12 drivers had one main goal in their minds heading into last Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at the Dover International Speedway – finish in the top five. See, you don’t want to go to this weeks race at the Talladega Superspeedway needing to make up points.
Talladega is a place where it can bite you up and spit you out as quickly as anywhere else on the schedule. Everybody is on a level playing field which means anyone can get caught up in someone else’s mess just as easy.
It’s the ultimate wildcard race.
That’s why everyone is enviable of Kyle Larson’s position heading into Sunday’s 1000Bulbs.com 500 (2 p.m. ET/NBC/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Larson’s win at Dover means he knows he’s already into the Round of 8. It doesn’t matter what he does this week at Dover or next week at Kansas, he’s going to still be competing for this year’s championship in three weeks at Martinsville.
“It’s really critical,” Larson said of his win at Dover. “Everybody in this playoff field is going to be stressing next week at Talladega except for me, so that’s good.”
Larson, notes that the last time he raced at Talladega in April, he ended up flipping on the last lap. In 11 starts, his average finish on the 2.66-mile superspeedway is 20.6. He’s crashed in two of his last three starts.
“You know, last time I was at Talladega I was on my lid, and I mean, I could still end up on my lid next week, but it’s not going to matter after this win,” Larson continued.
The main thing for him now is to just keep the momentum going. He’s earned a top eight finish in eight of his last 10 tries. With the deficit he’s sure to be in at the start of the third round, he also needs to make up as much ground as he can and the only way to do that is to earn more playoff points.
There’s 14 more on the line over the next two weeks, five for each race win (10 total) and one for each stage victory (4 total). If Larson can tap into that allotment, his championship chances only go up.