TALLADEGA, Ala. — The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will play host to its second race with restrictor plates (which are used to limit airflow to the engine and choke horsepower, which keeps speeds in check) this season Sunday with the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Here are the particulars (all times are ET):
START: Senior Airman James A. Sottile, a biomedical equipment technician from Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., will give the command for drivers to start their engines at 1:07 p.m. ET. The green flag is scheduled for 1:19 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 188 laps (500 miles) around the 2.66-mile oval.
PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Sprint Cup garage opens at 8 a.m., and the drivers meeting is at 10 a.m. Driver introductions begin at 12:25 p.m.
NATIONAL ANTHEM: It will be performed by the 313th United States Army Band at 1:01 p.m.
TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race, starting with a prerace show at 12:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at MRN.com with its prerace show at noon.
FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 77 degrees at race time with a 0% chance of rain.
LAST TIME(S): A year ago, Denny Hamlin scored one of only two victories for Toyota during the 2014 season, leading the final two laps after swapping the lead five times with Kevin Harvick. In the Oct. 19 race, Brad Keselowski advanced to the third round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup with his sixth and final victory of the season, taking the lead from Ryan Newman on a last-lap pass with a drafting push from Matt Kenseth (who had been in an altercation with Keselowski after the previous race at Charlotte Motor Speedway).
WITHER DALE JR.? Once a site of his greatest triumphs, Talladega has been a source of incessant frustration in recent seasons for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who hasn’t won at the Alabama track in more than 10 years. Last year, he led both races and had strong cars, but his No. 88 Chevrolet got mired in traffic and finished 38th in May, and a late pileup eliminated him in October. Earnhardt once won four consecutive at Talladega, and his five victories (most recently in October ’04) rank third to his late father’s record of 10 and Jeff Gordon’s total of six, so it’s a special place with unfinished business for the 12-time most popular driver.
Row 1: Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne
Row 2: Ryan Blaney, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Row 3: Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart
Row 22: Matt DiBenedetto