Coming Through! Talladega Superspeedway Provides Record Numbers for Passing for the Lead, Throughout the Field or for Coveted Wins

In a Competition Record-Setting Year, the Most Competitive Race Track on the Planet Looks to Continue Trend of Battles Throughout Sunday’s GEICO 500 NASCAR Cup Series Race

TALLADEGA, Ala. (April 20, 2022)In an action-packed start to the season, the NASCAR Cup Series has produced some of the best racing in the history of the sport, and the green flag passes for the lead prove it. Will the trend continue at NASCAR’s Most Competitive venue – Talladega Superspeedway – this weekend during the GEICO 500? Bet on it!

The 2022 campaign has seen an incredible average of 45.8 green flag passes for the lead per race, which is up 25 percent on average for the first nine races of a season – dating back over 16 years when Loop Data statistic was initially tabulated, where the average was 33.8 per race). Now the sport, headlined by the new ‘Next Gen,’ racy race cars, travel to the iconic 2.66-mile, 33-degree banked Talladega Superspeedway, created by NASCAR founder Bill France, Sr., to be a palace of speed and a magnet for ultimate competition. The numbers at Talladega are staggering.

Green Flag Passes for the Lead at TSS
NASCAR counts lead changes at the start-finish line, but Talladega Superspeedway provides passing opportunities throughout the 48-feet wide ribbon of asphalt of its four turns and trioval. The track holds the all-time record in green flag passes for the lead in a single NASCAR Cup Series event with 219, set on October 20, 2013. Amazingly, during last fall’s YellaWood 500, the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race produced 123 green flag passes for the lead, which was the most during 2021. What makes that number impressive is that it was done in only 117 laps of the scheduled 188-lap event (race was cut short due to inclement weather).

Official Lead Changes at the Start-Finish Line at TSS
True, official lead changes in NASCAR are counted at the start-finish line, and Talladega Superspeedway also owns the NASCAR record – 88 (twice – in spring of 2010 and 2011). Incredibly, with the track a mammoth 2.66-miles, premier series races at Talladega are just 188 laps (500 miles).

Total Green Passes Throughout the Field During a TSS 500-miler
Over the last 16 seasons, Talladega Superspeedway, which France, Sr., deemed the “greatest race track in the world,” holds the all-time record in total green flag passes in a single NASCAR Cup Series event with 23,765 total throughout the field set on October 20, 2013. A year ago in the GEICO 500, Talladega Superspeedway again led the way for the season in total green flag passes throughout the field with 9,738.

No wonder when fans purchase a seat at Talladega, they rarely sit it since they are standing with excitement. And there’s more!

White Flag Leader Doesn’t Mean a Checkered Flag
As noted earlier, lead changes are counted at the start-finish line in NASCAR. Unbelievably, since Talladega began racing the Cup Series in 1969, in 105 races, an official lead change happened on the last lap in 29 races – the driver who took the white flag didn’t bring home the checkered flag. The trend started in 1974 and continued last spring when Brad Keselowski captured the GEICO 500 for his sixth Talladega triumph. Here’s the full list:

