Talladega Superspeedway will always play a pivotal role in NASCAR’s Chase. But that role will be significantly altered in 2017.
In each of the three seasons of this version of the playoffs, Talladega has been on NASCAR’s schedule as the third and final race in the second round.
That’s been changed for next season, when Talladega will switch with Kansas Speedway and move up one week, to the second spot in the second round behind the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The old schedule always made for drama for a Chase elimination race – beecause of the unpredictability and mayhem that often show up during races Talladega.
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Now, with Talladega tucked between Charlotte and Kansas, that sense of randomness will be gone.
“I think it’s a good thing,” said Joey Logano, who is tied for eighth in the standings and on the bubble to advance. “I kind of like knowing what you have to do after Talladega. As much as you can control your own destiny (at Talladega), which you can, you can’t as much as you could at Kansas.”
▪ Qualifying for Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 Cup race is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday (single-car format). Jimmie Johnson was fastest in Thursday’s second practice (196.386 mph), followed by Matt Kenseth, Chase Elliott and Carl Edwards. Greg Biffle was fastest in the morning (198.949), with Chase drivers concentrating more on single-lap runs to prepare for qualifying.
▪ Charlotte’s William Byron is the only driver who has qualified for the next round of the Truck series’ Chase, which continues Saturday with the fred’s 250 at Talladega. Byron won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September and non-Chase driver Tyler Reddick won the next week at Las Vegas. Seven drivers are competing for the five remaining spots in the second round, which starts next week at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
▪ GEICO extended its multiyear partnership with International Speedway Corp., including the naming rights to Talladega’s restart zone.