“In the Know”
Anything can happen at Talladega Superspeedway. At 2.66 miles, this track is the largest paved oval the series competes on with 33 degrees of banking in the turns. Since its opening year, Talladega has hosted many races and has been repaved four times.
“Since its repave in 2010, Talladega’s track surface has aged a bit and will wear tires somewhat this weekend,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “Having said that, teams will still have the opportunity to mix in two-tire and no-tire stops in their pit strategy throughout the race. Being able to do that will help teams gain track position and potentially help them line up with teammates so they can work together in the draft.”
Drivers will try to avoid “The Big One” while battling it out with two races left in the Round of 12 – for both the Xfinity Series and the Cup Series.
NASCAR Cup Series Overview
● Event: YellaWood 500 (Round 30 of 36)
● Time/Date: 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Oct. 3
● Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway
● Layout: 2.66-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 188 laps/500.8 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 60 laps / Stage 2: 60 laps / Final Stage: 68 laps
● TV/Radio: NBC / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
NASCAR Xfinity Series Overview
● Event: Sparks 300 at Talladega (Round 28 of 33)
● Date: Saturday, Oct. 2
● Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway
● Layout: 2.66-mile oval
● Time/TV/Radio: 4:30 p.m. EDT on NBCSN/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
What Our Drivers are Saying:
Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light #Hunt4Busch Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What are your expectations for Talladega?
“For me, it’s been a destruction derby over the last couple of years. We’ve run really well at Talladega, but that’s just kind of the phases you go through when you go to Talladega. I’m doing worse than 50-50 on whether you crash or finish the last few years, but it’s one of those places where you want to race up front and race hard all day because you have to try to win stages. I believe you have better odds at the front of the pack when it comes to staying out of a wreck if you can keep that track position all day. You’re going to race in a pack – three-wide at times – and you’re going to get pushed and have to push at times. You just never know what’s going to happen because Talladega is its own animal. It’s hard to finish a race there. As we’ve seen over the past however many years, you try to put yourself in the right position and hope you have a little bit of luck on your side that particular day. I know our Busch Light Ford Mustang will be fast enough to contend for the win, but you just have to get to the finish.”
Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
What would it mean to you to pull off another win this year, especially at a track that you’ve seen so much success at in the past?
“It would really just solidify this season for us. We came into the year expecting to compete for multiple wins. Our year as a whole has not been what we expected, but to put another win under our belt for 2021 would give us such a sense of accomplishment. It would mean the world to put Smithfield in victory lane again there, too. We have a few other races left this season that we can be competitive at, but Talladega is always circled on my list.”
Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil Delvac 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Your first race at Talladega in April was really the first top-15 for the No. 14 team. How are you feeling about heading back there with a little more experience under your belt?
“I’m excited, and I don’t think that’s something you hear a lot when people talk about superspeedways. I love this type of racing and, now that I am more comfortable in the car and with the team and how they work, I think we’ve got a good shot to go finish up front. We’ve made progress at every other track this year and I think we can do the same. But there’s always that unknown factor at these superspeedway races. Anything can happen and it will. You’ve got guys who are trying to make the next round of the playoffs before we get to the Roval and others that are just going for a win knowing these are the kinds of races where you can go from midpack to the front if you can find the right line and drafting group.”
Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
You drove to a top-10 finish in your last visit to Talladega in April and you finished just one spot out of the top-10 in the Daytona 500 at Talladega’s sister track in February. Do you feel you can carry that momentum into this weekend?
“Those were solid races that we needed at the time, and I think if a thing or two would’ve gone our way at the end of those races, we would’ve ended up with even better finishes. The superspeedways have been one of our strong suits at SHR this year and I’m confident our HaasTooling.com Ford guys are bringing us a fast Mustang for this race. These are races where you can’t control a whole lot and you have to hope for the best, especially during the playoffs when guys are going all out for stage points and then at the end of the race. You have to race your race the best you can to put yourself in a good position. It can be a pretty stressful race, but I guess all of the races can be stressful if you let them.”
Riley Herbst, Driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang (Xfinity Series)
You scored a fourth-place finish at Talladega back in April. What are you expecting in your return trip this race weekend?
