Previewing the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway

By Nick DeGroot On Thu, May. 02, 2013

Photo Credit: Roger Holtsclaw/Speedway Media
Photo Credit: Roger Holtsclaw/Speedway Media

The 10th NASCAR Sprint Cup (NSCS) event of 2013 will be held at the meanest, biggest, wildest track on the circuit…..Talladega Superspeedway. At 2.66 miles in length and banking nearing 35 degrees, this tack certainly isn’t one for the faint of heart. The first race took place back in September of 1969 and it had its fair share of controversy. Superstars such as Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and David Pearson all boycotted the race due to concerns over tires and safety. They looked at those intimidating high banks and turned away while a few brave men dared to take the monster of a track on. Bill France resisted the the pleas to cancel the race and drivers from a lower series were used to fill the field.

Richard Brickhouse was a member of the boycotting group of drivers who called themselves the Professional Driver Association (PDA). He resigned from the PDA a day before the race and went on to win the inaugural event by 7 seconds over Jim Vandiver. It was the only victory in the North Carolina native’s 39 race NSCS career. Since that day, many strange and tragic incidents have occurred at Talladega and some believe it is due to a medicine man from an Indian tribe back in the 1800′s. Local legend tells that he that put a curse on the valley when President Andrew Jackson ordered the tribe to leave and forcing them to reservations. Talladega is feared by many and respected by all and this weekend marks the 88th event held at the legendary speedway. Here are some stats and facts regarding Dega that you should know as today’s racing superstars gear up for one wild ride this weekend!

Talladega Superspeedway Track Facts

Track Type: Tri-Oval

Track Size: 2.66 miles

Banking/Turns 1 & 2: 33 degrees

Banking/Turns 3 & 4: 33 degrees

Banking/Frontstretch: 16.5 degrees

Banking/Backstretch: 3 degrees

Frontstretch Length:  4,300 feet

Backstretch Length:  4,000 feet

Race Length: 188 laps / 500.08 miles

 

Track History & Records

Inaugural Race Winner: Richard Brickhouse by 7 seconds over Jim Vandiver in September of 1969

Most Wins By a Driver: Dale Earnhardt (10)

Most Wins By a Team: Richard Childress Racing with 12 followed by Hendrick Motorsports with 11

Most Wins By a Manufactuer: Chevrolet with 38 followed by Ford with 19

Youngest Race Winner: Bobby Hillin Jr. at 22 years, 1 month and 22 days in July of 1986

Oldest Race Winner: Harry Gant at 51 years, 3 months and 26 days in May of 1991

Least Amount of Cautions: None in April of 2001 and October of 2002

Most Amount of Cautions: 11 in April of 2004

- This will be the 88th NSCS race held at Talladega Superspeedway

- 429 drivers have compteted at Talladega Superspeedway and 47 of them have won

- Dave Marcis has made more starts at Talladega than any other driver with 61

- The track has been repaved 4 times with the most recent one being in the fall of 2006

 

Talladega Qualifying Stats

Track Record: Bill Elliott with a lap time of 44.998 (2012.809mph) in May of 1987

Youngest Pole Winner: Jimmie Johnson at 26 years, 7 months and 4 days in April of 2002

Oldest Pole Winner:  Mark Martin at 52 years, 9 months and 14 days in October of 2012

Inaugural Pole Winner: Bobby Isaac with a speed of 199.466 mph in 1969

- 13 of the 87 NSCS races at Talladega have been won from the pole

- 36 drivers have won poles at Talladega led by Bill Elliott with 8

- 10 drivers have won consecutive poles at Talladega and  Bill Elliott holds the record for most consecutive poles with six

- 13 different times has the pole sitter won the race with the last time being Jeff Gordon in May of 2007

- The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 36th by Jeff Gordon in April of 2000

 

Top 10 Driver Ratings At Talladega

1.) Jeff Burton…………………………… 91.4

2.) Dale Earnhardt Jr…………………… 89.6

3.) Matt Kenseth………………………… 88.9

4.) Brian Vickers………………………… 87.3

5.) Kurt Busch……………………………. 86.1

6.) Brad Keselowski……………………. 85.6

7.) David Ragan…………………………. 85.5

8.) Denny Hamlin……………………….. 84.9

9.) Tony Stewart…………………………. 83.5

10.) Jeff Gordon………………………….. 83.1

 

Best Average Finish Among Active Drivers

1.) Brad Keselowski———–12.2

2.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.——–15.0

3.) Kevin Harvick————-15.4

4.) Tony Stewart————– 15.8

5.) David Ragan————— 16.0

6.) Kurt Busch—————–16.1

7.) Clint Bowyer————–16.1

8.) Jeff Gordon—————-16.4

9.) Jimmie Johnson———-17.7

10.) Travis Kvapil————17.8

 

