Track length: 2.66 miles
Banking: Corners — 33 degrees; frontstretch — 16.5 degrees;
backstretch — 2 degrees
Frontstretch: 4,300 feet
Backstretch: 4,000 feet
Race length: 500 miles
Grandstand seating capacity: 143,231
Talladega is the fastest track in NASCAR. It’s the largest track in NASCAR. It’s also one of the most polarizing. Some drivers argue luck is more important than skills. Others believe letting things fly full throttle is an art form, just like road-racing or short tracks.
The track is home to NASCAR’s fastest finish. Mark Martin won in 1997 averaging 188.354 mph. There were zero cautions all day. Good luck doing that with Scott Speed and Paul Menard in the field. (I kid.)
For those new to the sport, cars routinely run together in one or two giant lines because of the draft. If you get out of the draft, it’s not a matter of if you lose spots, but rather how many. This even applies on pit road. Drivers have to stay in the pack if they have any chance of contending.
With so many drivers bunched together, one small mistake can cause a massive accident drivers refer to as “The Big One.”
This is the only restrictor plate race of the Chase. So the cars will be set up differently here than anywhere else the entire playoff. There are also tweaks made to the back and front of the car. Moral of the story, there are many who run well during the Chase who stink at this track and many who have done nothing all year who end up in the front. It’s a wildcard on asphalt.
There are two other tweaks worth noting. Cars have smaller fuel cells. Not only will you see the potential for teams to run out of fuel at the end, but teams will also change two tires instead of four because they’ll be pitting more often.
Here are some other facts to impress your friends with this weekend, thanks to the good folks at the track’s Web site.
- Jeff Gordon has six career wins here, the most of any active driver.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. has five career wins here, half as many as his father, who seemed to own this place.
- Tony Stewart is the defending race champion, and Brad Keselowski won the race here earlier in the year.
- The track’s media guide is 134 pages.
- I don’t know how they fill 134 pages of content either.
- The 1984 Aaron’s 499 had 75 official lead changes.
- In 1986, 26 of the 40 drivers who started the AMP Energy 500 led at least one lap.
- In 1993, the AMP Energy 500 became the first 500-mile race to produce 1,000 official lead changes over the years.
- The infield is 212 acres.
- There are 7,440 light bulbs used the scoring display.
- Now I know how they fill 134 pages in the media guide.