Since 2010, the spring Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, have shown what the world’s largest and greatest track is all about – 200 mph speeds, three- and four-wide, 10 rows deep competition and absolute nail-biting, close finishes by a matter of feet, sometimes even inches.
In seven of the nine races (two races ended under caution) conducted thus far since ’10, the average margin of victory by a driver is an incredible .129 second, with the best a NASCAR premier series record of .002 by Jimmie Johnson in 2011. This weekend (April 26-28), NASCAR’s Most Competitive track, created as a palace of speed and tight racing by Bill France Sr. in 1969, will host its 100th Monster Energy Series race. And, if the last nine years are any indication, fans have a lot to look forward to.
The below shows just how close the competition has been at each of the springtime races at the 2.66-mile venue during the 2010s:
- 2010: Driving for Richard Childress Racing, Kevin Harvick, with a last-lap pass coming out of the tri-oval, beats Jamie McMurray by just .011 second to claim his first – and only win to this point – at Talladega.
- 2011: Johnson comes from fifth coming out of Turn 4 on the final lap to nip Clint Bowyer by an exhilarating .002 second. In addition, the event holds a NASCAR record-tying 88 lead changes.
- 2012: Brad Keselowski holds on to outduel Kyle Busch by a whopping .304 second (say in jest) to capture his second Talladega Superspeedway triumph.
- 2013: Driving for an underfunded team, David Ragan stuns the racing world, with drafting help from his teammate David Gilliland, and comes out of nowhere to win the spring event, passing leader Carl Edwards on the final lap.
- 2014: Danica Patrick becomes the first female racer to lead laps at TSS while Denny Hamlin goes to Gatorade Victory Lane, giving Joe Gibbs Racing its fourth ‘Dega win.
- 2015: Fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins the GEICO 500 after being absent from Talladega’s Gatorade Victory Lane for 11 years. He edges teammate Johnson by .158 second.
- 2016: In his first MENCS start at TSS, rookie Chase Elliott, driving the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet that Jeff Gordon made famous at the 2.66-mile venue, claims the pole position for the GEICO 500, but it’s Keselowski scoring his fourth TSS Cup Victory.
- 2017: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. becomes the 11 driver in history to capture his first career triumph at Talladega, with a thrilling .095 second victory over McMurray. In two races in the 2010s, McMurray finishes runner-up twice by a mere average of 0.53 second.
- 2018: Joey Logano picks up his third Cup Series win a Talladega, his first to come in the spring, over Kurt Busch. The win locks him into the season-ending NASCAR Playoffs that eventually leads him to the championship.
During the nine-race stretch of spring events at Talladega, Ford claims four wins, followed by Chevy with three, Toyota with one and Dodge with one. Gordon leads the way with three top-starting spots.
The GEICO 500 will be the anchor event of a tripleheader weekend that starts this Friday (April 26) with the General Tire 200 for the ARCA Menards Series (which has been a staple of Talladega Superspeedway since October of ’69). The MoneyLion 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is set for Saturday (April 27) and Sunday’s (April 28) GEICO 500 gets the green flag at 1 p.m. CDT. For ticket information, log onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-RACE (7223).