Wild Card Watch: Talladega Superspeedway offers big opportunity to Playoff seeking competitors

Eight different winners in nine races to start the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season and this weekend‘s GEICO 500 (Sunday, April 24 at 3 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) serves up a platter of opportunity for a ninth different winner to pull into Victory Lane and secure their spot in the Playoffs.

Construction began on what was then known as the Alabama International Motor Speedway on May 23, 1968. The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway was held on September 14, 1969, and the event was won by Richard Brickhouse, from Rocky Point, North Carolina, driving a Dodge for car owner Ray Nichels. The average speed of the first race at the 2.66-mile track was 153.778 mph.

The name of the facility changed to Talladega Superspeedway in 1989, and the surface underwent its fourth repaving on September 19, 2006. In total, there have been 105 NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway; one series event in 1969, and two races per year since 1970.

A total of 44 different drivers have won at least one pole at Talladega Superspeedway in the NASCAR Cup Series; 23 of the pole winners have won more than one. Six of the 44 Talladega NASCAR Cup Series pole winners are active this weekend. Busch Light Pole Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday, April 23 at 11 a.m. ET on FS1.

Active NASCAR Cup Series Pole Winners at Talladega Superspeedway

Pole Winners (6)PolesSeasonsChase Elliott22019, 2016Kevin Harvick22018, 2005Austin Dillon12019Kurt Busch12018Martin Truex Jr12016Ricky Stenhouse Jr12017

In total, 15 of the 105 (14.3%) NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway have been won from the pole or first starting position; the most recent to accomplish the feat was Denny Hamlin on October 4, 2020.

But the outside front row (second place) starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (20) than any other starting position at Talladega (19.05%).

The 105 NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway have also produced a total of 50 different race winners; 25 of the 50 have won multiple times at the 2.66-mile track. This weekend 10 of the 50 NASCAR Cup Series Talladega race winners are entered into the event.

Active NASCAR Cup Series Race Winners at Talladega Superspeedway

Active Race Winners (10)WinsSeasonsBrad Keselowski62021, 2017, 2016. 2014, 2012, 2009Joey Logano32018, 2016, 2015Ryan Blaney22020, 2019Denny Hamlin22020, 2014Bubba Wallace12021Chase Elliott12019Aric Almirola12018Ricky Stenhouse Jr12017Kevin Harvick12010Kyle Busch12008

NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Talladega Superspeedway with 10 victories (1983, 1984, 1990 sweep, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1999 sweep, 2000). Brad Keselowski leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in wins at Talladega Superspeedway with six victories; including taking the checkered flag in this race last season (2009, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2021).

This Sunday‘s GEICO 500 will be 188 laps (500 miles) in length and broken up into three stages. The first two stages will be 60 laps each and the final stage will be 68 laps.

‘Dega doesn‘t disappoint

Known as one of the most competitive tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway is the perfect stage for the wild side-by-side action NASCAR fans love and this weekend‘s GEICO 500 (Sunday, April 24 at 3 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is expected to produce just that.

Talladega Superspeedway holds the all-time record in green flag passes for the lead in a single NASCAR Cup

Series event with 219 green flag passes for the lead set on October 20, 2013.

Talladega Superspeedway also holds the all-time record in total green flag passes in a single NASCAR Cup Series event with 23,765 total green flag passes throughout the field set on October 20, 2013.

Last season, Talladega Superspeedway was the class of the field in passing. The Talladega Superspeedway NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race (October) produced 123 green flag passes for the lead; the most in a single event during the 2021 season, followed by Daytona International Speedway‘s regular season finale with 121, Talladega-1 with 80, Las Vegas with 56 and the Daytona 500 with 45.

The April 2021 Talladega Superspeedway NASCAR Cup Series race produced the most total green flag passes throughout the field in a single event in 2021 with 9,738 total green flag passes; followed by Daytona-2 (9,097), Talladega-2 (8,852), Las Vegas (4,057) and Indianapolis RC (3,744).

