NASCAR’s best will be traveling to the 2.66-mile tri-oval superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. When the Cup series comes to town, almost four times as many spectators fill the grandstands (~60,000) compared to the city of Talladega’s population of 15,861. Can you win the championship here? No, but you can certainly see aspirations for one fade.
Driver to Fade:
It is now safe to say the regular season champion has significantly underperformed this postseason. The #19 of Martin Truex Jr. stumbled its way through the Round of 16. A 17th place finish last week to start the Round of 12 is not championship caliber speed. Unfortunately for the 2017 series champion, it does not get any easier. Talladega is a track where his average finish is 21.4. Expect the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to finish outside of the top 20.
Carson Hocevar just happens to be on a hot streak for Legacy Motor Club. The 20-year-old has strung together four straight top 20 finishes in a car that only had three such finishes during the entire season. The kid is talented, and we think he extends the streak to five straight top 20 finishes.
Love him or hate him, Denny Hamlin has rightfully earned the reputation of being a force at superspeedways. He has had fast enough cars to lead laps in 9 of the last 10 races at both Daytona and Talladega, but has stumbled onto some misfortune as of late. Hamlin only has one top ten finish in the last five superspeedway races. Look for the #11 to get back on track at superspeedways with another top ten this weekend.
Is it Ricky Bobby… or Ryan Preece? The cut race at Daytona saw Preece flip 10 times in a horrific accident that had shades of Ricky Bobby flipping in Talladega Nights. Overall, the Blue Ovals have been dominant on the speed charts this year at superspeedways, and that is unlikely to change this weekend. Preece and Briscoe will pull the shake n’ bake down the trioval to capture glory for Stewart-Haas in a superspeedway redemption arc fitting for Hollywood. Besides, if you ain’t first, you’re last.