NASCAR: Team Penske Drivers Set Up for Success at Talladega

Getty Team Penske drivers Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano

Sunday afternoon, the NASCAR Cup Series returns to Talladega Superspeedway for the Geico 500. There will be several big names in contention for the win, but Racing Reference shows that one team regularly finds success at the Alabama track. Team Penske’s three drivers have all raced to Victory Lane in recent years.

Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Blaney make up a talented trio of drivers that regularly finds success at Talladega. Logano’s No. 22 Ford has led the field to the checkered flag three times since 2015, with his last victory taking place in 2018. Keselowski has been to Victory Lane a staggering five times since 2009 in stock cars made by Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge. His last win took place in 2017.

Blaney, the youngest driver in the Team Penske stable, has fewer starts at Talladega than his teammates. However, he has the most recent wins. Blaney drove the No. 12 Ford Mustang to a win in the fall 2019 playoff race and then did so again in the spring 2020 race.

Blaney’s 2019 victory kept him in the playoffs when it mattered

The October playoff race at Talladega in 2019 marked a special day for both Blaney and Team Penske. This victory was his first since 2018, and it kept him alive in the playoffs. He edged out Ryan Newman by a mere 0.007 seconds — a stunning photo finish — and moved on to the Round of eight. Additionally, he notched Team Penske’s 120th career win while avoiding three massive wrecks that impacted other playoff drivers.

While Blaney and Logano both moved on to the Round of eight and remained in contention for the championship trophy. Keselowski, on the other hand, did not make it out of the Round of 12. Although none of the Team Penske drivers ultimately made it to the final four. Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex Jr. competed in the championship race, with Busch ultimately winning his second title.

Blaney will now have an opportunity to capture his third victory at Talladega during Sunday’s Geico 500. Doing so would give him two wins in 2021 and tie him with Truex for the most in the Cup Series.

Team Penske will have to contend with the 2021 points leader

GettyJoey Logano and Denny Hamlin

The Team Penske stable has reached Victory Lane at Talladega the most in recent years, but a member of Joe Gibbs Racing captured the checkered flag during the 2020 playoffs. Denny Hamlin, the driver of the No. 11 Toyota Camry, edged out then-teammate Erik Jones to move on in the playoffs. This win was his second at the superspeedway.

While Hamlin has fewer wins at Talladega than Logano and Keselowski, he has consistently remained in the mix. He has raced 30 times at the fan-favorite track, posting two wins and nine top-fives. This stat line includes a third-place finish during the 2019 playoff race that Blaney won.

Hamlin has yet to win a race in 2021, but he currently has a stranglehold on the points lead. He has 434 points after posting eight top-five finishes in nine races. Truex sits 81 points behind him after winning two races. Hamlin’s recent consistency at Talladega does not guarantee that he will finish first this year, but the Geico 500 will serve as his best opportunity to capture the elusive 2021 win.

Sunday’s race at Talladega will take place at 2 p.m. ET. Fox will broadcast the race while MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will provide audio coverage. Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy, and Clint Bowyer will call the action from the booth.

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