What to watch: Complete guide for YellaWood 500 in Talladega
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Everything you need to know for Sunday’s Round of 12 Intermediate Race and the 31st NASCAR Cup Series point-paying event of the 2021 season.
Green flag: 2:03 p.m. ET
Grand Marshal: Jimmy Rane, Founder, President and CEO of Great Southern Wood Preserving
Television / Radio: NBC / NBC Sports app, MRN, NASCAR SiriusXM radio
Forecast: A slight risk of showers between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m., then a risk of showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. Partly sunny, with a maximum near 82. Wind calm becoming southerly near 8 km / h in the afternoon. The probability of precipitation is 50%, according to NOAA.gov
Race distance: 188 laps, 500 miles
Steps: 60 | 120 | 188
Pit road speed: 55 mph
Attention car speed: 70 mph
Talladega 101: Get the whole truth
Starting composition: see the full composition
Stall Missions: See Who Stops Where | Expert breaks down pit selections
Five to watch
Here are five great stories we’ll be following at Talladega Superspeedway.
1. Denny hamlin is the only NASCAR Cup playoff driver to earn a round of 16 berth after winning in Las Vegas. The only driver who was able to score points this weekend in Talladega without any help is Kyle larson, who would get an automatic bid in the next round with 54 points, or 55 points if Joey logano wins.
2. On the other side of the spectrum, Guillaume Byron, Kevin harvic, Alex Bowman and Christophe bell enter Talladega below the round of 16 elimination line. Byron is four points less than the eighth driver Brad Keselowski, while Bell is 25 points behind. Harvick has the best average at Talladega among the drivers below the elimination line with 15.8 in 41 starts. But what have you been doing for me lately? While Harvick finished fourth in the spring race at Talladega earlier this year, Byron finished second and also registered a fourth place in the fall race a year ago.
3. It’s hard to ignore the strength of Team Penske on superspeedway races and this is especially true at Talladega. Penske Drivers Ryan blaney, Keselowski and Logano have 11 wins on the 2.66 mile Alabama track, while the rest of the current field have seven race wins. Blaney has won two of the last four races at Talladega and also claimed another superspeedway victory at Daytona in August.
4. Aside from Blaney, the other king of the superspeedway recently has been Hamlin. No.11 driver Joe Gibbs Racing has finished sixth or better in five of the last eight races at Talladega and is the reigning winner of Sunday’s race. He has also won two of the last seven superspeedway races. Hamlin could steal another victory from other playoff drivers who desperately need it and should be the favorites to do so.
5. Hamlin’s JGR teammate, Martin Truex Jr., currently sits fourth in the playoff standings. He’s in a good position, 31 points above the elimination line, but that’s before looking at his Talladega stats. Truex has just two top-five finishes in 33 starts and is on a string of 10 consecutive finishes of 20th or worse. While Truex remains a 4 Championship favorite, Talladega could very well make or break his run for a second Cup title.
The essentials of race day
Our biggest pieces of the week – wrap up for race day from all angles.
• Power classifications: Lots of title fight left in the dark horse Brad Keselowski | Latest rankings
• Overview of the paint scheme: Cunning schemes for Talladega | See them here
• Impulse of the playoffs: Who is hot, who is not after Las Vegas | Full breakdown
• Debate: Are Denny Hamlin and the No.11 Crew peaking at the perfect time? | Rear seat drivers
• Bubble watch: William Byron next to make the round of 16? | See the distribution of bubbles
• Fantastic Fastlane: The power of Penske at the forefront of fantasy | Top plays, sleepers
• Analysis: Round of 12 distribution track by track | See here
Get in on the action
Think you know NASCAR? Test your courage with play, fantasy.
• What are the chances?: Betting odds for Talladega | See them here
• Paris NASCAR: How Penske talks about the randomness of the superspeedway | Read more
• The Action Network: Who to choose: Denny Hamlin or Brad Keselowski? | Find out more
• Let’s talk about the playoffs: How Fantasy Live Play For The Playoffs Works | Read more
• No risk, big reward: Try to win cash prizes with the free Jackpot Races app | Hit the jackpot
Memories of Talladega
Ahead of the Cup Series races in Talladega for the second time this season, take a look back at the history of the track.
• All-time winners: Second race at the Talladega Superspeedway | See the list
• Top 10: Tours led to the Talladega Superspeedway | Who led the most?
• Shocking finishes: Surprise winners in Talladega | See the list
• Remember when: Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton did a show at ‘Dega | Watch the replay of the Good Sam Club 500 2011
• Last year: Denny Hamlin wins in overtime | Full recap of the race
• Turn it off: The most memorable crashes in Talladega | Relive the moments
Powerful statistics relevant to the race, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.
• Four drivers have finished in the top 10 in the four playoff races at this point: Denny hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle larson and Kevin harvic.
• Three drivers – Denny hamlin, Kyle larson and Chase Elliott – led a total of 76% of the rounds played in the 2021 qualifiers.
• Ryan Blaney has won two of the last four races at Talladega and three of the last eight superspeedway races.
• Martin Truex Jr. only has two top-five finishes in 33 starts at Talladega.
• Penske team has 10 wins at Talladega and all 10 have come in the last 19 races there.
Catch the package
Read up on all the headlines from the week leading up to Sunday’s race.
• Pack the protein: Built Bar Becomes Official NASCAR Protein Bar | Read more
• Baby Briscoe: Chase Briscoe and his wife Marissa welcome their first child | Read more
• Moving forward : Round of 8 melee scenarios for Talladega | Read more
• What pressure? : Chase Elliott thinks No.9 team can ‘profit, thrive’ under pressure | Read more
• Don’t be that type: Joey Logano says Kevin Harvick is “known to be that guy” | here’s why
• Back in issue 47: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to return to JTG Daugherty Racing in 2022 | Read more
• Penske power: Team Penske Defines the Composition of Driver Team Leaders for 2022 | Learn more about the changes
• Good news: Joey Gase cleared to direct Talladega after spooky Las Vegas crash | Read more
• Let’s be stupid: Stay up to date with the latest Silly Season news for the 2022 season | Read more
Notable quotes from sports stars ahead of Sunday’s race.
“It hasn’t been very good lately. We’ve had kind of a bad relationship the last few years. I do not know. I like to go there. I like to run there. It was just a real challenge to get to the finish, so hopefully this time around we have a little better luck. I just got caught in a lot of accidents. Nowhere to hide there. It hasn’t been that good for us. We haven’t completed a speedway race this year so I guess the odds are in our favor to hopefully finish this one. We need it. We need a good finish so hopefully we get there. – Martin Truex Jr., Toyota driver # 19 Joe Gibbs Racing
“I feel like you just have to go as hard as you can. I tried to play the aspect ratio and get to the front and all that. There are times when you can relax because the momentum in the race might not be as great at that time. But, you have to aim for those stage points and put yourself in a good position. For me, personally, I try to get the points and see what can happen. – William Byron, driver of the No.24 Chevrolet Hendrick Motorsports
“The biggest stress point for me is trying to get to the end of this race. It’s really hard to do, no matter how good or not you are at the superspeedway. I’m just trying to make the right decisions there and the right calls. Hopefully finish forward there at the end of the day. It’s definitely pretty hard. – Alex Bowman, No.48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driver