Kings of ‘Dega & Daytona

The art of ‘Drafting‘ on tracks like Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway is a skill not every driver can master, but for the ones that learn to manipulate the air to their benefit at nearly 200 mph have found the spoils of Victory Lane in some of the NASCAR Cup Series‘ biggest races.

No driver has been more successful in points-paying races at both Daytona and Talladega than NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt with 13 combined victories – 10 wins at Talladega (1983, 1984, 1990 sweep, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1999 sweep, 2000) and three wins at Daytona (1990, 1993, 1998).

In total, 87 different drivers have visited Victory Lane at Daytona and Talladega in the NASCAR Cup Series. This weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, 10 active drivers have won at the 2.66-mile track and 17 have either won at Daytona or Talladega. Team Penske‘s Brad Keselowski with six victories (2009, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2021) leads all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in Talladega wins.

Active Daytona & Talladega NASCAR Cup Series Winners

RankActive DriversTotal WinsDaytona Wins (Season)Talladega Wins (Season)1Brad Keselowski71 (2016)6 (2021, 2017, 2016, 2014, 2012, 2009)2Denny Hamlin53 (2020, 2019, 2016)2 (2020, 2014)3Joey Logano41 (2015)3 (2018, 2016, 2015)4Ryan Blaney31 (2021)2 (2020, 2019)5Kevin Harvick32 (2010, 2007)1 (2010)6Ricky Stenhouse Jr21 (2017)1 (2017)7Aric Almirola21 (2014)1 (2018)8Kyle Busch21 (2008)1 (2008)9Austin Cindric11 (2022)010Bubba Wallace101 (2021)11Michael McDowell11 (2021)012William Byron11 (2020)013Justin Haley11 (2019)014Chase Elliott101 (2019)15Austin Dillon11 (2018)016Erik Jones11 (2018)017Kurt Busch11 (2017)0

 First-Time Winners happen at Talladega Superspeedway

23XI Racing‘s Bubba Wallace scored his and the organization‘s first NASCAR Cup Series career win last season in the October Talladega Superspeedway race. In the process, Wallace became the 12th different driver to get his first career win at the behemoth 2.66-mile superspeedway; joining active drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2017) and Brad Keselowski (2009).

First-Time NASCAR Cup Series Winners at Talladega Superspeedway

First-Time Race Winners (12)DateBubba WallaceMonday, October 4, 2021Ricky Stenhouse JrSunday, May 7, 2017Brad KeselowskiSunday, April 26, 2009Brian VickersSunday, October 8, 2006Ken SchraderSunday, July 31, 1988Phil ParsonsSunday, May 1, 1988Davey AllisonSunday, May 3, 1987Bobby Hillin JrSunday, July 27, 1986Ron BouchardSunday, August 2, 1981Lennie PondSunday, August 6, 1978Dick BrooksSunday, August 12, 1973Richard BrickhouseSunday, September 14, 1969

Team Penske could be the organization to beat this weekend at ‘Dega

Over the last 13 NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega Superspeedway, no organization has been stronger than Team Penske, posting eight wins during that span (Brad Keselowski had three wins, Joey Logano had three wins and Ryan Blaney had two wins).

Looking to this weekend, Sunoco rookie Austin Cindric is the 2022 Daytona 500 champion and will be making his series track debut at Talladega. Joey Logano has made 26 series starts at Talladega posting three wins, nine top fives and 11 top 10s. And Ryan Blaney has made 15 series starts at Talladega posting two wins, three top fives and five top 10s.

Path to the top five in points has been quite different for some

Looking at the NASCAR Cup Series 2022 driver point standings following Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt, Hendrick Motorsport‘s driver Chase Elliott continues to hold the standings lead by three points over Team Penske‘s Ryan Blaney; followed by Joey Logano (-21), William Byron (-29) and Alex Bowman (-51).

All five drivers in the top five in points have taken quite different paths to make it to their current spot in the NASCAR Cup Series points so early in the season. Impressively, all five have earned their way into to the top five over the course of the first nine races of the season; none started the season ranked higher than sixth following Daytona.

