FORD PERFORMANCE NASCAR: TALLADEGA NOTES
The final race in the Contender Round is taking place this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway and when it’s over there will be eight drivers remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Ford’s Brad Keselowski needed a win at this point last year in order to advance to the Eliminator Round and he got it in dramatic fashion. That win was the 21st for Ford at the 2.66-mile track, including once each of the last three seasons. Here’s a closer look at Ford’s Talladega history.
NEW THIS WEEK…Joey Logano is looking to become the first driver to sweep all three segments of a Chase round and if he wins this weekend at Talladega, that’s exactly what he’ll accomplish. In fact, Logano would become the first Ford driver to win three straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races since former Team Penske driver and NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace did it in June of 1994 at Dover, Pocono and Michigan. Overall, Ford has four Chase wins at Talladega Superspeedway since the Chase began in 2004, including two of the last three seasons.
THE FIRST TIME…Ford went to victory lane at Talladega Superspeedway was May 4, 1975 when Buddy Baker, driving for Hall of Fame car owner Bud Moore, held off David Pearson on the final lap. The win was Baker’s ninth career victory and came after he took the lead with 18 laps to go. One of the key decisions in getting Baker to the checkered flag first came when his team opted for two tires on its final pit stop of the day while Pearson and the Wood Brothers decided on gas only. Even though Pearson steadily gained ground on the final lap, Baker was able to hold on by half a car length to win. That started a streak which saw Baker and Moore win three straight Talladega races.
THE LAST TIME…Ford won at Talladega came last year when Brad Keselowski, facing elimination from the Chase, kept his championship hopes alive by winning the Geico 500. The win was Keselowski’s sixth of the season, most for any driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, and enabled him to move on into the three-race Eliminator Round. Keselowski got a push from Penske teammate Joey Logano on the final green-white-checker restart and held off Matt Kenseth for the win.
IN BETWEEN…Ford has had many milestone moments at Talladega Superspeedway, including the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win for the late Davey Allison, who won the Winston 500 on May 3, 1987. Allison went on to win 19 NSCS races, including three at Talladega. And then there was David Ragan, who became the 11th driver to win a NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway when he took the checkered flag in the 2013 Aaron’s 499. The win was his second series victory and first for Front Row Motorsports while his first NASCAR win came at Talladega in 2009 when he won the Aaron’s 312 for car owner Jack Roush in the XFINITY series. In addition, when Dale Jarrett won the UAW-Ford 500 on Oct. 2, 2005 it ended up being the final trip to victory lane for Robert Yates Racing. The organization ended up winning 57 times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and had one championship with Jarrett in 1999. Finally, NASCAR Hall of Famers Bud Moore and Glen Wood are Ford’s winningest car owners at Talladega Superspeedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with five wins apiece. Moore won three times with Buddy Baker (1975-76) and once each with Bobby Allison (1979) and Dale Earnhardt (1983) under the Blue Oval while Wood took the checkered flag five times in a Mercury with David Pearson three times (1972,’73,’74) and Donnie Allison (1971) and Neil Bonnett (1980) once.
FORD NASCAR SPRINT CUP WINNERS AT TALLADEGA
1975 – Buddy Baker*
1976 – Buddy Baker (1)
1979 – Bobby Allison (1)
1983 – Dale Earnhardt (2)
1985 – Bill Elliott and Cale Yarborough
1987 – Davey Allison and Bill Elliott
1989 – Davey Allison and Terry Labonte
1992 – Davey Allison (1)
1994 – Jimmy Spencer (2)
1995 – Mark Martin (1)
1997 – Mark Martin (1)
1998 – Dale Jarrett (2)
2005 – Dale Jarrett (2)
2009 – Jamie McMurray (2)
2012 – Matt Kenseth (2)
2013 – David Ragan (1)
2014 – Brad Keselowski (2)
*Denotes season sweep