With the intensity of the NASCAR Playoffs in high gear, the stage is set for an epic weekend of expected exquisite weather conditions and high-speed, three- and four-wide, inches-apart pack-racing action at Talladega Superspeedway. Highlighting the weekend’s slate is a double dose of postseason showdowns featuring the 1000Bulbs.com 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) event on Sunday, Oct. 14, and the Fr8Auctions (Freight Auctions) 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race on Saturday, Oct. 13.
For the 1000Bulbs.com 500, can young gun Chase Elliott, who won Sunday at Dover, finally score a victory at Talladega where his father Bill Elliott is iconic? Can Team Penske driver Joey Logano complete the season sweep at Talladega and punch his ticket to the Round of 8 of NASCAR’s Playoffs? Can Logano’s teammate Brad Keselowski defend his 1000Bulbs.com 500 title and give Team Penske its seventh victory at the 2.66 mile venue in the last nine races in NASCAR’s premier series?
Will defending Fr8Auctions 250 winner and non-playoff driver Parker Kligerman play spoiler in that event and become the first NCWTS driver ever to drive to Talladega’s Gatorade Victory Lane three times in the series? Or, can Alabama’s own Grant Enfinger, who already has advanced to the Round of 6 in the NCWTS by virtue of his win at Las Vegas a few weeks back, take his second Talladega Checkered flag?
With meteorologists forecasting sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 70s this weekend at NASCAR’s Most Competitive track, these questions and more will be answered for packed schedule of happenings and many opportunities of which fans can take advantage. The 1000Bulbs.com 500 is the second race (of three) in the Round of 12 and will kick off at 1 p.m. CDT on Sunday. Saturday’s Fr8Auctions 250 will take the green flag at noon CDT. When the race concludes, the field of NCWTS championship-eligible drivers will be cut from eight to six.
Here’s what’s on tap for the week:
Elliott Diggin’ for the Title: He posted his second career win in Sunday’s race at Dover in NASCAR’s premier series, securing his spot in the Round of 8 to keep his championship hopes alive. He and crew chief Alan Gustafson will come into this weekend’s “wildcard” 1000Bulbs.com 500 on a mission for back-to-back victories to give the Elliott family its third Talladega victory (two by Bill in 1985, 1987).
1000Bulbs.com 500 Defending Champion: Team Penske’s Keselowski scored his fifth victory at the 2.66-mile venue in last fall’s 1000Bulbs.com 500. He leads active drivers on the all-time win list in the MENCS at TSS, winning his first career MENCS triumph at ‘Dega in 2009. A Keselowski repeat win would make him the fifth driver (Dale Earnhardt Sr. did it on three different occasions) in history to go back-to-back in the 1000Bulbs.com 500. The last to do it? His Penske teammate Logano in 2015-16.
Ford Going for Seven Straight: Ford has won the past six MENCS races at TSS. Those wins include Logano (spring 2018, fall 2016, fall 2015), Keselowski (fall 2017, spring 2016) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (spring 2017). With Keselowski’s win in fall of 2014, Ford has won seven of the last eight races (Dale Earnhardt Jr. spring of 2015 in a Chevrolet). Chevrolet holds the overall record with 13 in-a-row from 1999-2005.
Penske Dominance: Team Penske drivers have won six of the last eight events at Talladega, dating back to the fall of 2014. Included in that span was a Team Penske sweep in 2016 with Keselowski winning in the spring and Logano in the fall. Could Team Penske pull out the broom again?
Young Guns Shooting for Win: A host of NASCAR’s Young Guns have yet to go to victory lane in their career, and that first triumph could come at TSS. Some include Ty Dillon, Daniel Suarez, Bubba Wallace, William Byron and Alex Bowman.
First Time Winners/Last Win of Career: Speaking of first-time winners, 11 times a driver has won his initial career race at Talladega. Stenhouse became the last driver to etch his name in the record book as a first-time Cup winner in the 2017 GEICO 500. Names like Keselowski, Davey Allison and Ken Schrader grabbed their initial win at TSS. Unbelievably, on the other end of the spectrum, 13 drivers have captured the final race victory of their career at the 2.66-mile venue, including Earnhardt Sr. in 2000 and Dale Jarrett in 2005.
