Good news, bad news for NASCAR Cup teams entering Talladega weekend

For the third time in the first 10 races of the season, NASCAR Cup teams will compete at a drafting style track. This weekend, the series is at Talladega Superspeedway.

Each of the last seven Cup races at Talladega has had a different winner. Those are: Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Bubba Wallace, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney.

Here’s a look at where things stand for each Cup organization heading into the 10th race of the season:

23XI Racing — Good news: Last weekend was the second consecutive weekend that the team had a car finish fourth and seventh. At Martinsville, Bubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick was seventh. Last weekend at Texas, Reddick was fourth and Wallace was seventh. Bad news: Wallace’s win at Talladega in October 2021 was the last time a Toyota won a Cup race on a drafting style track. Toyota is winless in 14 races since Wallace’s victory.

Front Row Motorsports — Good news: Todd Gilliland has led 74 of 460 laps run this season at drafting style tracks. That’s 16.1% of those laps. … Michael McDowell qualified second for the Daytona 500 and on the pole at Atlanta in the two previous races at drafting style tracks this season. … The team had a car finish in the top 10 in both Talladega races last year. Both were by the No. 36 car. Riley Herbst was in the car for the fall race, and Todd Gilliland was in the car for the spring race. Bad News: The No. 36 is not entered this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports — Good news: Organization has won three of the last four races and led 46.7% of the laps in those races. Hendrick Motorsports also has had at least two drivers finish in the top five in the last four races. … Daytona 500 winner William Byron has a series-best three victories at drafting tracks with the Next Gen car. … Chase Elliott has scored three consecutive top-five finishes, including his win at Texas. Bad news: Kyle Larson has one top-five finish in 43 career races at drafting style tracks He has failed to finish five of the last eight races at such tracks due to an accident. … Alex Bowman is winless in 37 Cup Superspeedway races.

NASCAR: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400NASCAR: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400

NASCAR: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400

Texas win moves Chase Elliott one victory away from a record in NASCAR’s modern era

Chase Elliott is chasing a record shared by Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson in the modern era.

Joe Gibbs Racing — Good news: All four JGR drivers are in the top 10 in points: Martin Truex Jr. is second, Denny Hamlin is third, Ty Gibbs is sixth and Christopher Bell is 10th. … Hamlin has two wins, 11 top fives and 16 top 10s in 36 career starts at Talladega. Bad news: Ty Gibbs has run three Cup races at Talladega. He did not finish any of them. His best result at Talladega is 31st. … Martin Truex Jr. has one top-10 finish at Talladega since 2015. Truex is winless in 81 Cup races at drafting style tracks.

JTG Daugherty Racing — Good news: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s career average finish at Talladega is 15.8. That’s better than Brad Keselowski (15.9), Joey Logano (18.5) and Denny Hamlin (16.2), among others. Bad news: Stenhouse has not had a top-20 finish in the last six races this season.

Kaulig Racing — Good news: Shane van Gisbergen makes his second Cup start of the season in the No. 16 car this weekend. Bad news: The organization has not had a car finish in the top 20 in four of the last six races.

Legacy Motor Club — Good news: Erik Jones has finished in the top 10 in four of the last five races at Talladega. … John Hunter Nemechek has finished eighth in both previous Cup starts at Talladega. Bad news: Both Jones and Nemechek have yet to lead a lap this season.

AUTO: APR 14 NASCAR Cup Series AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400AUTO: APR 14 NASCAR Cup Series AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400

AUTO: APR 14 NASCAR Cup Series AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400

William Byron keeps top spot in NASCAR Power Rankings after Texas

William Byron scored his second consecutive top-three finish at Texas.

Richard Childress Racing — Good news: Austin Dillon was eighth at Texas and Kyle Busch was ninth, marking the first time this season the organization placed two cars in the top 10. Bad news: Despite the top 10, Kyle Busch fell out of a playoff spot after Texas.

Rick Ware Racing — Good news: Justin Haley, driving for Kaulig Racing at the time, finished sixth in last fall’s Talladega race. Bad news: The organization’s last top-10 finish was 26 races ago at Atlanta in July 2023. JJ Yeley was the driver.

RFK Racing — Good news: Brad Keselowski has six wins at Talladega, most among active drivers. … Chris Buescher’s average finish of 13.33 this season ranks seventh in the series and first among Ford drivers. Bad news: The team’s most recent win at Talladega came in May 2017 by Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Spire Motorsports — Good news: Carson Hocevar’s 10th-place finish at Texas was the first time a Spire Motorsports car placed in the top 10 at a track other than a drafting track or road course. … In his last four races at drafting style tracks, Corey LaJoie has three top 10s, including a pair of fourth-place finishes, and not placed worse than 13th. Bad news: Rookie Zane Smith continues to have scored the fewest points among the 35 drivers who have started all nine races this season.

Stewart-Haas Racing — Good news: Chase Briscoe’s sixth-place finish at Texas moved him into a playoff spot. He’s placed 13th or better in five of the last six races. … Ryan Preece has finished 12th or better in the last two races. … Noah Gragson has three consecutive top-20 finishes, his best streak of the season. Bad news: Preece and Gragson have not qualified in the top 15 in any of the last five races.

AUTO: APR 13 NASCAR Cup Series AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400AUTO: APR 13 NASCAR Cup Series AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400

AUTO: APR 13 NASCAR Cup Series AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400

Ryan Blaney says Ryan Preece ‘had every right to retaliate’ in Texas race

Ryan Blaney hit the wall after contact from Ryan Preece. Blaney explains what happened.

Team Penske — Good news: In the last three Talladega races, Ryan Blaney has a win and two runner-up finishes. … Joey Logano’s 2018 Talladega win broke a 36-race winless streak. He has a 40-race winless streak entering this weekend. Logano won the pole for the Daytona 500 and qualified second at Atlanta in the two previous events at drafting tracks this season. Bad news: Austin Cindric has not finished better than 18th in the last seven races.

Trackhouse Racing — Good news: Daniel Suárez has finished in the top 10 in the last three races at Talladega, tied with Ryan Blaney for the longest active streak in the series. Bad news: While Ross Chastain has a win and a fourth-place finish at Talladega, he has placed outside the top 10 eight times at that track.

Wood Brothers Racing — Good news: Harrison Burton made his Cup debut at Talladega in April 2021. Burton finished 20th that day, his best finish in five Cup starts at that track. Bad news: Burton has finished 27th or worse in each of the last seven races.

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