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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 3
The Time: 2 p.m. ET
TV: NBC, 1 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
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: Sparks 300 at Talladega
The Place: Talladega Superspeedway
The Date: Saturday, October 2
The Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 4 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
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 Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: Chevrolet Silverado 250
The Place: Talladega Superspeedway
The Date: Saturday, October 2
The Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 12 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
Distance: 250.04 miles (94 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 20),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 94)

 NASCAR Cup Series

Unpredictable Talladega Superspeedway Playoff weekend arrives

Known as one of the biggest hurdles in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, Talladega Superspeedway opens the gates and unleashes the postseason contenders to battle it out in Sunday’s YellaWood 500 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90). Expect the unexpected in this weekend’s event at Talladega as it is literally anyone’s to win and with the stakes so high and the Playoff standings so tight, the competition could reach new heights.

This season marks the fifth consecutive year Talladega Superspeedway will host the fifth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2017-2021) – 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 (2004 – 2014) and Kansas Speedway (2015 – 2016). The 2.66-mile track is the largest paved oval the series competes on with 33 degrees of banking in the turns.

Talladega Superspeedway has participated in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs since its inception into the series in 2004 and has occupied five different spots on the postseason schedule. Talladega has hosted the third race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2004 – 2005); the fourth race (2006 – 2008 and 2012); the fifth race (2017-2021); the sixth race (2011, 2013 – 2016); and the seventh race (2009 – 2010).

A total of 13 different drivers have won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races at Talladega Superspeedway; five of the 13 are active this weekend. Brad Keselowski (2017, 2014), Clint Bowyer (2010-2011), Jamie McMurray (2009, 2013) and Joey Logano (2015-2016) lead the NASCAR Cup Series in Playoff wins at Talladega Superspeedway with two postseason victories each.

Talladega Superspeedway Playoff Race Winners
Track Race Winner Date
Talladega Denny Hamlin Sunday, October 4, 2020
Talladega Ryan Blaney Sunday, October 13, 2019
Talladega Aric Almirola Sunday, October 14, 2018
Talladega Brad Keselowski Sunday, October 15, 2017
Talladega Joey Logano Sunday, October 23, 2016
Talladega Joey Logano Sunday, October 25, 2015
Talladega Brad Keselowski Sunday, October 19, 2014
Talladega Jamie McMurray Sunday, October 20, 2013
Talladega Matt Kenseth Sunday, October 7, 2012
Talladega Clint Bowyer Sunday, October 23, 2011
Talladega Clint Bowyer Sunday, October 31, 2010
Talladega Jamie McMurray Sunday, November 1, 2009
Talladega Tony Stewart Sunday, October 5, 2008
Talladega Jeff Gordon Sunday, October 7, 2007
Talladega Brian Vickers Sunday, October 8, 2006
Talladega Dale Jarrett Sunday, October 2, 2005
Talladega Dale Earnhardt Jr Sunday, October 3, 2004

 

During the NASCAR Cup Series 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). Last season’s Talladega Playoff race winner Denny Hamlin finished the season fourth in the final standings.

A total of 13 different drivers have won the NASCAR Cup Series fifth race in the Playoffs; six of the 13 are active this weekend. Jimmie Johnson leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins during the fifth race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with three victories (2004, 2005, 2009 – all at Charlotte Motor Speedway).

 

NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Race No. 5 Winners
Track Race Winner Date
Talladega Denny Hamlin Sunday, October 4, 2020
Talladega Ryan Blaney Sunday, October 13, 2019
Talladega Aric Almirola Sunday, October 14, 2018
Talladega Brad Keselowski Sunday, October 15, 2017
Kansas Kevin Harvick Sunday, October 16, 2016
Kansas Joey Logano Sunday, October 18, 2015
Charlotte Kevin Harvick Saturday, October 11, 2014
Charlotte Brad Keselowski Saturday, October 12, 2013
Charlotte Clint Bowyer Saturday, October 13, 2012
Charlotte Matt Kenseth Saturday, October 15, 2011
Charlotte Jamie McMurray Saturday, October 16, 2010
Charlotte Jimmie Johnson Saturday, October 17, 2009
Charlotte Jeff Burton Saturday, October 11, 2008
Charlotte Jeff Gordon Saturday, October 13, 2007
Charlotte Kasey Kahne Saturday, October 14, 2006
Charlotte Jimmie Johnson Saturday, October 15, 2005
Charlotte Jimmie Johnson Saturday, October 16, 2004

 

Twice the winner of the fifth race in the Playoffs has gone on to win the title later that season; both happening at Charlotte Motor Speedway (2004-2014). In 2009, Jimmie Johnson won the fifth race of the Playoffs from the pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway 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 of 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 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway by a driver that went on to win the title that same season was 24th by Jimmie Johnson in 2006. Last season’s champ, Chase Elliott finished fifth in the fifth race of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs at Talladega Superspeedway. 

