NASCAR Cup Series
By Pat DeCola
7 Minute Read
Everything you need to know for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway, the 10th regular-season event of the 2022 campaign.
Where: Talladega, Alabama
Approximate start time: 3 p.m. ET | Weekend schedule
TV/Radio: FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio | Full TV schedule
Forecast: Mostly sunny, with a high near 85, according to NOAA.gov | Weather tracker
Race distance: 188 laps | 500.08 miles
Stages: 60 | 120 | 188
Pit-road speed: 55 mph
Caution car speed: 70 mph
The purse: $7,420,008
Talladega 101: Get the full lowdown
Starting lineup: Christopher Bell on the pole
Key things to watch 🔑
Big story line
The Next Gen car makes its maiden voyage on the high banks of Talladega, NASCAR’s largest and arguably wildest track at a whopping 2.66 miles in length, merely a week after Cup Series cars spent Easter Sunday night kicking up dirt in eastern Tennessee on a half-mile inside a colosseum. Those are quite the ends of the spectrum that racing fans will get to enjoy in back-to-back weeks, as the sport puts on another highlight-worthy event of an entirely different beast. History was made the last time NASCAR raced at Talladega, seeing Bubba Wallace earn his first Cup win — and the first win for then-first-year 23XI Racing — and with how this season has already gone, it would not be a surprise to see more happen Sunday. Tyler Reddick was, once again, extremely close to nabbing his first win at Bristol Motor Speedway, and Talladega might mark just as good a spot for the Richard Childress Racing driver to break through. Expect a lot of eyes to be on Brad Keselowski, as well, as this weekend likely offers his best remaining shot at winning his way into the playoffs, as a six-time track winner. | Keselowski confident in RFK Racing’s superspeedway program
Who’s hot? Who’s not?
Team Penske’s Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney look like the two drivers who fit the bill of both hot in 2022 and have the accompanying strong track record at ‘Dega. They, along with 2020 champion Chase Elliott — another strong contender for the win Sunday — stand as the only drivers to top 300 points so far this season. They’ve also had a significant say in Penske winning eight of the last 13 races at the Alabama track (the other five were won by five different organizations). The Trackhouse Racing duo of Ross Chastain and Daniel Suárez also seem to keep showing up every weekend hunting for wins, so you’d think that’ll be the case at Talladega as well. Martin Truex Jr. looked close to being a top contender early on but is starting to dip a bit and now heads to a track type that he’s never won on in 68 starts. Fellow former member of the “Big Three” Kevin Harvick is also in need of a jumpstart, and thankfully for him has put together some decent runs at Talladega of late (three top 10s in the last four).
Driving under the radar
One might argue that Alex Bowman and Christopher Bell might sometimes get overshadowed by their respective teammates, who have five championships collectively, but they’ve also each been putting together quality races over the past month. Bell made plenty of noise at Bristol before finishing seventh, his third-such result or better in the past four races after a dreadful hole to start the season in. He’s also now led laps in three of the last seven and will start on the pole Sunday. Bowman actually already has a win, coming in a stretch of five top 10s in the last seven races. Neither driver has a stellar Talladega history, but it’s Talladega. Anything can happen.
Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.
– Paint Scheme Preview: See the looks for Talladega races | See the schemes
– Power Rankings: Chase Elliott having career year despite no wins | Updated driver rankings
– Fantasy Fastlane: Brad Keselowski needs a big weekend | Top plays, sleepers
– NASCAR betting: See who’s favored to win Sunday | BetMGM odds
Read up on the top headlines from the week leading up to Sunday’s race.
