For 12 Drivers Still in Title Hunt, Victory Assures Advancement to Round of 8
TALLADEGA, Ala. – Sunday’s 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway has prime placement in the NASCAR Playoffs, for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
For the 12 drivers still in championship contention, a victory will result in automatic advancement to the next round. Following next week’s (Oct. 21) event at Kansas Speedway, the contenders list will be trimmed to eight, after which three more races will produce a “Championship 4” showdown going into the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The 1000Bulbs.com 500 is set for 1 p.m. CDT start. (TV: NBC; Radio: MRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio).
The Talladega tri-oval looms large – and not only because of its 2.66-mile layout and 33-degree high banks. That inherent intimidation is mitigated somewhat by Sunday being the Monster Energy Series’ second ‘Dega appearance this season, following April’s event.
“Going back to places where we’ve raced once already this year is a big [factor],” said Chase Elliott, the only driver who has clinched a Round of 8 berth, via his victory last week at Dover International Speedway. “Having some history from spring to the fall, that’s the biggest thing … to look back and see how you ran that race and see how you’ve improved.”
In terms of the playoffs, Talladega’s “wild card” reputation is enhanced by its sheer uniqueness in the 10-race lineup. It was prefaced by one road course and a one-mile concrete track (Dover). It will be followed by three 1.5-mile intermediate tracks, a half-mile and one 1-mile layout.
By any measure, it looks like a puzzle that will be tough to solve – starting with Sunday. Reigning Monster Energy Series champion Martin Truex Jr. can relate. He has yet to win at Talladega, in Monster Energy Series competition, despite having won three times in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
“The rest of the schedule in general [looks promising],” said Truex, driver of the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/5-hour ENERGY Toyota. “This track is really the last big question mark for us.
“I like racing here. It’s a lot of fun but man, it’s been tough on me. I’ve tried every possible different approach. I’ve been crashed running side-by-side with the leader … I’ve ridden around in back trying to stay out of a wreck and ended up in it. It’s just one of those places where I’ve haven’t unlocked the magic code or whatever. I hope that changes Sunday.”
There was one Monster Energy Series practice session on Saturday, topped by playoff contender Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford) with a fast lap of 204.227 mph. Qualifying for the 1000Bulbs.com 500 was set for 3:35 p.m. CDT Saturday.
For information on the 1000Bulbs.com 500 and all Talladega Superspeedway events, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-RACE (7223).
About Talladega Superspeedway
Talladega Superspeedway is NASCAR’s most competitive (record 88 lead changes in 188 laps), highest banked (33 degrees), and longest track (2.66-miles), as well as the most fun and fan-friendly. Talladega offers something for everyone, including hundreds of acres of free camping, amazing kids tickets and college student prices, along with special offers for military members and first responders, and teachers and educators. The historic venue, which opened in 1969, is deemed NASCAR’s “Party Capital” thanks to the track’s infamous infield, which features the traditional Saturday Night Infield Concert presented by Wind Creek Casino and Hotel and the world-renowned Talladega Blvd., home of Friday night’s “Big One on the Blvd.” party. It’s the site of the most comfortable seats in motorsports, large ISM Vision HD video boards lining the frontstretch and endless pre-race activities for fans on race day, including special Kids VIP opportunities. For ticket information, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-RACE (7223).
The track, along with its parent company, International Speedway Corporation, recently announced Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project. The approximate $50 million redevelopment endeavor is part of ISC’s long-term capital allocation plan and reinvestment into its major motorsports complexes. The project, highlighted by a one-of-a-kind Garage Fan Zone Experience, will feature “up-close” access, interactive attractions and enhanced amenities for fans, sponsors, teams and stakeholders in the iconic Talladega infield. Full completion of the modernized project is scheduled for October of 2019. Fans can learn more about the project by visiting www.talladegasuperspeedway.com/transformation. The track, which opened in 1969, will also celebrate its 50th Anniversary next year.