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By the Numbers: Lots of lead changes, close calls at Talladega

October 20, 2011, , NASCAR.com



By the Numbers: Lots of lead changes, close calls at Talladega

Talladega Superspeedway is a 2.66-mile tri-oval with 33 degrees banking in the turns. The frontstretch is 4,300 feet with 16.5 degrees banking; the backstretch is 4,000 feet with 2 degrees banking.

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.002 -- Margin of victory for Kyle Busch in last year's race at Talladega, second-closest in series history.

Side note: Butch Miller beat Mike Skinner by .001 seconds at Colorado National Speedway in 1995 (electronic scoring was not used).

3 -- Last-lap passes in the series' five-race history at Talladega -- all in the past three races: Todd Bodine passed Ron Hornaday in 2008; Kyle Busch passed Bodine in 2009 (Bodine also was passed by Aric Almirola); and Busch passed Almirola in 2010 (Almirola says Busch made the pass below the yellow line).

Side note: The past two races have resulted in the only green-white-checkered finishes.

5.4 -- Average place of finish for Todd Bodine in five starts at Talladega. Bodine had finished no worse than fourth in his first four races, including back-to-back wins in 2007 and '08, before finishing 18th last year (was involved in a late multi-truck accident and finished two laps off the pace).

Side note: In 12 superspeedway starts, Bodine tops all series drivers with four wins, 10 top-fives, 221 laps led (track-best 85 at 'Dega) and an average finish of 5.3. His four wins came consecutively: Talladega in 2007, Daytona and 'Dega in '08, and Daytona in '09.

49 -- Laps led in last year's race at Talladega by Ron Hornaday, most of any driver win or lose. Hornaday started on the pole but ended with a DNF (was turned upside-down three laps from the scheduled distance and credited with 21st place). Hornaday has three top-10s in five starts at 'Dega, all in the first three races.

Side note: Hornaday has three wins, four top-fives, an average finish of 3.4 and has scored 18 more points than he other driver in the past five races. He has gained 26 points on the championship leader and now sits fourth in the standings, 21 points out.

Very Interesting

5 -- Difference in finishing positions in last year's race at Talladega between current championship contenders Austin Dillon and Johnny Sauter. Dillon started third and finished eighth; Sauter started eighth and finished third. Dillon leads Sauter by five points in the standings.

Side note: James Buescher finished sixth in last year's race. He trails Dillon by seven points.

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.002 -- Margin of victory for Jimmie Johnson in the April race at Talladega, tying Ricky Craven's 2003 win at Darlington for the closest since the inception of electronic scoring in 1993. The top eight finishers in April were separated by .145 seconds.

Side note: The MOV at 'Dega has been under four-tenths of a second in the 29 races since 1993 that haven't ended under caution.

4 -- Top-10 finishes for Joey Logano in the past five races at Talladega, more than any other driver in that span.

Side note: Twenty-nine drivers have posted a top-10 in the span, 14 more than one. Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer has the longest current top-10 streak with three in row (Harvick's are top-fives).

8 -- Different winners in the past eight races at Talladega: Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson.

Side note: Gordon (6) and Johnson (2) are the only drivers in the group with more than one win at 'Dega.

19 -- Races at Talladega decided by a last-lap pass, including eight the past 12 and the past three: Kevin Harvick passed Jamie McMurray in April 2010; Clint Bowyer passed Harvick last October; and Jimmie Johnson passed Jeff Gordon this past April (Bowyer also passed Gordon).

Side note 1: Johnson is one of three drivers who have won twice at 'Dega with last-lap passes: Cale Yarborough in May 1978 (passed Buddy Baker) and May 1984 (Harry Gant); Dale Earnhardt in July 1983 (Darrell Waltrip) and July 1984 (Terry Labonte); and Johnson in May 2006 (Brian Vickers) and April 2011 (Gordon).

Side note 2: Earnhardt also was passed twice on the last lap by the winner, as were Baker and Waltrip. And Gordon passed Johnson to win in Oct. 2007 (Gordon's only lap led).

Very Interesting

88 -- Lead changes in the April race at Talladega, tied with the April 2010 race for the most in NASCAR history. There were 87 lead changes in last October's race.

Side note 1: 'Dega holds six of the top seven position in all-time most lead changes, and the last seven races have had more than 50 lead changes (22 of 84 races overall).

Side note 2: 'Dega is the only track with races that have had 25 or more leaders -- eight times, including the all-time Cup record of 29 in April 2010 and 26 in the past two races.

TALLADEGA | Chase for the Sprint Cup

0 -- Drivers who have won the Chase race at Talladega and the championship in the same season.

Side note: The only driver in the Chase era to win a race at 'Dega in his championship season is Jimmie Johnson, in May 2006.

1 -- Drivers in Cup history whose first lap led was the final lap: Brad Keselowski, at Talladega in April 2009.

5 -- Drivers in this year's Chase who finished in the top 10 in the April race at Talladega: 1. Jimmie Johnson; 3. Jeff Gordon; 4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.; 5. Kevin Harvick; 6. Carl Edwards.

Side note: Five drivers finished 23rd or worse in the same race: 23. Denny Hamlin; 25. Ryan Newman; 33. Brad Keselowski; 35. Kyle Busch (crash); 36. Matt Kenseth (crash).

7 -- Drivers in this year's Chase who have won at Talladega: Jeff Gordon (6), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (5), Jimmie Johnson (2), Kyle Busch (1), Kevin Harvick (1), Brad Keselowski (1) and Tony Stewart (1).

Very Interesting

3 --Times the leader in the Chase has lost his lead at Talladega. In 2004, Jeff Gordon lost the points lead after a 19th-place finish. Kurt Busch took over and held on for the remainder of the season. That year, Talladega was the third race of the Chase. In 2005, Jimmie Johnson entered Talladega with a seven-point lead over Rusty Wallace but finished 31st and left Talladega trailing eventual champion Tony Stewart by 82 points. And in 2007, Johnson lost his six-point advantage over Gordon and left trailing his teammate by nine. Johnson still won the Chase.

TALLADEGA MISC. | Order tickets

1 -- Drivers who have won both a Truck and Cup series race at Talladega: Mark Martin. Martin is a two-time winner at 'Dega in Cup (April 1995 and May 1997) and won the inaugural Truck race in 2006.

Side note: Martin is the only driver to win at Talladega in all three of NASCAR's national series, winning a Nationwide Series race there in April 1997, two weeks before winning the Cup race.

1 -- Wins at Talladega for Truck Series driver Johnny Sauter. Sauter won the Nationwide race there in 2002.

70 -- Cup races at Talladega since Dodge last won, by Dave Marcis in August 1976. Chevrolet has 37 wins at 'Dega, more than double the next manufacturer (Ford with 18).

Side note: Toyota has two wins at 'Dega, both in 2008.

188.354 -- Average speed, in mph, in the May 1997 race at Talladega won by Mark Martin, the fastest race in NASCAR history. It took just 2 hours, 39 minutes, 18 seconds to run 500 miles.

Side note 1: That race also marked the first of three caution-free races in 'Dega history.

Side note 2: Martin also holds the Nationwide Series race record at Talladega, at 168.937 mph in 1997, and the Truck Series qualifying record, at 182.320 mph in 2006.

Very Interesting

2 -- Times in the past two time trials at Talladega the Cup qualifying speeds have been the slowest in the 81-race history at Talladega with time trials: 184.640 mph last October, by Juan Montoya; and 178.248 mph in April, by Jeff Gordon.

TALLADEGA HISTORY | Hall of Fame

2 -- Wins at Talladega for Richard Petty, the fewest he had at any track with more than 11 starts. Petty made 46 starts at 'Dega, with 11 top-fives and 18 top-10s, both totals also representing his low mark at any track with at least the same number of starts.

3 -- Wins at Talladega for Cale Yarborough, with two coming from the pole: May 1978 (led 81 laps) and May 1984 (led 19 laps). Yarborough scored six poles at 'Dega, second all time to Bill Elliott's eight.

Side note: Other Hall of Famers to win from the pole: David Pearson (May 1974/58 laps led); Bobby Allison (May 1981/69); and Dale Earnhardt (July 1990/134).

6 -- Times in the first seven races there was a last-lap pass for the victory at Talladega the winner became a Hall of Famer: Richard Petty (August 1974); Cale Yarborough (May 1978); Bobby Allison (May 1981); Darrell Waltrip (May 1982); Dale Earnhardt (July 1983); Yarborough (May 1984); and Earnhardt (July 1984).

10 -- Cup wins at Talladega by Dale Earnhardt, most of all time. Earnhardt won five times in a nine-race span from 1990-94, and three times in four races from 1999-2000. Earnhardt is the only driver in track history to sweep the season twice (1990 and '99).

Side note: Earnhardt also the all-time 'Dega leader in top-fives (23), top-10s (27), most races leading the most laps (12) and laps led (1,377).

Very Interesting

16 -- Times Darrell Waltrip suffered an engine failure at Talladega. In all, Waltrip had 23 DNFs in 55 starts, and 20 were due to mechanical failure. In the other 32 races, he won four times with 14 top-fives and 19 top-10s.

Powered by Racing Recall | Sporting News Wire Service also contributed to this report.