Posted by: Dave Thompson, follow @phillyfan17
October 14, 2017
The NASCAR playoffs head to Talladega Superspeedway for the second race of Round 2 in the playoffs. Each week, Motor Racing Digest writers will follow their remaining drivers in their playoff pursuit of a NASCAR championship. Here is a weekend preview for Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray.
Brad Keselowski will make his 18th career Cup start at Talladega on Sunday. He has four career wins in 17 previous start at NASACAR’s largest track with his last victory coming in the spring 2016 race. In addition to those four wins, he has 6 top-five and 10 top-10 finishes with an average finishing position of 15th.
Prediction: Keselowski has impressive stats at Talladega and this weekend I expect he will again manage to stay clear of trouble and finish with a top-10.
With only two races left for drivers to earn a spot in the Round of 8, the Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway for another 500-mile Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event. Hamlin has notched five top-5 finishes at the 2.66-mile track, including one win in 2014 and a third-place finish in this race last October. During his most recent visit to the Superspeedway, Hamlin collected his first Stage win of the 2017 season before finishing 11th following a green-white-checker restart.
Hamlin knows how unpredictable Talladega can be and hopes to be towards the front of the field at the end.
“There’s no doubt that Talladega is unpredictable, and I think this Round of 12 has a couple of races that are wildcards. I’ve just got to make sure we’re towards the front at the end when it matters. We’ve worked hard to improve our restrictor-plate program, and it’ll be important for us to perform well this weekend and continue to keep ourselves in a good position to advance to the next round of the Playoffs.”
Prediction: Hamlin has typically been “hit or miss” at Talladega and I have to expect much of the same this Sunday. Let’s go with an optimistic finish and a top-15 for the No. 11 team.
McMurray, who will make his 31st MENCS start on Sunday is a two-time winner at Talladega with his last victory earned in the fall 2013 race. In his previous 30 starts he has eight top-five and nine top-10 finishes. He has led 242 laps and completed 5346 of 5701 (93.8%) at the 2.66-mile oval.
Prediction: McMurray finished 2nd behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr., back in May at Talladega and continues the success with a top-five on Sunday.