NASCAR Top-10 Power Rankings: Talladega

Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.

1. William Byron: Byron finished third in the YellaWood 500.

“Someone clarify to me exactly what ‘YellaWood’ is,” Byron said. “Because somebody told me it was what a jaundiced Jerry Falwell, Jr. gets when he watches his wife and the pool boy.”

2. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin overcame an early pit lane speeding penalty and slowly worked his way back to the lead lap, closing the day with a fourth at Talladega.

“You can’t win the Cup championship at Talladega,” Hamlin said, “but you sure can lose it. You can also lose it at Homestead and Phoenix.”

3. Ryan Blaney: Blaney won Stage 1 at Talladega and held off Kevin Harvick in a wild finish to win the YellaWood 500 and lock in his spot in the Round Of 8.

“At Talladega,” Blaney said, “it’s all about patience. And you have to have 499 miles of it, followed by one lap of pure reckless abandon.”

4. Christopher Bell: Bell suffered damage at the end of Stage 1 in an incident triggered when Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s car sputtered after a fuel issue. Bell survived and salvaged a 15th-place finish.

“Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was driving a car sponsored by Sara Lee Bread and Country Crock Butter,” Bell said. “Let that be a reminder that sponsorship money is this sport’s bread and butter.”

5. Kyle Larson: Larson finished 16th at Talladega and is now seventh in the playoff points standings, 15 points above the bubble.

“As a playoff driver,” Larson said, “there’s always talk of the bubble. And you want to be above it, not below it. Sometimes, you can be in a bubble, like that time my public relations firm put me in one.”

6. Chris Buescher: Buescher miraculously avoided a huge wreck and eventually came home 20th in the YellaWood 500 at Talladega.

“A superspeedway is daunting in its own right,” Buescher said. “But when you add the Playoffs to the mix, it becomes downright terrifying. It’s like a 500-mile game of ‘chicken.’ And everybody’s chicken.”

7. Tyler Reddick: Reddick finished 17th at Talladega.

“Leave it to the Truck series to overshadow the Cup series,” Reddick said. “Matt Crafton sucker-punched Nick Sanchez after the Truck race on Saturday. Therein lies the problem with fighting in the Cup series; we’ve got 30 plus drivers who aren’t cowardly enough to sucker-punch a rival, and the same number not man enough to punch a rival face-to-face.”

8. Martin Truex Jr.: Truex finished 19th and is sixth in the points standings, 17 above the cut line.

“I didn’t have a great result,” Truex said, “but it worked out because some other playoff drivers had troubles. Now, you never want to wish misfortune on a fellow competitor, unless it’s the Playoffs. In that case, wish away.”

9. Ross Chastain: Chastain was knocked out of the race at Talladega when he tried to squeeze through a melee at the end of Stage 1. Chastain made contact with Kyle Busch, which sent him into the outside wall and broke his suspension. Chastain finished last in 38th.

“‘That wasn’t my fault,'” Chastain said, “is something you don’t hear me say very often, if ever.”

10. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski triggered a multi-car crash on Lap 162 when he gave too much of a push to Carson Hocevar. Hocevar spun into traffic, collecting Ty Gibbs and Austin Dillon. Dillon clipped Keselowski, and Keselowski’s No. 6 Ford briefly went airborne. Keselowski finished 33rd.

“Anytime you go airborne at Talladega,” Keselowski said, “that automatically means a visit to the infield care center, followed by a visit to the ‘underwear change’ center.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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