Of the drivers currently in the NASCAR Cup Series top five of the driver standings, Hendrick Motorsport‘s driver William Byron had to climb the biggest points deficit to earn his current position. Following Daytona, Byron was mired back in the points ranked 35th. Since then, Byron has rallied off two wins (Atlanta, Martinsville; series-high in 2022) scaling the standings up to as high as third, and currently resides in fourth. Looking to this weekend, Byron is looking for his second superspeedway win (Daytona, 2020). The Charlotte, North Carolina native has made eight starts at Talladega posting two top-five finishes. His average finish at Talladega is 19.5. He finished runner-up in this event last season.

Byron‘s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Alex Bowman made the biggest jump in points following a single event this season of the drivers in the top five in points after he advanced 17 positions following his win at Las Vegas from 23rd to eighth. Since the victory, Bowman has been able to maintain his position and move up to fifth in the standings. This weekend at Talladega, Bowman will be looking to rebound from his performance at the 2.66-mile track last season, where he finished 38th in both races.

Points leader Chase Elliott is the only one of the five still looking for his first win of 2022. The Dawsonville, Georgia native has made 12 starts at Talladega posting one win (2019), four top fives and five top 10s.

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Sunoco Rookie Spotlight: Cindric continues to hold serve in the Sunoco Rookie standings — With nine races under their belts, the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year class has now competed on every track-type they will face this season and through it all, Team Penske‘s Austin Cindric still holds the rookie standings lead.

In large part due to his season-opening Daytona 500 win, Austin Cindric has earned 222 points and holds a sizeable 90-point lead in the rookie standings over Front Row Motorsport‘s Todd Gilliland in second and a 95-point edge on Wood Brother Racing‘s Harrison Burton in third.

Of the three, only Burton has made a Cup Series start at Talladega, making his series career debut at the 2.66-mile track last season. He started 39th and finished 20th. Cindric and Gilliland will be making their series track debuts this weekend.

If Austin Cindric wins this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, he will become the seventh driver in the Modern Era (1972-Present) to win the Daytona 500 and the spring race at Talladega Superspeedway in the same season; joining Jimmie Johnson (2006), Jeff Gordon (2005), Davey Allison (1992), Bill Elliott (1985), Cale Yarborough (1984), Buddy Baker (1980). No driver has won all four superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega in a single season. The closest a driver came to accomplishing the feat was NASCAR Hall of Famer won three of the four (2-4) in 1990 — Derrike Cope won the Daytona 500 in 1990.

Alexander Skarsgård, From the New Film “The Northman,” to Serve as Grand Marshal at ‘Dega – Talladega Superspeedway announced this week that actor Alexander Skarsgård from the new action film The Northman, will serve as the Grand Marshal for Talladega Superspeedway‘s GEICO 500 on Sunday, April 24. As part of his responsibilities, Skarsgård will give the command “Drivers, Start Your Engines” for the GEICO 500.

Focus Features will release The Northman two days before on Friday, April 22. From visionary director Robert Eggers, The Northman is an action-filled film that follows a young Viking prince on his quest to avenge his father‘s murder.

“Alexander continues the tradition of some of Hollywood‘s most notable names being a Grand Marshal here at Talladega Superspeedway, the most competitive and fan-friendly race track on the planet,” said Talladega Superspeedway President Brian Crichton. “Every race fan in the grandstands and infield, as well as those at home watching or listening to the broadcast, will anticipate hearing those famous four words to get the GEICO 500 underway.”

NASCAR Cup Series Featured Matchups: 2022 GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway — Below is a close look at the featured matchups fans can bet on heading into this weekend‘s event.

