CONCORD, N.C. -- As the second race of the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs approaches, the Hendrick Motorsports teams are preparing for 500 miles of white-knuckled racing at Talladega Superspeedway.
Heading into Sunday’s race, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott are both above the cutline for the Round of 8, sitting first and sixth in the playoff points battle. Teammates William Byron and Alex Bowman are outside of the playoff bubble in ninth and 11th, respectively. Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 team, knows that teamwork among the four Hendrick Motorsports drivers and the other Chevrolets on the track will give them the best chance to succeed at Talladega.
“Talladega is a manufacture win,” Ives said. “How well you work with your teammates and how you’re able to handle push and a potentially different rules package for Daytona – that’s probably going to carry over for Talladega. You got to execute all race and you have to be unselfish except for when you’re coming off turn four.”
While Talladega can be chaotic and unpredictable, Hendrick Motorsports will lean on previous successes at superspeedways to prepare for Sunday’s race at the Alabama track. The organization’s most recent superspeedway wins came from Byron at Daytona International Speedway in August 2020 and Elliott took the checkered flag at Talladega in April. Larson, who has a career-best sixth-place finish at superspeedways, will look to notch a win and transfer to the Round of 8.
“Talladega is crazy and anything can happen there,” Larson said. “You can get wiped out on lap one and lose a ton of points. Honestly, the same thing could happen at the ROVAL the next week. That’s also, I feel like, a wild card just with how crazy road courses get on restarts.”
With the playoff points race tightening up as the postseason progresses, Byron and his crew chief, Rudy Fugle, both understand the importance of running a well-rounded race at Talladega. Byron, who notched a second-place finish at Talladega in April, will look to improve on his performance and punch his ticket to the Round of 8 by crossing the finish line first.
“William is a great superspeedway racer, so I feel comfortable most of the time going to Talladega other than the unknowns of ‘The Big One,’” Fugle said. “I feel like if we can just avoid that big catastrophe and just run to our potential, we should have a shot at advancing to the third round.”
Be sure to tune in this Sunday, Oct. 3 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC to see the Hendrick Motorsports teams take on Talladega as they look to secure a spot in the Round of 8.