The 12 drivers in the MENCS Playoffs: Entering Talladega, only Elliott has secured his spot in the Round of 8 while others like Kevin Harvick (+68), Kyle Busch (+63), Martin Truex Jr. (+36) and Logano (+31) seem somewhat safe looking forward to the next round. For the rest, it will be a little uneasy coming to ‘Dega. They include Kurt Busch (+21), Keselowski (+21), Ryan Blaney (+10), Aric Almirola (-10), Clint Bowyer (-10), Kyle Larson (-12) and Bowman (-34).
Defending Fr8Auctions 250 Champ Pulling Double Duty: Kligerman will come to Talladega this fall for the Fr8Auctions 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS), wearing two different hats. On Saturday, he will try to defend his title in the Fr8Auctions 250 and win a record third TSS NCWTS event, while on Sunday, he will be calling the action for the 1000Bulbs.com 500 for NBC.
The NCWTS Playoff Field Hoping to Advance After the Fr8Auctions 250: Johnny Sauter (+40), Noah Gragson (+23), Brett Moffitt (+18), Matt Crafton (+7), Ben Rhodes (-7) and Stewart Friesen (-10). With wins in the current round, Enfinger and Justin Haley have advanced to the Round of 6. At the conclusion of the Fr8Auctions 250, two drivers will be eliminated from the playoff hunt.
Featured Off-Track Events
“Big One on the Blvd.”: One of Alabama’s most spectacular parties returns on Friday with the popular driver parade and crazy fan competitions overseen by some of NASCAR’s biggest names. The line-up of outrageous events include:
- Miso Hangry – Contestants will compete in a three-course meal challenge featuring a tasty menu – pickled eggs, beef dumplins, and by popular demand, ramen noodles.
- Hungry Hippos – It’s every hippo for him or herself in this elimination game as players slide across our slip-n-slide to fetch their “dinner.” One person will leave feeling hungry in seven rounds of fun.
- Rubber Pull – This ‘DEGA style tug-o-war competition is all about pulling a tire.
- Dirty Girl Deluxe – Four ladies will relay through the ‘DEGA car wash collecting as much water and soap as possible to clean their dirty window.
Some of the drivers scheduled to appear include: Playoff competitors Harvick, Larson, Blaney, as well as Stenhouse, Suarez, Dillon, Erik Jones, Wallace and Brendan Gaughan along with NASCAR personalities Jeff Burton, Steve Letarte and Rick Allen. The event is for infield camping guests, renewal guest ticket holders and fans with infield wristband admissions.
Saturday Night Infield Concert Presented by Wind Creek Casino and Hotel: Singer/songwriter Chris Janson will headline the traditional show beginning at 9 p.m. CDT. Chris Shrader will get everybody rocking as the opening act at 7:30 p.m. CDT, while music by DJ Mark A.D. from Birmingham, AL will welcome guests starting at 6 p.m. CDT as they settle in for the evening’s epic performances. Admission to the SNIC is FREE with a Sunday 1000Bulbs.com 500 ticket, and the concert will take place at the intersection of Eastaboga and Talladega Blvds.
Kids Movie Night: Kids Movie Night will take place after the running of the Fr8Auctions 250 NCWTS event and Foodland/Food Giant Qualifying for the 1000Bulbs.com 500. The Lego Batman Movie will be shown on a giant screen in the FOX Sports 1 Dome (located behind the International Motorsports Hall of Fame). A Saturday or Sunday kids ticket is required for entry. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. CDT.
Talladega “Drive Days”: On Tuesday (Oct. 9) and Thursday (Oct. 11), “Drive Days” will offer participants to take their street-legal vehicles for three thrilling laps at highway speed behind a Talladega Safety/Pace truck on Talladega’s 2.66-mile, 33-degree high banks for just $50. Times are:
- Tuesday, Oct. 9: 9 a.m.– noon CDT (Staging begins outside Gate 9 at 8:30 a.m. CDT)
- Thursday, Oct. 11: 12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. CDT (Staging begins outside Gate 9 at noon CDT)
Those interested in participating will need to stage at the outside entrance to Gate 9 which is located at the Turn 3 crossover entrance. Look for directional signage upon arriving on the property. * Drives may be canceled due to track preparations or weather issues
NCWTS Fan Autograph Session: Fans will have the chance to have their racing gear signed by approximately 15 to 20 NCWTS drivers during an autograph session on Friday from 2 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. CDT at the Camping World Display in the Fan Zone. Those interested in participating will need to pick up wristbands before the session beginning at 11 a.m. CDT at the Camping World Display. Each fan who has a wristband will be guaranteed a spot in the autograph line. Fans must have a wristband for access to the session.
