What a race. Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway was a stunner and a thriller, with Ricky Stenhouse qualifying on the pole and then passing Kyle Busch on the final lap to score his first victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the more interesting numbers to come out of Talladega.
It took Talladega winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 158 attempts, but he finally scored his long-awaited first career Cup victory Sunday at Talladega. And in the process, Stenhouse ended a 101-race winless streak for Roush Fenway Racing.
Two-time 2017 race winner Brad Keselowski has 12 playoff points in the first 10 races of the season, tops among all drivers. In fact, Jimmie Johnson (10) and Martin Truex Jr. (10) are the only other drivers in double-digit totals in playoff points.
11. First-time winners
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. became the 11th driver to win his first career Cup race at Talladega. The others are Richard Brickhouse (1969); Dick Brooks (1973); Lennie Pond (1978); Ron Bouchard (1981); Bobby Hillin Jr. (1986); Davey Allison (1987); Phil Parsons (1988); Ken Schrader (1988); Brian Vickers (2006); and Brad Keselowski (2009).
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10. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver, led 10 laps at Talladega. They were the first laps he’s led all season long.
9. Chevrolet drivers
Although a Ford team — Roush Fenway Racing — won at Talladega, four Chevrolet drivers finished ninth or better: Paul Menard, ninth; Jimmie Johnson, eighth; Kasey Kahne, fifth; and Jamie McMurray, second.
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8. Winners this season
So far, eight different drivers have posted Cup wins in 2017. Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson have each won twice, while drivers with one victory apiece are Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman Joey Logano and now Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
, LAT Images www.latphoto.co.ukRusty Jarrett
7. Top seven
Four Fords finished in the top seven at Talladega. They included winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., fourth-place Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch (sixth) and Brad Keselowski (seventh).
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6. Plate-track prodigy
Kurt Busch’s sixth-place finish was his best result since winning the season-opening Daytona 500. That means his two top finishes this season have both come on restrictor-plate tracks.
So far this year, Fords have won five of 10 races, with three teams — Team Penske (3), Stewart-Haas Racing (1) and Roush Fenway Racing (1) — contributing to the win column. Last year, Fords won just eight of 36 races. Clearly, the Blue Oval Boys have stepped it up in a big way this year.
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4. Inspection issues
At Talladega, Aric Almirola finished fourth, which matched his best finish of the season, a fourth-place run in the season-opening Daytona 500. But his Richard Petty Motorsports Ford failed to pass NASCAR’s Laser Inspection Station in post-race tech, which means he’s likely to be docked points later this week.
Jimmie Johnson led three laps at Talladega, meaning he has now led in three of the last four races, including victories at Texas and Bristol. He didn’t lead in any of the three races prior to Texas, but he did lead laps in each of the first three races on the year.
2. Finishes worse than sixth
In 10 races, Joey Logano has finished worse than sixth just twice — 31st at Phoenix when he lost a tire, and 32nd at Talladega when he got caught in The Big One. That’s remarkable consistency that should serve him well in playoff time.
1. Teams with two top-five drivers
Chip Ganassi Racing is the only team with two drivers in the top five in points right now. Kyle Larson leads the points, while his CGR teammate Jamie McMurray is fifth.
0. Joe Gibbs Racing victories
Last year, JGR won five of the first 10 races of the Cup season. This year, they are winless, although Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Matt Kenseth combined to lead 95 of 191 laps at Talladega.