The NASCAR Cup Series visits Talladega Superspeedway this weekend for the fifth of 10 races in the 2021 playoffs.
Talladega is one of the most famous tracks in the sport, and the stage is even bigger this weekend for the second of three races in the Round of 12. Denny Hamlin won the race last year after a controversial last-lap pass.
Championship hopes could be dashed in an instant with a big wreck at the always-dangerous Talladega. Hamlin is currently the only driver with a guaranteed spot in the Round of 8, meaning there are seven spots available and 11 drivers battling for them. The 28 drivers eliminated from playoff contention, meanwhile, are focused on adding their name to the exclusive list of Talladega winners.
Here’s everything you need to know for Talladega:
What is the Talladega schedule?
The race weekend at Talladega will not feature practice or qualifying sessions, as the sport attempts to cut costs for teams in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The YellaWood 500 at Talladega will go green at 1 p.m. ET on Monday, Oct. 4, after the scheduled Sunday start time was postponed due to rain.
What channel is the Talladega race on?
The race at Talladega is on NBCSN starting at 1 p.m. ET on Monday, Oct. 4.
All coverage before, during and after the race can be streamed online here or in the NBC Sports App.
Talladega starting lineup
The starting lineup for the YellaWood 500 at Talladega was set using NASCAR’s qualifying metric, which is a formula combining each driver’s finish last week, each driver’s fastest lap last week and each driver’s points position. Here is the full starting lineup for Talladega:
- Denny Hamlin
- Kyle Busch
- Chase Elliott
- Ryan Blaney
- Kyle Larson
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Brad Keselowski
- Joey Logano
- Kevin Harvick
- William Byron
- Alex Bowman
- Christopher Bell
- Tyler Reddick
- Kurt Busch
- Matt DiBenedetto
- Austin Dillon
- Chase Briscoe
- Daniel Suarez
- Bubba Wallace
- Aric Almirola
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- Michael McDowell
- Ross Chastain
- Chris Buescher
- Ryan Newman
- Erik Jones
- Ryan Preece
- Cole Custer
- Corey LaJoie
- Anthony Alfredo
- Cody Ware
- BJ McLeod
- Justin Allgaier
- Josh Bilicki
- Quin Houff
- Joey Gase
- Garrett Smithley
- Justin Haley
- David Starr
- Landon Cassill
NASCAR playoff standings entering Talladega
Talladega marks the second of three races in the Round of 12, as four more drivers will be eliminated from championship contention after the race at Charlotte next weekend. Hamlin has already clinched a spot in the Round of 8 by virtue of his win last week at Las Vegas. That leaves 11 playoff drivers fighting for seven spots available in the Round of 8. Here’s how they stack up entering Talladega:
- Denny Hamlin (clinched)
- Kyle Larson (57 points ahead of 9th)
- Kyle Busch (35 points ahead of 9th)
- Martin Truex Jr. (31 points ahead of 9th)
- Ryan Blaney (24 points ahead of 9th)
- Chase Elliott (22 points ahead of 9th)
- Joey Logano (six points ahead of 9th)
- Brad Keselowski (four points ahead of 9th)
- William Byron (four points behind 8th)
- Kevin Harvick (seven points behind 8th)
- Alex Bowman (13 points behind 8th)
- Christopher Bell (25 points behind 8th)
Which active drivers have won at Talladega?
Just nine of the 40 drivers racing this weekend have won at Talladega: Kyle Busch, Keselowski, Logano, Hamlin, Elliott, Blaney, Harvick, Stenhouse and Almirola. Keselowski leads all active drivers with six Talladega wins, including earlier this year. Logano (three), Blaney (two) and Hamlin (two) also have multiple Talladega wins, while Busch, Elliott, Harvick, Stenhouse and Almirola have one apiece.
Who is favored to win at Talladega?
The stars usually perform at Talladega, NASCAR’s longest race track. Dale Earnhardt Sr. (10 wins), Jeff Gordon (six wins), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (six wins) and Keselowski (six wins) lead the all-time win list. The former three are Hall of Famers, the latter one is still active.
Keselowski has ruled Talladega since winning his first career race there in 2009, picking up subsequent wins in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2021. His 15.6 career average finish at Talladega is second among active drivers with more than five starts (behind only Stenhouse’s 14.0). In recent years, Blaney -- Keselowski’s teammate -- has been the best at this track. He has three top-10s in his last four starts, with two wins (2019 and 2020). Almirola is another solid option, having scored top-10s in eight of his last 10 Talladega starts. Hamlin won this race last year after a last-lap pass in the final corner -- he’s always a threat at superspeedway races and enters Talladega fresh off a win in Las Vegas.
Despite the fact that established drivers usually win at Talladega, there have been a number of recent longshots to reach victory lane there. Almirola has just three career wins, with one at Talladega. One of Stenhouse’s two career wins was at Talladega back in 2017. David Ragan (2013), Brian Vickers (2006), Michael Waltrip (2003), Bobby Hamilton (2001), Jimmy Spencer (1994), Phil Parsons (1988) and Ron Bouchard (1981) are among the other drivers with less than five career wins to tame Talladega.
Here are some of the odds for Talladega, courtesy of our partner, PointsBet:
- Denny Hamlin, +850
- Joey Logano, +1000
- Chase Elliott, +1000
- Ryan Blaney, +1100
- Brad Keselowski, +1300
- Kyle Larson, +1300
- William Byron, +1400
- Kyle Busch, +1600
- Kevin Harvick, +1600
- Alex Bowman, +2200
- Aric Almirola, +2500
- Martin Truex Jr., +2500
- Kurt Busch, +2800
- Austin Dillon, +2800
- Tyler Reddick, +2800
- Matt DiBenedetto, +2800
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr., +3000
- Bubba Wallace, +3300
- Christopher Bell, +3300
- Justin Haley, +4000
- Ryan Newman, +5000
- Michael McDowell, +5000
- Ross Chastain, +5000
- Erik Jones, +6000
What is the weather for Talladega?
The Weather Channel is expecting the rain from Sunday to continue into Monday in Talladega, Ala. A high of 78 degrees with scattered thunderstorms and a 48% chance of rain are forecasted for Monday afternoon. This is the third time in the last five races that the Talladega race has been postponed to Monday due to rain, but none of those prior instances have gone into Tuesday. Talladega does not have lights at the track and sunset is at 6:24 p.m. CT (local time) on Sunday, giving NASCAR just under six and a half hours to get the race in.
How to buy tickets for Talladega
Tickets for the Cup Series race at Talladega are available on the track’s website right here. Information about parking, camping, scanner rentals, pre-race pit passes and tickets for other races this weekend are also available on the track’s website.
Editor's note: All odds are provided by our partner, PointsBet. PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.