Five times a non-Playoff driver has won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway:

  • In 2005, 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 Playoffs:

  • 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, there have been 104 NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway, one Cup event in 1969, and two races per year since 1970. Among the 104 events, the track has hosted 17 Playoff races in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Overall, 44 different drivers have qualified on the pole at Talladega Superspeedway, 23 of the 44 have done it multiple times and six of the 44 NASCAR Cup Series pole winners at Talladega are active this weekend.

 

Active Pole Winners Poles Seasons
Chase Elliott 2 2019, ’16
Kevin Harvick 2 2018, ’05
Austin Dillon 1 2019
Kurt Busch 1 2018
Ricky Stenhouse Jr 1 2017
Martin Truex Jr 1 2016

 

NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott lead the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Talladega Superspeedway with eight (1985 sweep, 1986 sweep, 1987 sweep, spring 1990 and fall 1993). Kevin Harvick (2005, 2018) and Chase Elliott (2016, 2019) lead all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in poles at Talladega with two each.

This weekend’s starting lineups was decided by Metric Qualifying and as a result Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin will start on the pole and Kyle Busch will join him on the front row.

The 104 Cup races at Talladega have also produced 49 different NASCAR Cup Series winners at the 2.66-mile track. NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in wins at Talladega with 10 victories (1983, 1984, 1990 sweep, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1999 sweep and 2000).

Nine of the 49 NASCAR Cup Series race winners at Talladega Superspeedway are active this weekend, led by Brad Keselowski leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in wins at Talladega Superspeedway with six victories (2009, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2021); followed by Joey Logano with three wins (2015, 2016, 2018).

 

Active Race Winners Wins Seasons
Brad Keselowski 6 2021, ’17, ’16, ’14, ’12, ’09
Joey Logano 3 2018, ’16, ’15
Denny Hamlin 2 2020, ’14
Ryan Blaney 2 2020, ’19
Chase Elliott 1 2019
Aric Almirola 1 2018
Ricky Stenhouse Jr 1 2017
Kevin Harvick 1 2010
Kyle Busch 1 2008

 

Clinch Scenarios: Trying to advance at Talladega

Just two races left for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff challengers in the Round of 12 to secure their spot in the Round of 8. Denny Hamlin, with his win last weekend at Las Vegas, is the only driver locked into the next round, leaving seven spots still up for grabs as the series heads to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the YellaWood 500 (Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) the fifth race of the 2021 postseason.

Already Clinched

The following driver has clinched a spot in the eight-driver field of the next round: Denny Hamlin.

Can clinch via points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 7th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott or Joey Logano.

  • Kyle Larson: Would clinch with 54 points (55 points if Joey Logano wins)
  • Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano: Could only clinch with help this weekend.

If there is a new winner from Brad Keselowski or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 6th winless driver in the standings.

  • Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano: Could only clinch with help this weekend.

Can clinch via win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, William Byron, Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell

 

NASCAR Cup Series Driver Playoffs Outlook Following Race No. 30
Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Denny Hamlin (P) 3,082 2 10 30 In On Wins
2 Kyle Larson (P) 3,096 6 15 60 57
3 Kyle Busch (P) 3,074 2 5 22 35
4 Martin Truex Jr. (P) 3,070 4 5 29 31
5 Ryan Blaney (P) 3,063 3 4 24 24
6 Chase Elliott (P) 3,061 2 3 21 22
7 Joey Logano (P) 3,045 1 5 13 6
8 Brad Keselowski (P) 3,043 1 2 8 4
9 William Byron (P) 3,039 1 3 14 -4
10 Kevin Harvick (P) 3,036 0 0 2 -7
11 Alex Bowman (P) 3,030 3 0 15 -13
12 Christopher Bell (P) 3,018 1 0 5 -25
13 Tyler Reddick 2,118 0 3 3 Eliminated from the Playoffs
14 Kurt Busch 2,104 1 3 8
15 Aric Almirola 2,093 1 0 5
16 Michael McDowell 2,044 1 0 5

Denny Hamlin can rest easy the next two weeks

The one driver resting easy over these next two weeks of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs is Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin, who secured his spot in the Round of 8 by winning the opening race to the Round of 12 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. This is the sixth time in his NASCAR Cup Series career he has advanced out of the second round of the Playoffs (2014, ’16, ’17, ’19, ’20, ’21). Now the 40-year-old from Chesterfield, Virginia, can focus on racking up more Playoff points and wins with little regard for his postseason status; which doesn’t bode well for the competition as he is also the defending winner of last season’s Talladega Playoff race.

