April 16 in NASCAR: Jeff Gordon surges for 2000 Talladega win

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As the 21st Century dawned on NASCAR, three-time Cup Champion Jeff Gordon was going through something he hadn’t really experienced since his rookie year in 1993. A rough patch.

In 2000, his first full season with a crew chief not named Ray Evernham (he was paired with Robbie Loomis), Gordon and the No. 24 team entered the April 16 DieHard 500 at Talladega seeking to end a 13-race winless streak. Gordon also only had one top-five finish in that stretch, finishing fourth in the race before at Martinsville.

He didn’t get off to the best start in Talladega, qualifying 36th.

But Gordon would lead six times in the 188-lap event for a total of 25 laps. He would take the lead for good with six laps left with a pass of Mark Martin that took Gordon to the apron of the track near the entrance to pit road. It’s a move that would be made illegal at superspeedways in the ensuing years.

Gordon beat Mike Skinner, who earned his career-best finish and last top five, and Dale Earnhardt, who was in the midst of winning three of four Talladega races, including his final Cup win later that year. Rounding out the top five were Kenny Irwin Jr., who earned his final top five before his death less than three months later and Jimmy Spencer.

The victory was Gordon’s 50th on the Cup circuit.

“We qualified horrible, but the second we got out there on the race track the DuPont Chevrolet was really, really good,” Gordon told ABC Sports in Victory Lane. “I told these guys if we can just stay out of trouble and be real patient we’ll work our way to the front. And it took a while. … I learned from the best, Earnhardt. I didn’t want to see him come up through there because he’s the toughest guy there is to race with at these places because he’s so good with the air. Learned a lot of things from him and they paid off today.”

Also on this date:

1964: After an early one-car incident put him a lap down in a race at Columbia (S.C.) Speedway, Ned Jarrett roared back to the lead lap, took the lead on Lap 137 and began lapping the field. He beat Marvin Panch by one lap.

1967: Darel Dieringer, driving for Junior Johnson, won at North Wilkesboro after leading all 400 laps from the pole. It was Dieringer’s seventh and final Grand National Series win.

1972: In his first career start for Wood Brothers Racing, David Pearson led 202 of 293 laps from the pole and scored the win at Darlington by one lap over Richard Petty. It was Pearson’s first win in 14 starts and his first speedway win in two seasons.

1989: In the official debut of Goodyear’s radial-ply tires, Dale Earnhardt won at North Wilkesboro over Alan Kulwicki and Mark Martin. The introduction of the radial tires had been aborted during Speedweeks in Daytona following crashes by Earnhardt and Bill Elliott that were blamed on tire failures, according to “Forty Years of Stock Car Racing: The Modern Era.”

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)