With his place in the next round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs secured, Denny Hamlin can simply go for the trophy in Sunday’s Round of 12 race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET, NBC).
Meanwhile, the other 11 remaining playoff drivers must avoid trouble to keep their postseason runs on course. Easier said than done at a track where chaos and unpredictability is the norm.
Hamlin will start on pole Sunday. He’ll be joined on the front row by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch.
Kyle Larson holds the biggest point cushion (+57 above the cutline) on the Round of 12 leaderboard.
On the cutline? This spring’s winner at Talladega, Brad Keselowski. He holds the final transfer spot by four points over William Byron.
Details for Sunday’s Talladega Cup race:
(All times are Eastern)
START: The command to start engines will be given by founder, president and CEO of Great Southern Wood Preserving, Jimmy Rane, joined by his family and the company’s Board of Directors and 125 YellaWood guests, at 1:51 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:03 p.m.
PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 7 a.m. … Drivers report to pre-race at 1:05 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 1:10 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Barbara Embry, chaplain for Citizens Baptist Medical Center (Talladega, Ala.), at 1:43 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by the 313th United States Army Band (Huntsville, Ala.) at 1:44 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is 188 laps (500 miles) on the 2.66-mile superspeedway.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 60. Stage 2 ends at Lap 120.
TV/RADIO: NBC coverage begins with Countdown to Green at 1 p.m., leading into race coverage … The NASCAR America Post-Race Show follows at 6 p.m. on NBCSN … Motor Racing Network’s radio coverage begins at 1 p.m. and also will stream at MRN.com; SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.
FORECAST: Weather Underground’s forecast calls for showers, a high of 75 degrees, and a 37% chance of scattered thunderstorms near the start of the race.
STARTING LINEUP: Talladega Cup starting lineup
LAST TIME OUT: This past April at Talladega, Brad Keselowski passed Matt DiBenedetto on the final lap of overtime to claim his sixth career win at NASCAR’s biggest track.
CATCH UP ON NBC SPORTS COVERAGE:
What matters at Talladega: Stages invite early risk for points safety net
Analysis: Finish by finish, Martin Truex Jr. emerging as alternative title favorite
NASCAR 2022 schedules: Major changes, tripleheaders, and key details
Friday 5: Talladega’s unpredictability has playoff drivers on edge
Talladega storylines: Survival of the fittest
NASCAR releases 2022 Xfinity, Truck schedules
Team Penske sets crew chief lineup for 2022
Mistakes adding up in first four races of Cup playoffs