This season, Denny Hamlin has posted two wins (Darlington, Las Vegas), 16 top fives and 21 top 10s. His average starting position this season is 7.1 and his average finish is 8.3. He has led the second-most laps this season at 1,366 laps led; his second consecutive season and fifth season overall in his Cup career he led more than a 1,000 laps in a season. He is also ranked second in season-to-date Driver Rating with a 110.3; just behind series leader Kyle Larson at 111.6.

Hamlin is one of nine active drivers this weekend at Talladega with a previous victory at 2.66-mile facility. He has made 31 series career starts at Talladega posting two wins (2014, 2020 Playoff race), nine top fives and 13 top 10s. He has also led 389 laps at Talladega – second-most among active drivers.

Playoff Bubble: Round of 12 provides plenty of unpredictability

While the unpredictability of the close quarters racing at Talladega, or the twists and turns of the Charlotte ROVAL are enough to keep the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff teams up at night, they should find some solace in knowing it could be those same track attributes that help get them to Victory Lane over these next two weekends.

Since the inception of the elimination-style format in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in 2014, the driver that wins at Talladega Superspeedway in the postseason has clinched a needed spot in the next round in six of the seven races held (2014-2020). Joey Logano in 2015 is the lone winner at Talladega since 2014 that had already clinched his spot in the next round prior to competing at the 2.66-mile track – Logano swept the Round of 12 in 2015 winning all three races that season (Charlotte, Kansas, Talladega).

Talladega Superspeedway Playoff Race Winners Since 2014
Track Race Winner Clinch Status Heading Into ‘Dega Date
Talladega Denny Hamlin 2nd in Points Sunday, October 4, 2020
Talladega Ryan Blaney 12th in Points Sunday, October 13, 2019
Talladega Aric Almirola 9th in Points Sunday, October 14, 2018
Talladega Brad Keselowski 10th in Points Sunday, October 15, 2017
Talladega Joey Logano 8th in Points Sunday, October 23, 2016
Talladega Joey Logano Clinched On Wins Sunday, October 25, 2015
Talladega Brad Keselowski 10th in Points Sunday, October 19, 2014

 

This weekend, William Byron (ninth), Kevin Harvick (10th), Alex Bowman (11th) and Christopher Bell (12th) find themselves south of the NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8 cutline as they head into this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron (3,039 points) is currently just four points back from Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski (3,043 points) in eighth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs standings – the final transfer spot to the Round of 8. Byron posted his best finish at Talladega back in April when he finished runner-up to Keselowski. Byron is looking to advance out of the second round of the Cup Playoffs for the first time in his career.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick (3,036 points) is seven points back from the Playoffs’ Round of 8 cutoff. Harvick is one of nine drivers with former wins at the track but hasn’t been to Victory Lane at Talladega since 2010. Harvick has advanced out of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs’ Round of 12 in every postseason since the inception of the elimination-style format in 2014, and is looking to make it eight consecutive seasons this year.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman (3,030 points) in 14th is 13 points back from the Playoffs’ Round of 8 cutline. Bowman has yet to win at Talladega but has posted a best finish of runner-up in (April) 2019.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell in his first appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs finds himself in the 12th and last position in the Round of 12 standings. Bell has yet to win at Talladega, but in his three series career starts at the 2.66-mile track he has posted a best finish of 17th earlier this season.

Cup Series’ Playoff Dozen at ‘Dega

Seven of the nine active NASCAR Cup Series Talladega Superspeedway winners entered this weekend are still in the Playoffs vying for a shot at the title. Below is a look at the Playoff dozen their career NASCAR Cup Series statistics at Talladega.

Drivers are ordered by current Playoff Round of 12 standings position:

Kyle Larson (No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) has made 13 series starts at Talladega posting two top-10 finishes. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 23.5. His pre-race driver rating at Talladega is 73.9.

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) has made 3 series starts at Talladega posting two wins, nine top fives and 13 top 10s. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 17.2. His pre-race driver rating at Talladega is 83.8.

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) has made 32 series starts at Talladega posting one win, six top fives and eight top 10s. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 20.8. His pre-race driver rating at Talladega is 81.5.

Martin Truex Jr. (No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) has made 33 series starts at Talladega posting two top fives and eight top 10s. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 21.8. His pre-race driver rating at Talladega is 76.2.

Ryan Blaney (No. 12 Team Penske Ford) has made 14 series starts at Talladega posting two wins, three top fives and five top 10s. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 17.4. His pre-race driver rating at Talladega is 91.1

Chase Elliott (No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) has made 11 series starts at Talladega posting one win, four top fives and five top 10s. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 15.7 (second-best among Playoff drivers). His pre-race driver rating at Talladega is 88.1.

Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford) has made 25 series starts at Talladega posting three wins, eight top fives and 10 top 10s. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 17.5. His pre-race driver rating at Talladega is 90.9.

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Team Penske Ford) has made 25 series starts at Talladega posting six wins (series-most among active drivers), eight top fives and 12 top 10s; including his first career Cup win. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 15.6 (series-best among Playoff drivers). His pre-race driver rating at Talladega is 91.0.

William Byron (No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) has made seven series starts at Talladega posting two top fives. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 17.1. His pre-race driver rating at Talladega is 85.7.

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) has made 41 series starts at Talladega (series-most among active drivers) posting one win, eight top fives and 17 top 10s. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 15.8 (third-best among Playoff drivers). His pre-race driver rating at Talladega is 80.5.

Alex Bowman (No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet) has made 12 series starts at Talladega posting one top five and three top 10s. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 24.6. His pre-race driver rating at Talladega is 73.1.

Christopher Bell (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) has made three series starts at Talladega (fewest among Playoff drivers) posting a career-best finish of 17th earlier this season. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 28.3. His pre-race driver rating at Talladega is 60.8.

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Pre-Race dignitaries announced for this weekend at Talladega – Talladega Superspeedway is one of the best places to come watch a race and the pre-race activities. Below is a list of the dignitaries and traditions for the pre-race activities for the full weekend:

YellaWood 500: 1:00 p.m. CDT (NBC, SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90 & MRN)

Grand Marshal – Jimmy Rane, Founder and CEO of Great Southern Wood Preserving, along with his family and representatives of the company’s Board of Directors

Honorary Starter – Katie Britt, former president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama

Invocation – Chaplain Barbara Embry, Citizens Baptist Medical Center

Presentation of Colors – Robertsdale High School (AL) NJROTC

Pledge of Allegiance – Scout Troops from AL

God Bless America – Hoover High School (AL) Choir (40 performers)

National Anthem – United States Army 313th Band

John Ray’s iconic Big Semi-Truck with giant American flag around track during National Anthem

Flyover-2 Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213, FIGHTING BLACK LIONS, F/A-18F Super Hornets

Chevrolet Silverado 250: 12:00 p.m. CDT (FS1, SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90 & MRN)

Invocation – Raceway Ministries

Presentation of Colors – Central High School (AL) NJROTC

Pledge of Allegiance – Scout Troops from Alabama

God Bless America – Spain Park High School (AL) Choir (25performers)

National Anthem – Vestavia Hills High School (AL) Choir (15 performers)

John Ray’s iconic Big Semi-Truck with giant American flag around track during National Anthem

Sparks 300: 3:30 p.m. CDT (NBCSN, SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90 & MRN)

Grand Marshal – Wayne Sternbergh, friend of Sparks, Inc.

Invocation – Lindsay Lane Baptist Church

Presentation of Colors – Central High School (AL) NJROTC

Pledge of Allegiance – Scout Troops from Alabama

God Bless America – Marbury High School (AL) Band (40 performers)

National Anthem – Marbury High School (AL) Choir (30 performers)

John Ray’s iconic Big Semi-Truck with giant American flag around track during National Anthem

Kurt Busch, Daniel Hemric paint the wall pink – Alongside dozens of pink shirt-wearing breast cancer survivors, NASCAR drivers Kurt Busch and Daniel Hemric joined officials from Charlotte Motor Speedway and Blue Cross NC in painting Charlotte Motor Speedway’s pit wall pink on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. The speedway’s eighth Paint Pit Wall Pink event has become an annual tradition to celebrate survivors, provide hope for those battling breast cancer and paint the 1,500-foot pink pit road wall to raise awareness of the importance of early detection.

Cheryl Parquet, Blue Cross NC’s director of community development and marketing activation, said that Paint the Wall Pink is inspiring each year.

“We’re grateful for partners like Charlotte Motor Speedway who share our passion for honoring survivors and increasing breast cancer awareness and early detection,” said Parquet. “The pink canvas ribbons our volunteers have painted are a reminder that our patients and survivors are not alone. In the face of breast cancer, we stand together.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Expect the Unexpected: Talladega Superspeedway Up Next for Xfinity Series Playoffs

The NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs kicked off last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the 12-driver field took the stage at the Nevada track and the opening act provided a lot of excitement as well as a lot of drama for the Playoff drivers.

JR Motorsports’ Josh Berry, who is not competing in the Xfinity Series Playoffs and was filling in for an injured Michael Annett in the No. 1 Chevrolet, was victorious – leading a 1-2-3 sweep for the JR Motorsports camp on Saturday night at Las Vegas. The win marked Berry’s second of the season with the first coming at Martinsville Speedway earlier in the year.

