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Keeping Pace

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heads To Talladega Superspeedway

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rolls into the state of Alabama to run its second superspeedway event of the 2009 season.

Courtesy: NASCAR

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 20, 2009) – At Talladega Superspeedway, anything – especially the unpredictable – can happen.

Much like this 2009 season. Some of the unforeseen happenings through eight races this season:

• David Reutimann is ninth in the series standings, posting one top five and two top 10s. Last year at this time, he was in 30th in the points, with a top finish of 18th.

• Tony Stewart is fourth in the points. While a two-time series champion ranking in the top five in points might not be that surprising, his performance as a first-time driver/owner is. His last three finishes are third, fourth and second. Stewart was seventh last year after eight races.

• Mark Martin became the fourth driver over the age of 50 to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. After finishes of 16th, 40th, 40th and 31st in the first four races of the season placed Martin 34th in the series standings, some thought his best days were behind him. But four consecutive top 10s, including the win at Phoenix, have him just nine points out of the top 12.

• Jeff Gordon shook off a subpar 2008 and is back in championship form. After going winless last season and getting only as high as fifth in the points standings, Gordon already has a win and has been the points leader since the third race of the season. The rich will likely get richer this weekend. With 12 victories, Gordon is the all-time wins leader at restrictor plate races.

Selected Driver Highlights – Talladega Superspeedway-specific
Note: All driver statistics that follow are from Talladega Superspeedway. The Loop Data statistics – Driver Rating, Average Running Position, etc. – in this release, however, cover the last eight races at Talladega. NASCAR’s scoring loops began collecting data for statistical purposes in 2005.

Jeff Burton (No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet)
• Three top fives, 11 top 10s
• Average finish of 18.6
• Driver Rating of 82.7, 11th-best
• Series-high 3,148 Green Flag Passes
• 806 Laps in the Top 15 (53.1%), ninth-most
• Series-high 2,082 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green)

Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge)
• Six top fives, 11 top 10s
• Average finish of 12.5
• Average Running Position of 15.2, fourth-best
• Driver Rating of 86.2, eighth-best
• 964 Laps in the Top 15 (63.5%), second-most
• 1,945 Quality Passes, second-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 AMP Energy Drink/National Guard Chevrolet)
• Five wins, seven top fives, 10 top 10s
• Average finish of 14.8
• Average Running Position of 16.3, ninth-best
• Driver Rating of 86.8, seventh-best
• 40 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
• Average Green Flag Speed of 192.560 mph, fourth-fastest
• 879 Laps in the Top 15 (57.9%), fifth-most
• 1,610 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont/National Guard GED Plus Chevrolet)
• Six wins, 13 top fives, 16 top 10s; one pole
• Average finish of 15.8
• Average Running Position of 15.8, fifth-best
• Driver Rating of 92.3, third-best
• 911 Laps in the Top 15 (60.0%), fourth-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Toyota)
• Two top fives, two top 10s
• Average finish of 18.3
• Average Running Position of 14.2, second-best
• Driver Rating of 93.2, second-best
• Average Green Flag Speed of 192.519 mph, sixth-fastest

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet)
• One win, four top fives, six top 10s; one pole
• Average finish of 16.9
• Average Running Position of 17.2, 12th-best
• Driver Rating of 83.9, 10th-best
• 804 Laps in the Top 15 (53.0%), 10th-most
• 1,572 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford)
• Three top fives, six top 10s
• Average finish of 18.0
• Average Running Position of 16.2, eighth-best
• Driver Rating of 84.3, ninth-best
• 2,385 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
• 920 Laps in the Top 15 (60.6%), third-most
• 1,857 Quality Passes, third-most

Jamie McMurray (No. 26 Valvoline/Sears Ford)
• Three top fives, four top 10s
• Average finish of 18.8
• Average Running Position of 16.2, seventh-best
• Driver Rating of 87.6, sixth-best
• 2,388 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
• Average Green Flag Speed of 192.350 mph, 12th-fastest
• 861 Laps in the Top 15 (56.7%), seventh-most
• 1,518 Quality Passes, ninth-most

David Ragan (No. 6 UPS Ford)
• Two top fives, two top 10s
• Average finish of 14.5
• Average Running Position of 17.0, 11th-best
• Driver Rating of 91.4, fourth-best
• Average Green Flag Speed of 192.521 mph, fifth-fastest

