Cup Series Postseason Dozen at ‘Dega

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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 Talladegadue 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.

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