Berry’s JRM teammates, Justin Allgaier and Noah Gragson, finished in the top three, respectively, while Austin Cindric, Daniel Hemric, Brandon Jones, AJ Allmendinger, Ty Dillon, Justin Haley and Harrison Burton rounded out the top-10 finishers. Playoff drivers Riley Herbst, Jeb Burton and Jeremy Clements were all taken out of the race early on due to incidents and finished 33rd, 36th, and 39th, respectively.

 

Saturday’s Xfinity Series Playoff race at Las Vegas saw 13 lead changes with six cautions for 32 laps. The Margin of Victory was a whopping 4.398 seconds.

This weekend, the NASCAR Xfinity Series continues their Playoff run at Talladega Superspeedway, the track that produces some of the wildest and craziest racing on the schedule. The Sparks 300 at Talladega will be on Saturday, October 2 at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio as the second leg of a doubleheader Saturday that will start at 1 p.m. ET with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race the Chevrolet Silverado 250 (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

The Xfinity Playoff race will mark the second-time the series heads to the Alabama track this season. Kaulig Racing’s Jeb Burton took home his first career Xfinity Series win in a rain-shortened event at Talladega earlier this season.

Saturday’s Playoff race will be 300.58 miles (113 laps) and will be broken up into three stages. The first stage will end on Lap 25 and the second stage will end on Lap 50.

This week’s starting lineup was decided by Metric Qualifying and as a result JR Motorsport’s Justin Allgaier will lead the field to green with Team Penske’s Austin Cindric joining him on the front row.

Xfinity By The Numbers: Talladega Style

There have been 31 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Talladega Superspeedway with the inaugural race being won by Ernie Irvan on July 25, 1992.

The 31 Xfinity Series races have produced 21 different pole winners and 25 different race winners. Only three races have been won from the pole (or first starting position). The last time it happened was in 2020 when Justin Haley won from the pole. Haley is also the youngest winner in series history at Talladega at 21 years, 1 month, 23 days.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin holds the race record at 168.937 mph in 1997 and Joe Nemechek holds the qualifying record for the same year at 193.517 mph.

The most recent race at Talladega Superspeedway was earlier this season. There were 40 cars in the field and 22 lead changes among 12 different leaders. There were four cautions for 15 laps and only 31 cars finished on the lead lap. There were 34 cars still running at the end of the race.

The race winner, Jeb Burton, led 20 laps en route to victory and the race ended under caution due to weather.

Clinch Scenarios: Xfinity’s Round of 12 at Talladega

Just two races left in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Round of 12 for the postseason contenders to lock-up a spot in the Round of 8. With Josh Berry, a non-Playoff driver, winning at Las Vegas all eight spots are still up for the taking as the series heads to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend.

Already Clinched

No drivers have clinched a spot in the eight-driver field of the next round.

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 8th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric, Justin Haley or Harrison Burton.

  • Austin Cindric: Would clinch with 51 points (needs 52 points if Justin Haley wins, needs 53 points if Harris Burton wins)
  • AJ Allmendinger: Would clinch with 55 points (needs help if Justin Haley or Harris Burton win)
  • Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric, Justin Haley and Harrison Burton: Could only clinch with help.

If there is a new winner from Brandon Jones or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 7th winless driver in the standings.

  • Austin Cindric: Would clinch with 55 points.
  • AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric, Justin Haley and Harrison Burton: Could only clinch with help.

Can Clinch Via Win

All 12 Xfinity Playoff drivers can clinch on their win alone this weekend at Talladega: Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric, Justin Haley, Harrison Burton, Brandon Jones, Myatt Snider, Jeb Burton, Riley Herbst, Jeremy Clements

Scouting the 2021 Xfinity Playoff Drivers at ‘Dega
We are one race into the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs after the series competed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend. Josh Berry, a non-Playoff driver was victorious, meaning that none of the 12 drivers in the Playoffs have punched their ticket to the next round. Below is a look at the Playoff drivers’ past performances at Talladega Superspeedway.

Austin Cindric: The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford has made five starts at Talladega. His first start was in 2018. Most recently, earlier this season, he started on the pole and finished runner-up to Jeb Burton. He has three top fives and three top 10s at the track in his five starts. He’s led 35 laps and has an average start of 7.8 and an average finish of 15.0.

AJ Allmendinger: The driver of the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet and the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series Regular Season Champion has made three Xfinity Series starts at Talladega. He has one top five and two top 10s in those three starts. Most recently, he started 11th and finished third earlier this season. He has an average finish of 11.3 at the superspeedway.

Justin Allgaier: The driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet has three top fives and six top 10s in 12 starts at Talladega. He has an average start of 12.3 and an average finish of 16.2. He has led 79 laps of 1,369 completed. He has had five DNFs due to crashes and an engine issue. His best finish of second came in 2016. Most recently, Allgaier has struggled at Talladega. He has not finished better than 28th in the last four races at the track.

