Auto Racing Glance

9/29/2021 12:36:48 PM EST

NASCAR CUP SERIES: YELLAWOOD 500 (188 laps, 500.08 miles around a 2.66-mile D-shaped oval), Talladega Superspeedway; Talladega, Ala.

TV: Sunday, 2 p.m. ET (Green flag approx. 2:20 p.m. ET) -- NBC (Radio: Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

THIS WEEK: Denny Hamlin has two wins this season, and they've both come in the past four races after he took the checkered flag Sunday in Las Vegas. That means he's safely into the next round of the playoffs. ... Now comes Talladega and having that round win in your back pocket is a huge relief for Hamlin and makes the other 11 drivers in the playoff field nervous, because now Hamlin can go for broke at the huge 2.66-mile track. ... "I'm so happy," Hamlin said. "So happy to not have to worry about the next two weeks. I'm professional so I'm going to work just as hard each and every week to win." ... This will be the 31st of 36 races on the season and the 105th the series has run at Talladega, which opened in 1969. ... Brad Keselowski won here last year, but Hamlin won in October 2020. ... A win over the next two races gets a driver already in the playoffs into the next round. ... Kyle Larson leads the points with 3,096, followed by *Hamlin (3,082), Kyle Busch (3,074), Martin Truex Jr. (3,070), Ryan Blaney (3,063), Chase Elliott (3,061), Joey Logano (3,045), Brad Keselowski (3,043), William Byron (3,039), Kevin Harvick (3,036), Alex Bowman (3,030) and Christopher Bell (3,018).

BEST BETS: You could draw a name from a hat and likely do just as well as picking an actual driver you think will win. Example: Denny Hamlin is your favorite, but he's a 9/1. Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney are at 10/1. Interestingly, that's a Toyota driver, Chevy driver and two Ford drivers. Michael McDowell at 40/1 is about as long a shot as you can feel confident in, but Justin Allgaier at 70/1 is tempting.

*Denotes race win and place in the next round of the playoffs. Standings per

NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: SPARKS 300 (113 laps, 300.58 miles around a 2.66-mile D-shaped oval), Talladega Superspeedway; Talladega, Ala.

TV: Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET (Green flag approx. 4:50 p.m. ET) -- NBCSN (Radio: Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

THIS WEEK: Josh Berry rolled away from the competition to win Saturday at Las Vegas, but that didn't help the playoff drivers much. Berry led a podium sweep for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team, JR Motorsports. ... Now it's on to Talladega where the playoff contenders hope they can stay in the race and maybe earn the win at racing's biggest gamble. ... Twelve drivers are in the playoffs, but that will be cut down to eight after the next two races, culminating at the Charlotte Roval. A win over the next two races gets a driver already in the playoffs into the next round. ... This will be the 28th of 33 races on the season and the 32nd held at Talladega, the first coming in 1992. ... Jeb Burton won this race last year. ... Austin Cindric leads the points (2,093), followed by AJ Allmendinger (2,086), Justin Allgaier (2,065), Noah Gragson (2,064), Daniel Hemric (2,061), Justin Haley (2,044), Harrison Burton (2,040), Brandon Jones (2,037), Myatt Snider (2,027), Jeb Burton (2,010), Riley Herbst (2,005) and Jeremy Clements (2,001) as the 12 drivers in the playoffs.

*Standings per

NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES: CHEVY SILVERADO 250 (94 laps, 250.04 miles around a 2.66-mile D-shaped oval), Talladega Superspeedway; Talladega, Ala.

TV: Saturday, 1 p.m. ET (Green flag approx. 1:20 p.m. ET) -- FS1 (Radio: Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90).

THIS WEEK: The Round of 8 stage of the playoffs opened in Las Vegas with a surprise, as non-playoff driver Christian Eckes got his first career series victory and led a 1-2-3-4 finish for ThorSport Racing. ... Now the series heads to Talladega where the wrecks are big and playoff fortunes can change in an instant. The series will take three weeks off when Talladega is done. Four drivers will be eliminated after the race at Martinsville on Oct. 30. ... Any current playoff driver with a win over the next two races makes the Championship 4. ... This will be the 20th of 22 races this season and the 16th race at the track dating back to 2006. ... Raphael Lessard won this race last year. ... Ben Rhodes leads the standings (3,070 points), followed by John Hunter Nemecheck (3,064), Stewart Friesen (3,045), Matt Crafton (3,041), Sheldon Creed (3,036), Carson Hocevar (3,025), Zane Smith (3,022) and Chandler Smith (3,017) still in the playoffs.

*Standings per


THIS WEEK: The season ended Sunday at Long Beach, Calif., and Spain's Alex Palou was crowned champion. He finished fourth in the race and Colton Herta won for the second straight week to finish the season strong. ... The series returns on Feb. 27, 2022, at St. Petersburg, Fla., to kick off a 17-event season. ... Final standings had Palou on top (549) in his Honda-powered Dallara, followed by Josef Newgarden (511) in a Chevrolet-powered Dallara and Mexico's Pato O'Ward (487) also in a Chevrolet. New Zealand's Scott Dixon was fourth (481) for Honda. Herta ended up fifth (455) in his Honda.

Standings per


THIS WEEK: The series takes a week off after Lewis Hamilton dominated in Sochi, Russia, beating Max Verstappen by 52.271 seconds in the 15th event of the season. ... The Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul is up next week, leaving seven events to decide the championship between the rivals. ... Great Britain's Hamilton (246.5) took back the series lead for Mercedes, with Belgium's Verstappen second (244.5 points) for Red Bull. Finland's Valtteri Bottas (151) in a Mercedes is third, followed by Britain's Lando Norris (139) in a McLaren with Mexico's Sergio Perez (120) in a Red Bull rounding out the top five.

Standings per


THIS WEEK: Three rounds of the playoffs are in the books and four remain, with the series taking the week off after competing last week at Madison, Ill. ... Next up is the Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at the Texas Motorplex outside Dallas next week. ... Winners at Madison were Steve Torrence in Top Fuel, Matt Hagan in Funny Car and Erica Enders in Pro Stock. Pro Stock Motorcycle had the weekend off. ... Torrence leads Top Fuel (2,373 points), followed by Brittany Force (2,337) and Billy Torrence (2,247). ... Hagan took over the Funny Car lead (2,354), followed by Ron Capps (2,295) and John Force (2,282). ... Greg Anderson (2,394) leads Pro Stock, followed by Enders (2,377) and Kyle Koretsky (2,297). ... Steve Johnson (2,272) leads Pro Stock Motorcycle, followed by Angelle Sampey (2,255) and Matt Smith (2,242).

Standings per

--By K. Lee Davis, Field Level Media


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