Talladega Superspeedway, Daytona International Speedway and now Atlanta Motor Speedway showcase a racing product unlike any other. Big, blistering packs with racecars competing just inches apart over the course of hours make it exciting for television and grandstand audiences alike.
However, it takes special skill and precision to conquer these fierce configurations and avoid the notorious pile-ups. It is why some drivers have become masters on superspeedways while others have struggled mightily.
As the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity series head to Talladega this weekend, here are a few drivers that you need to keep an eye on because of their exceptional track record in recent superspeedway events.
Although every driver has a shot to win due to the nature of pack racing, Ryan Blaney may just be the slight favorite this weekend. With two prior victories at Talladega, the third-generation star has established a consistency of making his way to the front of the large superspeedway packs.
Blaney comes into Talladega on a losing streak that dates back to 2021, but don’t be fooled by that statistic; look for Blaney to be back on top this weekend. He’s finished inside the top 10 more than any other driver in the field at superspeedways since 2020.
Jones has three straight top 10s at Talladega. The Michigander also picked up his first career win on a superspeedway by winning the summer race at Daytona in 2018.
Jones needs a good outing after a slow start this season, but his lone top 10 this season, at Atlanta, did come at a superspeedway configuration.
Hamlin has not won on a superspeedway in three years, but his resume speaks for itself. The Virginia native has tallied five superspeedway victories in his career and has led a lap in 12 of the last 13 events.
Hamlin has been outspoken about the lack of passing opportunities that the new Next Gen car creates on superspeedways. But as a critical observer, Hamlin’s astuteness could play into some Talladega success.
Bubba Wallace has finished second in the Daytona 500 two out of the last three years. He also scored his triumphant first career Cup victory at Talladega a few years ago.
Always a threat to lead and be up front, Wallace has often claimed that superspeedway configurations are his favorite type of track. A confident driver at a superspeedway will always present a threat to the competition.
Having won on superspeedways more than any other driver in the field, Brad Keselowski is no doubt to be considered one of, if not the sport’s best driver on a superspeedway.
This impressive statistic includes a whopping six cup victories at Talladega, including his first career win, which came in just his sixth career start.
Widely considered to be the best superspeedway driver in NASCAR during the 2010s, Keselowski is riding high on a wave of superspeedway momentum following his runner-up finish at Atlanta earlier this year.
It may come as a surprise to some to think that a former road racing star has the best superspeedway average finish of all the full-time drivers in NASCAR, but it is indeed the case for Austin Cindric.
Cindric’s 12th-place career average finishing position (which includes two DNFs) was aided thanks to his triumph in the 2022 Daytona 500.
Oh, by the way, he won the Great American Race as a rookie.
Like Cindric, Michael McDowell‘s road racing background has no comparison to the skillset needed for superspeedway prowess, but somehow, you often find his bright yellow Front Row Motorsports near the front of those big iconic packs.
McDowell’s lone Cup victory to date came on a superspeedway after escaping carnage to win the 2021 Daytona 500. In fact, 12 of his 30 career top 10s have come at either Talladega or Daytona.
About the author
Never at a loss for words, Zach Gillispie is a young, talented marketing professional from North Carolina who talks and writes on the side about his first love: racing! Since joining Frontstretch in 2018, Zach has served in numerous roles where he currently pens the NASCAR 101 column, a weekly piece delving into the basic nuts and bolts of the sport. Additionally, his unabashedly bold takes meshed with that trademarked dry wit of his have made Zach a fan favorite on the weekly Friday Faceoff panel. In his free time, he can be found in the great outdoors, actively involved in his church, cheering on his beloved Atlanta Braves or ruthlessly pestering his colleagues with completely useless statistics about Delma Cowart.
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