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet)
• One win, nine top fives, 12 top 10s
• Average finish of 13.3
• Series-best Average Running Position of 12.3
• Series-best Driver Rating of 95.9
• 31 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
• 2,649 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
• Average Green Flag Speed of 192.504 mph, eighth-fastest
• Series-high 981 Laps in the Top 15 (64.6%)
• 1,535 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Brian Vickers (No. 83 Red Bull Toyota)
• One win, three top fives, four top 10s
• Average finish of 21.0
• Average Running Position of 16.0, sixth-best
• Driver Rating of 90.6, fifth-best
• 814 Laps in the Top 15 (61.4%), eighth-most
• 1,465 Quality Passes, 11th-most

At Talladega Superspeedway:

• Construction began on what was then known as the Alabama International Motor Speedway on May 23, 1968.
• The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was held on Sept. 14, 1969.
• The track name was changed to Talladega Superspeedway in 1989.
• The first NASCAR Nationwide Series race was held on July 25, 1992.
• The second NASCAR Sprint Cup Talladega race was moved from July to October in 1997.
• Talladega Superspeedway completed its fourth repaving on Sept. 19, 2006.
• The first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race was held on Oct. 7, 2006.

• There have been 79 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Talladega Superspeedway since the track opened in 1969; two a year every year except the inaugural season, which had just one.
• Bobby Isaac won the first NASCAR Sprint Cup pole in September 1969. Isaac went on to win the first three poles there.
• 34 different drivers have won poles.
• Bill Elliott leads all drivers with eight poles.
• Richard Brickhouse won the first NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
• 37 different drivers have posted victories, led by Dale Earnhardt Sr. (10). Eighteen drivers have won more than once.
• Jeff Gordon leads all other active drivers in victories with six.
• Hendrick Motorsports has won 10 races, more than any other organization.
• 31 of 79 races have been won from a top-two starting position, including 13 from the pole; 22 have been won from a starting position outside the top 10.
• The furthest back in the field a race winner started was 36th, by Jeff Gordon in 2000. Two of the last three races have been won from the 34th starting position (Jeff Gordon in 2007 and Tony Stewart in 2008).
• All of the NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Talladega have been scheduled for 188 laps, 500 miles.
• There have been four green-white-checkered races at Talladega: May 2005 (194), October 2005 (190), April 2007 (192) and April 2008 (190).
• Mark Martin’s pace in the 1997 spring race set an all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup record for the fastest race ever run. He won the caution-free race with an average speed of 188.354 mph and covered the 500-mile distance in two hours, 39 minutes and 18 seconds.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. had four consecutive victories (October 2001 through April 2003) at Talladega, the most ever by a driver there. Buddy Baker (three - May 1975 through May 1976) is the only other driver to win more than two consecutive races there.

NASCAR in Alabama
• There have been 98 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in Alabama.
• 65 drivers in NASCAR’s three national series (all-time) have their home state recorded as Alabama, including Bobby Allison who is tied for third on the all-time winners list with 84.
• There have been seven race winners from Alabama in NASCAR’s three national series:









Bobby Allison








Davey Allison








Neil Bonnett








Donnie Allison








Red Byron








Steve Grissom








Rick Crawford








Talladega Superspeedway Data
Race #: 9 of 36 (4-26-09)
Track Size: 2.66 miles
• Banking/Corners:  33 degrees
• Banking/Frontstretch: 16.5 degrees
• Banking/Backstretch: 2 degrees
• Frontstretch: 4,300 feet
• Backstretch: 4,000 feet

Driver Rating at Talladega 
Tony Stewart       95.9
Denny Hamlin      93.2
Jeff Gordon          92.3
David Ragan        91.4
Brian Vickers       90.6
Jamie McMurray   87.6
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 86.8
Kurt Busch           86.2
Matt Kenseth        84.3
Jimmie Johnson    83.9
Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2008 races (8 total) at Talladega.

Qualifying/Race Data
2008 pole winner: Joe Nemechek (187.386 mph, 51.103 seconds)
2008 race winner: Kyle Busch, 157.409 mph, 4-27-08)
Track qualifying record: Bill Elliott (212.809 mph, 44.998 seconds, 4-30-87)
Track race record: Mark Martin (188.354 mph, 5-10-97)

Estimated Pit Window: Every 34-36 laps, based on fuel mileage

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Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.

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