Talladega Superspeedway is a track beloved for its high-action and unpredictability. And those are apt adjectives for NASCAR’s Cup Series competition this season as well – with eight different winners through the first nine races.
The NASCAR Cup Series heads to NASCAR’s Most Competitive track for Sunday’s GEICO 500 (3 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) which is traditionally a sure-bet season highlight.
There have been four different winners in the last four races at the 2.66-mile, high-banked venue, including a career first NASCAR Cup Series trophy earned by 23XI Racing driver Bubba Wallace (+1400) last Fall in the YellaWood 500. Former premier series champion Brad Keselowski (+1400)is the defending winner of the GEICO 500 with six career Talladega victories and is the winningest driver in the field. He actually boasts an impressive double-the-number of victories at TSS than any other active driver.
A win would definitely be a huge boost for Keselowski, whose only top-10 finish of this season was a ninth place in the season-opening DAYTONA 500. The new owner-driver for RFK Racing was penalized after the Atlanta race when NASCAR inspectors found the team modified a “single source” supplied part on the No. 6 RFK Racing Ford. Keselowski lost 100 driver points and 10 Playoff points, and crew chief Matt McCall was suspended for four races. And now Keselowski shows up at one of his career-best tracks ranked 30th in the driver standings.
A solid run – a victory this weekend – would go a long way toward turning the season around for the new driver-owner. He scored a win and a runner-up finish in his two Talladega starts last year.
Perennial crowd favorite Chase Elliott (+1300) has led the championship standings for four of the last five weeks. The driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet currently holds a slim three-point edge on Team Penske driver Ryan Blaney (+1000) and a 21-point advantage over Blaney’s Penske teammate, Joey Logano, heading to Talladega.
Interestingly, these three drivers ranked highest in the series driver standings are all still winless on the season. But they are all former Talladega winners and race favorites this weekend.
Elliott, who is from nearby Dawsonville, Ga. and considered a “hometown” favorite at Talladega, dramatically won the 2019 GEICO 500, but has only a single top-five finish in the five races since. When it comes to superspeedways (at Daytona and Talladega), however, Elliott has collected six top-five and nine finishes on his career.
Blaney has two victories – in Fall, 2019 and Spring, 2020 – and is the first driver to score back-to-back wins at Talladega since NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon swept the 2007 races. However, as with Elliott, Blaney has had a rough go otherwise, with only three top-10 finishes (including those two victories) in the last 11 Talladega races despite leading laps in eight of those 11 outings.
Logano (+1200), driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, trails only Keselowski in the victory count with three wins, the last coming in the 2018 GEICO 500. He also has struggled recently with only a single top 10 (third place in Fall 2020) in the last five races. He does boast nine top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in his 26 career starts, however, and has led laps in 12 of the last 13 races.
Any of these drivers has a compelling case to win this Sunday – past Talladega performance plus a desire to score that first 2022 victory.
And not to be overlooked is the season’s only multiple-winner, Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron (+1800). He was runner-up to Keselowski in this race last year and has top-five finishes in two of the last three Talladega races. The driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet scored his first career NASCAR Cup Series win on the series’ other superspeedway in Daytona Beach in August 2020.
“Talladega is one of those places where you just don’t know how your day is going to end up,” Byron said. “I think that’s why driving smart and just doing what you can to make it to the checkered flag is the main focus. Your race can change so fast if you’re in the wrong lane or you get caught up in someone else’s mistake. I think if you can avoid those things and finish the race, you’re going to have a decent result.”
Qualifying for the GEICO 500 is schedule for Saturday morning at 10 a.m. CDT on FS1.
Spanning the Globe! Fans Again Travel from all 50 States & 22 Countries for ’Dega
In what has become the norm, Talladega Superspeedway continues to entice loyal fans from across the globe to be a part of its incredible, fan-friendly events where the experience is second to none. This (April 22-24) weekend’s tripleheader, featuring the GEICO 500, Saturday’s Ag-Pro 300 and General Tire 200, will have both national and international flavor.
Over 70 percent of fans who are making the journey to the iconic track are traveling from outside the state of Alabama, and across the world including:
- All 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia
- 22 countries including Great Britain, Norway, Canada, New Zealand, France, Sweden, Brazil, Netherlands, Belgium, etc.
- Six continents (North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia)
- Australia is the farthest country that will be represented – over 9,300 miles afar and more than 8,000 nautical miles away
Next Gen Makes First Appearance at Talladega
The ‘Next Gen’ car will see its first action on Talladega’s high banks in the GEICO 500. Debuting in the season-opening DAYTONA 500, the Next Gen car is designed to give the drivers greater control and put an emphasis back on race strategies, team personnel and vehicle setups while returning the ‘stock car’ look to NASCAR. So far this season, the race cars that look more like street version vehicles, have put on incredible racing with rave reviews from fans.
Guests who have a Sunday GEICO 500 ticket will get admission to the traditional Saturday Night Infield Concert featuring country music artist Riley Green. The show kicks off after the running of a racing doubleheader, featuring the General Tire 200 (12:00 p.m. CDT) for the ARCA Menards Series and the Ag-Pro 300 (3:00 p.m. CDT) for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. In addition, Saturday morning kicks off the on-track action at 10 am with KLĒNSKIN Pole Qualifying at 10:00 a.m. CDT.
To see all weekend admission opportunities, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 1-877-Go2-DEGA. Several options await fans like the fan-favorite 140,000 square-foot Talladega Garage Experience, which includes up-close access to Garage Viewing Walkways, Pre-Race Ceremonies and Ruoff Mortgage Victory Lane. In addition, there are hospitality areas such as Fan Suites, Premium Box seating, and Busch Balcony, along with incredible Kid’s programming.
Fans are encouraged to keep up with all the happenings at the biggest, baddest race track on the planet by following Talladega Superspeedway on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as the all-new NASCAR Tracks Apps.
About Talladega Superspeedway
Talladega Superspeedway is the most competitive racetrack on the NASCAR schedule (record 88 lead changes in 188 laps), the highest-banked (33 degrees) and the longest (2.66 miles), as well as the most fun and fan-friendly. Three- and four-wide racing at 200 mph are a norm at Talladega Superspeedway, along with nail-biting, photo finishes. For information, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 1-877-Go2-DEGA.