“Talladega is unpredictable. Anything can happen and you have to be in the right place at the right time to come out on top. It really helps when you have teammates, and luckily I have my Ford teammates and we’ll work together on Saturday to try and get a win for the manufacturer. Not only did we have a good result in the spring, we also have grown our superspeedway program to where we led laps at both Daytona races this year. Now to just seal the deal and win.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light #Hunt4Busch Ford Mustang, finished fourth in his last outing at Talladega in April. Harvick led three times for 12 laps to increase his laps-led total at the 2.66-mile oval to 276. It was his eighth top-five and 17th top-10 in 41 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega. Harvick’s eight top-fives at Talladega tie him with Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano for the second-most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Harvick’s 17 top-10s at Talladega are the second-most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Only Busch has more (21 top-10s). Among those stats is a lone win at Talladega. Harvick came out the victor in a dogfight of a NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega on April 25, 2010. There were an incredible 88 lead changes in the 200-lap race around the 2.66-mile oval and three massive accidents that collected a total of 24 cars. Harvick kept his car intact throughout each bout of calamity and despite leading only two laps, the second lap led was the one that counted most. Harvick got underneath race-leader Jamie McMurray in the track’s tri-oval to sweep past McMurray and take the win by just .011 of a second. It was just the 12th of Harvick’s 58 career Cup Series wins. In addition to his 41 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega, Harvick has eight NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, with a best result of second in April 2006.
At Talladega in October 2008, Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) enjoyed one of its most dominant days ever. The team qualified 1-2-3-4 for the first time in its history. SHR drivers then led 155 of the race’s 193 laps (80.3 percent), including the last lap by Aric Almirola, who delivered SHR’s milestone 50th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victory and the organization’s 11th win of 2018.
With his third-place finish in the June 2020 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Aric Almirola tied the record of eight consecutive Talladega top-10s set by Dale Earnhardt Jr., from April 2001 to October 2004. Despite seeing his streak come to an abrupt end thanks to a multicar accident on lap 57 of last October’s race on the 2.66-mile oval, followed by his 15th-place finish there April 25, Almirola’s average finish in his last 10 Talladega outings is 9.3 – best in the NASCAR Cup Series. In 23 career starts, Almirola has one win, nine top-10 finishes, five top-fives, and has led 71 laps. In the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Talladega, Almirola visited victory lane in May 2017.
Sunday’s 500-mile race at Talladega will be Cole Custer’s milestone 70th Cup Series start and his fourth on the 2.66-mile oval. The reigning Cup Series Rookie of the Year’s 10th-place finish there in April was the best of his first three Cup Series visits and was the first of his two top-10 finishes earned so far this season. The 23-year-old from Ladera Ranch, California, had promising runs in both of last year’s Cup Series events at Talladega. In the spring race, he was set to restart fifth for the green-white-checkered finish, but his Mustang began to stumble from a lack of fuel, sending him to pit road for a splash-and-go. He finished 22nd. In the fall race, he was able to drive to the front on multiple occasions, but while running fifth just past the race’s halfway point, he was collected in a multicar incident that ended his day.
Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) gear up for the final superspeedway race of the season at 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. In Briscoe’s first NASCAR Cup Series start at Talladega, he led his first lap in Cup Series competition and finished the 188-lap race in the 11th position – his best finish over the first 10 events of the season. Briscoe has made four Xfinity Series starts at Talladega with a best finish of fourth in 2019. He also has one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start there in 2017, when he finished 22nd, and one ARCA Menards Series start in 2016, when he finished third.
The Sparks 300 on Saturday will mark Riley Herbst’s 71st career Xfinity Series start and his fourth at Talladega. While luck wasn’t on his side after being involved in accidents during his first two starts at the track, he bounced back in his last start in April when he finished fourth. Herbst also has five Talladega starts outside of the Xfinity Series – four in the ARCA Menards Series and one in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He scored a runner-up finish in the 2019 ARCA race.
Of Special Interest
Be sure to check out our merch hauler at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend! If you can’t attend in person, you can shop anytime at store.stewarthaasracing.com