TRACK: Talladega Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval). DISTANCE: 500 Laps — STAGE 1: 60 Laps, STAGE 2: 60 Laps, FINAL STAGE: 68 Laps, MILES (500.08 Miles)
TRACK HISTORY/TRACK TRENDS
The spring race has been around since 1970 but the Fall race was the 1st race ever here at Talladega on Sept. 14, 1969. This year will mark the 108th and 109th races on the high speed Alabama superspeedway.
- The last 3 winners each started 19th and 16th respectively.
- 13 of the previous 14 races prior to Wallace’s win in 2021 were won by the top 6 Rows.
- Only 2 pole winners (Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 2017, Denny Hamlin 2020) won in the last 36 Cup races at Talladega. Those are the only 2 front row starters to win since the playoff race of 2011 (23 races). Previously, 5 of the 13 races before were won by front row starters.
- Ford has won 10 of the last 15 overall Cup races at Talladega. They’re 1-for-2 on superspeedways this year including leading 122 of 212 laps (57.5%) at Daytona and 221 of 260 (85%) in Atlanta. That’s 343 of their 743 laps (46.1%) led this season being on superspeedway’s. The next best is Toyota with 66 laps led on these tracks followed by Chevrolet with 63.
- Toyota has only won 3 times in the last 28 races overall. 2 of which were won by Denny Hamlin.
- Chevrolet has won 5 of the 7 superspeedway races in this Next Gen era. Ford won the other two, both were from Team Penske.
- Both races last year ended in regulation. Just 2 of the previous 7 did.
- At Talladega though, just 8 times since 1995 has a driver earned their first or second career wins there.
- Wallace last year was the12th driver to pick up his 1st career win at Talladega joining Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2017), Brad Keselowski (2009), Brian Vickers (2006), Ken Schrader (1988), Phil Parsons (1988), Davey Allison (1987), Bobby Hillin Jr. (1986), Ron Bouchard (1981), Lennie Pond (1978), Dick Brooks (1973) and
- 6 straight years now a driver scored their 1st or 2nd career superspeedway win at Talladega. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. started it in the Spring of 2017, followed by Aric Almirola in the Fall of 2018, Chase Elliott in the Spring of 2019, then Ryan Blaney did so in the Fall of 2019 and Spring 2020 race while Bubba Wallace did it in the 2021 Fall race and Chastain last spring.
- Since the win and advance format was introduced to the sport in 2014, the playoff race has always been won by an existing playoff driver with the exception of 2021. They’re 8-for-9.
- 6 times has a non-playoff driver won the NASCAR Cup Series’ playoff race at Talladega. It first occurred in 2005 with Dale Jarrett. It happened again a year later (2006) with Brian Vickers. Then we saw it twice in 2009 and again in 2013 with Jamie McMurray as well as 2011 with Clint Bowyer and last year with Bubba Wallace. Only Wallace is in Cup anymore.
- 4 of the last 5 Talladega playoff winners were outside the top eight in the playoff standings entering Talladega including Wallace not even being in the playoffs in 2021.
- Just 2 in the last 6 Talladega races has seen the eventual winner scoring stage points in the opening stage.
- However, in 4 of the last 5 races, the winner actually finished 2nd in Stage 2. Chastain finished 9th in the 2nd stage back in April and Chase Elliott won the second stage last Fall. Furthermore, since 2017 (the start of stage race) we’ve had 12 races at Talladega. The eventual race winner finished 2nd in the 2nd stage 5 times.
- In the first stage, they had 5 top 4 finishes in the first 6 tries but since? Just 2 top 10 (6th in Spring 2020, 3rd Fall 2022).
- For Daytona/Talladega last year, the race winner scored 8 points (Chase Elliott 3rd in Fall Talladega race) in Stage 1.
- For Daytona/Talladega last year, the race winner was 6th, 9th, 10th and 1st respectively in Stage 2.
- Just 1 race winner (Elliott) last year led any laps in the first 2 stages. Austin Cindric led all 21 of his laps in the Daytona 500 in the final stage. Chastain led just the final lap here last April while Austin Dillon led all 10 of his laps in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 in the final stage too.
Ryan Blaney (+1100)
While Blaney hasn’t won a race in his last 55 tries, this could be the week that he does so. The Team Penske driver has an astounding three Top-2 finishes in his last seven tries at Talladega including a pair of wins (2019, 2020) at that. Also, he’s led a lap in eight of the last nine Talladega races and has a win in the 2021 Daytona regular season finale too.
