GFT Facts & Stats Friday: NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Talladega

Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle
8 min readSep 29, 2023

29 September 2023
By Bob Francis, Managing Editor
Go Full Throttle Racing News

TALLADEGA, AL — 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 №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.

One of NASCAR’s most iconic fan experiences — Talladega Superspeedway (Image Credit: talladegasuperspeedway.com)

NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Race
YellaWood 500
Talladega Superspeedway
Sunday, October 1
2 p.m. ET

Purse: $8,806,315

TV: NBC, 1 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
Distance: 500 miles (188 Laps)
Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60)
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 120)
Final Stage (Ends on Lap 188)

Playoff contenders in the Round of 12 will battle Sunday at Talladega to join William Byron in the Round of 8 (Image Credit: GFT Digital)

Track Facts
Track Length: 2.66 Miles
Race Length: 500 Miles (188 Laps)
Grandstand Seating Capacity: 80,000+
First Race: September 14, 1969 — Talladega 500
Banking in Corners: 33 degrees
Banking on Frontstretch: 16.5 degrees
Banking on Backstretch: 2 degrees
Frontstretch: 4,300 feet
Backstretch: 4,000 feet

Qualifying & Race Records
Qualifying: Bill Elliott, Ford, 212.809 mph (44.998 sec.); April 30, 1987
Race: Mark Martin, Ford, 188.354 mph (2:39:18); May 10, 1997

Track Records
Most Wins: 10 — Dale Earnhardt
Most Poles: 8 — Bill Elliott

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.

On-track activity for the NASCAR Cup Series begins with Busch Light Pole Qualifying on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 4:30 p.m. ET and will be on the USA Network.

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.

Already Clinched

The following driver has clinched a spot in the eight-driver field of the next round: William Byron.

Can Clinch Via Points

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.

· Denny Hamlin: Could only clinch with help

· Chris Buescher: Could only clinch with help

· Christopher Bell: Could only clinch with help

· Martin Truex Jr.: Could only clinch with help

· Ross Chastain: Could only clinch with help

· Brad Keselowski: Could only clinch with help

If there is a new winner from Kyle Larson or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being 56 points above the 6th winless driver in the standings.

· Denny Hamlin: Could only clinch with help

· Chris Buescher: Could only clinch with help

· Christopher Bell: Could only clinch with help

· Martin Truex Jr.: Could only clinch with help

· Ross Chastain: Could only clinch with help

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Denny Hamlin, Chris Buescher, Christopher Bell, Martin Truex Jr., Ross Chastain, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Bubba Wallace, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch

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.

Green flag at “Dega” — Talladega Superspeedway (Image Credit: talladegasuperspeedway.com)

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.

NASCAR Cup Series milestones to watch for this season — Below is a look at some of the anticipated NASCAR Cup Series milestones to watch for this season.

Starts

Drivers that are expected to make milestone starts during this season are:

Erik Jones — 250th NASCAR Cup Series start — Talladega Superspeedway (10/1)

This weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, Erik Jones will become the 115th different driver to make 250 or more starts in the NASCAR Cup Series. Jones made his NASCAR Cup Series debut at Kansas Speedway on May 9, 2015 driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Daniel Suarez — 250th NASCAR Cup Series start — Martinsville Speedway (10/29)

Ryan Preece — 150th NASCAR Cup Series start — Martinsville Speedway (10/29)

Ty Gibbs — 50th NASCAR Cup Series start — Martinsville Speedway (10/29)

Denny Hamlin — 650th NASCAR Cup Series start — Phoenix Raceway (11/5)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — 400th NASCAR Cup Series start — Phoenix Raceway (11/5)

Driver Wins

Kyle Busch leads all active drivers in career wins with 63, followed by Kevin Harvick (60), Denny Hamlin (51), Brad Keselowski (35), Martin Truex Jr. (34), Joey Logano (32), and Kyle Larson (22).

Organization Wins

Wood Brothers Racing is on the cusp a milestone victory in the NASCAR Cup Series and will look for their 100th NASCAR Cup Series win this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports leads all active NASCAR Cup Series organizations in wins with 300, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing (207), RFK Racing (141), Team Penske (137), Richard Childress Racing (116), Wood Brothers Racing (99), Stewart-Haas Racing (69), Trackhouse Racing (5), 23XI Racing (5), Front Row Motorsports (4), JTG Daugherty Racing (2), Kaulig Racing (1), Spire Motorsports (1).

Manufacturer Wins

Closing in on NASCAR Cup Series win number 850, Chevrolet currently has 848 wins — the most all-time in the Cup Series. Ford has the second most wins all-time in the Cup Series at 726 and Toyota has the fifth-most all-time at 179 (behind Dodge at 217 and Plymouth at 191).

Car Number Starts

№8 car will make its 1,500th start in the NASCAR Cup Series this weekend at Talladega.

Car Number Wins

№99 car’s next win will be its 50th in the NASCAR Cup Series.

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Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle

Go Full Throttle editors and reporters bring you news & commentary on NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, and World of Outlaws. Member: National Motorsports Press Association