It’s race week at Talladega Superspeedway, and the excitement is brewing for an incredible motorsports tripleheader – featuring the GEICO 500 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the MoneyLion 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series event and the ARCA Menards Series’ General Tire 200.
The best drivers in the world are gearing up for Talladega after having an off week, and only a handful of competitors coming to the 2.66-mile venue have locked themselves into the season-ending playoffs. Those who aren’t will be doing everything in their power to make it to Gatorade Victory Lane.
One who can turn it loose is reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion and defending GEICO 500 victor Joey Logano. A year ago, he secured his spot in the season-ending playoffs by virtue of his GEICO 500 triumph, but this season, he has already won and is in the playoffs, so his team can go for broke in trying to go back-to-back. And, can Ford claim its eighth straight Talladega victory? Will the winner be a seasoned veteran or one of the sport’s talented, young guns? Could a surprise be on the horizon and a new, first-time victor win at Talladega for the 12th time?
Saturday’s MoneyLion 300 will also pit a mix of new, young drivers against the older guard, along with a combination of eligible drivers vying for the Dash 4 Cash $100,000 prize. And, the ARCA Menards Series, a staple at the track since its inception in 1969, returns on Friday with the traditional General Tire 200. Last year fans saw the closest finish in ARCA series history in that event that was literally a photo finish. Could we be treated to another phenomenal outcome?
The storylines are aplenty for NASCAR’s biggest track, which is also celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, along with Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project presented by Graybar. The first aspect of the project is complete. Ready for this spring weekend is the new Turn 3 Oversized Vehicle Tunnel along with the new 71-spot Finish Line Premium RV area and Infield Shower Trailers. The massive 2-lane tunnel will be open 24 hours for this race weekend beginning on Wednesday and will allow fans’ RVs, along with NASCAR team haulers, to enter and exit the infield with ease.
It’s easy to be a part of the historical weekend. For ticket information, simply visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-RACE.
So, here’s what’s on tap!
50 Years of Speed: Talladega Superspeedway opened in 1969 and the biggest and baddest track is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year! Big Bill France Sr., NASCAR’s founder, had a Vision in the mid-1960s, envisioning a larger, faster and more exciting track on the NASCAR circuit – even bigger than Daytona International Speedway (which he also built). After meeting with local race car driver and race fan Bill Ward (Anniston), the perfect location (old military airfield) was acquired and the ground-breaking ceremony for the track that would be known as Alabama International Motor Speedway (until 1989) took place on May 23, 1968.
First Race: The first race was held Sept. 14, 1969 – Talladega 500 (now known as the 1000Bulbs.com 500). Richard Brickhouse won the inaugural event – his first and only career win in NASCAR’s premier series. The race played a major role in NASCAR’s history as many of the top stars of the sport (members of the Professional Drivers Association – PDA) walked out the day before the race due to concerns of tire wear on the ultra-fast, nearly 200-mph speed track. France said the race would go on, and recruited many of the drivers who competed the day before in the smaller NASCAR Touring Series’ “Bama 400,” which featured smaller cars with less horsepower. One of the drivers who stayed and competed on Sunday was NASCAR Hall of Famer, International Motorsports Hall of Famer and 12-time TSS winning car owner Richard Childress.
ARCA Menards Series a Staple Since ’69: Jim Vandiver won the inaugural race (Oct. 26, 1969) from the pole position and has been a staple at the track with the exception of just four years (1971-74).
Ford Going for Another Victory: The manufacturer has won the past seven Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) events at Talladega, the last coming last fall with driver Aric Almirola. Other wins include Logano (spring 2018, fall 2015, fall 2016), Brad Keselowski (spring 2016, fall 2017) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (spring 2017). With Keselowski’s win in the fall of 2014, Ford has won eight of the last nine (Dale Earnhardt Jr. won in spring of ’15) events. Chevrolet holds the overall record with 13 in-a-row from 1999-2005.
First Time Winners/Last Win of Career: 11 times has a driver won his first career race at Talladega with the latest being Stenhouse. Unbelievably, 13 drivers have captured the final race of their career at the 2.66-mile venue, including the latest – Dale Jarrett in 2005.