Quick Facts on Special Offers & Experiences
NEW Saturday Pre-Race Pass for $25 (must have Fr8Auctions 250 ticket or 5-day infield camping wristband): With theSaturday Pre-Race Pass, fans can witness a host of morning activities from “pit alley,” which stretches from in front of Gatorade Victory Lane all the way to the entrance of the MENCS garage. It provides fans an up-close view of the vast preparations by the race teams from down in the trenches for both the Fr8Auctions 250 as well as the 1000Bulbs.com 500.
Friday Infielders Garage Opportunity: Infield guests are invited to walk around the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series garage on Friday from noon to 2 p.m. CDT. Guests can enter the garage via Gate I-20C, which is located between the NCWTS Garage and ARCA Pad, and is available to the first 200 fans on a first-come, first-served basis. All guests must sign a waiver to obtain a wristband. Minors are allowed, but a guardian will need to complete a NASCAR Minor Waiver to obtain a wristband. No alcohol or coolers are allowed, and the track reminds fans to please not interfere with team workspaces or impede moving vehicles.
Kids FREE on Saturday/As low as $15 Sunday: Kids 12 and younger can enjoy the 1000Bulbs.com 500 MENCS race for as low as $15 on Sunday while kids are admitted FREE in all grandstand and tower seats for Saturday’s Fr8Auctions 250 (as well as Friday).
Kids VIP Experience Presented by Children’s of Alabama: Provides behind-the-scenes access for kids at NASCAR’s biggest track for kids 12 and younger prior to the 1000Bulbs.com 500.
Pre-Race Pit Pass Upgrade: Fans who purchase a Pre-Race Pit Pass Upgrade for only $80 can get an exclusive look at pre-race festivities prior to the 1000Bulbs.com 500. Fans receive a chance to stand stage side at Driver Introductions, a special area near the red carpet at the entrance to the Drivers Meeting and a first-hand look at the cars lined up on pit road. Additionally, fans will be able to participate in a special Pre-Race Fan Q&A Session (9:20 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. CDT) on the start-finish line. Scheduled to appear are: Almirola, Bowyer, Harvick, Truex, Rusty Wallace, Donnie Allison and Lyn St. James (subject to change).
Military & First Responders Appreciation: Talladega Superspeedway has special ticket offers for military and first responders (Police Officers, Firemen and EMT’s) and their families, for the 1000Bulbs.com 500 and Fr8Auctions 250.
Teachers & Educators Appreciation: Talladega recognizes and thanks educators and faculty members who work within our school districts to shape our youth into outstanding citizens. Those who work in the school system and qualify can save up to 30% off on various ticket options.
College Student Program: College students can purchase a $24 college ticket to attend the entire weekend full of festivities and racing, including the 1000Bulbs.com 500.
The VIP Tailgate Experience in The Compound: The brand-new space for the ultimate tailgating experience. Located just outside of the grandstands behind the start-finish line behind the gated Legends Village hospitality area.
Fanatics Mobile Trailers and Fan Zone: Fans looking to “gear-up” to showcase the support of their favorite driver and track can do so by visiting the more than a dozen Fanatics mobile trailers that will be in Talladega Superspeedway’s Fan Zone (located outside the frontstretch near Turn 4), which will be open from 9:00 a.m. CDT to the start of NCWTS qualifying on Friday; 8 a.m. CDT until Foodland/Food Giant Qualifying on Saturday; and 8 a.m. CDT till the drop of the green flag for the 1000Bulbs.com 500 on Sunday.
In addition to the Fanatics mobile trailers, there are many ways for families to engage with the NASCAR community in the Fan Zone with a host of music, as well as a dozen activities and interactive exhibits that showcase a multitude of companies involved in the sport. Additionally, 2013 GEICO 500 winner David Ragan will make an appearance on Saturday at the 1000Bulbs.com display at 1 p.m. CDT.
PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION
Preferred Regular Parking: Pay a little to save a lot (of steps) by parking behind the frontstretch grandstands.
FREE Parking: In addition to paid parking options, Talladega Superspeedway also offers free parking in several lots outside speedway property.
For more information on everything listed above, plus all things Talladega Superspeedway and how to purchase tickets for the upcoming race weekend, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-RACE.
TSS PR/TSS Photo