It’s no secret, Martin Truex Jr. isn’t a good superspeedway racer. He’s actually never won a race at either Daytona or Talladega before on the Cup level before. That’s why he’s proud to be sitting +15 in the playoff standings heading into Sunday’s YellaWood 500 (2 p.m ET, NBC, MRN) at the Talladega Superspeedway.
More than likely, Truex will need a mulligan this weekend. Being that many points up, he will more than certainly leave the 2.66-mile Alabama oval on Sunday evening on the good side of the playoff standings with one race to go in the Round of 12. But, just how far up is the question.
Truex hasn’t had a top 10 finish at Talladega since 2015. He was fifth in the spring race that year and seventh in the playoff race. That fifth place run is his only top five at Dega since 2007.
His last seven Talladega finishes have all been 20th or worse. In fact, his last six playoff races at Talladega have seen him finish – 27th, seventh, 40th, 23rd, 23rd and 20th respectively. So, for him, this year he hasn’t had all of those playoff points banked like he normally has. While he has finished 22nd, second, 24th and fourth respectively this postseason and has scored 11 top four finishes, four runner-ups and five third place runs included, in his last 14 starts on the season, Talladega could be a place that could make the ROVAL next week ever more stressful.
So could Kevin Harvick. He’s +61 on the playoff bubble but has finished 20th or worse in four of his last six Talladega starts. Also, he has one top five finish on the track since the playoff race at Talladega in 2011.
Nearly of his last 25 Talladega starts have seen him finish 20th or worse.
This could be a spot to where both are using mulligans. So, do you risk a crash and be aggressive early to go after stage points just in case you get caught up in a crash later, or do you play it safe and and ensure you’re there in the end?
Harvick though can withstand it. Truex may be in a bit more worrisome situation.