Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron grabbed the win at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend securing his spot in the next round of the postseason, leaving the remaining 11 contenders still vying for one of the spots in the Round of 8 with two races left in the Round of 12 – Talladega Superspeedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL.
This weekend the competitors will have to face one of the biggest hurdles in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, as Talladega Superspeedway opens the gates and unleashes its 2.66-miles of asphalt with 33 degrees of banking in the turns for Sunday’s YellaWood 500 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).
The 2023 season marks the seventh consecutive year Talladega Superspeedway will host the fifth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2017-2023) – Race No. 31 of the season.
Talladega is the third different track to host the fifth race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs; joining Charlotte Motor Speedway (2004 – 2014) and Kansas Speedway (2015 – 2016). The 2.66-mile track is the largest paved oval the series competes on with 33 degrees of banking in the turns.
Talladega Superspeedway has participated in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs since its inception into the series in 2004 and has occupied five different spots on the postseason schedule.
Talladega has hosted the third race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2004 – 2005); the fourth race (2006 – 2008 and 2012); the fifth race (2017-2023); the sixth race (2011, 2013 – 2016); and the seventh race (2009 – 2010).
A total of 15 different drivers have won the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff races at Talladega Superspeedway. Brad Keselowski (2017, 2014), Clint Bowyer (2010-2011), Jamie McMurray (2009, 2013) and Joey Logano (2015-2016) lead the NASCAR Cup Series in Playoff wins at Talladega Superspeedway with two victories each.
Seven of the 15 Talladega Playoff race winners are active this weekend and four of the seven are Playoff contenders this year – Bubba Wallace (2021), Denny Hamlin (2020), Ryan Blaney (2019), Brad Keselowski (2014, 2017).
During the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Era (2004-Present), the winner of the Talladega Superspeedway Playoff race has never gone on to win the title in the same season. But twice the Talladega Playoff race winner has finished runner-up in the championship standings at the end of the season: Jeff Gordon (2007) and Joey Logano (2016).
The worst finish in a NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway by a driver that went on to win the title that same season was 37th by Kyle Larson in 2021.
A total of 15 different drivers have won the NASCAR Cup Series fifth race in the Playoffs; nine of the 15 are active this weekend and four are currently in the Playoffs – Bubba Wallace (2022 Talladega), Denny Hamlin (2021 Talladega), Ryan Blaney (2019 Talladega) and Brad Keselowski (2017 Talladega and 2013 Charlotte).
Jimmie Johnson leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins in the fifth race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with three victories (2004, 2005, 2009 – all at Charlotte Motor Speedway). Brad Keselowski (2013 Charlotte and 2017 Talladega) and Kevin Harvick (2014 Charlotte and 2016 Kansas) lead all active drivers in wins in the fifth race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with two each.
Twice the winner of the fifth race in the Playoffs has gone on to win the title later that season; both happening at Charlotte Motor Speedway (2004-2014).
In 2009, Jimmie Johnson won the fifth race of the Playoffs from the pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway and then went on to win his fourth consecutive NASCAR Cup Series title – it was his third of four wins in the 2009 postseason.
Then in 2014, Kevin Harvick won the fifth race of the Playoffs from the seventh starting position at Charlotte Motor Speedway and went on to win his first career NASCAR Cup Series title – it was his first of three wins during the 2014 postseason.
Sweet Home Alabama: NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway
Since it opened it has been deemed one of the most daunting tracks on the schedule and this weekend’s YellaWood 500 (Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Talladega Superspeedway looks to be another fantastic opportunity for some close side-by-side competition the fans have come to love.
In total there have been 108 NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway, one Cup event in 1969, and two races per year since 1970. Among the 108 Cup events, the track has hosted 19 Playoff races in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Overall, 46 different drivers have qualified on the pole at Talladega Superspeedway, 24 of the 46 have done it multiple times and seven of the 46 NASCAR Cup Series pole winners at Talladega are active this weekend.
NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott leads the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Talladega Superspeedway with eight poles (1985 sweep, 1986 sweep, 1987 sweep, spring 1990 and fall 1993). Kevin Harvick (2005, 2018), Chase Elliott (2016, 2019) and Christopher Bell (2022 sweep) lead all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in poles at Talladega with two each.
The 108 Cup races at Talladega have also produced 51 different NASCAR Cup Series race winners at the 2.66-mile track. NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the series in wins at Talladega with 10 victories (1983, 1984, 1990 sweep, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1999 sweep and 2000).
Eleven of the 51 NASCAR Cup Series race winners at Talladega Superspeedway are active this weekend, led by Brad Keselowski with six wins at Talladega Superspeedway (2009, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2021); followed by Joey Logano with three victories (2015, 2016, 2018).
Six of the 11 active Cup Talladega winners are Playoff drivers – Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Ross Chastain and Bubba Wallace. This weekend’s YellaWood 500 will be broken up into three stages the first two stages will be 60 laps each and final stage will be 68 laps.
Talladega Clinch Scenarios: Seven positions up for grabs in the Round of 8
Just two races left for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff competitors in the Round of 12 to secure their spot in the Round of 8, and with Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron taking the win last weekend at Texas, seven of the eight spots are still up for grabs as the series heads to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the YellaWood 500 (Sunday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) the fifth race of the 2023 postseason.
If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 7th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Denny Hamlin, Chris Buescher, Christopher Bell, Martin Truex Jr., Ross Chastain or Brad Keselowski.
Playoff Bubble: Round of 12 provides plenty of unpredictability
While the unpredictability of the close quarters racing at Talladega Superspeedway, or the multiple twists and turns of the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL are enough to keep the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff teams up at night, but they should find solace in knowing it could be those same track attributes that help get them to Victory Lane over these next two weekends.
Since the inception of the ‘elimination-style’ format in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in 2014, the driver that wins at Talladega Superspeedway in the postseason has clinched a needed spot in the next round in seven of the nine postseason races held (2014-2022). Joey Logano in 2015 is the lone winner at Talladega since 2014 that had already clinched his spot in the next round prior to competing at the 2.66-mile track – Logano swept the Round of 12 in 2015 winning all three races that season (Charlotte, Kansas, Talladega). Then in 2021, for the first-time since the ‘elimination-style’ format was introduced in 2014 a non-Playoff driver (Bubba Wallace) won the Talladega Superspeedway NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race.
This weekend, Bubba Wallace (ninth), Tyler Reddick (10th), Ryan Blaney (11th) and Kyle Busch (12th) find themselves south of the NASCAR Cup Series Round of 8 cutline as they head into the Playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.