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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 driver Jimmie 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.

  • Kevin Harvick: Would clinch with 52 points
  • Denny Hamlin: Would clinch with 54 points
  • 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.

  • Kevin Harvick: Would clinch with 48 points
  • Denny Hamlin: Would clinch with 51 points
  • Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Chase Elliott: Could only clinch with help
  • 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:

  • 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
Rank Driver Points Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts from Cutoff
1 Kurt Busch (P) 3,041 30 1 1 6 In On Wins
2 Kevin Harvick (P) 3,104 30 9 7 67 61
3 Denny Hamlin (P) 3,101 30 6 9 49 58
4 Brad Keselowski (P) 3,059 30 4 7 35 16
5 Martin Truex Jr. (P) 3,058 30 1 4 16 15
6 Joey Logano (P) 3,054 30 2 6 22 11
7 Chase Elliott (P) 3,053 30 2 8 22 10
8 Alex Bowman (P) 3,052 30 1 4 9 9
9 Kyle Busch (P) 3,043 30 0 2 4 -9
10 Clint Bowyer (P) 3,032 30 0 3 4 -20
11 Aric Almirola (P) 3,025 30 0 2 5 -27
12 Austin Dillon (P) 3,020 29 1 0 5 -32
13 Ryan Blaney 2,098 30 1 3 13 Eliminated from the Playoffs
14 Matt DiBenedetto 2,092 30 0 0 0
15 Cole Custer 2,088 30 1 0 5
16 William Byron 2,075 30 1 2 7

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 Talladega due 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."

Ticket Capacity Reached for Talladega - Talladega Superspeedway officials announced today that the socially distanced grandstand and tower ticket capacity has been reached for Sunday’s YellaWood 500 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race. A very limited number of camping spaces remain available for purchase in the track’s famous infield for guests with self-contained RVs. Those interested in camping possibilities for the weekend are encouraged to act quickly by calling 1-877-Go2-DEGA.

Ford Playoff Talladega Wins Streak - No other manufacturer has spent more time in Victory

Ford Talladega Playoff Win Streak
OEM Season Playoff Race Winners
Ford 2014 Brad Keselowski
Ford 2015 Joey Logano
Ford 2016 Joey Logano
Ford 2017 Brad Keselowski
Ford 2018 Aric Almirola
Ford 2019 Ryan Blaney

Lane at Talladega Superspeedway in the last 16 NASCAR Cup Series races than Ford – who has collected 12 of the last 16 checkered flags at the 2.66-mile track (75%). This weekend the Ford drivers will have the chance to keep the OEM’s postseason winning streak of the last six consecutive Playoff races alive. Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney has won the last two consecutive races at Talladega (2019-2020) in a Ford.

For Blaney third time is the charm - Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney joined the list of consecutive Talladega winners after winning the 2019 Playoff race and the 2020 June race. Now Blaney is looking to become just the third different driver to win three or more consecutive Cup races at Talladega; joining Buddy Baker (1975 sweep, 1976 May race) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2001-2003).

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Briscoe becomes Round of 8 bound as ‘Dega looms

The NASCAR Xfinity Series returned to Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend, where Chase Briscoe was victorious, once again, and clinched his spot in the Round of 8 of the Playoffs.

Briscoe’s win marked the eighth of the season for him and the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford team. Briscoe is the eighth different driver in series history to win eight or more races in a single season, and to boot, it is the second time this season that he won back-to-back races. He also swept the Las Vegas Motor Speedway race weekends in 2020, winning back in February too.

Briscoe’s dominance as not been surprising though, as he and his Ford teammate Austin Cindric, have won a large portion of the races (13) this season.

This weekend, the series heads to Talladega Superspeedway for the Ag-Pro 300 (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) on Saturday, October 3 to kick off a string of "Wild Card" races to end the season.

Expecting the unexpected is part of the game when racing at Talladega but Briscoe gets to head into the race weekend with a little less worry than the rest of the Playoff field fighting to make it to the next round.

Another driver looking forward to this weekend at Talladega is, Justin Haley, driver of the No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet, the Playoff contender won at the Alabama track earlier this season. His Kaulig Racing teammate Ross Chastain finished behind him in second.

Cindric finished fourth earlier this season at Talladega and Noah Gragson finished 10th. The four of them were the only current Playoff drivers to finish in the top 10.

Taking a closer look at Talladega

Going through past NASCAR Xfinity Series performances at the track, it is no wonder so many competitors call this event a ‘wildcard’. Talladega Superspeedway is unlike anything else the series competes on.