Noah Gragson: The driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet will make his sixth start at Talladega on Saturday. He has two top fives and four top 10s in those starts with 48 laps led. He has an average start of 9.0 and an average finish of 6.8. Most recently, he finished sixth earlier this season after starting fourth. His best finish of third came at this race in 2020.

Jeb Burton: The driver of the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet will make his fourth start at the Alabama track on Saturday. Talladega is the home of Burton’s first career Xfinity Series victory earlier this season. He has one win, two top fives and two top 10s at the track. He’s led 28 total laps and had an average start of 9.7 and an average finish of 7.0.

Daniel Hemric: The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will make his fifth Xfinity Series start at Talladega on Saturday. He has one top five and one top 10 along with one pole award at the track. His best finish of fifth was at this race in 2020 and most recently, he started second and finished 12th at ‘Dega earlier this season. He has led 157 laps and has an average start of 2.8 and an average finish of 19.5.

Harrison Burton: The driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has only one top 10 to his name at Talladega. In three starts, he has a best finish of 10th that came earlier this season. He has an average start of 8.3 and an average finish of 21.7.

Myatt Snider: The driver of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet has made three starts at Talladega. Earlier this season, he finished runner-up after started ninth. He has an average start of 20.0 and an average finish of 20.7. His first two starts at Talladega ended early due to an incident.

Brandon Jones: The driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has seven starts at the track. He has two top five and two top 10s in those starts with 39 laps led. He has an average start of 10.3 and an average finish of 18.9. Earlier this season, he was involved in a crash and finished 37th. His best finish of runner-up came in 2018.

Justin Haley: The driver of the No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet has been extremely good at Talladega in his four starts. He has two wins, two top fives and four top 10s in his four starts. He has an average start of 4.8 and an average finish of 4.3. Earlier this season, he finished eighth, which is the worst he’s ever finished at the track but is still a top-10 result. He swept both races in 2020 and has led a total of 20 laps.

Riley Herbst: The driver of the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford will make his fourth Talladega start on Saturday. He has one top five and one top 10 in three starts and the best finish of fourth came earlier this season. He has an average start of 17.7 and an average finish of 25.3. In his first two starts, he ended up not finishing the races due to incidents.

Jeremy Clements: The driver of the No. 51 Jeremy Clements Racing Chevrolet has made 12 starts at Talladega Superspeedway. In those starts, he has one top five and two top 10s. His best finish of fourth was in 2016 and earlier this season, he finished 14th.

Playoff Bubble: Only two races left in Round of 12

Taking a look at the Playoffs standings as we head into this weekend’s racing at Talladega, most of the drivers stayed in the same position they entered the Playoffs in at Las Vegas.

However, the same can’t be said for Jeb Burton, who was involved in an incident early on at Las Vegas which results in a 36th-place finish. He entered the race above the cutline but now since in 10th, 27 points behind Brandon Jones in eighth – in the final Round of 8 transfer spot.

Jones entered the Playoffs below the cutline but jumped up to eighth, the last driver above the cutline. He is only 10 points above, battling Myatt Snider who is sitting in ninth.

Daniel Hemric jumped up a spot in the standings as well to fifth. Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger, Justin Allgaier and Noah Gragson stayed in the same position that they entered the race in, and each have a pretty decent buffer from the Playoff cutline.

Jeremy Clements is 36 points out of the Playoffs after a rough weekend at Las Vegas and he is currently sitting last in the standings.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Standings Post-Las Vegas-2:

Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Austin Cindric 2,093 5 9 44 66
2 AJ Allmendinger 2,086 4 10 45 59
3 Justin Allgaier 2,065 2 3 21 38
4 Noah Gragson 2,064 2 3 17 37
5 Daniel Hemric 2,061 0 7 14 34
6 Justin Haley 2,044 1 5 15 17
7 Harrison Burton 2,040 0 2 8 13
8 Brandon Jones 2,037 0 1 3 10
9 Myatt Snider 2,027 1 0 5 -10
10 Jeb Burton 2,010 1 1 9 -27
11 Riley Herbst 2,005 0 0 1 -32
12 Jeremy Clements 2,001 0 0 0 -36

 

2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series Schedule Unveiled

The 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule has been released featuring new and old significant adjustments to the schedule, including the addition of a new track back on the schedule.

For the first time since 2000, a NASCAR national series will return to the twists and turns of Portland International Raceway, when the series heads to the Pacific Northwest on June 4. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is the only national series that visited the track (1999 and 2000) in the track’s long history.

