Preview: The Geico 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Race at Talladega

Luck and skills will determine who will win the Geico 500 NASCAR Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

© 2018 Rip Shaub. All Rights reserved

It’s time for some racing at Talladega. Forty cars going over 200 miles per hour around a superspeedway—many would say that’s as good as it gets. As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rolls into the fabled Alabama track, it is hard to predict what will happen. What we know is there will be fast cars, carnage, and the “Big One”—there always is.

If Jamie McMurray going airborne during the final practice is any indication of what we should expect during the Geico 500, we are in for a wild ride come Sunday. McMurray, driver of the No. 1 Ganassi Chevrolet, flipped several times after his tire went down, causing mayhem with several other cars on-track. When asked about the wreck, McMurray said, “It's crazy how quiet the car gets and I've been racing forever. I've never done the roll like that before. I just kept my eyes closed. I'm not gonna lie, I didn't really want to see what was gonna happen. I open my eyes a couple of times, but you can't tell what's up, and you can't really tell where to brace yourself.”

Prior to his accident, McMurrary was one of the fastest cars in practice with a 203.975 mph lap. NASCAR promptly made the decision to alter the size of the engine restrictor plates to reduce the speeds for the upcoming race at Talladega for driver safety. With slightly reduced speeds, will drafting skills play a bigger part in the race? Probably not. After all, it's all about luck here at the Southern holy ground.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Schedule for Talladega Superspeedway:

Geico 500 (Follow live)
The Place: Talladega Superspeedway
The Date: Sunday, April 29, 2018.
The Time: Approximately 2:00 p.m. ET
TV: Fox, 1:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Hashtag: #GEICO500
Distance: 500 miles (188 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 55), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 110), Final Stage (Ends on lap 188)

Press Pass (Watch live)
Post-Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race: 5:30 p.m. ET

© 2018 Rip Shaub. All Rights Reserved

Kevin Harvick continues his 2018 success by grabbing pole for Sunday's Geico 500.

Starting Line-up

(Position, Driver, Manufacturer, Speed)

1. Kevin Harvick, Ford, 194.448
2. Kurt Busch, Ford, 194.082
3. Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 193.525
4. Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 192.936
5. Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 192.754
6. Erik Jones, Toyota, 192.730
7. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 191.904
8. Clint Bowyer, Ford, 191.723
9. Joey Logano, Ford, 191.643
10. Brad Keselowski, Ford, 191.344
11. Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 191.248
12. David Ragan, Ford, 191.088
13. Paul Menard, Ford, 191.486
14. Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 191.478
15. Darrell Wallace Jr., Chevrolet, 191.313
16. Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 191.260
17. William Byron, Chevrolet, 191.187
18. Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 191.111
19. Kyle Busch, Toyota, 191.103
20. Michael McDowell, Ford, 190.993
21. Trevor Bayne, Ford, 190.985
22. Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 190.943
23. Ryan Blaney, Ford, 190.495
24. Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 190.140
25. Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 189.797
26. Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 189.767
27. Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 189.721
28. AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 189.714
29. Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 188.645
30. Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 188.630
31. DJ Kennington, Toyota, 187.232
32. Timothy Peters, Ford, 187.068
33. Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 186.598
34. Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 186.000
35. Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 185.711
36. Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 185.187
37. Gray Gaulding, Toyota, 183.793
38. Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 182.846
39. Timmy Hill, Ford, 181.891
40. Aric Almirola, Ford, 175.372

© 2018 Rip Shaub. All Rights Reserved

Martin Truex Jr., last season's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, will be looking for a win more than a decade after his first victory at Talladega.

Past 10 Winners at Talladega Superspeedway

(Year, Driver, Manufacturer)

2007, Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet
2008, Kyle Busch, Toyota
2009, Brad Keselowski, Chevrolet
2010, Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet
2011, Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet
2012, Brad Keselowski, Dodge
2013, David Ragan, Ford
2014, Denny Hamlin, Toyota
2015, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Chevrolet
2016, Brad Keselowski, Ford
2017, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Ford

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series started racing at Talladega Superspeedway in 1969. One of the most famous venues on the circuit, it was formerly named Alabama International Motor Speedway (AIMS), and it hosts two Cup races per year. The past 10 winners above represent the first race of the year at the famed superspeedway.

Luck or Skills?

Talladega is a track where it’s anybody's race to win and every driver’s race to lose. It's always said that navigating a superspeedway is more about what hand Lady Luck deals you the day of the race more than anything else. Sure, skills play a part, but finishing the race on the lead lap at the 2.66-mile tri-oval known is more about good fortune. There is an art to it—ask Dale Earnhardt Jr. who has six Cup wins at the superspeedway or Brad Keselowski, the only active Cup driver with five wins at the track. Figuring out if skills opposed to luck are the biggest factor at Talladega is anyone’s guess.