Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Final Talladega Superspeedway Start Headlines NASCAR’s “Wildcard” Weekend at the Biggest and Baddest Track

With Chamber of Commerce weather in the forecast, all eyes are on Talladega Superspeedway as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) visit the unpredictable 2.66-mile venue this weekend NASCAR Playoff double headerUnder expected sunny skies with temperatures in the low 80s, the storylines are aplenty, led by six-time TSS winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final start in Sunday’s Alabama 500 event at the track he calls a “second home.”

Dale Jr., set to retire at the end of the year, is the only driver in Talladega history to capture four consecutive checkered flags (fall 2001 to spring 2003). He also won in October 2004 and snapped a long dry spell with his sixth victory in May 2015. He hopes to add one more win to his ‘Dega resume this weekend that could move him into second place on TSS’ All-Time MENCS win list, trailing only his father – the legendary Dale Earnhardt Sr. – who has 10 Talladega triumphs.

The Alabama 500, the “Wildcard” second race in the Round of 12 of the MENCS playoffs, will get underway at 1 p.m. (CDT) Sunday. The fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola NCWTS event, where the field of championship contenders will be trimmed from eight to six at events end, is set for 12 Noon (CDT) on Saturday. The weekend kicks off on Friday with practice sessions for both events.

Here’s a look at some of the storylines surrounding the weekend:

On-Track Action

A Shot at History: Both Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Joey Logano have a chance to make history this weekend. Stenhouse Jr. hopes to become the third driver to win three “Super” Superspeedway races in a single season. With a victory in Sunday’s Alabama 500, not only would he join Pete Hamilton and Dale Earnhardt Sr. as the only drivers to accomplish the feat in winning three of the four races at Talladega and Daytona, but he would also secure his spot in the Round of 8 in NASCAR’s playoffs. Logano, on the other hand, has triumphed in the past two fall classics at Talladega. He desires to set himself apart from a trio of drivers – Dale Earnhardt Sr., Dale Jr. and Clint Bowyer – and become the only driver to win three straight races during NASCAR’s annual return visit to TSS. He also looks to play the role of spoiler as he didn’t make the MENCS playoffs.

‘Dega Contenders: Out of the 12 drivers battling for the championship, eight have visited Talladega Superspeedway’s Gatorade Victory Lane in NASCAR’s premier division. They include Brad Keselowski with four wins, Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray with two victories, along with Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Stenhouse Jr., with one trip to the winner’s circle. Regular season champion Martin Truex Jr. won three straight NASCAR XFINITY Series events at TSS from 2004-2006.

Talladega is Stenhouse Jr.’s best playoff track with an average finish of 10.4 (ranks first among active drivers). On the other hand, winning at NASCAR’s biggest and baddest venue doesn’t mean consistent success. Out of the 10 playoff race tracks that make up the playoffs, Busch, Johnson, Kenseth and Truex Jr. can list Talladega as their nemesis, recording their worst average finish in the MENCS.

Foot on the Gas Pedal for 500 Miles: The Alabama 500 will be the second race in the Round of 12, unlike a year ago when it was the cut-off third race. As a result, playoff drivers will be forced to race as hard as they can for the full 188-lap event. Add in NASCAR’s new 3-stage format, which was introduced at the beginning of the year, awarding points for finishing positions in each, and every finishing position will be crucial in order to place themselves in a good spot to move on to the next round of the playoffs.

Speaking of the Round of 8: Truex Jr., after his sixth victory of the season Sunday in Charlotte, is the only driver who has safely secured his spot in the Round of 8. Chase Elliott was second Sunday, followed by Harvick, Hamlin and McMurray. Kyle Larson now sits second in the battle for the championship, followed by Harvick, Elliott and Hamlin. Busch fell from the runnerup spot in the standings to sixth after a 29th place finish as a result of a meeting with the outside retaining wall. The remainder of the playoff lineup includes Johnson in seventh, followed by McMurray, Kenseth, Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Stenhouse Jr.

Defending Home Turf: Fairhope, Alabama native Grant Enfinger, who triumphed in the 2016 fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, returns to Talladega trying to become the fourth driver to win consecutive NCWTS races at NASCAR’s Most Competitive track. With a victory, Enfinger would join Todd Bodine, Kyle Busch and Timothy Peters as the only drivers to win two straight TSS events.

Weekend Events

Big One on the Blvd: Friday evening, the track’s traditional Big One on the Blvd. parade will take place on the Party Central –  Talladega Blvd. The event will again feature hilarious fan competitions overseen by several NASCAR drivers and personalities. Games include: SlopFest, Talk Derby to Me, Bump Draft and Poop, Scoop & Boogie. An infield pass is required for admission to this event.

