2022 Talladega Preview

Story posted April 19, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Ethan Ellis

After a chaotic Easter Sunday that was the Bristol Dirt race, the NASCAR Cup Series rolls into Talladega Superspeedway for what should be a race as chaotic, if not more so, than Bristol.

In the race, Kyle Busch was able to pull out a win on the last lap as Tyler Reddick and Chase Briscoe crashed in front of him. But how will those drivers and the rest of the fieldfare in this weekend’s race at a track that’s completely different from Bristol? Only time will tell.

The obvious storyline coming into this weekend is the “Big One”. It’s never a matter of if it’s going to happen, it’s a matter of when.

In the past, this crash has dramatically changed the landscape of the race since it can happen anywhere in the field, especially at the front where one wrong block can lead to a multi-car accident. And with only one restrictor-plate race completed with the Next-Gen car, drivers will have a huge challenge ahead of them this weekend.

When it comes to drivers to watch, the whole field is always a safe bet since anyone can, and in the past has won this race. More specifically, the Fords are always a manufacturer to watch. Ford has won 10 of the last 13 races at Talladega including last year’s spring race with Brad Keselowski.

Speaking of Keselowski, keep an eye on him on Sunday. Keselowski has won six races here and has already won a restrictor-plate race (sort of) in one of the Daytona Duels at the beginning of the year. Keselowski will more than likely be at the front of the field for most of the race on Sunday and will be aggressive.

The other driver to look out for on Sunday is Denny Hamlin. Hamlin hasn’t had the best of luck this year but does have a win, allowing him to be as aggressive as he wants. Hamlin last won here back in the fall of 2020 but is always a threat to win. He is disadvantaged in that he drives a Toyota, which has the least amount of drivers in the field. This shouldn’t be too much of an issue for him in the closing laps, however.

The strategy for this race is pretty straightforward: pit with your team/manufacturer and don’t get penalized. In the past getting onto pit road has been a trouble spot that has caused accidents, so drivers and spotters will need to communicate with each other.

Penalties on pit road, while always detrimental to a driver's chances to win, are more so exemplified here where you’ll more than likely lose the draft while serving said penalty.

The other strategy that could be on display on Sunday is accident avoidance. Expect many drivers to lay back at the end of stages or with 10 or so laps to go to avoid possible accidents that could happen during these high tension points in the race.

Overtime will more than likely occur in this race and will almost certainly be chaotic. Three of the last four races here have gone into overtime (the only race not to do so in that period was rain-shortened). The ends of these races feature a ton of lane-changing and aggressive blocking that ultimately lead to huge crashes and hurt feelings.

The weather for this race looks partly cloudy with a high of 85 so the race should be good to go the full distance and start on time. Be sure to tune in to FOX at 3:00 p.m. EST to catch all the action.

Ethan Ellis is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at ece5133@psu.edu.