Most Wins Among Active Drivers

1.) Jeff Gordon—————-6

2.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.——-5

3.) Clint Bowyer————-2

4.) Brad Keselowski——–2

5.)  Jimmie Johnson——-2

6.) Terry Labonte———-2

7.) Matt Kenseth———–1

8.) Kevin Harvick———1

9.) Jamie McMurray—–1

10.) Tony Stewart——–1

 

Most Top 5′s Among Active Drivers

1.) Jeff Gordon————–15

2.) Terry Labonte———-14

3.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.—–11

4.)  Tony Stewart———-9

5.) Michael Waltrip ——-9

6.) Bobby Labonte——–7

7.) Kurt Busch————-6

8.) Kevin Harvick———6

9.) Matt Kenseth———-5

10.) Jimmie Johnson—-5

 

Most Top 10′s Among Active Drivers

1.) Terry Labonte———–24

2.) Jeff Gordon————–23

3.) Jeff Burton—————19

4.) Michael Waltrip———16

5.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.——15

6.) Tony Stewart———–13

7.) Kurt Busch————-13

8.) Bobby Labonte——-13

9.) Kevin Harvick——–10

10.) Jimmie Johnson—9

 

Laps Led Among Active Drivers

1.) Jeff Gordon—————839

2.) Dale Earnhardt Jr.——737

3.) Terry Labonte———-362

4.) Tony Stewart———–317

5.) Matt Kenseth———–294

6.) Jimmie Johnson——-234

7.) Michael Waltrip——-233

8.) Jamie McMurray—–221

9.) Denny Hamlin——–204

10.) Kevin Harvick——155

 

I’d like to tell you what to expect this weekend but to be honest, I have no idea. The Gen-6 cars couldn’t pass each other at Daytona but I don’t believe it will be that difficult at Talladega. Dega is more about pure flat-out speed and less about handling which will help when it comes to trying to pass. Also, these teams had no clue what they were doing when we showed up for Speedweeks but they have learned so much regarding these cars over the last 2 1/2 months of racing and are more prepared. The race will be better than the 500 but don’t expect it to be like last fall when they were 3 and 4 wide 10 rows deep. Even with the lack of passing at Daytona, the “big one” still happened and it won’t be any different this weekend. It’s not a matter of if the big wreck will happen but simply when.

Favorites heading into Talladega have to be Matt Kenseth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Matt has dominated almost every single restrictor plate race over the past couple of years but due to circumstances out of his control, he failed to win every time. Jr. is an Earnhardt and when you have that last name, you have to be fast here. His father won here a record 10 times and Jr. is a contender every time they visit this track too. Last time NASCAR was at Talladega though, he was involved in a massive last lap crash that gave him a concussion forcing the driver of the No.88 to miss the next two races. Jeff Gordon is another driver with an impressive record at Talladega but this is a race where luck plays a major factor and that poor guy doesn’t seem to have any good luck as of late. You can bet he will be fast though with that Hendrick power under the hood and a 4x champion behind the wheel.

Drivers that have struggled at Talladega include Kyle Busch, Marcos Ambrose, Martin Truex Jr., Paul Menard and Kasey Kahne. Just because they don’t have a great record doesn’t mean they haven’t been competitive though. A track clearing wreck is waiting around every corner and when it happens, a driver has little control over whether they emerge from the smoke unscathed or not no matter where they are running. Talladega is a track where you might as well blindly pick a driver out of a hat with how unpredictable it is. The race strategy is always the same and that’s survive. Some teams do it by hiding in the back which doesn’t always work out while others try to put their car out front hoping that the mess is behind them which doesn’t work out all the time either. Then there are the ones who throw caution to the wind and just go for it and hope that luck ends up being in their favor. It’s sure to be one wild weekend of racing from ARCA to Nationwide and ending it with the Cup guys battling on Sunday. This is definitely one race you don’t want to miss!

Nick DeGroot (88 Posts)

Nick has left Speedway Media and joined Motorsport.com as a manager, content editor, and reporter. His passion for motorsports dates all the way back to his childhood. He's a proud member of the National Motorsports Press Association, & before joining Motorsport.com, he worked with National Speed Sport News, Pole Position Magazine, and of course, Speedway Media. You can also hear him on "That Dang 'Ol Racing Show" every Monday night. Nick was born & raised in Syracuse, NY before recently moving to Miami. His entire life revolves around racing and it should, because it's in his blood. His father is a former tire changer/mechanic at the Sprint Cup level and his older brother spent a short tenure with RCR. Another interesting fact about Nick is that although he was raised in Yankee territory, his cousin is the former catcher/captain and current special assistant to the general manager of the Boston Red Sox....Jason Varitek.


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