Cole Custer will start from the pole position in today’s Fred’s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway. This is his fifth career pole, and his second pole of the season. This is his first start at Talladega.

 

The first round of qualifying saw drivers warm-up on the high line, and run on the bottom during their timed lap. Qualifying was stopped for Dylan Lupton as he was stopped at the entrance of pit road. Qualifying was also stopped for debris from the car of Clay Greenfield. Chase drivers who did not advance to the second round of qualifying will be Matt Crafton who will start 13th, Christopher Bell who will start 14th, and Daniel Hemric who qualified 17th. The four drivers who will be packing and heading home will be Parker Kligerman, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Ryan Ellis, and Clay Greenfield. Timothy Peters was fastest in the first round at 177.936 mph, Johnny Sauter was second at 177.893 mph, Grant Enfinger was third at 177.867 mph, Custer was fourth at 177.854 mph, and Spencer Gallagher rounded out the top five at 177.639 mph.

 

The second round of qualifying went without incident. Custer qualified first at 178.417 mph, Enfinger qualified second at 178.380 mph, Gallagher qualified third at 178.168 mph, Ben Kennedy qualified fourth at 178.145 mph, and Sauter rounded out the top-five at 177.811 mph.

 

The Fred’s 250 will begin at 12:30 p.m. EST on FOX and Motor Racing Network.

Talladega Superspeedway, Interational Speedway Corporation, and GIECO have announced a partnership with race entitlement and the spring event at Taladega.

The announcement was defined as a “major Talladega/ISC announcement”. GIECO and ISC have announced a multi-year partnership to sponsor the restart zone at all ISC tracks minus Auto Club Speedway.

GIECO will also continue to be the spring race entitlement sponsorship through 2019. GIECO will continue to have naming rights for the campgrounds at eight ISC tracks, including Talladega. The GIECO restart zone will debut at Talladega this weekend and be implemented at ISC tracks in 2017.

“We’re excited about extending our relationship with GIECO, one of the largest auto insurers in the U.S. This race, known for its thrilling on-track action at NASCAR’s most competitive track, will continue to provide an incredible platform for GIECO to engage with fans,” said Grant Lynch, Talladega Superspeedway Chairman.

GIECO has been in partnership with Talladega since 2014.

“At GIECO, we’re always looking for new ways to engage with sports fans. Having our branding in the Restart Zone is not only a GIECO first, but also a first for all of NASCAR. This expansion of out presence at the track underscores the success of our NASCAR partnership,” said Ted Ward, GIECO marketing vice president. 

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series gambled their way out of Las Vegas to head to Talladega Superspeedway for the Fred’s 250.  This is the first elimination race of the inaugural Chase.

 

35 drivers will strive to compete for 32 spots. There will not be a presence made by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers.

 

Talladega Superspeedway is the largest and steepest track on the NASCAR circuit at 2.66-miles in length and is banked at 33 degrees. After Daytona was built in 1959, Bill France Sr. wanted to build something bigger and better for the stars of NASCAR to race on. The speedway hosted its first event in 1969. The first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race held at Talladega was in 2006 won by Mark Martin.

 

There have been 10 races run at Talladega. For each race, a new driver has set on the pole. The youngest pole winner at Talladega is Tyler Reddick; Ron Hornaday Jr. is the oldest pole winner. Despite having different pole winners each year, there have been only seven different winners. In 2012, Parker Kligerman became the youngest race winner at 22 years; In 2011, Mike Wallace became the oldest winner at 52 years. Three races have been won from the pole with the last race being last year when Timothy Peters snagged the checkered flag. In 2008, the race record was set by Todd Bodine at 145. 513 mph. In 2014, Tyler Reddick set the qualifying record at 186.827 mph.

 

Two will be eliminated and dreams dashed will be for their hopes at a championship. With his win at New Hampshire, William Byron is a lock into the next round. Daniel Hemric and John Hunter Nemechek are the sole drivers who must win or have strong finishes in an effort to keep the hope alive for a championship. Ben Kennedy, Timothy Peters, and Johnny Sauter are the three drivers near the cutoff line, but still have hope for a chance at a championship.

 

The Chase drivers talk about their approach to Talladega.

 

"Talladega has not been my friend the last two years. I was doing well last year but got caught in The Big One toward the end. I'm pretty confident this team will run well though. I saw what GMS was able to do at Daytona, winning the pole and the race, and how they ran at Talladega last year so I know their superspeedway trucks can compete,” said Kennedy.

