Talladega Superspeedway, home of the sixth race in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, saw tens of thousands of die-hard racing fans today, hosting the Camping World RV Sales 500. NASCAR fans worldwide travel to Alabama each season to watch the sixth event in the Championship, one of ten races that comprise the Chase.
The Talladega 500 - a.k.a. the Chase - is often referred to as the “wildcard race,” as the 12 drivers (this year there were 13, due to a controversial outcome in a previous race) vie to succeed on one of NASCAR’s most dangerous and difficult tracks; According to Sports Illustrated, Talladega Superspeedway boasts both the longest and fastest track of any in NASCAR. Talladega’s winding asphalt spans 2.66 miles and a steep, restrictor-plate track that routinely garners speeds surpassing 220 mph. These two elements combine to produce regular collisions at Talladega, usually involving more than one vehicle.
Lucky for driver Jamie McMurray, those two factors culminated in the end of his 108-race, three-year losing streak. McMurray beat out frontrunners Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Matt Kenseth to capture the first place title this afternoon. Interestingly enough, four of McMurray’s seven career victories have taken place on a difficult, restrictor-plate track like Talladega’s.
After claiming the trophy today McMurray discussed his win with his Earnhardt Ganassi Racing team, fans, and the media.
“Our cars have been so much better this year and we haven't been able to get to victory lane,” McMurray said, adding, “I knew that the Cessna Chevrolet was good in practice, but I just could not get in the right line until the end. I saw 17 [Stenhouse] and 88 [Earnhardt] coming on the top. It just seemed the top was the better place. Fortunately, I was able to get myself in position. What a big win for [car owner] Chip Ganassi and this whole team.”
— Team EGR (@EGRTeams) October 20, 2013
Despite today’s success, McMurray isn’t yet in the clear – he now has only four more races until one driver captures the 2013 title in the Chase – and, even after the Talladega win, McMurray is ranked 14th.
Racing veteran Dale Earnhardt, Jr. came home with his fourth second-place ending of the season; he was followed by Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., rounding out today’s top three finishers.
Jimmie Johnson, who would clench his fifth consecutive Sprint Cup title with a win this year, finished 13th; Johnson did set a race-record, however, leading 47 of the 188 laps.
Cup leader Johnson now holds only a four-point lead over the current second-place holder, Matt Kenseth, who finished 20th today, despite his lead throughout 32 laps.
The next race (the seventh of ten) in the 2013 Sprint Cup Championship is the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 Powered by Kroger; it will take place October 27 at the Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Image courtesy @jamiemcmurray via Twitter.