July 27, 1986
Ron Bouchard Sunday, August 2, 1981
Lennie Pond Sunday, August 6, 1978
Dick Brooks Sunday, August 12, 1973
Richard Brickhouse Sunday, September 14, 1969

Team Penske could be the organization to beat this weekend at ‘Dega

Over the last 13 NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway, no organization has been stronger than Team Penske, posting eight wins during that span (Brad Keselowski had three wins, Joey Logano had three wins and Ryan Blaney had two wins).

Looking to this weekend, Sunoco rookie Austin Cindric is the 2022 Daytona 500 champion and will be making his series track debut at Talladega. Joey Logano has made 26 series starts at Talladega posting three wins, nine top fives and 11 top 10s. And Ryan Blaney has made 15 series starts at Talladega posting two wins, three top fives and five top 10s.

Path to the top five in points has been quite different for some

Looking at the NASCAR Cup Series 2022 driver point standings following Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt, Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott continues to hold the standings lead by three points over Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney; followed by Joey Logano (-21), William Byron (-29) and Alex Bowman (-51).

All five drivers in the top five in points have taken quite different paths to make it to their current spot in the NASCAR Cup Series points so early in the season. Impressively, all five have earned their way into to the top five over the course of the first nine races of the season; none started the season ranked higher than sixth following Daytona.

Of the drivers currently in the NASCAR Cup Series top five of the driver standings, Hendrick Motorsport’s driver William Byron had to climb the biggest points deficit to earn his current position. Following Daytona, Byron was mired back in the points ranked 35th. Since then, Byron has rallied off two wins (Atlanta, Martinsville; series-high in 2022) scaling the standings up to as high as third, and currently resides in fourth. Looking to this weekend, Byron is looking for his second superspeedway win (Daytona, 2020). The Charlotte, North Carolina native has made eight starts at Talladega posting two top-five finishes. His average finish at Talladega is 19.5. He finished runner-up in this event last season.

Byron’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman made the biggest jump in points following a single event this season of the drivers in the top five in points after he advanced 17 positions following his win at Las Vegas from 23rd to eighth. Since the victory, Bowman has been able to maintain his position and move up to fifth in the standings. This weekend at Talladega, Bowman will be looking to rebound from his performance at the 2.66-mile track last season, where he finished 38th in both races.

Points leader Chase Elliott is the only one of the five still looking for his first win of 2022. The Dawsonville, Georgia native has made 12 starts at Talladega posting one win (2019), four top fives and five top 10s.

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Sunoco Rookie Spotlight: Cindric continues to hold serve in the Sunoco Rookie standings – With nine races under their belts, the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year class has now competed on every track-type they will face this season and through it all, Team Penske’s Austin Cindric still holds the rookie standings lead.

In large part due to his season-opening Daytona 500 win, Austin Cindric has earned 222 points and holds a sizeable 90-point lead in the rookie standings over Front Row Motorsport’s Todd Gilliland in second and a 95-point edge on Wood Brother Racing’s Harrison Burton in third.

Of the three, only Burton has made a Cup Series start at Talladega, making his series career debut at the 2.66-mile track last season. He started 39th and finished 20th. Cindric and Gilliland will be making their series track debuts this weekend.

If Austin Cindric wins this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, he will become the seventh driver in the Modern Era (1972-Present) to win the Daytona 500 and the spring race at Talladega Superspeedway in the same season; joining Jimmie Johnson (2006), Jeff Gordon (2005), Davey Allison (1992), Bill Elliott (1985), Cale Yarborough (1984), Buddy Baker (1980). No driver has won all four superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega in a single season. The closest a driver came to accomplishing the feat was NASCAR Hall of Famer won three of the four (2-4) in 1990 – Derrike Cope won the Daytona 500 in 1990.

Alexander Skarsgård, From the New Film “The Northman,” to Serve as Grand Marshal at ‘Dega – Talladega Superspeedway announced this week that actor Alexander Skarsgård from the new action film The Northman, will serve as the Grand Marshal for Talladega Superspeedway’s GEICO 500 on Sunday, April 24. As part of his responsibilities, Skarsgård will give the command “Drivers, Start Your Engines” for the GEICO 500.

Focus Features will release The Northman two days before on Friday, April 22. From visionary director Robert Eggers, The Northman is an action-filled film that follows a young Viking prince on his quest to avenge his father’s murder.

“Alexander continues the tradition of some of Hollywood’s most notable names being a Grand Marshal here at Talladega Superspeedway, the most competitive and fan-friendly race track on the planet,” said Talladega Superspeedway President Brian Crichton. “Every race fan in the grandstands and infield, as well as those at home watching or listening to the broadcast, will anticipate hearing those famous four words to get the GEICO 500 underway.”

NASCAR Cup Series Featured Matchups: 2022 GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway – Below is a close look at the featured matchups fans can bet on heading into this weekend’s event.

  • 8 – Tyler Reddick vs. 14 – Chase Briscoe

o   Reddick and Briscoe battled wheel-to-wheel for the win last Sunday at Bristol Dirt, with Briscoe throwing a Hail Mary dive into the final corner that led to both drivers spinning – and in turn handing the win to third-place Kyle Busch. The two drivers shook hands and expressed no ill will after the race, but with how well each driver has run this season, it is likely that that will not be the last win the two battle for before season’s end.

o   Both drivers have had mixed results at superspeedways thus far in their short NASCAR Cup Series careers. Briscoe has a 12.5 average finish at Talladega across his Cup career, Reddick has an 18.3

o   Briscoe was in contention to win at Daytona in February – the track that compares most closely to Talladega. Briscoe ran up front throughout the race and finished third.

o   Reddick has a NASCAR Xfinity Series win at Talladega to his credit, which he picked up in Spring 2019 driving for Richard Childress Racing.

  • 23 – Bubba Wallace vs. 11 – Denny Hamlin

o   The master and the student square off this week, as Denny Hamlin, historically one of NASCAR’s best-ever at superspeedways, squares off in a matchup against Bubba Wallace – Hamlin’s 23XI Racing protégé and the most recent Talladega winner.

o   Wallace has been among the sport’s best on superspeedways over the past year and a half. He collected his first NASCAR Cup win at the track last fall and finished second in this past February’s Daytona 500.

o   Hamlin’s superspeedway resume requires no introduction. He is a three-time Daytona 500 winner and two-time Talladega winner and is regularly listed as the betting favorite anytime NASCAR visits a superspeedway.

o   Both drivers will be looking for a rebound this weekend to counter their rough starts to the season. Wallace and Hamlin sit 22nd and 23rd in points heading into Talladega.

  • 6 – Brad Keselowski vs. 22 – Joey Logano

o   Keselowski and Logano are among the most decorated drivers in Talladega’s long history. Keselowski has six wins at the facility, Logano has three.

o   Keselowski picked up his lone win in 2021 at Talladega in the Spring race and led the most laps in this past February’s Daytona 500 while appearing to have the best car in the field. Bad luck and ill-timed moves late in the race cost him an elusive Daytona 500 win.

o   Logano has led 150 laps at Talladega since 2019 – which ranks first across the Cup Series over that span.

  • 9 – Chase Elliott vs. 12 – Ryan Blaney

o   Elliott and Blaney have been the two most consistent drivers in NASCAR in 2022 – as they sit first and second in points respectively heading into the weekend.

o   Both drivers are former Talladega winners – Elliott won the spring race in 2019, while Blaney has collected two wins at the track in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020.

o   Blaney has statistically been one of the best drivers at Talladega in recent seasons. Since 2019, he has led the second-most laps at the facility with 123.

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