CONCORD, N.C.— The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Talladega Superspeedway this weekend.
And Chase Elliott is ready to take on restrictor plate racing for the final race in the Round of 12 of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“We will just need to go and race our hearts out and try to win,” Elliott said on strategy as he looks to advance to the Round of 8. "That’s about all we can do. The best place to be at Talladega, as everybody knows, is to try to be out front.”
Kasey Kahne is also looking forward to the challenge at the superspeedway while debuting the No. 5 UniFirst Chevrolet SS.
“Each race and each weekend we are getting better as a team and Hendrick Motorsports always brings great cars to the track,” Kahne said. “Talladega is so challenging because of the draft and all of the variables that are out of your control. This is UniFirst’s first weekend on the car and I’m looking forward to having another strong performance.”
Before the green flag drops at Talladega, take a look at some of the key notes below.
BROADCAST INFORMATION: Sunday’s race will air live on NBC Sports Network at 2 p.m. ET. Can’t make it to the television? Listen to the race live on MRN and SiriusXM to catch the radio coverage. Here is the full broadcast schedule:
Friday, Oct. 21:
2 p.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Practice, NBC Sports Network
4:30 p.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Final Practice, NBC Sports Network
Saturday, Oct. 22:
4 p.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Qualifying, NBC Sports Network
Sunday, Oct. 23:
2:15 p.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Race, NBC Sports Network
THIS WEEKEND’S PAINT SCHEMES: Kahne will pilot the No. 5 UniFirst Chevrolet SS and Elliott will pilot the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS this weekend. Jimmie Johnson will race the No. 48 Lowe’s ProServices Chevrolet SS for the final time this season and Alex Bowman will be substituting for Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is out for the remainder of the season as he continues to recover from a concussion, and pilot the No. 88 Mtn Dew Take It Outside Chevrolet SS at Talladega.
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT TALLADEGA: At Talladega Superspeedway, Hendrick Motorsports has 12 wins, 11 pole positions, 54 top-five finishes and 78 top-10s. Hendrick Motorsports’ most recent Talladega win came last season, when Earnhardt made his way to Victory Lane in the May race after qualifying fourth.
KAHNE AT 'DEGA: In Kahne’s 25 starts at Talladega Superspeedway, he has one pole award – October 2012. He’s also earned the outside pole position for two consecutive races at the 2.66-mile track – May and October 2015. Kahne is looking for redemption this weekend at Talladega after being involved in an incident in this year's spring race, which ended his day early.
REIGNING ROOKIE: Elliott leads the 2016 Rookie of the Year contender standings heading into Talladega by 61 points over second-place Ryan Blaney and 90 points over third-place Chris Buescher. Elliott has accumulated a total of 285 rookie points this year through the first 31 races. Additionally, Elliott is one of only three rookies to ever make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs. He has yet to win his first race, but claims nine top-five showings – the most by a rookie since Carl Edwards scored 13 in 2005.
'DEGA STATS: In the last four outings at Talladega Superspeedway, Johnson has led a total of 168 laps. Over his 29 starts at the track, Johnson has an average start of 9.6 and an average finish of 17.1.
'PUSHY' TEAMMATE: Restrictor plate racing is known for teammates "pushing" each other through the draft, so one could say Johnson has been a pushy teammate. Johnson has finished second at Talladega three times and each has been behind a Hendrick Motorsports teammate. Johnson and teammate Gordon swept the 2007 season events at Talladega by finishing one-two. Johnson also finished second to teammate Earnhardt one year ago.
KANSAS RECAP: After qualifying fifth last Friday, Bowman earned his career-best NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finish last Sunday at Kansas Speedway. Bowman finished seventh driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for the sixth time as the substitute for Earnhardt.
TALLADEGA STATS: Talladega Superspeedway will mark Bowman’s seventh start in the No. 88 Chevy. In the first six races, he earned two top-10 and three top-15 finishes, and has run inside the top 10 in every event. Bowman has four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at the 2.66-mile superspeedway with a best finish of 16th. He has one start there in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, where he finished 13th.