Editor’s Note: This is the final part of a six-part series chronicling Talladega Superspeedway, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019, featuring highlights from springtime racing events through the decades.
Since 2010, the spring Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway have shown what the world’s largest track is all about – 200 mph speeds, three- and four-wide, 10-rows-deep competition and absolute nail-biting, close finishes by a matter of feet, sometimes even inches.
In seven of the nine races (two races ended under caution) conducted thus far since 2010, the average margin of victory by a driver is an incredible .129 second, with the best a NASCAR premier series record of .002 by Jimmie Johnson in 2011. This weekend the track, created as a palace of speed and tight racing by Bill France Sr. in 1969, will host its 100th Monster Energy Series race. And, if the last nine years are any indication, fans have a lot to look forward to.
The numbers below show just how close the competition has been at each of the springtime races at the 2.66-mile venue during the 2010s:
- 2010: Driving for Richard Childress Racing, Kevin Harvick, with a last-lap pass coming out of the tri-oval, beat Jamie McMurray by just .011 second to claim his first and only win to this point at Talladega.
- 2011: Johnson came from fifth coming out of Turn 4 on the final lap to nip Clint Bowyer by an exhilarating .002 second. In addition, the event holds a NASCAR record-tying 88 lead changes.
- 2012: Brad Keselowski held on to outduel Kyle Busch by a whopping .304 second to capture his second Talladega Superspeedway triumph.
- 2013: Driving for an underfunded team, David Ragan stunned the racing world, with drafting help from his teammate David Gilliland, and came out of nowhere to win the spring event, passing leader Carl Edwards on the final lap.
- 2014: Danica Patrick became the first female racer to lead laps at TSS while Denny Hamlin went to Gatorade Victory Lane, giving Joe Gibbs Racing its fourth ‘Dega win.
- 2015: Fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the GEICO 500 after being absent from Talladega’s Gatorade Victory Lane for 11 years. He edged teammate Johnson by .158 second.
- 2016: In his first MENCS start at TSS, rookie Chase Elliott, driving the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet that Jeff Gordon made famous, claimed the pole position for the GEICO 500, but Keselowski scored his fourth TSS Cup Victory.
- 2017: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. became the 11th driver in history to capture his first career triumph at Talladega, with a thrilling .095-second victory over McMurray. In two races in the 2010s, McMurray finished runner-up by a mere average of 0.53 second.
- 2018: Joey Logano picked up his third Cup Series win at Talladega, his first to come in the spring, over Kurt Busch. The win locked him into the season-ending NASCAR Playoffs that eventually led him to the championship.
During the nine-race stretch of spring events at Talladega, Ford claimed four wins, followed by Chevy with three, Toyota with one and Dodge with one. Gordon led the way with three top-starting spots.
The GEICO 500 will be the anchor event of a tripleheader weekend that starts Friday, April 26, with the General Tire 200 for the ARCA Menards Series (a staple of Talladega Superspeedway since October 1969). The MoneyLion 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is set for Saturday, April 27, and Sunday’s GEICO 500 gets the green flag at 1 p.m. For ticket information, log onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-RACE (7223).