Texas Motor Speedway will kick off the Playoffs for the Xfinity Series on September 24 and the cutoff races for the series will mirror the Cup Series as the Charlotte ROVAL and Martinsville are set to cut the field from 12 to 8 to 4. The series will kick off at Daytona International Speedway, as usual, in February.

A total of 15 tripleheader weekends will make up the 2022 schedule. Broadcast times and networks for all three series have not been announced yet and will be at a later date.

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Hemric moving to Kaulig Racing in ’22: Daniel Hemric and Kaulig Racing announced that Hemric will join the team’s NASCAR Xfinity Series lineup in 2022. Hemric, who currently pilots the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, will transition to Kaulig and back to a Chevrolet for the 2022 season. He will pilot the No. 11 full-time to compete for the 2022 championship title. Partnerships for Hemric and the No. 11 will be announced at a later date.

Ferrucci returning to Sam Hunt Racing at ‘Dega: Santino Ferrucci will return to Sam Hunt Racing for this weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway. Ferrucci will make his superspeedway debut at Talladega. He made his Xfinity Series debut earlier this season at Homestead-Miami Speedway for Sam Hunt Racing and will be back behind the wheel of the Toyota this weekend with sponsorship from Hy-Vee/Palermo’s Screamin’ Sicilian Pizza Co. He has made six starts in the series and has accumulated four top-15 finishes in those starts.

Carquest and Team Penske representing America Heart Association this weekend: Carquest Auto Parts and Team Penske will represent the American Heart Association at the Xfinity Series race on Saturday at Talladega, with Austin Cindric, the reigning NXS champion. The American Heart Association logo will be featured on the TV Panel of Cindric’s No. 22 Carquest Ford during the race. This partnership is part of Carquest’s ongoing initiative with the American Heart Association. From now until October 15 at participating locations, customers and race fans are encouraged to donate. The campaign donations will fund lifesaving research on heart disease and stroke.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Playoff Pressure Cooker: Talladega Superspeedway to help decide Championship 4

Just when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff teams thought is couldn’t get any wilder or more unpredictable, they now must contend with the 2.66-mile behemoth that is Talladega Superspeedway in the Chevrolet Silverado 250 (1 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) leading off a NASCAR doubleheader Saturday with the NASCAR Xfinity Series race the Sparks 300 at Talladega (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) following.

Last weekend, ThorSport Racing put on a clinic taking the top four spots at Las Vegas Motor Speedway led by first-time winner Christian Eckes. It was the second consecutive race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with a first-time winner (Chandler Smith won at Bristol two weeks ago). With Eckes taking the checkered flag at Las Vegas none of the eight Playoff driver secured their spot in the Championship 4 Round. The highest finishing Playoff driver at Las Vegas last weekend was Eckes’ ThorSport teammate Ben Rhodes, who finished runner-up.

Talladega Superspeedway has participated in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs since its inception into the series in 2016. The 2021 season marks the first time Talladega has hosed the fifth race in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs and becomes the third different track to occupy the spot; joining Texas Motor Speedway (2016-2018, 2020) and Martinsville Speedway (2019). This is the third different spot on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs schedule Talladega Superspeedway has resided; from 2016-2018 and in 2020 the track hosted the third race of the postseason – the elimination race of the first round – then in 2019 Talladega hosted the fourth race on the Playoff schedule and this season the 2.66-mile track is setting the stage for the fifth race of the Playoffs.

Interestingly, five different drivers have won the five previous NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff races at Talladega Superspeedway and none of them were Playoff drivers at the time of their victories. Will we see a sixth different non-Playoff driver win this weekend at Talladega?

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – Talladega Superspeedway Playoff Race Winners

Track Race Winner Organization Date
Talladega Raphael Lessard Kyle Busch Motorsports Saturday, October 3, 2020
Talladega Spencer Boyd Young’s Motorsports Saturday, October 12, 2019
Talladega Timothy Peters GMS Racing Saturday, October 13, 2018
Talladega Parker Kligerman Henderson Motorsports Saturday, October 14, 2017
Talladega Grant Enfinger GMS Racing Saturday, October 22, 2016

 

In total, Talladega Superspeedway has hosted 15 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races from 2006 -2020. The first series race at Talladega was held on October 7, 2006 and was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin driving for Roush Fenway Racing. The 15 Camping World Truck races at Talladega have produced 14 different pole winners and 10 different race winners. Timothy Peters leads the series in wins at Talladega with three victories (2014, 2015, 2018). The most recent winner is Raphael Lessard (2020), but he is not entered for Saturday’s event.

Four of the 10 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Talladega winners are active this weekend, led by Parker Kligerman with two wins (2012, 2017) and followed by Spencer Boyd (2019), Grant Enfinger (2016) and Johnny Sauter (2013) each with one.

