NASCAR Playoffs Head to Wild Card at Talladega Superspeedway

Number 22 NASCAR Cup Series car driven by Joey Logano in the air at Talladega Super Speedway 04-25-21
Car driven by Joey Logano in the air at Talladega 04-25-21 (Photo credit: YouTube)

The second race of the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Playoffs is the YellaWood 500 at a track known as a “Wild Card” on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit.

Talladega Superspeedway is known as a “Wild Card” because if the conditions are right any driver can win the race. If the conditions are wrong and driver can wreck out of the race early. The size of the track and the speeds the drivers can race in a pack makes racing both exciting and treacherous at the same time.

Here are the statistics that every driver will be facing this weekend in the YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Talladega Superspeedway Data
Track Size: 2.66-miles
Banking/Turn 1 & 2: 33 degrees
Banking/Turn 3 & 4: 33 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 16.5 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 2 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 4,300 feet
Backstretch Length: 4,000 feet

YellaWood 500 Data
Season Race #: 31 of 36 (10-03-21)
Playoff Race #: 4 of 10
Race Length: 188 laps / 500 miles
Stage 1 & 2 Length: 60 laps (each)
Final Stage Length: 68 laps

Denny Hamlin is the only Playoff driver heading to the second race of the second round with minimal pressure to perform. Just like in the first round, Denny won the first race of this round to earn an automatic advance to the next round of the post-season. That means regardless of what happens this weekend or next, Denny will hang on to a chance to win the championship.

The other 11 drivers in the Round of 12 have to worry about performing at least well enough to remain above the cut line or move themselves up above it. With the ever-looming chance of a massive accident during racing at Talladega know as “The Big One,” achieving that goal is in no way a simple task.

2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings Heading to Talladega
2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings Heading to Talladega (Photo credit: Buck Stevens)

Here are the Playoff drivers in the Round of 12 ranked by their overall driver ratings at Talladega Superspeedway in their Cup Series careers.

  1. Ryan Blaney – 91.1
  2. Brad Keselowski – 91.0
  3. Joey Logano – 90.9
  4. Chase Elliott – 88.1
  5. William Byron – 85.7
  6. Denny Hamlin – 83.8
  7. Kyle Busch – 81.5
  8. Kevin Harvick – 80.5
  9. Martin Truex Jr. – 76.2
  10. Kyle Larson – 73.9
  11. Alex Bowman 73.1
  12. Christopher Bell – 60.8

Here are the active drivers that have won a Cup Series race during their racing careers.

Brad Keselowski – 6 Wins
Joey Logano – 3 Wins
Denny Hamlin – 2 Wins
Ryan Blaney – 2 Wins
Chase Elliott – 1 Win
Aric Almirola – 1 Win
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 1 Win
Kevin Harvick – 1 Win
Kyle Busch – 1 Win
Note: Driver names in Red above are current Playoff drivers in the Round of 12.

Will Brad Keselowski sweep the Talladega races for 2021, get his seventh win at the track and move off the Playoff bubble and clinch a spot in the next round of the post-season?

Will Joey Logano go from flipping his car at the track in the spring to doing victory burnouts with a free pass to the Round of Eight?

Will Martin Truex Jr. score a win in the second race of the second round of the Playoffs like he did in the first round and gain join his teammate in clinching a spot to advance?

Will Kyle Larson get his first Talladega win, second win the Playoffs and seventh 2021 win and earn his spot in the next round?

Will one of the four drivers below the cut line win and clinch their spot in the Round of Eight pushing another driver below the line?

All the answers will be revealed lap-by-lap in the YellaWood 500 Sunday, October 3rd starting at 1 p.m. central time (2 p.m. eastern time) at Talladega Superspeedway.

By: Buck Stevens

Buck Stevens