NASCAR drivers taking the wheel behind a Ford have something to lean on going into the GEICO 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on April 29. If a Ford can make its way to Gatorade Victory Lane, it will give the manufacturer its sixth consecutive victory in NASCAR’s premier series at Talladega Superspeedway.
The last five events at the 2.66-mile venue have seen two wins each by Team Penske Ford teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano while Olive Branch, Mississippi’s Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., drove his Roush Fenway Racing Ford to his first career triumph in last year’s GEICO 500. Surprisingly enough, Logano and Keselowski, the most recent winner after his triumph last October, have given team owner Roger Penske five triumphs out of the last seven events held at Talladega.
“It’s hard to believe we have won here five times,” said Keselowski, who claimed his first career victory at Talladega in 2009. “It is such a special place. I feel lucky that I have had a team and car in Team Penske that is capable of winning here. You have to have luck and then be able to execute at the end. If you can make it to the end with good fortune and not have anything break, you have to take those races and run up and win them. You get a good hand dealt to you, then you have to play the cards right. We have been able to do that.
“There’s pain and privilege here at Talladega. You can have two cars running side-by-side then have someone sneak inside of you, and the next thing you know, you are running three- and four-wide. You have to be focused all race long, especially at the end when it’s all on the line.”
Ford is no stranger to success at Talladega. The manufacturer has 26 wins with 16 different drivers at NASCAR’s Most Competitive track. Leading the way are Buddy Baker, Davey Allison and Keselowski with three victories piloting the blue oval. Other winners include: Bill Elliott (2), Mark Martin (2), Dale Jarrett (2), and Logano (2), along with solo winners’ Cale Yaborough, Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt, David Ragan, Terry Labonte, Jimmy Spencer, Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth and Stenhouse, Jr.
Over the years, there have been some momentous occasions for Ford at the 33-degree banked venue, including the following:
- 1975 - Baker was the first driver to start on the pole at Talladega in a Ford.
- 1975 – Baker made it a Talladega sweep in 1975, and then came back to win in spring of ’76 to make it three straight while driving for NASCAR Hall of Fame team owner Bud Moore.
- 1979 - The largest margin of a victory – a lap and 50 seconds - at Talladega came in the No. 15 Ford driven by Bobby Allison.
- 1983 - Earnhardt actually won his first of 10 races at Talladega in Moore’s No. 15 Ford, edging Darrell Waltrip.
- 1985 - Elliott came back from nearly two laps down to win in the spring of that year, and then followed up two years later with another TSS victory. Beginning in ’85, Elliott reeled off six consecutive pole positions.
- 1987 - Davey Allison’s first NASCAR career win and first of three TSS triumphs came in his rookie season.
- 1987 – Elliott becomes the fastest man in NASCAR with the official qualifying record of 212.809 mph.
- 1997 - Martin won in record fashion with a NASCAR race record speed of 188.354 mph.
- 1998 - Jarrett held off Jeff Gordon to claim his first of two Talladega triumphs.
- 2013 - Ragan surprises the racing world by taking his independent No. 34 Front Row Motorsports to the victory.
- 2015 – Logano wins to begin a five-race win streak for Ford.
A victory in the GEICO 500 would break a tie with Mercury, which also won five consecutive times from 1971-73, for the second longest streak at Talladega.
The GEICO 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is set to get the green flag at 1:00 p.m. (CDT) on April 29. For ticket information, call 855-518-RACE (7223) or log on to www.talladegasuperspeedway.com.
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