Expect the Unexpected at Talladega Superspeedway

It's the 10th race of the season, and Talladega Superspeedway might be the track that some drivers might have been waiting for.

The race at Talladega doesn't usually have any favorites. Instead, it's an open playing field where anyone can win. In past Talladega races, there have been Cinderella stories, such as David Ragan winning at the track in 2013, giving Front Row Motorsports their first win and a 1-2 result with David Gilliland. 

Along with the Cinderella stories, the track has also produced some of the closest finishes in NASCAR history.  Jimmie Johnson edged out Clint Bowyer for the win with a .002-second margin in 2011.

Then there have been times where a driver needed a win in order to secure their spot in the championship chase, just like Brad Keselowski in 2014. And there's been the scenario where a driver missed the chance to race at Talladega after changes to NASCAR's qualifying format -- just ask Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Allgaier. 

In all of the previous races held at Talladega, only 13 races have been won from the pole, with the most recent being Jeff Gordon in 2007. The winner has usually started within the top 10 -- it's happened 64 times. Though starting within the top 10 sounds like the best chance at winning, previous winners have qualified toward the back of the pack. In eight occasions, the winner has started 21st or worse, with the worst starting spot for a winner being 36th -- also done by Gordon in 2000.

There have been times when the eventual winner has only led a lap -- the final lap. Both Gordon and Keselowski were able to lead the race when it counted the most -- Gordon in 2007 and Keselowski in 2009. 

Drivers have been able to find success at Talladega, which has been the case for Keselowski, Gordon, Johnson, Ragan, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart. Though they have been able to find success and some have been able to repeat success, it doesn't always guarantee a win. 

Yet the driver with one of the best average finishes at Talladega hasn't even won a race in the Sprint Cup Series. Stenhouse has an average finish of 8.7, despite missing last fall's race. In his three starts at Talladega, he has gone on to finish on the lead lap.

The race at Talladega could provide a first-time winner, something that has been seen at the track before. Brian Vickers captured his first career win at the track in 2006. So did Keselowski in 2009.

Although many drivers have been able to find success at Talladega, it doesn't always mean things will go their way. Talladega, just like Daytona, has produced and continues to proceed with surprising and unexpected moments.

 

 

Christine Valdez

Christine Valdez has been following the world of sports from a very young age and it was her love for sports that led her to career insports journalism. As a Kean University alumni with a degree in Communications ,she has covered various sporting events within college sports, MLS, MLB, and, NASCAR.

Over the years her work has been featured in various publications, with some of most recent work being featured on NJTV News, RantSports and New Jersey Newsroom.