The giant raceway is a 2.66-mile high-banked paved track located in Talladega, Alabama. The track has 33 degrees of banking in corners with 16.5 degrees of banking on the frontstretch and two degrees of banking on the backstretch. The frontstretch is 4,300 feet and the backstretch is 4,000 feet.

Talladega has hosted 29 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts dating back inaugural event on July25, 1992. The first Xfinity race at Talladega was by Ernie Irvan in the No. 4 Chevrolet that he owned. The 29 Xfinity races at Talladega have produced 21 different pole winners and 24 different race winners. Martin Truex Jr. leads the series in wins at the track with three victories and Joe Nemechek leads the series in poles with five. Nemechek is also tied with Joey Logano for the most top fives (seven) and Nemechek holds the record for the most top 10s (nine).

NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin holds the Xfinity Series race record at the track at 168.937 mph on April 26, 1997.

Three times in series history the race winner has only led one lap, most recently in 2018 when Spencer Gallagher won.

Chevrolet has the most wins by a manufacturer with 16 and Joe Gibbs has the most wins as a car owners with five.

Only two of 28 races have been won from the pole (1998, 2008).

This weekend’s race will be 300.58 miles and 113 laps with Stage 1 ending on Lap 25 and Stage 2 ending on Lap 50. Chase Briscoe will lead the field to green with Gragson joining him on the front row.

Clinch Scenarios: Getting wild at ‘Dega

With two races left in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff Round of 12, Chase Briscoe is the only driver as of now that has clinched a spot in the eight-driver field of the next round of the Xfinity Series Playoffs, leaving seven spots still up for grabs.

Can clinch via Points

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

  • Austin Cindric, Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, Justin Haley
  • Brandon Jones: Could only clinch with help

If there is a repeat winner, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points about the seventh winless driver in the standings. They would also clinch if there was a new winner among Austin Cindric, Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, Justin Haley, Brandon Jones, or Ryan Sieg and being 56 points above the sixth winless driver in the standings.

  • Austin Cindric, Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, Justin Haley, Brandon Jones
  • Ryan Sieg: Could only clinch with help

Can clinch via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone:

  • Austin Cindric, Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, Justin Haley, Brandon Jones, Ryan Sieg, Harrison Burton, Ross Chastain, Michael Annett, Riley Herbst, and Brandon Brown

NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff Outlook following Las Vegas:

Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts from Cutoff
1 Chase Briscoe 2,110 8 7 57 In On Wins
2 Austin Cindric 2,093 5 10 50 53
3 Noah Gragson 2,076 2 8 25 36
4 Justin Allgaier 2,068 3 12 33 28
5 Justin Haley 2,054 2 3 18 14
6 Brandon Jones 2,053 3 2 20 13
7 Ryan Sieg 2,049 0 2 2 9
8 Harrison Burton # 2,042 2 0 14 2
9 Ross Chastain 2,040 0 2 10 -2
10 Michael Annett 2,032 0 0 2 -10
11 Riley Herbst # 2,028 0 0 1 -14
12 Brandon Brown 2,022 0 0 0 -20

Talladega numbers for Playoff drivers

Below is a look at the NASCAR Xfinity Series Round of 12 Playoff drivers at Talladega Superspeedway (in order of seeding):

Chase Briscoe has three starts at Talladega with one top five and one top 10 to his name. His best finish was at the fall race in 2019 in fourth. Earlier this season, he started fourth but finished 18th after leading 15 laps. He has an average start of 9.7 and an average finish of 12.7.

Austin Cindric also has three starts at the track with a best finish of fourth coming earlier this season. He has two top fives and two top 10s at the track with 11 laps led in total. He has an average start of 11.7 and an average finish of 13.0.

Noah Gragson will make his fourth start at Talladega on Saturday. He has one top five and two top 10s at the track. Earlier this season, he finished 10th and in his debut in 2018, he finished fourth. He’s led 38 laps and has an average finish of 8.3.

Justin Allgaier will make his 11th start at the track this weekend. He has three top fives and six top 10s with 78 laps led total. In his last two starts at the track, he was involved in wrecks and ended up finishing 28th. However, prior to that he had six top-10 finishes in a row from 2011 to 2018. His best finish was runner-up in 2016.

Justin Haley has only two starts at the track in the series with one win (2020) and one top 10. He led 16 laps earlier this season en route to his win and also started from the pole. He has an average finish of 4.0 and an average start of 3.0.