6 of his last 9 Daytona results overall (counting the summer ‘400) have been inside of the top 6 (he was 8th in February). The 2021 Daytona 500 loss in the end (4th place) still resonates with him as the sting still burns. He’s had two Top-4 finishes in his last four Great American Races at that. Since the start of the 2020 season, only Hamlin has as many speedway wins as Blaney, but Blaney tops all with average finishing position (10.1) too. He’s had the second most Top 5’s (5) and tied for most Top 10’s (8) in that span. He also has the third most laps led (187) in that span.
Ross Chastain (+1200)
He had a Top-5 finish in both Talladega races a year ago and always a threat to get the job done. In fact, his last win came in this very race (35 races ago) in the spring event of 2022. Can Chastain become the eighth different winner in the first 10 races run this season? Odds are pretty good for that occurring at a place he did so well at.
Chase Elliott (+1200)
Can he really pull off a win in his second race back? He won the last time out here and has two trips to victory lane in his last eight Talladega starts. Elliott’s pair of Talladega finishes last year were seventh and first respectively to give him five top eight finishes in his last eight Talladega tries overall. His Hendrick teammates have combined to have won four of the nine races thus far and Elliott has a pair of Top-10 finishes in three starts this season himself.
Denny Hamlin (+1400)
He can win at any given time on a superspeedway, but for his odds and having just one top 10 in his last 7 superspeedway starts give me reason to pause too. However, six Top-7 finishes in his last nine Talladega tries also gives me optimism.
No one has as many wins on superspeedway’s since 2018 as Hamlin’s three though. In his last 12 Daytona 500 starts, he has eight top five finishes. He was third in the 2020 summer Daytona race too.
At Talladega, he has seven straight top seven’s in the Fall race.
He also has 10 top five finishes in that span (since 2018) with the next best being Logano’s seven. He, Blaney and Logano are the only drivers to lead at least 200 laps in the last 21 races as well. He’s got five career superspeedway wins which is two shy of Brad Keselowski for most in the series today.
Brad Keselowski (+1500)
You always go with Brad on a superspeedway race. Even though he was 23rd and 24th respectively last year, he’s won six times at Talladega, including the spring of 2021. He was also runner-up that Fall too. Also, two of RFK Racing’s three wins also came on superspeedway’s so this could be a good omen this weekend. His first Cup win came here as a driver, so why not his first Cup win as an owner too? Both cars looked good in Daytona back in February.
Bubba Wallace (+1800)
He won here in 2021, was runner-up in the 2021 Daytona 500 too. If he can stay out of trouble, the odds are good for a win on Sunday. My only pause is the fact that his win in 2021 is his only finish better than 14th too here in his 10 Cup tries. His NXS finishes were 31st, 20th, 13th and 13th respectively.
Austin Cindric (+2200)
He won the season opening Daytona 500 and driving a car that’s won six times here. Cindric also was third in Atlanta 2 last year and third in the return trip to Daytona back in August and ninth here last year in the Fall.
Austin Dillon (+2500)
He was second here in the spring of last year and also won last August in Daytona. On top of that, he and teammate Kyle Busch were 1-2 at the end of the Daytona 500 before an overtime restart. Furthermore, Dillon has six Top-13 finishes in his last seven Talladega tries.
Aric Almirola (+2500)
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver had a streak of eight straight Top-10 finishes at Talladega, including five of which in the Top-5 and a win in October 2018. Since? 37th, 15th, 26th, 13th and 14th. However, he enters on the heels of a sixth place finish last week too. He also won a Duel at Daytona this past February.
Kevin Harvick (+3000)
He’s only had two top five finishes in his last 21 Talladega starts. However, for these odds and four Top-10 finishes in his last six Talladega tries including three in the last four, I’ll snag him now.
Erik Jones (+3500)
Jones has had five Top-10 finishes in his last six Talladega starts including four of which in the top six. Jones led 25 laps here last spring and 23 more last Fall in what could have been wins in each.
Michael McDowell (+5000)
He won the Daytona 500 in 2021. McDowell also has three Top-8 finishes in his last four Talladega starts including a third place finish in the 2021 spring race and the same result here last Fall.
Justin Haley (+5500)
You always go in his direction on superspeedway’s. Haley has eight career Cup and/or Xfinity Series wins. Five of which have come at either Talladega or Daytona. Three of his last five Cup finishes here have been inside of the top 15 too.
Corey LaJoie (+6000)
His best season to date so far and was 14th in this race last year. LaJoie is always a threat on superspeedway’s and worth a play this week.
Noah Gragson (+8000)
Six Top-11 finishes in seven Talladega tries in the Xfinity Series including a win last year. He was 20th and 19th in his pair of Cup Series starts here too.
Todd Gilliland (+10000)
He’s looking improved this season and we all know that Front Row Motorsports has been producing some strong speedway cars over the years. Gilliland was seventh here last Fall and has four Top-15 finishes in his last five starts on the season as well.
Who To Fade?
Joey Logano (+1100)
This could be debatable. He was second in Daytona and won Atlanta from the pole. He’s also a three-time Talladega winner (Oct. 2015, October 2016, April 2018). However, four of his last five Talladega finishes have also seen him finish 26th or worse too with just one Top-10 finish in his last six here. For that, I’ll look elsewhere.
William Byron (+1400)
He has four top 12 finishes in his last six starts at Talladega including a runner-up finish in the spring of 2021. However, he was 15th and 12th last year and 36th the start prior to give him eight finishes outside the Top-10 too in 10 tries.
Christopher Bell (+1600)
He’s finished 34th, 23rd, 22nd, 19th and 36th on these tracks last season. Despite being third in Daytona, I’m still skeptical. His spring Talladega finishes are: 29th, 17th and 22nd respectively. His Fall finsihes are 39th, fifth and 17th. Too steep of odds for me to grab him now.
Kyle Busch (+1600)
Not one of his better races. Just 1-for-35 in trips to victory lane. Busch’s last nine finishes in the Fall Talladega race have been 11th or worse including his last six being 30th, 27th, 26th, 19th, 27th, 27th and 20th respectively. He was 32nd, 18th and 3rd in the last three spring races too. Six of his last seven finishes have seen him come home 18th or worse.
Kyle Larson (+1800)
Last spring was his first and only Talladega top 5 finish (1-for-16). He’s only 1-for-37 for top 5’s on superspeedway’s. In fact, his last 5 finishes at Talladega are 39th, 40th, 40th, 37th, 4th and 18th respectively. Four of his last eight results here are 37th or worse.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (+1800)
Almost always a superspeedway threat but I don’t like him for these odds. Stenhouse Jr. was runner-up in the 2020 spring race. He was ninth in the Fall race in 2019 too. However, can the Daytona 500 champion win again? Stenhouse’s last five Talladega finishes are 38th, 33rd, 16th, 30th and 22nd respectively.
Chris Buescher (+2200)
This is a tough one. He’s 0-for-15 in regards to Top-5 finishes at Talladega. However, he does have a pair of sixth place finishes here since 2020, was in the Top-2 in the closing laps at Daytona back in February and this 17 car is a past spring race winner at Talladega too. The other side is he was four of his last five Talladega finishes too have seen him finish 21st or worse.
Tyler Reddick (+2200)
He won an Xfinity Series race at ‘Dega as well as having two straight seventh place finishes on the 2.66-mile track before being 39th, 39th and 28th respectively. He also crashed out and finished 39th in the Daytona 500 too.
Alex Bowman (+2500)
Just one top five finish in Daytona and only one in 14 career Talladega starts too. Two of his last three Talladega results have been in 38th place.
Daniel Suarez (+2800)
His 2 Atlanta finishes last year were 4th and 6th. His 4 combined Daytona and Talladega results were 18th, 31st, 24th and eighth respectively. This year, he was seventh in Daytona and had a good car in Atlanta before being caught up in a crash. He’s finished 17th or worse in each of the last six weeks on the season as well.
Martin Truex Jr. (+3000)
He’s had just three top five finishes at Talladega since 2007. His last 11 finishes there are 40th, 35th, 23rd, 26th, 23rd, 20th, 24th, 23rd, 31st, 12th fifth and 26th respectively.
Chase Briscoe (+3000)
Three of his four Talladega finishes have been inside the Top-15. However, none of which were better than 10th either.
Harrison Burton (+10000)
His three Talladega finishes were 20th, 34th and 36th respectively.