Date                                      Winner                                 White Flag Leader
Aug. 11, 1974                     Richard Petty                     David Pearson
May 14, 1978                     Cale Yarborough               Buddy Baker
May 3, 1981                        Bobby Allison                     Buddy Baker
Aug. 2, 1981                        Ron Bouchard                    Darrell Waltrip
May 2, 1982                       Darrell Waltrip                   Benny Parsons
July 31, 1983                       Dale Earnhardt, Sr.          Darrell Waltrip
May 6, 1984                       Cale Yarborough               Harry Gant
July 29, 1984                      Dale Earnhardt, Sr.          Terry Labonte
July 31, 1988                      Ken Schrader                     Dale Earnhardt, Sr.
May 2, 1993                        Ernie Irvan                          Dale Earnhardt, Sr.
Oct. 21, 2001                     Dale Earnhardt, Jr.           Bobby Labonte
Oct. 2, 2005                        Dale Jarrett                         Matt Kenseth
May 1, 2006                       Jimmie Johnson                Brian Vickers
Oct. 8, 2006                        Brian Vickers                      Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Oct. 7, 2007                        Jeff Gordon                        Jimmie Johnson
April 26, 2009                    Brad Keselowski               Carl Edwards
April 25, 2010                    Kevin Harvick                     Jamie McMurray
Oct. 31, 2010                     Clint Bowyer                      Kevin Harvick
April 17, 2011                     Jimmie Johnson                Jeff Gordon
Oct. 23, 2011                     Clint Bowyer                      Jeff Burton
Oct. 7, 2012                         Matt Kenseth                    Tony Stewart
May 5, 2013                        David Ragan                       Carl Edwards
Oct. 19, 2014                     Brad Keselowski               Ryan Newman
May 7, 2017                       Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.        Kyle Busch
Oct. 15, 2017                     Brad Keselowski               Ryan Newman
Oct. 14, 2018                     Aric Almirola                      Kurt Busch
June 22, 2020                    Ryan Blaney                       Kevin Harvick
Oct. 4, 2020                        Denny Hamlin                    Matt DiBenedetto
April 25, 2021                    Brad Keselowski               Matt DiBenedetto

Those Close, Blink-of-an-Eye Finishes at ’Dega
With so much passing at Talladega, naturally it contributes to the incredible close finishes like no other venue. During the last 26 years at NASCAR’s biggest track that didn’t end under caution, the average margin of victory is .129 seconds, most of time with multiple cars gunning for the win. The closest? Jimmie Johnson over Clint Bowyer by .002 seconds in 2011.

Talladega’s Margin of Victory Added Up – Wow!
Here is one final, but amazing stat. Add together the times of the margin of victory in each Cup Series race over the last 25 years (38 races) at Talladega that didn’t finish under caution. The grand total is 4.905 seconds.

The ‘Next Gen’ car will see its first action on Talladega’s high banks in the GEICO 500. Debuting in the season-opening DAYTONA 500, the Next Gen car is designed to give the drivers greater control and put an emphasis back on race strategies, team personnel and vehicle setups while returning the ‘stock car’ look to NASCAR. So far this season, the race cars that look more like street version vehicles, have put on incredible racing with rave reviews from fans.

Guests who have a Sunday GEICO 500 ticket will get admission to the traditional Saturday Night Infield Concert featuring country music artist Riley Green.  The show kicks off after the running of a racing doubleheader, featuring the General Tire 200 (12:00 p.m. CDT) for the ARCA Menards Series and the Ag-Pro 300 (3:00 p.m. CDT) for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. In addition, Saturday morning on-track action kicks off at 10 am with KLĒNSKIN Pole Qualifying at 10:00 a.m. CDT.

To see all weekend admission opportunities, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 1-877-Go2-DEGA. Several options await fans like the fan-favorite 140,000 square-foot Talladega Garage Experience, which includes up-close access to Garage Viewing Walkways, Pre-Race Ceremonies and Ruoff Mortgage Victory Lane. In addition, there are hospitality areas such as Fan Suites, Premium Box seating, and Busch Balcony, along with incredible Kid’s programming.

Fans are encouraged to keep up with all the happenings at the biggest, baddest race track on the planet by following Talladega Superspeedway on TwitterFacebookand Instagram, as well as the all-new NASCAR Tracks App.

About Talladega Superspeedway 
Talladega Superspeedway is the most competitive racetrack on the NASCAR schedule (record 88 lead changes in 188 laps), the highest-banked (33 degrees) and the longest (2.66 miles), as well as the most fun and fan-friendly. Three- and four-wide racing at 200 mph are a norm at Talladega Superspeedway, along with nail-biting, photo finishes. For information, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 1-877-Go2-DEGA.