8 — Tyler Reddick vs. 14 — Chase BriscoeReddick and Briscoe battled wheel-to-wheel for the win last Sunday at Bristol Dirt, with Briscoe throwing a Hail Mary dive into the final corner that led to both drivers spinning — and in turn handing the win to third-place Kyle Busch. The two drivers shook hands and expressed no ill will after the race, but with how well each driver has run this season, it is likely that that will not be the last win the two battle for before season‘s end.Both drivers have had mixed results at superspeedways thus far in their short NASCAR Cup Series careers. Briscoe has a 12.5 average finish at Talladega across his Cup career, Reddick has an 18.3Briscoe was in contention to win at Daytona in February — the track that compares most closely to Talladega. Briscoe ran up front throughout the race and finished third.Reddick has a NASCAR Xfinity Series win at Talladega to his credit, which he picked up in Spring 2019 driving for Richard Childress Racing.23 — Bubba Wallace vs. 11 — Denny HamlinThe master and the student square off this week, as Denny Hamlin, historically one of NASCAR‘s best-ever at superspeedways, squares off in a matchup against Bubba Wallace — Hamlin‘s 23XI Racing protégé and the most recent Talladega winner.Wallace has been among the sport‘s best on superspeedways over the past year and a half. He collected his first NASCAR Cup win at the track last fall and finished second in this past February‘s Daytona 500.Hamlin‘s superspeedway resume requires no introduction. He is a three-time Daytona 500 winner and two-time Talladega winner and is regularly listed as the betting favorite anytime NASCAR visits a superspeedway.Both drivers will be looking for a rebound this weekend to counter their rough starts to the season. Wallace and Hamlin sit 22nd and 23rd in points heading into Talladega.6 — Brad Keselowski vs. 22 — Joey LoganoKeselowski and Logano are among the most decorated drivers in Talladega‘s long history. Keselowski has six wins at the facility, Logano has three.Keselowski picked up his lone win in 2021 at Talladega in the Spring race and led the most laps in this past February‘s Daytona 500 while appearing to have the best car in the field. Bad luck and ill-timed moves late in the race cost him an elusive Daytona 500 win.Logano has led 150 laps at Talladega since 2019 — which ranks first across the Cup Series over that span.9 — Chase Elliott vs. 12 — Ryan BlaneyElliott and Blaney have been the two most consistent drivers in NASCAR in 2022 — as they sit first and second in points respectively heading into the weekend.Both drivers are former Talladega winners — Elliott won the spring race in 2019, while Blaney has collected two wins at the track in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020.Blaney has statistically been one of the best drivers at Talladega in recent seasons. Since 2019, he has led the second-most laps at the facility with 123.

NASCAR Xfinity Series

NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to Alabama

After an off-week break, the NASCAR Xfinity Series is back in action at Talladega Superspeedway for the Ag-Pro 300 at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 23 on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio for the ninth race of the 2022 season.

Fans will be back at the 2.66-mile track after last seeing Brandon Brown seal the victory in the last eight laps after racing his way up from the 19th position.

In 32 NASCAR Xfinity Series races, Talladega Superspeedway has produced 26 different winners and 21 different pole winners with Ernie Irvan winning the inaugural race on July 25, 1992.

Martin Truex Jr. has the most Xfinity Series Talladega wins with three (2004, 2005, 2006) but it is Joe Nemechek that holds the most series records at the 2.66-mile track – most races (22), poles (five), top fives (seven), top 10s (nine), lead lap finishes (14), laps completed (2,153) and laps led (202).

Of the 26 different Xfinity Series winners at Talladega, only two are entered this weekend — Jeb Burton (April 2021) and Brandon Brown (Oct. 2021).

Competition sure to heat up at Talladega

The historic 2.66-mile track has seen 26 NASCAR Xfinity Series winners but there are a few entered this weekend that have made a name for themselves in the last few seasons in Alabama.

Brandon Brown‘s October Talladega win wasn‘t just a one-and-done. He has done progressively better over the past few years and has the stats to show for it. In 2019, he posted a 15th-place finish. In 2020, he crossed the finish line in 11th-place in the spring and ninth place in the fall and last season, he posted top-10 finishes in both Talladega races. His success at Talladega is a testament to his skill on superspeedways in general, as he has also posted top-10 finishes on the 2.5-mile Daytona superspeedway since 2019.

2021 Xfinity Series champion Daniel Hemric will be looking for his first win of the season after posting a top-five and three top-10 finishes thus far — and Talladega might just be the place to do so. Last season, he posted a 12th-place finish in April and a fourth-place finish in the October Playoff race. In the 2020 season, he posted a top-five finish in the October event.