– Kyle Busch contract: Busch says to ask Joe Gibbs about his contract | Read more
– Still no bad blood: Reddick stands by Bristol post-race reaction to Briscoe | Read more
– Front and off-center: How Talladega’s start-finish line placement came to be | Read more
– Triumph at Talladega: Reflecting on Bubba Wallace’s breakthrough win | Full story
– Let’s vote!: 2022 Cup Series All-Star Fan Vote is now open | Make your choice
– Next Gen analysis: Bristol Dirt Race came down to car control, driver skill | Read more
– Dynamic duo: Australian mother-daughter driver duo trying to make NASCAR, ARCA history | Read more
– Survey says …: Drivers explain “The Big One” in a GIF | See the GIFs
– Coast-to-coast: Daniel Suárez visits U.S. Coast Guard station to support Mission 600 | Read more
– Pit-stall analysis: Holding the draft will be key to having a complete race at ‘Dega | Read more
– No. 9 throwback: See Chase Elliott’s ride for Darlington | First look
– Major bag alert: Wendy’s to sponsor Gragson at Talladega | Read more
– Junior in the booth: NBC Sports’ Dale Earnhardt Jr. hops in the FOX booth on Sunday | Read more
– Clint behind the wheel: Clint Bowyer to pilot Davey Allison’s iconic black No. 28 with ceremonial lap at Talladega | Read more
Think you know NASCAR? Put your mettle to the test with gaming, fantasy.
– BetMGM: Should Brad Keselowski be the favorite? | Betting analysis
– Play it LIVE: Full guide to 2022 NASCAR Fantasy Live game | Get the FAQ
– Backseat Bets: Will Briscoe beat Reddick? | Listen to the debate
– The Action Network: Three drivers to pick on race day | See who the experts chose
– Weekly props: Will superspeedway titans rule? | Make your picks
– Going all the way: NASCAR betting: 2022 Cup Series championship odds | See them here
Time to turn to Talladega, the track full of high speeds and high tension. But first, take a look back at some important track history.
– The only one that matters: Drivers to lead one lap in win | See the list
– Spring into action: Every spring winner in Talladega history | See the list
– Surprise, surprise: Through the years: Talladega’s shocking winners | See the list
– This race last year: Brad Keselowski seals Talladega victory with last-lap pass in overtime | Read more
– And of course, last fall: Bubba Wallace makes history with first Cup victory at Talladega | Read more
Hard-hitting, race-relevant statistics, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.
– Twelve drivers got their first Cup win at Talladega – for seven of them, it was their only career win.
– For seven of the last eight Talladega winners, it was their first win of the season.
– Twenty-nine Talladega races were won with a last-lap pass, including three of the last four.
– The driver who led the most laps has failed to win the last three Talladega races.
– The last seven superspeedway races were won by seven different drivers.
Notable quotes from the stars of the sport heading into Sunday’s race.
– “Anything can happen at Talladega Superspeedway. It’s a little bit of a coin flip, but my No. 3 team will be doing everything we can to try and win. In order to succeed at Talladega, you have to have a little bit of luck, and use momentum at the very end to take advantage of positions. It’s speedway racing. It’s drafting. And it’s chaos, but we’re up for the challenge.” – Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
– “The biggest takeaway from Daytona was that these cars drove really good, they handled really well, I didn’t have any handling complaints. Daytona is typically the slicker of the two race tracks and going to Talladega I would expect handling to be a non-factor again. Whenever handling isn’t a factor then typically we are able to be much more aggressive and that’s when we see really good racing.” – Christopher Bell, driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
– “Sometimes when the pressure is high people make more mistakes, but at the same time expecting big blocks, expecting people to take runs when they have them. Those types of things are probably what you can do at least to prepare ahead of time as a driver, to maybe anticipate other peoples’ moves, but, otherwise, I’m not promising more wrecks, but it’s usually the late blocks, I mean, similar to what you saw at the end of the second Duel (at Daytona). These cars are very, very challenging to block runs and they’re very challenging to take pushes, but I think there’s gonna be a lot of pushing. I think it’s a lot of the normal stuff you see, especially you’re kind of Daytona end of the year race, but, like I said before, there’s a lot of people noticing that there’s a lot of wins and you have to win to make it into the playoffs with the way things are trending at the moment.” – Austin Cindric, driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford