Thursday, September 30, 2021

NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Contenders with the Edge at Talladega?

NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Contenders with the Edge at Talladega?

Clearly Team Penske

Winners of Nine of Last 14 Talladega Superspeedway Races; Full Slate of All Playoffs Drivers’ Talladega Superspeedway Stats as Round of 12 YellaWood 500 set for Oct. 3

NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Contenders with the Edge at Talladega?


With the all-important second race in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 12 looming for Talladega Superspeedway’s  YellaWood 500 on Sunday, Oct. 3, what Playoffs drivers have the advantage? If history repeats itself, Team Penske should be in good shape, at least that is what statistics show.


Team Penske has won nine out of the last 14 races at the biggest, baddest race track on the planet. Brad Keselowski, with his win in the spring GEICO 500, tied Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Gordon for second on the track’s all-time win list with his sixth Talladega triumph (and trails Dale Earnhardt, Sr. with 10). Teammates’ Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney have three and two victories, respectively. A win by any Playoffs driver means an automatic ticket to the Round of 8.


In addition to Keselowski, Logano and Blaney, four other Playoffs drivers have wins at the 2.66-mile tri-oval, and include Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, defending YellaWood 500 Champion Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch.  Of the 12 drivers who have a shot at this year’s premier series title, Keselowski also leads the way in career average finish at NASCAR’s Most Competitive track with 15.60 and is closely followed by Elliott at 15.73 and Harvick at 15.76.


With the unpredictability of the 33-degree-banked venue, some drivers have had good luck on their side while others clearly haven’t. The latter includes the top two seeds in Kyle Larson and Martin Truex, Jr., whose best finishes are sixth and fifth, respectively. Below is a look at all 12 drivers and their stats at Talladega Superspeedway, plus a quick recap of their season thus far.


  • 1 seeded Kyle Larson, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (3,059 points): Looking for his first victory at Talladega. Best finish came in the 2016 YellaWood 500 when he was sixth. In 13 TSS starts, has two top-10 results with an average finish of 23.54. The top seed this season has six wins in 2021 with 16 top-5 efforts in 29 starts. Has led a series-best high 1905 laps. Best finish in championship standings is sixth in 2019. 
  • 2 seeded Martin Truex, Jr., No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (3,029 points): Has never won a Cup Series race at Talladega’s 2.66-mile venue but reeled off three straight wins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series from 2004-06. In 33 career NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega, he has two top-five finishes (5th in 2016 & ’06) with an average result of 21.82. The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series Champion has four wins in 2021 and 10-top-5 finishes. 
  • 3 seeded Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Team Penske Ford (3,024 points): Has two NASCAR Cup Series wins at Talladega (2019 YellaWood 500 and 2020 GEICO 500). In 14 TSS races, he also has a total of three top-five results and five top-10s for an average finish of 17.43. Has three wins in 2021, and his Best finish is the seventh in the final championship standings in 2019). 
  • 4 seeded Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (3,024 points): Winner of the 2014 GEICO 500 and is the defending champion of the YellaWood 500. In 32 TSS races, has an average finish of 17.19 with nine top-five and 13-top results. Searching for his first premier series title, with a best career finish of second in 2010. Has one victory thus far in 2021. 
  • 5 seeded Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (3,022 points): The winner of the 2008 GEICO 500 at Talladega, Busch has an average finish of 20.78 with six top-five efforts to go along with eight top-10 finishes. He is one of two drivers (along with Mark Martin) to win in all three of NASCAR’s top-tier series at Talladega). A two-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion (2015, 2019), he is the only active driver with multiple titles. Has made the Championship 4 in four of the last five seasons. Has captured two victories in 2021. 
  • 6 seeded Chase Elliott, No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (3,021 points): The defending NASCAR Cup Series Champion has one triumph at the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway, coming in the 2019 GEICO 500. He has four top-five finishes and five top-10s for an average finish of 15.73. Has gone to Ruoff Victory Lane twice this season. 
  • 7 seeded Alex Bowman, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (3,015 points): Best finish at Talladega came in 2019 when he was runner-up to teammate Elliott in the GEICO 500. In 12 career starts at Talladega, has three top-10s for an average finish of 24.58. Best finish in the championship standings came in 2020 when he was sixth. Has three wins in 2021. 
  • 8 seeded William Byron, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (3,014 points): Still looking for initial triumph at Talladega Superspeedway, coming up just one position short earlier this year in the GEICO 500. In seven starts at TSS, has two top-five results and an average finish of 17.14. Was 11th in the battle for the championship in 2019, his best to date. Has won victory in 2021, coming at Homestead-Miami Speedway in February. 
  • 9 seeded Joey Logano, No. 22 Team Penske Ford (3,013 points): The three-time Talladega Superspeedway winner (2015, 2016, 2018) has competed in 25 premier series races at ’Dega with a 17.52 average finish (eight top-fives and 10 top-10s). He has led 407 laps at Talladega, the most of any of the title contenders. He also has two NASCAR Xfinity Series triumphs at TSS. Won the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Championship. Has one win this year and has advanced to the Round of 12 seven times. 
  • 10 seeded Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Team Penske Ford (3,008 points): Talladega Superspeedway’s active win leader with six victories (tied with Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., four behind Dale Earnhardt, Sr., with 10). Captured his first career win at Talladega in 2009 and is the latest victor at the track after claiming the GEICO 500 earlier this April to secure his spot in the playoffs. Other wins came in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017). His average finish in 25 Cup Series races at the 2.66-mile venue is 15.60, tops of the drivers battling for the title. In addition, has one win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the historical track. Trying for his second championship after winning the title in 2012.
  • 11 seeded Christopher Bell, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (3,005 points): His average finish in three starts at Talladega is 28.33 with his best finishing effort at 17th this past spring. This is his first time in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Qualified for the playoffs with his win in February on the DAYTONA Road Course. 
  • 12 seeded Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford (3,002 points): The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series Champion has one win at Talladega, coming in the 2010 GEICO 500. His average finish is 15.76 at the mammoth track with eight top-five and 17 top-10s in 41 races. Has posted 16 Cup Series Playoffs wins and has made it to the Championship 4 Round in five of the last seven seasons.


The YellaWood 500 will be the culmination of a tripleheader NASCAR Playoffs weekend, which also features a duo of races on Saturday, Oct. 2 with the Sparks 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the Chevy Silverado 250 for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The action begins at Noon CDT.



About Talladega Superspeedway

Talladega Superspeedway is the most competitive race track on the NASCAR schedule (record 88 lead changes in 188 laps), the highest-banked (33 degrees) and the longest (2.66 miles), as well as the most fun and fan-friendly. Three- and four-wide racing at 200 mph are a norm at Talladega Superspeedway, along with nail-biting, photo finishes. For information, visit or call 1-877-Go2-DEGA.



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