Monster Energy Bellator MMA Fight: At approximately 8:30 p.m. (CDT) Friday night, the Monster Energy Bellator MMA Fight Series will make its Talladega debut. The fight card consists of four bouts featuring regional fighters. An infield pass is required for admission to this event. Earlier in the day from 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. (CDT), well-known fighters’ “Iron” Michael Chandler and Roy “Big Country” Nelson will participate in a meet and greet with fans at the Monster Energy exhibit in Talladega’s Fan Zone, located outside the frontstretch.

Colt Ford Concert Powered by American Ethanol: Saturday night’s Colt Ford Concert Powered by American Ethanol continues a storied Talladega tradition in the infamous infield. Tim Dugger, the popular singer among NASCAR drivers and fans, will open for Ford, along with DJ Michaelis, who will make sure the party never stops. The concert festivities are set to get underway at 7 p.m. (CDT) and is FREE to anyone with an Alabama 500 ticket.

Kids Movie Night – Disney’s ‘Cars’: Saturday night features the all-new Kids Movie Night in the Fox Sports1 Dome (located next to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame). Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with Disney’s ‘Cars’ beginning at 6 p.m. A (free) Saturday or Sunday Kids ticket is required for admission.

Special Ticket Offers, Talladega Experiences, Camping & Parking

For all opportunities below, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call the 855-518-RACE (7223) for more info.

Pre-Race Pit Pass Upgrade: Fans who purchase a Pre-Race Pit Pass Upgrade wristband for $80 can get an exclusive look at race morning festivities prior to the Alabama 500. Fans can stroll up and down pit road, then catch Driver Introductions as well as the Fan Question and Answer Session, which will Keselowski, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch, Ty Dillon, Alabama Gang member Donnie Allison, and Eddie & Len Wood of the famed Wood Brothers racing team.

Kids Can Be a VIP: There’s plenty of fun activities for young race fans (12-and-under) visiting TSS. On Sunday, the Kids VIP Experience returns for the third race (must have Pre-Race Pit Pass Upgrade) and offers participants a chance to participate in one of five unforgettable VIP experiences. Families with children who want to participate can choose from a guided garage tour, Gatorade Victory Lane photo, Hot Lap in a Grand Marshal vehicle, VIP area at the Red-Carpet entrance of drivers meeting or at the driver intro stage.

Kid’s Free on Friday & Saturday; Great Pricing on Sunday: Kids 12-and-under are admitted to Friday and Saturday’s on-track action for Free while they receive $50 off admission to Sunday’s Alabama 500. 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Autograph Session: Several NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers will sign autographs on Friday from 3:00 to 3:45 p.m. (CDT) in the Legends Village. Fans will need to pick up a wristband prior the session at the main Guest Services Office located at the O.V. Hill South Grandstand Section L. Each guest who has a wristband will be guaranteed an autograph.

Military and First Responders Tickets: Talladega Superspeedway is proud to offer special ticket pricing for members of our nation’s military and our first responders.

$24 College Student Offer: College students can purchase a $24 ticket and enjoy complimentary parking and camping in GEICO North Park, along with a ticket in the Gadsden grandstand for Sunday’s Alabama 500.

Fan Zone: Opening Friday, the Fan Zone features interactive displays and the beloved souvenir trailers from Fanatics stocked full of your favorite driver’s gear from t-shirts and hats to Talladega specific memorabilia. Stop by a variety of setups for a chance to win prizes, meet drivers and even receive free goodies. Corporate sponsors, including Monster Energy, XFINITY and a host of others will provide interactive exhibits for families to experience loads of fun by playing games and winning prizes, plus there may be options to see some of the sports noted personalities.

FREE Camping: Talladega Superspeedway is the only track on the NASCAR circuit to offer free camping to its customers.

Infield Camping: Infield RV Camping is sold out, but tent and car camping is still available. Call the Talladega ticket office for details at 855-518-7223 (RACE) or log on to www.tallageasuperspeedway.com to plan your race weekend visit.

New “Up-Close” Parking: Want to park closer during race weekend? Consider these options:

  • Preferred Regular Parking: 
    – Race Days (Cash Only) – Saturday Only: $10.00 / Sunday Only: $20.00

FREE Parking: Several Parking lots on Speedway property remain free of charge to Talladega Superspeedway fans.


Incredible ISM Video Boards: From every seat in the house, fans will get the feeling of sitting at home in their recliner with the view of the ISM Vision Powered by BoldVu® video boards that line the frontstretch. The crisp, clear screens, two of which are 40x 80 foot, are fully integrated with both Talladega’s and the Motor Racing Network’s (MRN) mobile apps, allowing fans to see real-time traffic and weather alerts and event schedules.

Smoke Free: For fans wishing to smoke, there are designated smoking areas located behind the TSS grandstands.

Chairback Seats: Race fans watching all the on-track action this weekend will do so comfortably from the roomy 21” and 22” seats that line Talladega’s nearly mile-long grandstands.


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