New Rules Package at Talladega for Cup cars: For the first time in over 30 years, the Monster Energy Series will race without engine restrictor plates at Talladega. Cars in the GEICO 500 will utilize a new downforce aero package and a tapered spacer to restrict air flow to each engine that will offset the need for a carburetor restrictor plate. As a result, the cars will have more horsepower and maneuverability, along with more downforce and stability to provide even more passing opportunities. A tapered spacer has actually been used the last few years, along with a restrictor plate, but now will be a tapered spacer only.
In addition, the rear spoilers on the Cup cars this weekend will be 9 inches tall (compared to 8 at other venues in 2019). Also, at ‘Dega, NASCAR has mandated a 1-inch bolt-on track bar mount to change the height from 11 to 12 inches, raising the rear of the car by one inch. NASCAR had eliminated rules for minimum ride heights at superspeedways ahead of the 2018 season, and teams responded by hunkering down the rear of their cars to reduce drag and increase speed. The track bar change is intended to offset those techniques by raising the rear of the car – and make it where the cars are not dragging the ground.
MoneyLion 300 First Time Winners: Three drivers have grabbed their initial NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) victory at TSS, the latest being Spencer Gallagher in last year’s MoneyLion 300. The other drivers include David Ragan (2009) and Greg Sacks (1996).
Dash 4 Cash Bonus Program: Cole Custer, along with Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier and Tyler Reddick, will come to Talladega this weekend with a shot at the Dash 4 Cash program, which awards a $100,000 bonus to the highest finishing NXS regular in select races. The Dash 4 Cash program started at Texas and has since been at Bristol and Richmond before moving to Talladega and concluding at Dover. Neither driver has ever won at ‘Dega.
General Tire 200 – 2018 Version Closest in History: With a sudden flurry of late-race incidents leading to two overtimes in the 2018 General Tire 200, Zane Smith edged Joe Graf Jr. at the line in a photo finish. ARCA electronic scoring showed a dead-heat (0.00 second), which meant a return to the old school method of reviewing the photo of the finish to determine the winner. ARCA called it the closest finish in series history.
Featured Off-Track Events
“Big One on the Blvd.”: One of Alabama’s most spectacular parties returns on Friday with the popular driver parade and crazy fan competitions overseen by some of NASCAR’s biggest names. The line-up of outrageous events include:
- Weenie in the Hole – Three contestants will face off to get as many jumbo hotdog weenies in the hole of their buckets before the clock runs out – using only their mouths!
- Cake Stand – Three teams of three will attempt to devour a delicious Talladega Superspeedway 50th anniversary cake while in keg stand position! Knees weak, arms are heavy? No problem, you can alternate with teammates!
- Straight Arm’d and Delicious – In this straight arm relay challenge, three contestants will pour smoothies over their heads and try to catch as much liquid in their mouths as possible!
- BBQ Sauce Wrestling – BBQ Sauce Wrestling is back and better than ever! Four ladies will battle it out in a 500-gallon pit of BBQ sauce in order to capture their opponent’s flag! After two elimination rounds of best 2 out of 3, then an ultimate championship round, the BBQ Sauce Wrestling Queen will win a grand prize of $1,000! Are you saucy enough to take the challenge?
Some of the drivers who are scheduled (subject to change) to appear so far include: Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Stenhouse, Bubba Wallace, Daniel Suarez, Kurt Busch, Daniel Hemric, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Matt Tifft, Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick, Ross Chastain, John Hunter Nemechek, Chase Briscoe and Garrett Smithley among others. The event is for infield camping guests, renewal guest ticket holders and fans with infield wristband admissions.
Saturday Night Infield Concert: Country music artist Granger Smith featuring Earl Dibbles Jr., will headline the Saturday Night Infield Concert, and will be joined by Chris Bandi and DJ Mark A.D. Admission is FREE to all infield guests & anyone who purchases a Sunday GEICO 500 ticket. Located at the intersection of Eastaboga and Talladega Blvds., festivities begin at 7 p.m. CDT.
Special Offers & Experiences
Saturday Pre-Race Pass: Fans can witness a host of morning activities from “pit alley,” which stretches from in front of Gatorade Victory Lane all the way to the entrance of the MENCS garage. It provides fans an up-close view of the vast preparations by the race teams from down in the trenches prior to the MoneyLion 300. In addition, there will be “Open Garages” Saturday morning for both the MENCS and the NXS. Will be available to the first 300 guests at each garage (first come, first served basis).
Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola, David Ragan, Daniel Suarez, Brad Keselowski and Dale Jarrett Join Fan Q&A Session: Prior to the GEICO 500, fans that purchase the Pre-Race Pit Pass Upgrade will get the opportunity to ask the drivers questions at the Fan Q&A session, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. CDT at the start-finish line.
Limited Time $69 Ticket Offer: The $69 ticket offer includes one Lincoln Grandstand ticket for the GEICO 500 and one Racing Electronics scanner and one headset, valid for the entire weekend, April 26-28.
Kids FREE on Friday & Saturday/As low as $15 Sunday: Kids 12 and younger can enjoy the GEICO 500 MENCS race for as low as $15 on Sunday while kids are admitted FREE in all grandstand and tower seats for Saturday’s MoneyLion 300 as well as Friday’s General Tire 200.
Kids VIP Experience Presented by Children’s of Alabama: Provides behind-the-scenes access for kids at NASCAR’s biggest track for kids 12 and younger prior to the GEICO 500.
Military & First Responders Appreciation presented by 1st Foundation: Talladega Superspeedway has special ticket offers for military and first responders (Police Officers, Firemen and EMT’s) and their families, for the GEICO 500 and MoneyLion 300.
Teachers & Educators Appreciation: Talladega recognizes and thanks educators and faculty members who work within our school districts to shape our youth into outstanding citizens. Those who work in the school system and qualify can save up to 30% off on various ticket options.
College Student Program: College students can purchase a $25 college ticket to attend the entire weekend full of festivities and racing, including the GEICO 500. Others accolades include: Free Entry to the Saturday Night Infield Concert and the “Big One on the Blvd.” party; Free parking and camping in the College Tailgate Zone in North Park all weekend (which includes a college party on Saturday at 5 p.m. with an appearance by Stenhouse); and General Admission Seating in the grandstand.
The VIP Tailgate Experience in The Compound: The space for the ultimate tailgating experience. Located just outside of the grandstands behind the start-finish line behind the gated Legends Village hospitality area.
Fan Zone: Talladega’s Fan Zone, located outside the fronstretch near Turn 4, will offer families a host of fun, music, as well as dozens of activities and interactive exhibits that showcase a multitude of companies involved in the sport.
National Anthem Performers:
Sunday’s GEICO 500: Continuing the tradition of the past nine Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events at Talladega, the 313th United States Army Band from Birmingham will again play the song of our country before the start of the GEICO 500. The band is made up of citizen-soldiers who train and perform as a group of Army musicians. The group’s pure, instrumental version of the National Anthem has become a Sunday tradition at Talladega. In addition, the iconic Johnny Ray Semi Truck Drive By will take place during the Anthem.
Friday/Saturday: Hailing from Fairbanks, Alaska, Purple Heart recipient Sergeant Ian Wagner will sing the National Anthem prior to the General Tire 200 on Friday. Vocal artist Amia Nico from Virginia will be performing the National Anthem prior to the MoneyLion 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday.
Invocations: Handling the invocation for each of the races this weekend are members of Alabama Raceway Ministries: Claude Brown (General Tire 200), Billy Irvin (MoneyLion 300) and Mike Jackson (GEICO 500).
PARKING AND TRANSPORTATION
Preferred Regular Parking: Pay a little to save a lot (of steps) by parking behind the frontstretch grandstands.
FREE Parking: In addition to paid parking options, Talladega Superspeedway also offers free parking in several lots outside speedway property.
It all starts Friday with a full day of activity with all three series on-track for practice sessions, with the ARCA cars qualifying and taking the green flag at 5 p.m. CDT. Saturday’s slate includes time trials for the MoneyLion 300 at 9:10 a.m. CDT followed by the green flag for the event at noon CDT. Later in the afternoon, the premier series drivers will take to Talladega’s 33-degree banking for qualifying to determine the starting lineup for Sunday’s GEICO 500, which gets a 1 p.m. CDT start.
For information on everything listed above, plus all things Talladega Superspeedway and how to purchase tickets for the upcoming race weekend, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-RACE.