MENCS: Geico 500 Talladega Preview

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway. Fans from all 50 states, five continents, and 21 countries will get to see the world’s best drivers embark on the second restrictor plate race of the 2017 season.

42 drivers will attempt to qualify for 40 spots in Sunday’s Geico 500. Two open drivers will go home after Cup qualifying Saturday afternoon after the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Sparks Energy 300.

There have been 95 races from Talladega. 40 different drivers have won the pole position. There have been 45 different race winners. Only 13 races have been won from the pole with Jeff Gordon being the last driver to do in in 2007. Mark Martin set the race record in 1997 at 188.354 mph. Bill Elliott set the qualifying record in 1987 at 212.809 mph.

Teams will have two sets of Goodyears to practice on, one set for qualifying, and six sets for the race. Teams will be using the same tire setup going back to October of 2014.

From the Team Penske camp, Todd Gordon, crew chief for Joey Logano, and Paul Wolfe, crew chief for Brad Keselowski, will not be at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend. For Wolfe, the team decided to use this weekend to defer the three-race suspension received from Phoenix in case their final appeal does not go in their favor this weekend. Gordon will not be at the racetrack due to an encumbered win from Richmond International Raceway. When NASCAR took the 22 car back to the Research and Development Center, they found an illegal truck trailing arm spacer in the rear suspension. Logano will not be able to use the victory and five playoff points later on in the year. Team Penske will not appeal the ruling.

At Talladega, everyone has a chance to win. Drivers are excited about this race because it is a great equalizer for the field.

"I’m really looking forward to Talladega and making my first start in our PEAK Antifreeze Camry this weekend. There is a lot of luck involved in restrictor-plate racing, but also a lot of strategy which I really enjoy. I think we learned a lot in Daytona back in February that we can carry over to this weekend. Anything can happen when we race at Talladega, but I’m really looking forward to the race on Saturday and hopefully coming away with a good finish for everyone involved with PEAK and this No. 18 team.,” said Daniel Suarez.

“Talladega is going to be intense, especially when you incorporate stage racing. I know that there’s a great opportunity to gain points this weekend by finishing in the top 10 of those stages, but I’m sure that the pack racing will be crazy. I’m really looking forward to getting there with our AdvoCare Ford. Hopefully we can keep it clean all day long and be out in front of the three and four-wide craziness, and be contending for the win come days end. We had a great Ford here last year and I’m confident we will be just as strong this weekend,” said Trevor Bayne.

"It's all about having a fast racecar and be lucky enough to stay out front and not getting in somebody else's mess. You also have to have a good day on pit road because it seems like we have a lot of green-flag runs. If you have a bad stop, it is really easy to lose a lap. It's all about keeping yourself in the game,” said Ryan Newman.

The Greco 500 will feature two 55-lap stages, and a final stage of 78 laps. On Friday, teams will have two practice sessions due to this weekend being an impound weekend. Those practice sessions are slated to begin at 2:30 p.m. EST and 4:30 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network. Qualifying will be held at 4:00 p.m. EST on Saturday on FOX and Motor Racing Network. Sunday’s Running of the Geico 500 will be on FOX and Motor Racing Network at 2:00 p.m. EST.

Caleb Whisler

I am 19 years old from Atlanta, GA. I have been following motorsports since I was born. Motorsports has been "passed down" in my family. I am named after NASCAR Hall of Famer, William Caleb Yarborough, also known as Cale. Growing up in the southeast, racing was something that was a Sunday tradition after church. What an honor it is to share that passion with others.