NASCAR Weekly: Historic race weekend at Talladega
The NASCAR race weekend at Talladega had it all: For the first time in the series’ history, there was a debut winner in all three series
NASCAR Cup Series
The NASCAR Cup Series visited Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama as part of the Round of 12 last weekend. Denny Hamlin traveled to the 2.66-mile (4.28-kilometer) track with a win from Las Vegas in his pocket, which is why he was already safely in the next playoff round. On Sunday, the race was postponed until Monday due to rain.
The superspeedways are known for regularly producing surprise wins because of the pack racing, and that’s what happened on Monday, with Bubba Wallace winning the race after 117 laps. The race was stopped early due to more rain showers and thunderstorms. It was the first Cup win for Wallace and the new 23XI Racing team of Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan.
Wallace is only the second African-American to win a Cup race. The local hero from Mobile, Alabama, entered Victory Lane exactly 21,128 days after Wendell Scott. Scott took his first and only Cup win at Jacksonville Speedway Park in Florida back on Dec. 1, 1963.
Wallace also swirled up the playoff standings, as his spoiler victory ensured that the final race of the Round of 12 at the Charlotte Roval would be a real thriller. Kevin Harvick (-9 points), Christopher Bell (-28 points), William Byron (-44 points) and Alex Bowman (-52 points) are currently on the sidelines. Bell, Byron and Bowman are virtually obligated to win the race in North Carolina to advance to the next round.
There is also news from the Silly Season: JTG Daugherty Racing and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. have extended their cooperation for one season. This means the 34-year-old from Memphis, Tennessee, will continue to work with the team in the Next-Gen era and continue to drive the #47 car.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
The second debut winner at the Talladega race weekend was Brandon Brown, who competes for his father’s team, Brandonbilt Motorsports. The race was stopped five laps before the official end because it was getting too dark and Talladega Superspeedway does not have lights.
The race was the second round of the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Like Talladega, the first race was won by a so-called spoiler. A spoiler is a driver who is not part of the playoff field. While Brown drove into Victory Lane as such a spoiler at Talladega, Josh Berry managed to do so in Las Vegas. Ahead of the deciding race at the Charlotte Roval, Jeb Burton, Myatt Snider, Riley Herbst and Jeremy Clements face elimination from the championship fight.
John Wes Townley, a former NASCAR Xfinity and Truck Series driver, is dead. The 31-year-old was shot and killed in Athens, Georgia. The investigation is ongoing, but according to a police report obtained by US media, he allegedly threatened his ex-wife Laura Townley and Zachary Anderson with a hatchet. Anderson then fired several shots, fatally wounding John Wes Townley. Laura Townley was also reportedly hit. She is said to have been taken to hospital with serious injuries, but there is no danger to her life according to the police.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
There is still one debutant missing in Victory Lane to round out the new chapter in NASCAR history: In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Tate Fogleman won the race. He also recorded his first ever NASCAR national win. This marks the first time in NASCAR history that three winning debutants have finished first in all three national series in one weekend.
At Martinsville Speedway, a short track in the state of Virginia, the four drivers for the Truck Series finale will be decided. None of the playoff contenders has advanced to the next round with a race win yet, as in the Xfinity Series, two races in the Round of 8 were each won by a spoiler: Folgeman at Talladega and Christian Eckes at Las Vegas.
The Silly Season is also in full swing in the third national league. After a split season between two teams, ThorSport and CR7 Motorsports, Grant Enfinger has found a new full-time racing team for the 2022 season: GMS Racing. The 36-year-old from Fairhope, Alabama, has thus found a new home after having to bounce back and forth between two teams in 2021 and even skipping the Daytona road course race.