In just its second year of existence, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway hosted a summer NASCAR Cup Series race on Aug. 23, 1970, a race won by Pete Hamilton. From there, Talladega continued to host an August race until 1983, when its event was shifted into July for the first time. That race on July 31, 1983 started a string of races where the series came back to Alabama in the month of July each year through the 1996 season. In 1997, the event shifted toward the cooler spring weather and the 2.66-mile superspeedway oval has hosted annual spring races in either April or May ever since.
But just like almost everything else in 2020, Talladega’s annual spring race was thrown a curveball by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its spring race this year has been moved to the track’s first-ever late June weekend. The likely temporary summer date will no doubt bring back memories for some of Talladega’s hot summer weather of years past when NASCAR’s top series heads there for Sunday afternoon’s GEICO 500.
Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), heads to Talladega this weekend looking for his first Cup Series victory of the season, although he’s secured a solid six top-five finishes thus far in this unconventional 2020 season.
With Interstate Batteries returning to the No. 18 Toyota for what will no doubt be a hot Sunday afternoon in Alabama, Busch is encouraging fans to stop by a local Interstate dealer to get their vehicle batteries checked as we enter the dog days of summer. The summer months can be taxing on both man and machine, as hot weather has a far greater effect on batteries than the cold. One of the many ways JGR’s founding partner Interstate Batteries leverages its NASCAR program is by helping to remind consumers to have their batteries checked prior to summer road trips.
While Busch and his No. 18 Interstate Batteries team are capable of winning at any track, it will be a particular challenge for him this weekend at the mammoth Talladega oval, where he’s had a career of ups and downs. Compared to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where he has eight Cup Series wins, and Richmond, where he has six, Busch has won just once in 29 career starts at Talladega. His lone victory came in April 2008, and he has accumulated 13 other top-15 finishes there, but also exited five races early due to accidents.
So as Busch heads to Talladega this weekend, he would like nothing more than to get back to victory lane at the start of another hot summer in Alabama. But, in order to do so, he’ll have to somehow stay out of the inevitable multicar Talladega accidents and be running at the end to put himself in position to get his Interstate Batteries Toyota to victory lane in the first summer race there in almost 25 years.