Richmond Winner Logano Goes For Second Straight ‘Dega Victory
Joey Logano, 26, won his first race of the season Sunday at Richmond in his 300th career start. He’ll attempt to win again in his 301st start in Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway – a track where he won the latest race last fall.
Logano has taken the checkered flag in the last two fall races at Talladega, but claims only two top-10 finishes at the 2.66-mile behemoth in the spring (ninth in 2009 and 10th in 2011; both with Joe Gibbs Racing). Overall the #22 Team Penske driver has two wins, four top fives, six top 10s and an 18.7 average finish in 16 starts at Talladega.
The Middletown, Connecticut, native’s win at Richmond put an exclamation point on his strong start to the season. He has only finished outside the top six once in the first nine races – a 31st-place showing at Phoenix where he led a season-high 82 laps and won the first stage before wrecking out of the race.
Logano ranks fourth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings, 65 points behind leader Kyle Larson. His six playoff points are the fifth-most in the series.
Four drivers besides Logano have won in their 300th start: NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace (Atlanta, 1993), along with active competitors Kasey Kahne (Charlotte, 2012), Kyle Busch (Texas, 2013) and Denny Hamlin (Talladega, 2014). None of them won in their 301st start.
Team Penske Hopes To Continue Hot Streak At Talladega
Joey Logano isn’t the only Team Penske driver who’s had success recently at Talladega. Brad Keselowski has combined with his Penske teammate to win four of the last five races there (Logano: fall 2015, fall 2016; Keselowski: fall 2014, spring 2016).
In fact, Keselowski is arguably the top driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at the Alabama track. In 16 career starts there, he owns four wins, six top fives, nine top 10s and an average finish of 15.4 (third-best in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series).
Overall, Team Penske has five wins at Talladega. Richard Childress Racing and Hendrick Motorsports lead all teams with 12 wins each at the 2.66-mile track.
Talladega Tornado: Dale Jr. Readies To Make Final Mark At Top Track
Sunday’s GEICO 500 marks Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s final spring race at the Talladega Superspeedway – his top track.
Earnhardt’s six wins at Talladega rank tied with Jeff Gordon’s total for second all-time. His father, Dale Earnhardt, holds the track record with 10 victories.
In addition to his triumphs, Earnhardt has 12 top fives, 16 top 10s and a 15.4 average finish at the 2.66-mile behemoth. Among active drivers, he claims the second-best driver rating (92.0) and third-best average running position (14.4).
Earnhardt, who announced he will retire after this season, has struggled so far in his final campaign. He has one top-10 showing, a finish of fifth at Texas. He’s currently 24th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings.
Young Guns At ‘Dega
Many of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series “Young Guns” performed well at Talladega last season and are poised to finish up front again in Sunday’s race. Last spring, four drivers currently 27 or younger finished in the top 10: Austin Dillon (third), Chase Elliott (fifth), Ryan Blaney (ninth) and Trevor Bayne (10th).
In last season’s fall Talladega race, five drivers currently 27 or younger finished in the top 12: Joey Logano (first), Kyle Larson (sixth), Dillon (ninth), Blaney (11th) and Elliott (12th).
Standings Shakeup: Larson Increases Lead, Truex Moves Into Second
There was some movement at the top of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings following Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond – a race that set the spring track record for most green flag passes (2,495). Martin Truex Jr. jumped from third to second following his 10th-place showing. Chase Elliott dropped one spot to third after finishing 24th. The current top five features drivers from all three manufacturers: 1. Kyle Larson (Chevrolet), 2. Truex (Toyota, 40 points behind Larson) 3. Elliott (Chevrolet, -52) 4. Joey Logano (Ford, -65) 5. Brad Keselowski (Ford, -71).
Keselowski leads the series with 11 playoff points. Truex ranks tied with Jimmie Johnson for second with 10. They are followed by Larson with seven and Logano with six (1 after penalty)
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
GEICO 500 Had Most Passes For The Lead: Don’t be surprised to see a ton of passes for the lead at Talladega this weekend. A year ago in the GEICO 500, there were 213 passes for the lead throughout the race (not just counting lead changes at the Start/Finish line) – tops among all 2016 races.
30th Anniversary Of Bill Elliott’s Qualifying Record: Thirty years ago, NASCAR Hall of Famer, Bill Elliott set the NASCAR qualifying record with a 212.809 mph lap at Talladega Superspeedway. His son, Chase Elliott, will take the track in Sunday’s GEICO 500. In his first two career starts at Talladega last season, Chase finished fifth and 12th, respectively, and led a total of 36 laps. He won the Coors Light Pole Award in the 2016 spring race.
— NASCAR —