Jeb Burton, although not having the season he hoped for (currently 16th in points), might turn things around this weekend at Talladega. The iconic superspeedway has been good to the 29-year-old Our Motorsports driver, marking his first and only Xfinity Series career win in last year‘s Ag-Pro 300. Like Brown, Burton also seems to have a knack for superspeedways, posting two top-five finishes last season at Daytona.

Dash 4 Cash continues at ‘Dega

The NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash program was designed to add elements of unpredictability and drama leading up to and during four designated races, increase on-track competition, engage fans and reward / recognize NASCAR Xfinity Series regular competitors.

In the first Dash 4 Cash race this season at Richmond Raceway, Sam Mayer beat AJ Allmendinger, Noah Gragson and Austin Hill with his third-place finish to take home the $100,000 bonus. It was the first time he had won the Dash 4 Cash in his career.

With the Dash 4 Cash win at Richmond, Mayer was once again eligible for the $100,000 at Martinsville Speedway along with Allmendinger, Riley Herbst and Richmond race winner Ty Gibbs. After a wild race that saw 16 cautions at Martinsville, AJ Allmendinger was the highest finishing eligible driver grabbing the $100,000 with his third-place finish.

Going into Talladega, Allmendinger, Landon Cassill, Brandon Jones and Austin Hill will take their shot at the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.

Allmendinger has had a few Xfinity Series stints in Talladega and while he hasn‘t always had the best of luck, he did post a third-place finish last spring and had a runner-up finish in Daytona earlier this year.

Cassill has competed at Talladega in the Xfinity Series a total of six times, posting two top-10 finishes.

Although Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Austin Hill only has one Xfinity Series Talladega race under his belt, his win in Daytona earlier this year and his numerous top-five finishes (Daytona, Atlanta, COTA and Martinsville) are a good indicator of his versatility.

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Chandler Smith to make series career debut — Sam Hunt Racing has tapped NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship contender Chandler Smith to drive for three NASCAR Xfinity Series races in 2022. Smith is set to make his debut behind the wheel of the No. 26 Charge Me Toyota this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. Smith will also race at Dover Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Though this weekend will be Smith‘s first in the Xfinity Series, he has made two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Talladega posting and average finish of 11.0.

Larry McReynolds to be crew chief for Jeffrey Earnhardt — It was announced last week that Jeffrey Earnhardt, grandson of NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, would pilot his grandfather‘s No. 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

Leading Earnhardt and the No. 3 team this weekend will be Larry McReynolds, who finds his way back on top the pit box after nearly 22 years. And this weekend will be his NASCAR Xfinity Series career debut.

Prior to this weekend, McReynolds has worked as a TV Analyst, most recently with FOX Sports, and has served as crew chief in the NASCAR Cup Series from 1982 to 2000 working with NASCAR Hall of Fame drivers like Mark Martin, Davey Allison, Dale Jarrett and Dale Earnhardt. He has earned 23 victories in the NASCAR Cup Series in his career and probably the most well-known is his win with Dale Earnhardt in the 1998 Daytona 500 ending a long-standing drought in the big event for the legendary driver.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Defending Champ Ben Rhodes gets first win, locks into Playoffs

ThorSport Racing‘s Ben Rhodes made a decisive move in the closing laps of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt race to pass Niece Motorsport‘s Carson Hocevar and slide into Victory Lane for the first time this season. Now with his ticket punched to the Playoffs, the 2021 series champion can rest easy over these next two off weeks knowing he has taken the first big step in defending his title and becoming just the second driver all-time to win back-to-back championships (Matt Crafton; 2013-‘14) while the series prepares for the LiftKits4Less.com 200 at Darlington Raceway on May 6, 2022 (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Rhodes‘ win also widened his series driver point standings lead to a stout 38 points over second place Chandler Smith. But what‘s more impressive has been his ability to run upfront, collecting five stage wins and the five Playoff points that go with it. In six starts this season, he has posted one win (Bristol Dirt),  and five top fives. His average finish this season is 7.5.

When the series returns to action at Darlington Raceway on May 6, watch out for Rhodes to keep the momentum rolling. He won at the historically famous egg-shaped track in 2020.

