NASCAR Cup Series: Talladega Predictions and How To Watch

Credit: TALLADEGA, ALABAMA - APRIL 24: Ross Chastain, driver of the #1 Moose Fraternity Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 24, 2022 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

NASCAR returns to Talladega as the short track stretch shifts to superspeedway action. Who can stay clean and grab the win this weekend?

It’s an abrupt change to the schedule this week as the short track racing ends and NASCAR moves on to Talladega for some superspeedway racing this weekend.

Before we get to the race itself, it wouldn’t be a normal week in NASCAR if we didn’t have some more penalty news to report on.

If you recall, both Hendrick Motorsports and Kaulig Racing received L-2 level penalties after Phoenix for modifying hood louvers. The penalties handed down by NASCAR included fines, crew chief suspensions, and most notably points deductions. After being sent to an appeals panel, the penalties for Hendrick were amended to remove the points deductions, while keeping the fines and suspensions in place. Nothing was amended for Kaulig, however.

NASCAR was initially disappointed in this because it felt that it didn’t properly punish those who broke the rules. Despite this, NASCAR this week issued a request to the appeals panel to remove the points deductions for Kaulig Racing as well in an effort to be fair and consistent across the board, which the appeals panel granted.

Though NASCAR didn’t agree with the leniency shown by the panel, it was the right move to rescind the points penalty to Kaulig, seeing as they were set to have a harsher penalty for the same exact violation committed by Hendrick.

New Penalty for the No. 3 Team

In addition to rescinding a penalty, NASCAR handed out another after Martinsville. Austin Dillon and the No. 3 team were issued an L-1 level penalty this week for violating “the overall assembled vehicle rules related to the underwing assembly and hardware.” Crew Chief Keith Rodden was fined $75,000 and has been suspended from the next two points events. Both the team and Dillon have been hit with a 60-point penalty as well as a five-playoff-point penalty.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Richard Childress Racing stated that they will be appealing the penalty.

The penalty wars continue for NASCAR, and it will be interesting to see how things play out given the disconnect between what NASCAR deems as proper punishment versus what the appeals panels have had to say so far this season. No matter the result, things keep on going this week with a visit to the unpredictable Talladega.

The Track

Talladega Superspeedway is NASCAR’s longest oval track, coming in at 2.66 miles. It’s flat-out, intense, and provides exciting racing right up to the finish. The track has hosted two Cup Series races per year since 1970, one year after its debut. Dale Earnhardt holds the track record with 10 victories, while Brad Keselowski leads active drivers with six wins at the track. The last race at Talladega in the fall was won by Chase Elliott, with Ross Chastain winning last spring.

In addition to its length, the track has some other features that stand out. First, the turns have steep 33-degree banking, two degrees more than Daytona. The track is 48 feet wide as well, allowing for multiple lanes to form. Finally, the location of the start/finish line is a bit unusual. Instead of being at the center of the front straight, it comes after the tri-oval closer to Turn 1. This means we get a lot of close finishes as cars can make late runs and passes to steal wins. In fact, the closest all-time finishes in NASCAR’s top three series at Talladega are all just 0.002 seconds.

Sunday’s race will be 188 laps long and cover 500 miles. Stage 1 will end on lap 60, while Stage 2 will cover the next 60 laps and end on lap 120. Stage 3 will consist of the final 68 laps of the race. The forecast calls for sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70s on race day.

Points Standings

Let’s see what the standings look like as we approach the 10th race of the season.

  1. Christopher Bell*, Joe Gibbs Racing – 302 points
  2. Ross Chastain, Trackhouse Racing – 297 points
  3. Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing – 287 points
  4. Kyle Larson*, Hendrick Motorsports – 285 points
  5. Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing – 266 points
  6. Tyler Reddick*, 23XI Racing – 265 points
  7. Joey Logano*, Team Penske – 258 points
  8. Kyle Busch*, Richard Childress Racing – 250 points
  9. Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing – 247 points
  10. Ryan Blaney, Team Penske – 241 points

*= 2023 race winner


Superspeedway racing is as much about avoiding the big one as it is about having a good race car. While things can be unpredictable, I’ll take a stab at Brad Keselowski to grab his seventh Talladega win. Fords ran well at the last superspeedway race at Daytona despite losing out in the end, and Keselowski won the opening stage before getting involved in an accident. If he stays out of trouble, he’ll be in the mix.

  1. Brad Keselowski, RFK Racing
  2. Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports
  3. Ryan Blaney, Team Penske
  4. Joey Logano, Team Penske
  5. Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing

How To Watch – NASCAR at Talladega (All Times ET)

  • Qualifying: Saturday, April 22 – 10:30 a.m. ET – FS1
  • Geico 500: Sunday, April 23 – 3:00 p.m. ET – FOX (Green flag at 3:15 p.m. ET)

Featured Image Credit: James Gilbert/Getty Images