Hot Streak: Ford drivers on a roll at Talladega
Talladega Superspeedway’s high banks produce some of the most spine-tingling, unpredictable, high-speed action in all of NASCAR, but for all the genuine suspense generated, Ford drivers seem to have cornered the market on victory recently.
The make has won the last seven consecutive Talladega races and eight of the last nine. Reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion Joey Logano is the defending winner of Sunday’s GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and has three victories in a Team Penske Ford Mustang on the 2.66-mile speedway – all within the last seven races there. His teammate Brad Keselowski has three wins in the last nine races and five career victories overall at Talladega – best among active drivers.
So not too surprisingly, oddsmakers have picked Keselowski and Logano as the favorites this weekend followed by fellow Ford drivers Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick. Six of the eight “favorites” drive Ford Mustangs.
While Chevrolet holds a 41-26 victory advantage over Ford all-time at Talladega, certainly Ford drivers have found the winning formula as of late, and it’s not typically been a case of final lap drama. In all but one of the last seven races, Fords have combined to lead at least 40 percent of the race laps. In Logano’s win last April, seven Ford drivers combined to lead 126 of the 188 laps (67 percent). Last October, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola won the Playoff race leading only the checkered flag lap, but six Fords combined on the day to lead 184 of the 193 total laps or a stunning 95.3 percent of the race.
Team Penske, in particular, has discovered the magic to the superspeedway style of competition, winning five of the last seven Talladega races. Roush Fenway Racing Ford driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earned his first career win (from the Busch Pole position, no less) in the 2017 spring race and Almirola claimed his second career win with his work last fall.
In all, Fords have led 785 of 1,336 laps of competition (58.7 percent) during their seven-race string of superiority.
The hot streak is not completely unfamiliar to the Talladega high banks, where certain drivers have historically proven themselves masters of the superspeedway. Chevrolet, for instance, won 13 consecutive races from 1999 (the late Dale Earnhardt) to the 2005 season (Jeff Gordon) and 17 of 18 through 2007. Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett was the lone interruption in that streak, claiming the 2005 fall race win in a Ford.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!