Saturday will be Brandon Jones' sixth start at Talladega. He has one top five and one top 10 at the track. His best finish of second was in 2018. His average start is 11.0 and average finish is 18.2. He’s led 37 laps at the track, too. Earlier this season, he started sixth but finish 16th.

Ryan Sieg will be making his eighth start this weekend at Talladega. He has a best finish of sixth in 2018. Earlier this season, he started third but finished 30th after an on-track issue. His average start is 21.9 and average finish is 19.0.

Rookie Harrison Burton will make his second career start at Talladega on Saturday. He made his debut earlier this season and started from the 11th position but was involved in a crash that had him finishing in 32nd.

Ross Chastain has six starts at Talladega with one top five and one top 10. He’s led 32 laps and completed 93 percent of laps attempted. His best finish was runner-up earlier this season after starting ninth.

This weekend will be Michael Annett’s ninth Talladega start. He has one top 10 to his name, which came in 2017, when he finished seventh. He has an average start of 12.2 and an average finish of 21.2. Earlier this season, he started second and finished 12th.

Rookie Riley Herbst will make his second start at the track this weekend. He made his debut at Talladega earlier this season when he started 22nd and finished 37th after being involved in a wreck.

Brandon Brown has two starts to his name at Talladega. He finished 11th earlier this year after starting 15th. He has an average finish of 13th.

Welcome to the fast lane, TikTok

JD Motorsports with Gary Keller and NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Ryan Vargas announced the start of a new, iconic partnership with TikTok, the fastest growing social media platform of the decade.

TikTok and Vargas have partnered for the remainder of the 2020 season. Vargas has competed in three Xfinity Series races this season for JD Motorsports at Pocono Raceway, Kansas Speedway and Darlington Raceway. He also made three starts for the team in 2019 at Iowa Speedway, Road America and Phoenix Raceway.

Vargas, 20, has made a name for himself through his various social media engagements. He is a member of the 2018-19 NASCAR Next Class and when he isn’t piloting a car for the team, he is helping behind the scenes in the garage, at the shop and on pit road.

Vargas is an alum of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program and won the Wendell Scott Trailblazer award which is presented to an outstanding minority or female driver who displays exceptional on-track performance, sportsmanship and community service.

The TikTok No. 6 Chevrolet Camaro will make its debut this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway through the season finale at Phoenix Raceway.

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series

Elimination approaches at Talladega

Hattori Racing Enterprises’ Austin Hill rebounded last Friday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, using a final restart in the World of Westgate 200 to earn his first Playoff win of 2020. Hill started 11th and after a rough weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway prior, his eyes were on a win in Sin City.

Hill won this race last season, too, so he had that momentum on his side. Hill bested Sheldon Creed, who led a race-best 89 of 134 laps but ended up finishing runner-up.

Tanner Gray had a career night, finishing third, followed by Stewart Friesen and Chandler Smith. Playoff drivers Grant Enfinger, Zane Smith, Christian Eckes, Matt Crafton and Tyler Ankrum rounded out the top 10.

As far as the rest of the Playoff contenders go, Todd Gilliland finished 13th, Brett Moffitt was 15th and Ben Rhodes finished 23rd.

The Chevrolet Silverado 250 on Saturday (1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be the final Round of 10 race, giving drivers one last chance to clinch their spot in the next round.

Saturday’s race will be 250.04 miles and 94 laps with Stage 1 ending on Lap 20 and Stage 2 ending on Lap 40.

Creed will lead the field to green with Hill joining him on the front row.

Clinch scenarios: ‘Dega drama

With Talladega as this season’s Round of 10 cutoff race, only Austin Hill has officially clinched a spot in the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs with his win last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Keep in mind, non-Playoff driver Sam Mayer took the checkered in Bristol as a result seven spots are still available.

Can clinch via Points

If there is a new winner, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the seventh winless driver in the standings

  • Sheldon Creed: Would clinch with 10 points
  • Brett Moffitt: Would clinch with 18 points
  • Zane Smith: Would clinch with 23 points
  • Grant Enfinger: Would clinch with 31 points
  • Tyler Ankrum and Matt Crafton: Would clinch with 47 points
  • Christian Eckes, Ben Rhodes and Todd Gilliland: Could only clinch with help

If there is a repeat winner, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the eighth winless driver in the standings. They would also clinch if there was a new winner among Sheldon Creed, Brett Moffitt, Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger, Tyler Ankrum, Matt Crafton or Christian Eckes and being ahead of the seventh winless driver in the standings.

