HomeSportsGood news, bad news for NASCAR Cup teams heading into Talladega weekend

Good news, bad news for NASCAR Cup teams heading into Talladega weekend

For the third time in the first 10 races of the season, NASCAR Cup teams will compete on a drafting-style track. This weekend the series is at Talladega Superspeedway.

Each of the last seven Cup races at Talladega has had a different winner. They are: Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Bubba Wallace, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney.

Here’s a look at the state of play for each Cup organization heading into the 10th race of the season:

23XI Racing — Good news: Last weekend was the second weekend in a row that the team finished fourth and seventh with a car. At Martinsville, Bubba Wallace finished fourth and Tyler Reddick seventh. Last weekend in Texas, Reddick finished fourth and Wallace seventh. Bad news: Wallace’s victory at Talladega in October 2021 marked the last time a Toyota won a Cup race at a drafting-style track. Toyota has been winless for fourteen races since Wallace’s victory.

Front Row Motorsports — Good news: Todd Gilliland has completed 74 of 460 laps on drafting-style tracks this season. That’s 16.1% of those rounds. … Michael McDowell qualified second for the Daytona 500 and on the pole in Atlanta in the two previous races on drafting-style tracks this season. … The team finished in both Talladega races last year with a car in the top 10. Both were in the No. 36 car. Riley Herbst was in the car for the fall race and Todd Gilliland was in the car for the spring race. Bad news: The number 36 will not arrive this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports — Good news: The organization has won three of the last four races and led 46.7% of the laps in those races. Hendrick Motorsports has also seen at least two drivers finish in the top five in the past four races. …Daytona 500 winner William Byron has a streak of best three wins when setting up tracks with the Next Gen car. … Chase Elliott has recorded three consecutive top-five finishes, including his victory in Texas. Bad news: Kyle Larson has one top-five finish in 43 career races at draft-style tracks. Due to an accident he has failed to finish five of the last eight races on such circuits. … Alex Bowman is winless in 37 Cup Superspeedway races.

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NASCAR: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400

NASCAR: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400

The win in Texas moves Chase Elliott one win away from setting a record in the modern NASCAR era

Chase Elliott is chasing a record shared by Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson in the modern era.

Joe Gibbs Racing — Good news: All four JGR drivers are in the top 10 in points: Martin Truex Jr. is second, Denny Hamlin is third, Ty Gibbs is sixth and Christopher Bell is 10th. … Hamlin has two wins, 11 top fives and 16 top 10s in 36 career starts at Talladega. Bad news: Ty Gibbs has run three Cup races at Talladega. He didn’t finish any of them. His best finish at Talladega is 31st. …Martin Truex Jr. has one top 10 finish at Talladega since 2015. Truex is winless in 81 Cup races at drafting-style tracks.

JTG Daugherty Racing — Good news: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s average career finish at Talladega is 15.8. That’s better than Brad Keselowski (15.9), Joey Logano (18.5) and Denny Hamlin (16.2), among others. Bad news: Stenhouse has not had a top-20 finish in the last six races this season.

Kaulig Racing — Good news: Shane van Gisbergen will make his second cup start of the season this weekend in car no. 16. Bad news: The organization has not had a car finish in the top 20 in four of the last six races.

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Legacy Motor Club — Good News: Erik Jones has finished in the top 10 in four of the last five races at Talladega. … John Hunter Nemechek has finished eighth in both previous Cup starts at Talladega. Bad news: Both Jones and Nemechek have not had a lap lead yet this season.

CAR: APRIL 14 NASCAR Cup Series AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400CAR: APRIL 14 NASCAR Cup Series AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400

CAR: APRIL 14 NASCAR Cup Series AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400

William Byron retains first place in the NASCAR Power Rankings after Texas

William Byron scored his second consecutive top-three finish in Texas.

Richard Childress Racing — Good news: Austin Dillon placed eighth in Texas and Kyle Busch ninth, marking the first time this season the organization placed two cars in the top 10. Bad news: Despite the top 10, Kyle Busch fell out of a playoff spot after Texas.

Rick Ware Racing — Good news: Justin Haley, then driving for Kaulig Racing, finished sixth in the Talladega race last fall. Bad news: The organization’s last top-10 finish was 26 races ago in Atlanta in July 2023. JJ Yeley was the driver.

RFK Racing — Good news: Brad Keselowski has six wins at Talladega, most of them among active drivers. … Chris Buescher’s average finish of 13.33 this season ranks seventh in the championship and first among Ford drivers. Bad news: The team’s most recent win at Talladega came in May 2017 at the hands of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Spire Motorsports — Good news: Carson Hocevar’s 10th-place finish at Texas marked the first time a Spire Motorsports car finished in the top 10 at a track other than a drafting track or road course. … In his last four races at drafting-style tracks, Corey LaJoie has had three top 10s, including a pair of fourth-place finishes, and placed no worse than 13th. Bad news: Rookie Zane Smith still scores the fewest points among the 35 drivers who have started all nine races this season.

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Stewart-Haas Racing — Good news: Chase Briscoe’s sixth-place finish at Texas vaulted him into a playoff spot. He has finished thirteenth or better in five of the last six races. … Ryan Preece has finished 12th or better in the last two races. … Noah Gragson has posted three consecutive top-20 finishes, his best streak of the season. Bad news: Preece and Gragson have not qualified in the top 15 in any of the last five races.

CAR: APRIL 13 NASCAR Cup Series AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400CAR: APRIL 13 NASCAR Cup Series AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400

CAR: APRIL 13 NASCAR Cup Series AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400

Ryan Blaney says Ryan Preece had ‘every right to get revenge’ during the Texas race

Ryan Blaney hit the wall after contact from Ryan Preece. Blaney explains what happened.

Team Penske — Good news: In the last three Talladega races, Ryan Blaney has one win and two second-place finishes. … Joey Logano’s 2018 Talladega win snapped a 36-race winless streak. He is on a 40-race winless streak this weekend. Logano won the pole for the Daytona 500 and qualified second in Atlanta in the two previous track-setting events this season. Bad news: Austin Cindric has not finished better than 18th in the last seven races.

Trackhouse Racing — Good news: Daniel Suárez has finished in the top 10 in the last three races at Talladega, tied with Ryan Blaney for the longest active streak in the series. Bad news: While Ross Chastain earned a win and a fourth-place finish at Talladega, he has placed outside the top 10 at that track eight times.

Wood Brothers Racing — Good news: Harrison Burton made his Cup debut at Talladega in April 2021. Burton finished 20th that day, his best finish in five Cup starts at that track. Bad news: Burton has finished 27th or worse in each of the last seven races.

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