 

“I'm looking forward to going to Talladega Superspeedway, and I know there's a lot on the line for this No. 19 team. I think we learned a lot for our superspeedway package from the third truck we ran in Daytona with Austin Theriault, and hopefully that transfers over to myself, Tyler Reddick and Austin Cindric. Having an extra teammate to work with, especially given our current Chase points situation, definitely won't hurt. We've got to utilize each other to maximize our day and show what we can do together. We have to unload with decent speed and follow the process of everything it takes to get to the front in a superspeedway race from the very first practice, both on the racetrack and on pit road. That's the key to having a solid day,” said Hemric.

 

“I’m just going to try to go as hard as I can. I want to learn more restrictor-plate racing styles and techniques that I wasn’t really able to learn in the beginning of the year since it was my first race. I think we’ll just go with that mindset and hopefully try and get a win and do a good job,” said Byron.

 

All practice sessions for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be held on Friday at 1:00 p.m. EST and 3:00 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1. Qualifying will be held at 10:30 a.m. EST on Fox Sports 1. The Fred’s 250 will be on FOX beginning at 1:00 p.m. EST. Motor Racing Network will have the call of the Fred’s 250 at 12:30 p.m. EST.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series hits wind and arrives at Talladega Superspeedway for the final race in the “Round of 12” in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Fans from all 50 states and 22 countries around the world will embark on Alabama for the Hellman’s 500. This race kicks off the second half  of the Chase.

 

42 drivers are currently slated to qualify for the race, but only 40 drivers will start on Sunday. Ryan Reed will be entering a fourth Roush Fenway Racing Ford.

 

“I can’t wait to get to Talladega.  To be this close to achieving a goal of mine is huge.  I know our Lilly Diabetes/American Diabetes Association team has been working really hard to bring a stout piece to the track.  Our goal is to go out there and keep our nose clean, run all of the laps, earn some respect and hopefully be in contention for a solid finish at the end,” said Reed.

 

Talladega Superspeedway is the largest and steepest track on the NASCAR circuit at 2.66-miles in length and is banked at 33 degrees. After Daytona was built in 1959, Bill France Sr. wanted to build something bigger and better for the stars of NASCAR to race on. The speedway hosted its first event in 1969.

 

There have been 94 races ran at Talladega. 39 drivers have won a pole at the famed speedway. Earlier this year, Chase Elliott became the youngest driver to win a pole, while Mark Martin was the oldest driver to win a pole set back in 2011. 45 drivers have claimed victory with Bobby Hillin Jr being the youngest winner and Harry Gant being the oldest. 13 drivers have won the race from the pole; Jeff Gordon was the last driver to do in 2007. in 1997, Mark Martin set the race record at 188.354 mph. The qualifying record, which will never be broken due to the restrictor plate, is owned by Bill Elliott, who set the speed in 1987, at 212.809 mph.

 

Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson are the only Chase drivers that have immunity this weekend. The four driver currently out of advancement include Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, and Chase Elliott. Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., and Joey Logano are the bottom three drivers in jeopardy of elimination.

 

Drivers are frightened yet excited to be returning to Talladega.

 

“The thing about going to a superspeedway like Daytona or Talladega is obviously not getting involved in a wreck since the chances of being caught up in one is so much higher at those tracks. You also need to have a fast race car in order to have a successful day there. There have been many times lately that we’ve had fast Toyotas that were able to keep their position towards the front and sometimes it works out and other times it just doesn’t. At Talladega, you need a car that’s fast enough to pull the pack and stay out front in order to have a greater chance of success. It’s just too easy for people to get shuffled out and back into the pack where then you’re fighting to get back up to the front. You can’t ever really predict when or where a wreck if going to happen, so to me the best strategy is to go there with the fastest car that you can possibly build and hopefully get to the front and stay out there,” said Matt Kenseth, driver of the no. 20, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

 

“I have yet to win one of the points-paying races at a restrictor-plate racetrack. This one is tough because it’s a Chase race. Winning versus finding a consistent finish is such a razor-blade edge versus wrecking. We can’t have a wreck take us out of advancing through the Chase. One year in the Chase, I tried going for a win, got spun at the end and I kicked myself for years afterward. In 2009, I was going for a win instead of just trying to ride it out for a better finish and it took me from second in points back to fourth in points. Over the years, Talladega has just turned into a points-gathering race in the fall,” said Ku. Busch, driver of the No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.

 

Friday at Talladega is practice day. All practices, qualifying, and the race will be live on NBCSN and Motor Racing Network. The first practice will be at 2:00 p.m. EST and the final practice session will be at 4:30 p.m EST. Qualifying will be held after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at approximately 4:00 p.m. The Hellman’s 500 will hit airwaves at 2:00 p.m EST.

Fire up the scanners, it is time for Crew Chatter with Speedway Digest writers. This week we tackle Talladega with the question, “With the Chase for the Sprint Cup reaching its halfway point, who is hot and who is not going into the second half?”

