Follow the leader: Who led the most laps in Sprint Cup in 2015

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There are not many surprises among the 10 drivers who led the most laps over the course of the Sprint Cup Series’ 36 point races in 2015.

All 10 drivers qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup and all 1o finished the year with multiple wins with one exception.

Here’s the top 10 drivers in laps led.

  1. Kevin Harvick; 2,294 laps – For the second season in a row Harvick led the field in laps led. His 2015 number bettered his 2014 total by 157. His laps at the front – 22 percent of the laps he completed –  translated into three wins compared to his five in 2014, but led to Harvick finishing second 13 times, the most since NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison did it 15 times in 1970.
  2. Joey Logano; 1,431 laps – Logano led 863 fewer laps than Harvick on the way to a career-high six wins. Just 497 of the laps occurred in races Logano won.
  3. Brad Keselowski; 1,184 laps – Logano’s teammate led 11.4 percent of the laps he completed in 2015. Only one of those laps took Keselowksi to victory lane (Auto Club Speedway) and that was after a late debris caution. Keselowski led the most laps in four races. In 2014, Keselowski led 1,540 laps and won six times.
  4. Matt Kenseth; 927 laps – Kenseth ran out front for 9.4 percent of his 34-race season. That’s an increase of 398 laps and 4.4 percent over 2014.
  5. Kurt Busch; 788 laps – The Stewart-Haas Racing driver cracked the top five despite missing the first three races of the year due to suspension. In 2014, Busch didn’t even make it into the top 10 with 220 laps led.
  6. Kyle Busch, 736 laps – The 2015 Sprint Cup champion missed the first 11 races of the year because of injuries. In the 25 races he competed, he led 10.7 percent of the laps he completed. In the five races he won, Busch led 335 laps.
  7. Martin Truex Jr., 567 laps – At one point in the season Truex led the most laps in four straight races, winning only one (Pocono I). After that stretch, he led double-digit laps in just two races.
  8. Jimmie Johnson; 558 laps – Johnson failed to lead more than 1,000 laps for the first time since 2006 (854).
  9. Denny Hamlin; 529 laps  – After leading 363 laps in consecutive seasons, Hamlin recorded his second-highest total in laps led since 2010. His best in the last five seasons was 1,226 in 2012.
  10. Carl Edwards; 376 laps – Edwards recorded his second highest total since 2011. Only once has Edwards led more than 1,000 laps in a season (1, 282 laps, 2011).

Starting lineup for Talladega Cup race: Christopher Bell wins pole

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Six playoff drivers will start in the top 10 for Sunday’s 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Christopher Bell won the pole for the race Saturday with a speed of 180.591 miles per hour. He was followed by Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola and Chase Briscoe.

MORE: Talladega Cup starting lineup

MORE: Talladega Cup qualifying results

Playoff drivers starting in the top 10 are Bell, Larson, Hamlin, Briscoe, Ross Chastain (sixth) and William Byron (ninth).

Noah Gragson, who qualified seventh, is replacing Alex Bowman, who is sitting out the race with concussion-like symptoms.

Ryan Blaney, starting 19th, is the lowest playoff driver on the starting grid.

 

Christopher Bell wins Cup Series pole at Talladega Superspeedway

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Playoff driver Christopher Bell won the pole position Saturday for Sunday’s 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

Bell, 11th in the playoff standings and below the cutline entering Sunday’s race, ran 180.591 mph to edge second-place Kyle Larson at 180.516.

Playoff drivers took six of the top-10 starting spots.

MORE: Talladega Cup qualifying results

The race is the second in the second round of the playoffs. Any playoff driver who wins the race will automatically advance to the next round.

Joey Logano leads the playoff standings.

Noah Gragson, replacing Alex Bowman, who is sitting out the race with concussion-like symptoms, qualified seventh.

The race (2 p.m., ET) will be broadcast by NBC.

 

 

Sunday Talladega Cup race: Start time, TV info, weather

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Sunday will mark a difficult crossroads for NASCAR. As several of its top drivers express serious concerns about safety, the Cup Series is at Talladega Superspeedway, the circuit’s biggest track and site of many massive wrecks over its 53 years of existence.

Adding to the tension is the fact that Sunday’s 188-lap, 500-mile race is the middle event in the second round of the playoffs. With a win automatically advancing any of the 12 playoff drivers to the next round, the final laps are likely to be frantic.

Sunday’s race (2 p.m. ET, NBC) will begin with Joey Logano atop the playoff point standings. Following him in the top eight are Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Daniel Suarez, Chase Elliott and Chase Briscoe.

Below the cutline are Austin Cindric, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman. Byron fell below the line this week when NASCAR penalized him for bumping Hamlin under caution during last Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports has appealed the penalty.

Bowman will miss Sunday’s race because of concussion-like symptoms he has experienced after a crash at Texas. Noah Gragson will replace him.

Bell won the pole Saturday with a speed of 180.591 mph.

Details for Sunday’s race:

START: The command to start engines will be given by Jimmy Rane, president of Great Southern Wood Preserving, at 1:52 p.m. (ET). … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:04 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 11 a.m. … Driver introductions are at 1:15 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Barbara Embry, chaplin of Citizens Baptist Medical Center, at 1:43 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by the 313th U.S. Army Band at 1:45 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 188 laps (500 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 60. Stage 2 ends at Lap 120.

STARTING LINEUP: Talladega Cup starting lineup

TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race at 2 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 1 p.m. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 1 p.m. … SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mainly sunny. High of 78. 5% chance of rain.

LAST TIME: Bubba Wallace won last October’s race, which was shortened to 117 laps by rain. Brad Keselowski was second.

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Saturday NASCAR schedule at Talladega Superspeedway

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Both the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series will race Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Cup cars will start the day’s action by qualifying for Sunday’s playoff race, followed by the Truck playoff race and then the Xfinity playoff race.

Talladega Superspeedway (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Saturday: Sunny. High of 78.

Saturday, Oct. 1

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 9:30 a.m. — Truck Series
  • 1 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)