Are you ready for some chaos? The 12 remaining playoff drivers — and every other driver in the field — better be ready as the Cup Series hits NASCAR’s largest and most unpredictable track. Well, everyone except Kurt Bush.
Last week’s winner can cruise around the Alabama track relatively carefree, knowing his place in the Round of 8 is assured after he took the checkered flag at Las Vegas. It will be much more tense for the other drivers hoping to avoid The Big One and keep themselves in position to advance to the next round of the playoffs. Here’s all the information you need to get ready for Sunday’s YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, the fifth of 10 playoff races in the NASCAR Cup Series:
START TIME: 2 p.m. ET. (1 p.m. local)
TV: NBC. Pre-race broadcast begins at 1 p.m. ET. (Noon local)
RADIO: Motor Racing Network. STREAMING: For those who sign in with their cable/satellite provider’s credentials, you can watch at stream.nbcsports.com.
RACE DISTANCE: 188 laps around the 2.66-mile track for a total of 500.08 miles.
STAGE LENGTHS (laps per stage): Stage 1: 60, Stage 2: 60, Stage 3: 68.
WATCH: NASCAR’s wildest and most memorable crashes at Talladega
KURT BUSCH: 50-50 chance 2021 will be his final NASCAR season
NASCAR: 2021 schedule features more road courses, Bristol dirt
SEEDINGS (after first race of second round; x-clinched berth in third round): x-1. Kurt Busch; 2. Kevin Harvick; 3. Denny Hamlin; 4. Brad Keselowski; 5. Martin Truex Jr.; 6. Joey Logano; 7. Chase Elliott; 8. Alex Bowman; 9. Kyle Busch; 10. Clint Bowyer; 11. Aric Almirola; 12. Austin Dillon.
LAST TIME: Ryan Blaney led 63 laps, taking his final lead following an overtime restart, before edging Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by 0.007 seconds as mayhem broke out behind the leaders during the rescheduled June race. And one year ago in the playoff race, it was Blaney again, this time leading 35 laps, including the final seven, before nipping Ryan Newman by 0.007 seconds as three separate major multi-car crashes decimated the field.
QUALIFYING: The lineup was determined by four performance metrics from the previous race: 15% based on fastest lap time position, 25% of the driver’s final race finish position, 25% of the owner’s final race position and 35% of the owner points position.
LINEUP: Denny Hamlin earned the pole and will lead the field to green for the second time this season. Last week’s winner Kurt Busch will line up beside Hamlin on the front row.
Here is the lineup for the YellaWood 500 (car number in parentheses):
1. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota.
2. (1) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet.
3. (19) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota.
4. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet.
5. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford.
6. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota.
7. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford.
8. (22) Joey Logano, Ford.
9. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford.
10. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet.
11. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford.
12. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet.
13. (21) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford.
14. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford.
15. (17) Chris Buescher, Ford.
16. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota.
17. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet.
18. (41) Cole Custer, Ford.
19. (6) Ryan Newman, Ford.
20. (42) Matt Kenseth, Chevrolet.
21. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet.
22. (95) Christopher Bell, Toyota.
23. (38) John Hunter Nemechek, Ford.
24. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford.
25. (37) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet.
26. (47) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet.
27. (43) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet.
28. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet.
29. (32) Corey LaJoie, Ford.
30. (8) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet.
31. (96) Daniel Suarez, Toyota.
32. (15) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet.
33. (00) Quin Houff, Chevrolet.
34. (27) JJ Yeley, Ford.
35. (77) Justin Haley, Chevrolet.
36. (51) Joey Gase, Ford.
37. (66) Timmy Hill, Toyota.
38. (53) James Davison, Chevrolet.
39. (62) Brendal Gaughan, Chevrolet.