By Sarah Tonsmeire
The third and final race of the Contender round of the Chase commences at NASCAR’s most unpredictable track, Talladega Superspeedway. Known as the largest track, sitting 2.66 miles around, Talladega has earned a name for its massive wrecks, referred to as “the Big One” that occurs during each race. With a 43 car field, running at speeds near 200 miles per hour and navigating four turns with 33 degree banking, things can get hairy quickly at this track. With the increased anticipation of the elimination after this weekend, the drama and excitement between drivers will be quite intense.
Although finishes at Talladega are quite unpredictable, the Fast Five this week takes a look at drivers who have proven to run and strategize well at this track. The key to this race is surviving.
Take a look at the Fast Five for Talladega: Dale Earnhardt Jr., who can only determine his advancement in the Chase by winning, but does hold the best average finishing position at Talladega among active drivers; Jeff Gordon, who is looking to go all the way in his final season, is starting on the pole, and has the most wins at Talladega among active drivers; Denny Hamlin, who isn’t a regular pick for a superspeedway, but has had recent success at Talladega and could be a surprise winner on Sunday; Kurt Busch, who is a top rated driver at Talladega and is a strong contender on superspeedways; and Brad Keselowski, who is a past winner at Talladega and typically a strong contender at this track.
In addition to the Fast Five, keep an eye on Jamie McMurray as a dark horse. Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Matt Kenseth can only control their advancement in the Chase by winning on Sunday.
Tune into the race Sunday at 2:30 on NBCSN.