Who is hot and cold entering the Alabama 500 at Talladega

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Recent races at Talladega Superspeedway usually deliver in the last 10 laps, if not the last one.

Only twice in the last 26 races has the final green-flag run lasted longer than 10 laps.

In the 94-race history of the 2.66-mile track, there have been 23 last-lap passes for the win. In the 12 Chase for the Sprint Cup races it’s held, there have been seven.

However, four of the last six races, including the last two visits, have ended under caution.

But this is Talladega. None of these numbers mean anything. Bring on the chaos.

Here’s who is hot and cold entering the Alabama 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Brad Keselowski

  • Lost 32 points to the bubble at Kansas after an accident left him with his season-worst finish of 38th and his first DNF since the 2015 Daytona 500.
  • Finished top 10 in seven of the last eight races.
  • Won the fall 2014 Talladega race in a must-win situation. Has won at Talladega three times in 11 races and is the only repeat winner in that time.
  • Won May Talladega race and the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.

Kyle Busch

  • Top-10 finishes in the last six races, best streak of 2016.
  • One of two drivers with top-10 finishes in all five Chase races in 2016 (Matt Kenseth).
  • Finished 25th or worse in 11 of 22 Talladega starts.
  • Finished in the top three in all three restrictor-plate races this season.
  • Kansas was first Chase race this year he didn’t lead a lap in.

Matt Kenseth

  • Top-10 finishes in the last five races, including two runner-up results.
  • Since 2013 Daytona, has finished 14th or worse in 12 of 15 restrictor-plate races.
  • Only one finish of 20th or better in last six Talladega starts.

Jimmie Johnson

  • Finished top 10 in the last four races, best streak of 2016 after having only four top 10s in the
    prior 18 races.
  • 363 laps led in the Chase, 266 in the regular season.
  • One top 10 in last six Talladega starts.
  • Already advanced to Round of Eight with Charlotte win.

Who is cold

Carl Edwards

  • Finished fifth in this race last year, his only top-20 finish in the last five races at Talladega.
  • Two top 10s in last seven races.
  • Seven DNFs in 24 Talladega starts.
  • Top five at Kansas was first since Kentucky in July.

Chase Elliott

  • Won pole at Talladega in May and finished fifth.
  • Results of 31st and 33rd (DNF) at Kansas and Charlotte.
  • Top 10s in four of the last eight races.
  • Last on the Chase grid, 25 points back from eighth.

Martin Truex Jr.

  • After winning two races in the first round, finished outside top 10 at Charlotte and Kansas.
  • Had an issue in 23 of the 31 races this season, including a fueling problem at Kansas.
  • Four top 10s in the last seven races at Talladega (finished 13th in May).
  • Five top 10s in the last 14 plate races (nearly won the 2016 Daytona 500).

Other notes of interest ahead of the Alabama 500.

  • The No. 24 car has won the last three poles at Talladega. Two with Jeff Gordon in 2015 and one with Chase Elliott in May.
  • Team Penske has won three of the last four Talladega races. All four of its Talladega wins have come in the last nine races.
  • Hendrick Motorsports has led the most laps in four of the last six Talladega races, but won only once (Dale Earnhardt Jr., May 2015).
  • The driver leading the most laps won only two of the last 13 races at Talladega (Keselowski, May 2016; Earnhardt, May 2015).

 

NASCAR America: Erik Jones’ racing roots in Byron, Michigan

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After a feature looking at his upbringing in Byron, Michigan, Furniture Row Racing driver Erik Jones spoke with NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte, Dale Jarrett and Marty Snider about the early years of his racing career.

The journey to his NASCAR career began with a yard cart that his late father, Dave Jones, brought home one day when he was 3.

“I rode that all day long around the yard,” Jones said. “Winter time would and we had like a gravel circle driveway in front of our house. When it would snow over I would get the kart out and ride it around in the snow because I could slide and I thought that was pretty cool. I would get it stuck about every five minutes out in the snow.”

Jones would then get out of the kart and find his dad in their barn to come out get him out.

Now 21, Jones also discussed how much his dad was involved in his career until his death in June 2016 after a battle with cancer.

He also explains how he’s never stayed in any series for more than one year in his career.

Watch the video above for the full discussion.

NASCAR America: Scan All from Cup playoff opener at Chicagoland

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“I sure as (expletive) hope that’s all out of our system.”

