Since the inaugural Talladega 500 in 1969, Talladega Superspeedway has thrilled fans with close finishes and exciting on track battles. However, several races stand out as especially memorable since they helped establish Talladega’s reputation as NASCAR’s Most Competitive Track.
No two stats demonstrate a track’s ability to produce competition better than lead changes and unique leaders. Lead changes shows the ability of the pack to run down and pass the leader, while unique leaders show that any car in the pack has the ability to race to the front.
In 1984, Talladega set a NASCAR record for 75 lead changes in the Winston 500 (now Aaron’s 499). What makes this stat so impressive is that during a 500 mile race at Talladega there are only 188 laps, or chances, for the lead to swap hands. The second race that year, the Talladega 500 (now AMP Energy 500) recorded 68 lead changes, second most in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history. In 376 laps of competition, the lead changed an amazing 143 times. In 1993, the AMP Energy 500 became the first 500-mile race to produce 1,000 official lead changes over the years, a remarkable feat considering the track was only 25 years old.
And the competition hasn’t slowed as the track has aged either. During the most recent race at Talladega, the AMP Energy 500, there were 64 lead changes (a tie for 5th most in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition). Since 1969, there have been eight races at Talladega Superspeedway with 60 or more lead changes.
Since 1986, seven races at Talladega Superspeedway have featured over half the competitors in the field (43 drivers) leading the race (22 different drivers or more). 1986 was the first year that Talladega Superspeedway set a then NASCAR record for 26 different leaders in a race. That number would stand unmatched till 2001, when, again at Talladega, 26 different drivers lead the race. However, neither of these numbers could compare to the 28 different leaders that lead the 2008 AMP Energy 500, which set a new NASCAR Sprint Cup Series record for most leaders in a race.
In 2009, Talladega Superspeedway proudly celebrates forty years of the most competitive racing in NASCAR. While the track has seen changes made to the cars that circle its high-banks, the surface that they race on and the grandstands that thousands of fans fill twice a year, one constant remains; Talladega Superspeedway is authentic NASCAR racing at its finest.
Race fans should make plans now to experience part of Talladega’s history in 2009 during the triple-header, Aaron’s Dream Weekend, April 24-26, featuring the ARCA RE/MAX Series, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. For tickets, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 1-877-Go2-DEGA. For our hearing impaired guests, please call TDD 1-866-ISC-TRAK (1-866-472-8725). Tickets also are available in person by visiting the Talladega Superspeedway Ticket Office from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. CDT, Monday- Friday.