  • Sheldon Creed: Would clinch with three points
  • Brett Moffitt: Would clinch with 12 points
  • Zane Smith: Would clinch with 17 points
  • Grant Enfinger: Would clinch with 25 points
  • Tyler Ankrum and Matt Crafton: Would clinch with 41 points
  • Christian Eckes: Would clinch with 50 points
  • Ben Rhodes and Todd Gilliland: Could only clinch with help

Can clinch via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone.

  • Sheldon Creed, Brett Moffitt, Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger, Tyler Ankrum, Matt Crafton, Christian Eckes, Ben Rhodes and Todd Gilliland

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Playoff Outlook following Las Vegas:

Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts from Cutoff
1 Austin Hill 2,076 2 2 27 In On Wins
2 Sheldon Creed 2,115 3 7 28 52
3 Brett Moffitt 2,107 0 6 16 44
4 Zane Smith # 2,102 2 5 22 39
5 Grant Enfinger 2,094 3 1 19 31
6 Tyler Ankrum 2,078 0 1 3 15
7 Matt Crafton 2,078 1 0 9 15
8 Christian Eckes # 2,069 0 0 5 6
9 Ben Rhodes 2,063 1 1 14 -6
10 Todd Gilliland 2,050 0 2 3 -19

Breaking down the Talladega numbers

Here’s a look at how the Gander Truck Playoff drivers have fared in previous events at Talladega Superspeedway:

Austin Hill heads to Talladega with three previous starts to his name. He has a best finish of sixth, which came last season after starting 13th. He has two top 10s and an average finish of 12.7. He’s led 10 laps total and has an average start of 15.0. His track debut was in 2015 and he finished 22nd.

Sheldon Creed will make his second career start at the track on Saturday. His debut was last season for GMS Racing and he started fifth and finished ninth. He also led 20 laps en route to his first top-10 finish at Talladega.

Brett Moffitt has two starts at Talladega and will make his third start on Saturday afternoon. He has one top five and one top 10 with seven laps led. Last season, he finished fourth after starting eighth. In 2018, he made his debut at the track in the series and finished 17th.

Zane Smith has never made a start in his career at Talladega Superspeedway so Saturday will be his series debut.

Grant Enfinger heads to the track for the seventh time this weekend. He has one win, two top fives and three top 10s under his belt. His win came in 2016 for GMS Racing after starting in the second position. Last season, he finished in 10th for ThorSport Racing. He’s the only current Playoff driver with a win at the track to his advantage. He has an average start of 10.5, an average finish of 11.3 and has led 96 laps around the track.

Tyler Ankrum, like Creed, will make his second start at Talladega. He started second in 2019 and finished seventh. He led six laps for DGR-Crosley.

Veteran Matt Crafton will make his 15th start on Saturday afternoon, the most of any other Playoff driver. He has one top five and five top 10s in his 14 starts with 58 laps led. He has an average start of 13.1 and an average finish of 16.2. Last season, he started on the pole and finished eighth.

Christian Eckes will also make his debut at Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday.

Ben Rhodes has four starts at Talladega. He has a best finish of 12th that came last season after starting 15th. He has an average start of 16.9. and an average finish of 18.8.

Todd Gilliland will make his third Gander Trucks career start on Saturday for Front Row Motorsports. Last season, he finished runner-up to Enfinger. In both of his starts, he led laps, but he ended up 20th in his 2018 debut due to a crash. He has an average start of 6.0 and an average finish of 11.0.

NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, Etc.

Cobb planning double duty weekend: Jennifer Jo Cobb is gearing up for a busy weekend of racing ahead. Cobb will run the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway before heading to Blytheville, Arkansas for some land speed racing at the East Coast Timing Association’s Horsepower Harvest event. Cobb is celebrating her 10th full-time season as the only female driver/owner in any of the top three series. Cobb will run the No. 10 Fastener Supply Company Silverado on Saturday. On Friday, in Arkansas, she will pilot the 2018 Attends Ford Fusion, a former NASCAR stock car, for Aaron Brown’s The Garage Shop. She hopes to set the record for the fastest woman ever in a NASCAR stock car at any event.

Gus Dean return to Gander Trucks with Hill Motorsports: Gus Dean will return to the Gander Trucks this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, the scene and the site of his 2016 ARCA Menards Series victory. MASHONIT Apparel Co. will be on track with Dean. He will also proudly honor officer Corey Whelihan. His badge will be showcased on the No. 56 Chevrolet Silverado and his name will be above the passenger door.

— NASCAR —