That’s what Kyle Busch had to say over his radio after he finished 15th, a lap down in the Cup playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway.

Busch’s day went south after the first stage thanks to two pit miscues the sent him two laps down.

Meanwhile, Martin Truex Jr. dominate the field to win his fifth race of the year and advance to the second round of the playoffs.

In the latest “Scan All,” True and crew chief Cole Pearn recap their day, which saw them bounce back from their own pit road mistakes.

Here are other highlights from this week’s “Scan All.”

  • “Can’t drive in a straight line. Something’s not right with the front end.” – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. just before he made contact with the outside wall. A commitment line violation resulted in Stenhouse finish multiple laps off the lead.
  • “Tell the 1 (Jamie McMurray) I don’t know what happened there but we both got the short end of the stick.” – Ryan Newman after contact between him and McMurray sent McMurray spinning on a restart.
  • (Expletive), that 24 (Chase Elliott) can be so much (expletive) faster than us.” – Kasey Kahne after being told he was two laps down.

Watch the above video for more.

NASCAR America: Erik Jones recounts rookie Cup season, being taught by Kyle Busch

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Erik Jones, the rookie driver for Furniture Row Racing in the No. 77 Toyota, joined NASCAR America Wednesday for a special show from the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The 21-year-old driver won the 2015 Camping World Truck Series title and is teammates with Martin Truex Jr.

With Marty Snider, Dale Jarrett and Steve Letarte, Jones discussed the challenges and lessons he’s faced in his first full-time season in the Cup Series.

“The biggest (milestones) for me were trying to win a race and making the playoffs,” Jones said. “Obviously, making the playoffs didn’t happen. … I look back at the last few seasons and rookies that have been in the sport and it’s so hard to win races now. You just don’t see rookies do it a lot.”

Jones also discussed finishing second to Kyle Busch in the Bristol night race and his relationship with the driver who brought him into NASCAR beginning with the Truck Series.

“A lot of times when I was racing in Trucks and Xfinity and Kyle would come to race I’d always run second to him,” Jones said. “I’m like, ‘you know what the problem is? This is the guy who taught me how to race these cars. So I’m good at all the same tracks he’s good at. Except he’s been doing about 10 more years than I have.”

Watch the video for more.

 

PJ1 adhesive to be applied again to track for this weekend’s races at Loudon

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With the successful use of the PJ1 compound in July’s NASCAR Cup race there, New Hampshire Motor Speedway officials announced Wednesday they will apply the compound again to the track for this weekend’s racing.

The 1.058-mile flat track will play host to the Cup and Camping World Truck Series playoff races, as well as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the American Canadian Tour race series.

“There’s no question that the track bite compound we laid down in July allowed for some awesome racing around the entire racetrack,” NHMS executive VP and GM David McGrath said in a statement. “We received some very positive feedback from the drivers, teams and, most importantly, the fans. The support to do it again in September was overwhelming.”

McGrath said the PJ1 adhesive compound will be added to the first and third grooves in all four turns on Thursday evening. It will be reapplied again on Saturday night to be fresh for Sunday afternoon’s Cup race.

Several drivers gave their endorsement for the move:

Kyle Larson: “I think it’s awesome. I was surprised at how well it worked. I liked the element of it changing quickly and wearing out and then wearing out in different spots and stuff. It just adds an element to us that we have to adapt to. In the past … you kind of just run the same line all race long, but (in July) everybody I got around was running somewhat of a different line, and I thought that was a really cool thing.”

Joey Logano: “The question got put out to a lot of different drivers … from the (NASCAR Cup Drivers Council). We kind of got on our group chat and were talking back and forth about what we thought was best. (In the past) after 10 or 15 laps, everyone is kind of where they are at and passes don’t happen often. The wider we can make the racetrack, the more passes that can be made.”

Kyle Busch: “We always run that one lane here, which I call the middle lane. They were just trying to widen the racetrack a little bit and give a little bit more opportunity for us to be able to run side by side and not feel like we’re crashing here all the time or running into each other on restarts.”

Kevin Harvick: “I like the prospects of us trying different things. As the (summer Cup) race wore on, things changed. You had to move around. The PJ1 is one of those things that can definitely make the race better if you can add more lanes of racing.”

Austin Dillon: “I thought (the PJ1) held on good throughout the race in July; I’m a fan of it. July’s race was a blast and everyone is excited about it this time around. We’re going to be aggressive and just go after it this weekend.”