NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: GEICO 500
The Place: Talladega Superspeedway
The Date: Sunday, April 25
The Time: 2 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, 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)
Talladega Superspeedway gears up for the NASCAR Cup Series
Known as the most competitive track 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 25 at 2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) should produce just that.
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 Sept. 14, 1969. The first Cup race was won by Richard Brickhouse driving a Dodge for car owner Ray Nichels. The average speed of the first race was 153.778 mph.
The name of the facility changed to Talladega Superspeedway in 1989. And the surface underwent its fourth repaving on Sept. 19, 2006.
In total, there have been 103 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.
Due to the pandemic, this weekend’s starting lineups were determined by Metric Qualifying and as a result Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin will start from the pole and Team Penske’s Joey Logano will join Hamlin on the front row. Hamlin is the most recent winner at Talladega taking the checkered flag from the first starting position last October. In total, 15 of the 103 (14.56%) NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway have been won from the pole or first starting position. 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 (19.42%).
The 103 NASCAR Cup Series races have produced a total of 49 different race winners at Talladega Superspeedway; 25 of the 49 have won multiple times at the 2.66-mile track. Nine of the 49 NASCAR Cup Series Talladega race winners are active this weekend.
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 five victories (2009, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017).
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.
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 85 different drivers have visited Victory Lane at Daytona and Talladega in the NASCAR Cup Series. This weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, nine active drivers have won at the 2.66-mile track and 16 have either won at Daytona or Talladega.
Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski with five victories (2009, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017) leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in Talladega wins. Keselowski is one of 11 different drivers to score his very first NASCAR Cup Series career win at Talladega back in 2009 driving for Phoenix Racing and car owner James Finch.
Over the last 11 Cup races at Talladega, no organization has been stronger than Team Penske, posting seven wins in the last 11 events (Brad Keselowski had two wins, Joey Logano had three wins and Ryan Blaney had two wins).
In total, Brad Keselowski has made 24 series starts at Talladega posting five wins, seven top fives and 11 top 10s. Joey Logano has made 24 series starts at Talladega posting three wins, eight top fives and 10 top 10s. And Ryan Blaney has made 13 series starts at Talladega posting two wins, three top fives and four top 10s.
Hot Streak: Standings leader Denny Hamlin rides wave of top fives
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin continues to build his massive lead in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings riding a hot streak of top fives that has reached eight straight – the longest streak of top-five finishes of his Cup career.
Now the Chesterfield, Virginia native heads to Talladega Superspeedway, a wildcard event he is the most recent driver to master taking the checkered flag last October, to continue his streak of top fives and try to become the ninth different driver to win consecutive races at the 2.66-mile track; joining Pete Hamilton (1970 sweep), Buddy Baker (1975 sweep, 1976), Darrell Waltrip (1982 sweep), Dale Earnhardt (1990, 1993-94, 1999 sweep), Sterling Marlin (1995-96), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2001-2003), Jeff Gordon (2007 sweep) and Ryan Blaney (2019-2020).
If Hamlin finishes in the top-five for the ninth time in the first 10 races of the season he will become the third different driver to accomplish such a feat in the NASCAR Cup Series; joining NASCAR Hall of Famers Cale Yarborough (1974) and Darrell Waltrip (1979).
NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough holds the NASCAR Cup Series record for the most consecutive top-five finishes to start a season with nine straight in the first nine races of the 1974 season.
This season, Hamlin has made nine starts and has put up eight top fives (series-most among active drivers) and an average finish of 4.2 (series-best among active drivers). He has also led a quarter of the laps run this season (694 laps led; 26.75% of laps run).
At Talladega, Hamlin has made 30 series starts posting two wins (2014, 2020) nine top fives (series-most among active drivers) and 13 top 10s.
Playoff Picture: Eight winners, eight spots still open
Hendrick Motorsport’s Alex Bowman snatched the win from Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin last weekend at Richmond Raceway to become the eighth different winner in nine races this season in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Bowman has now locked himself into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and added his name to the list of contenders in the NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway (June 13). With eight winners already in the books that leaves eight postseason spots still up for grabs as the series heads to one of the wildest events on the schedule, the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway (Sunday, April 25 at 2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
All eight of the drivers currently in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff outlook without a win this season have won at Daytona or Talladega previously. Brad Keselowski (five Talladega wins), Denny Hamlin (two Talladega wins), Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (each have one Talladega win) have all won at Talladega and are looking for their first win this season. Austin Dillon and Kurt Busch have each won at Daytona.
NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
The Mighty Vulcan Trophy Awaits Talladega Superspeedway’s GEICO 500 Winner – It stands more than 38 inches tall, weighs over 130 pounds, and is called the Vulcan Trophy. Talladega Superspeedway’s tradition (that started in fall of 2016) is a locally made piece and will be found in Victory Lane after the checkered flag falls on Sunday’s GEICO 500 NASCAR Cup Series race
The trophy is a hand-made, miniature version of the colossal Vulcan statue – a 56-foot-tall structure fastened to a 124-foot platform that stands tall over the city of Birmingham, Alabama – just 45 minutes west of the race track. It is the largest cast-iron statue in the world and is the main attraction at Birmingham’s Vulcan Park Museum (www.visitvulcan.com).
Each trophy is handcrafted by local artists from Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, pouring hot iron into a created cast, then chiseled to perfection.
Team Penske driver Joey Logano was the inaugural recipient of the Vulcan Trophy after his triumph in the fall of 2016. “I was pumped to be the first driver to win one,” Logano said. “Trophies are one of the best parts of what we do, and some of them are just cooler and more special because of what they are. Talladega Superspeedway nailed it when they had the Vulcan Trophy made.”
Live Fast Motorsports Honors NASCAR Hall of Famer Red Farmer at Talladega – This weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, Live Fast Motorsports will honor NASCAR Hall of Famer Red Farmer, adorning the No. 78 in Farmer’s Long-Lewis Ford paint scheme.
“Racing and Red Farmer have been a part of the Long-Lewis heritage for more than 50 years and so has the strong friendship between Vaughn Burrell and Red,” said Todd Ouellette, Owner and President of Long-Lewis Auto Group. “To have these two legends actually at the Talladega race on Sunday watching our Cup Series car run in honor of that relationship, will be a day I will never forget! I cannot wait!”
Long-Lewis started sponsoring Farmer in 1962, and the iconic gold and white paint scheme will hit the high banks at the superspeedway once again for Sunday’s race in the Geico 500.
“It’s nice to have Long-Lewis on the 78 car this weekend,” said Charles ‘Red’ Farmer. “I’ve had that gold and white car since 1955 and Long-Lewis started sponsoring me in ’62 and have been on my car ever since. Talladega is a great place for me, I call it my home-town track. I won two ARCA 500’s on that track and a bunch of others. Glad to see a cup team running my colors again there.”
“It’s so important to look back and reflect on the history of our sport, especially as being one of the newest teams in NASCAR,” said team owner Matt Tifft. “There are no more legendary than that of Red Farmer and his dedication to this sport that put NASCAR on the map.”
NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie Update – Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe continues to hold a big lead (+54 points) on fellow Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender and Front Row Motorsport’s driver Anthony Alfredo in the rookie standings through nine races this season.
Both drivers are still finding their footing this season. Though nine races Briscoe has posted an average finish of 22.7 and Alfredo has an average finish of 29.1.
Both drivers will be making their NASCAR Cup Series track debut this weekend at Talladega. And both have previous experience at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Briscoe has made four Xfinity Series starts at Talladega posting one top-five finish (fourth) and an average finish of 14.2. Alfredo has made two Xfinity Series starts at Talladega posting one top-10 finish (sixth) and an average finish of 9.0.
Front Row Motorsport’s Michael McDowell looking for another trop to Victory Lane – The NASCAR Cup Series started competing at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway twice a year at each track in 1970. Since then, no driver has ever swept all four-season races at Daytona and Talladega. Only twice has a driver won three of the four season races at Daytona and Talladega in the NASCAR Cup Series – Pete Hamilton accomplished the feat in 1970 winning the Daytona 500 and both races at Talladega that year. Bobby Allison spoiled Hamilton’s four race sweep by winning the summer Daytona race. The second time it happened was in 1990 when NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt won both races at Talladega and the summer Daytona race. Earnhardt almost swept all four in 1990, he led a race high 155 laps in 1990 Daytona 500 and was coming to the checkered flag for the win when his tire blew in Turns 3 and 4 allowing Derrick Cope to pass him for the win.
This weekend, Michael McDowell has the opportunity to become the ninth different driver in the NASCAR Cup Series to win the Daytona 500 and go on to win the first race of the season at Talladega Superspeedway; joining Pete Hamilton (1970), Buddy Baker (1980), Cale Yarborough (1984), Bill Elliott (1985), Davey Allison (1992), Jeff Gordon (2005) and Jimmie Johnson (2006).
McDowell has made 20 series starts at Talladega posting a best finish of fifth in 2019.
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