Youth Movement is evident in Camping World Truck Series

Hard to argue there is not a youth movement this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series when the average age of the winners is a youthful 22.3 and the eldest driver to hoist a trophy this season, was last weekend‘s Ben Rhodes at 25.

Five different drivers have visited Victory Lane this season in the Camping World Trucks, all 25-years-old or younger – Ben Rhodes (25), William Byron (24), Zane Smith (23), Corey Heim (19), Chandler Smith (20).

Corey Heim is the youngest driver to win this season at 19. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver won his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

It‘s not just the winners this season that are leaning on the younger side of the age spectrum. The top 10 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver standings have an average age of 26.5; ranging from the 45-year-old veteran Matt Crafton to 19-year-old rising star Carson Hocevar.

Camping World Truck Series serving up some great racing in 2022

Through six races of the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule, the teams and competitors have been putting on quite the show for fans with five different winners visiting Victory Lane.

Plus, the action at the end of the Truck races has been amped, with four of the six events concluding with a pass for the win with four laps or less left the race.

Three of the six Camping World Truck Series races this season have finished with a margin of victory of less than second. And the six 2022 races have produced an average margin of victory of 1.191-seconds — the closest since 2019 (0.859-second).

In addition, the competition at the front of the pack has been action-packed. Through six races this season, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has seen 22 different drivers lead laps for an average of 7.33 leaders per race — the most since 2008 (7.33).

The great racing has been throughout the field as well. The first six races have also produced 10,951 total green flag passes, the second-most since the stat was initially tabulated in 2007; behind only the 2020 season‘s 11,614 total green flag passes.

Camping World Truck Sunoco Rookie Update

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders have had six races to get a feel for what it‘s like to compete on the big stage. With superspeedways, short tracks and even a little bit of dirt action under their belts, they are going into the rest of the season having a better idea of what to expect. With a few weeks before Trucks make their way onto the track again in Darlington, let‘s take a deeper look into how the rookies are doing thus far.

Leading the 2022 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year class is driver of the No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet, Lawless Alan. The 22-year-old, Van Nuys, California native has seen first-hand how much of a rollercoaster competing in the Truck Series can be with three top-20 finishes and three finishes outside the top-25. Though, he has proven that he has the skill to be successful in the series. At COTA, he raced his way to a season-best 11th-place finish after starting in the 24th position. He will go into his next race at Darlington with 84 points — up 20 points on second place Dean Thompson.

Alan‘s Niece Motorsports teammate and fellow California native, Dean Thompson, is fighting his way for earn the rookie honors this season, currently just 20 points shy of Alan‘s 84. The 20-year-old, Anaheim, California driver has had a best finish of 11th at Las Vegas after working his way from the 29th position. He has only been able to complete three of his six races after having brake issues in Daytona, a crash in Atlanta and electrical issues in Martinsville. Most recently, he placed 16th in Bristol.

Not far behind Thompson (64 points) is another Californian, Jack Wood, with 62 points. The 21-year-old Loomis, California native has been behind the wheel of the No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet and he, too, has struggled to make it to the last lap in his races. After incidents at Daytona, Las Vegas and Martinsville, and a DVP in Austin, he‘s hoping to turn his season around. His best finish thus far was 13th place in Atlanta, and he finished in 22nd last weekend in Bristol.

Corey Heim, a 19-year-old driver from Marietta, Georgia comes in next with 52 points. The No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports driver has only raced in two of the six Truck Series races but has already made his way to Victory Lane. After a crash in Daytona, he came back to win in Atlanta.

Closing out the group of rookies is driver of the No. 9 CR7 Motorsports Chevrolet, Blaine Perkins. Like many of his fellow rookies, this 22-year-old Bakersfield, California driver has hit some speed bumps in his season, not being able to finish his races in Daytona, Las Vegas and Austin due to various issues (a crash, DVP and transmission issues). While he did not compete at Martinsville, he closed out his Atlanta race in 29th and his Bristol Dirt race in 25th.

— NASCAR Wire Service —

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