This weekend’s Chevrolet Silverado 250 will be broken up into three stages. The first two stages are 20 laps each and the final stage is 54 laps. The starting lineup for this weekend’s race was decided by Metric Qualifying and as a result Ben Rhodes will start on the pole and Todd Gilliland will join him on the front row.

Clinch Scenarios: No one is locked into Championship 4 Round yet

Time is of the essence for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ eight-Playoff challengers with just two races left to decide which four will advance to the next round and have a shot at the title. With Christian Eckes stealing the spotlight last weekend at Las Vegas, none of the Playoff drivers have secured a spot in the Championship 4 Round.

Already Clinched

No drivers have clinched a spot in the four-driver field of the next round.

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 4th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from Ben Rhodes, John Hunter Nemechek or Stewart Friesen.

  • Ben Rhodes: Could only clinch with help
  • John Hunter Nemechek: Could only clinch with help
  • Stewart Friesen: Could only clinch with help

If there is a new winner from Matt Crafton or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 3rd winless driver in the standings.

  • Ben Rhodes: Could only clinch with help
  • John Hunter Nemechek: Could only clinch with help

 Can Clinch Via Win

All eight drivers can clinch on their win alone this weekend: Ben Rhodes, John Hunter Nemechek, Stewart Friesen, Matt Crafton, Sheldon Creed, Carson Hocevar, Zane Smith and Chandler Smith.

Playoff Bubble: Only four contenders can move on

The eight-driver NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff field will be cut to four at the end of this round and the postseason contenders only have two races left to secure their spot in the Championship 4.

A lot can happen in just two weeks in the Camping World Truck Series Playoffs, just ask GMS Racing’s Sheldon Creed. He entered last weekend’s race at Las Vegas ranked second in the Playoff points with two wins in the opening round, but was caught in an incident and finished 36th at the 1.5-mile track. Now the Californian is ranked fifth in the standings five points back from the Championship 4 Round cutoff.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff Outlook Following Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Ben Rhodes (P) 3,070 2 1 19 34
2 John H. Nemechek (P) 3,064 5 11 50 28
3 Stewart Friesen (P) 3,045 0 0 1 9
4 Matt Crafton (P) 3,041 0 0 4 5
5 Sheldon Creed (P) 3,036 3 6 26 -5
6 Carson Hocevar # (P) 3,025 0 0 2 -16
7 Zane Smith (P) 3,022 0 3 9 -19
8 Chandler Smith # (P) 3,017 1 1 6 -24
9 Todd Gilliland 2,151 1 4 15 Eliminated From The Playoffs
10 Austin Hill 2,127 2 1 21

 

Camping World Playoff Contenders at Talladega

Experience is at a premium at Talladega Superspeedway and seven of the eight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff drivers have five or less starts at the 2.66-mile facility. Veteran Matt Crafton is the lone Playoff contender vying for a spot in the Championship 4 Round with more than five starts at the track. Below is a look at the elite eight trying to earn a spot in the next round.

Ben Rhodes (No. 99 ThorSport Racing Toyota) has made five series starts at Talladega posting one top-five finish. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 15.8, and his pre-race driver rating is 81.9.

John H. Nemechek (No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota) has made five series starts at Talladega posting one top-five finish. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 21.1, and his pre-race driver rating is 68.7.

Stewart Friesen (No. 52 Halmar Friesen Racing Toyota) has made four series starts at Talladega posting one top-five and two top-10 finishes. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 11.2, and his pre-race driver rating at is 80.6.

Matt Crafton (No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota) has made 15 series starts at Talladega posting one top-five and six top-10 finishes. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 15.7, and his pre-race driver rating at Talladega is 75.0.

Sheldon Creed (No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet) has made two series starts at Talladega posting one top-10 finish. His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 10.5 (second-best among Playoff drivers). His pre-race driver rating at Talladega is 107.7 (series-best among Playoff drivers).

Carson Hocevar (No. 42 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet) will be making his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career debut at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend.

Zane Smith (No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet) has made one series start at Talladega posting a 33rd-place finish. His pre-race driver rating at Talladega is 41.7.

Chandler Smith (No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota) has made one series start at Talladega posting one top-five finish (third-place). His average finish at the 2.66-mile track is 3.0. His pre-race driver rating at Talladega is 105.6 (second-best among Playoff drivers).

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.

2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule released – This week NASCAR announced the 2022 schedule for the Camping World Truck Series and most the noticeable change will be the return to 23 races from 22 this season. Also, the Camping World Truck Series will renew its beating and banging brand of racing when it returns to the .686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis for the first time since 2011. The July 29 event will serve as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs opener and offer drivers the first chance to clinch a spot in the Round of 8. The event is part of a jam-packed weekend of racing in the city of Indianapolis, as the NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Cup Series will race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

— NASCAR —