After a messy Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs move on this weekend to another potentially messy spot — Talladega Superspeedway.
Home to the Big One — an almost certain multi-car crash, Talladega also occasionally produces unexpected winners, including Richard Brickhouse, James Hylton, Lennie Pond, Ron Bouchard and Brad Keselowski.
The mix of tight drafting, the Next Gen car and general playoff tension should make Sunday’s 500-mile run quite the adventure.
On Sunday at Texas, Tyler Reddick became the second driver (after Chase Elliott) to score three wins this season.
Joey Logano enters Talladega with the playoff point lead.
Playoff rookies roll on
The four drivers participating in the Cup playoffs for the first time remain factors approaching the second race in the second round.
Ross Chastain is second in the standings, 18 points above the cutline entering Talladega.
Daniel Suarez, Chastain’s Trackhouse Racing teammate, is seventh. He’s four points above the cutline.
Two other playoff rookies — Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric — will start Talladega below the cutline. Briscoe is four points below the cutline. Cindric is 11 points below the cutline.
Looking for wins
Only six of the remaining 12 playoff drivers have won races at the two remaining tracks in the second round (Talladega and Charlotte Roval).
Among the six, Joey Logano has the best win record at Talladega, having finished first there in 2015, 2016 and 2018.
Other Talladega winners in the group: Ryan Blaney (two), Denny Hamlin (two), Chase Elliott (one), Ross Chastain (one).
The Charlotte Roval is relatively new, of course, but Chase Elliott already owns two wins there. Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson also have won at the Roval.
An opening for Brad?
Few people who watched it will forget the first Cup Series victory scored by Brad Keselowski.
It occurred at this week’s tour stop — Talladega Superspeedway — in April 2009. Keselowski and Carl Edwards made contact approaching the finish line and notched the win, even as Edwards’ car flew into the frontstretch fence, spraying car parts into the grandstands.
Thirteen years later, Keselowski returns to NASCAR’s biggest track having recorded six Talladega wins. No other active drive has more than three.
Keselowski’s refurbished team — Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing — has new fire with Chris Buescher winning at Bristol and Keselowski winning the pole and finishing eighth at Texas.
RFK Racing has led 309 laps in the past two races, more than the team had led in the prior 105 races combined.
Although he hasn’t won a Cup race since scoring a victory in a Team Penske Ford in April 2021 at Talladega, Keselowski must be considered a threat Sunday.
Thirty-seven drivers, including Xfinity Series star Noah Gragson and reigning Xfinity champion Daniel Hemric, are entered for Sunday’s Cup race.
Talladega Cup entry list
The Xfinity entry list includes 41 drivers for 38 spots. Among those joining the series regulars are Trevor Bayne, Parker Kligerman, Timmy Hill and Jeffrey Earnhardt.
Talladega Xfinity entry list
Forty-one drivers are entered for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race. Included are Kaz Grala, Ryan Preece, Natalie Decker, Jennifer Jo Cobb and Parker Kligerman.
Talladega Truck entry list
This week’s schedule and forecast
(All times Eastern)
Friday, Sept. 30
Forecast: Partly cloudy. High of 77. (Weather note: There is the possibility that Hurricane Ian could impact the race weekend, depending on its path).
- 3:30 – 5 p.m. — Truck Series qualifying
- 5:30 – 7 p.m. — Xfinity Series qualifying (USA Network)
Saturday, Oct. 1
Forecast: Overcast with showers at times. Potential for heavy rainfall. High of 73. 60% chance of rain.
- 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)
Sunday, Oct. 2
Forecast: Sun in the morning, increasing clouds in the afternoon. Slight chance of a shower. High of 74.
- 2 p.m. — Cup Series race (188 laps, 500 miles; NBC, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)