 

Brett Winningham

The two drivers I'm really surprised by is Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski. I thought those two drivers were gonna be on fire in this years Chase. I think you could also say the same about Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott. I felt going into this thing that they would be atop the standings throughout the entirety as well. 

Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson, who already have their tickets punched into the next round of the Chase, were definitely expected. As well as Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards. One driver I thought would be higher up a little bit in this round is Martin Truex Jr. 

It'll be interesting to see if a driver facing elimination can add their name to the win column this weekend. With it being Talladega, and that anything can happen, it probably won't surprise us if a driver facing elimination does win. 

 

Katie Williams

If I had to pick someone who's hot right now, it's Jimmie Johnson. He won races earlier in the regular season, then he was quiet all summer. Fans were asking 'what's wrong with Jimmie?' Absolutely nothing. I think some drivers have their peak times during the year, just as I seem to on the back of a horse. 

Once Johnson got to the Chase, there were some pit road problems that probably cost him winning a race in the 'Round of 16' but he won Charlotte to move into the 'eight'. He finished fourth at Kansas, not a trip to Victory Lane, but enough to keep him at the top of the playoff standings with 3048 points. Who knows what will happen at Talladega but he's safe.

I'm staying in the Hendrick camp for my driver 'who's not' hot, Chase Elliott. It seems like he's hot and then he's cold during every race. Has been in the hunt for a win but it always seems to escape him. For instance, last week, he ran in the top five and led laps but a smoking left rear tire dampened his chances again. I think he needs to capitalize on a win to stay in the Chase. Even if he doesn't get caught in the 'big one', he's still in 'Elimination Station'.

 

Davey Segal

Who's hot: Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick (obviously). The only two drivers with bids into the Round of 8 can rest easy heading into Talladega. For the other 10 drivers, that's not the case. However, there are a couple more drivers who are hot.

They include a couple Toyota's in Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. The defending champion is in solid shape heading into the final race of this round and has been the brightest spot for JGR throughout the season.

As for the No. 78, despite his struggles this round, when you look at his round one and the fact that he's to the good as of now, he has been one of the dominant cars throughout the Chase.

Who's not: Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott. Dillon was an unpopular pick to advance to the Round of 12. Yet, here he is: tied with the man who swept this round one year ago, Joey Logano, for the final transfer spot. He has been okay, but not dazzling. He has to dazzle on Sunday at 'Dega (his favorite and statistically best track) if he wants to advance.

Elliott has shown speed throughout the Chase, but hasn't had the luck and circumstances fall his way. From getting hit from behind at Charlotte to tire issues at Kansas, the No. 24's results haven't been indicative of how he's ran so far. Nevertheless, he's in a must-win situation -- for all intents and purposes -- this weekend.

Denny Hamlin also is cooling off. He's experiencing more "Denny Hamlin Luck" in the Chase with blown engines, delaminated splitters and more. Being JGR car, he has the speed, but the luck might bite Hamlin once again in 2016.Who's hot: Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick (obviously). The only two drivers with bids into the Round of 8 can rest easy heading into Talladega. For the other 10 drivers, that's not the case. However, there are a couple more drivers who are hot.

They include a couple Toyota's in Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. The defending champion is in solid shape heading into the final race of this round and has been the brightest spot for JGR throughout the season.

As for the No. 78, despite his struggles this round, when you look at his round one and the fact that he's to the good as of now, he has been one of the dominant cars throughout the Chase.

Who's not: Austin Dillon and Chase Elliott. Dillon was an unpopular pick to advance to the Round of 12. Yet, here he is: tied with the man who swept this round one year ago, Joey Logano, for the final transfer spot. He has been okay, but not dazzling. He has to dazzle on Sunday at 'Dega (his favorite and statistically best track) if he wants to advance.

Elliott has shown speed throughout the Chase, but hasn't had the luck and circumstances fall his way. From getting hit from behind at Charlotte to tire issues at Kansas, the No. 24's results haven't been indicative of how he's ran so far. Nevertheless, he's in a must-win situation -- for all intents and purposes -- this weekend.

Denny Hamlin also is cooling off. He's experiencing more "Denny Hamlin Luck" in the Chase with blown engines, delaminated splitters and more. Being JGR car, he has the speed, but the luck might bite Hamlin once again in 2016.


Caleb Whisler

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chase has seen dominate cars during the regular season seem to fade away. Toyota has been matched by Hendrick Motorsports as the Chase for the Sprint Cup began. The hottest drivers right now have to be Jimmie Johnson and Harvick. The lukewarm drivers would have to be the Joe Gibbs Racing camp including the satellite of Marin Truex Jr. The cold drivers would have to be Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, and Kurt Busch. Something has to happen for these drivers to  advance.

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