Built Ford Tough: Analysis of the success of automaker Talladega
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If Talladega Superspeedway is considered a generic track, Ford has figured out how to tame the 2.66-mile beast in recent years.
The maker of the blue oval has won 10 of the last 12 and 12 of the last 17 NASCAR Cup Series races in Alabama. This includes a seven-game winning streak from 2015 to 2018 – remember, there are two saves per season.
Chevrolet, meanwhile, has won the last five races once and the last 16 three times. Toyota won the fall race last year, but not since spring 2014.
A little reading between the lines will deduce that Ford is the reigning winner of Talladega, having won there earlier this year. The second visit to the Cup Series takes place on Sunday with the second race of the NASCAR Playoffs in Round of 12 (2 p.m. ET on NBC / NBC Sports App, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
TALLADEGA: Weekend program | Betting odds | Paint schemes
Here’s a look at Talladega’s results since fall 2012 – then stopped since Dodge was the previous winner and no longer active in NASCAR.
Nine current drivers have already won victories at Talladega. Among them, seven are still in search of the 2021 title. Brad Keselowski (Ford) leads the way with six wins, including the 2021 spring event. Joey Logano (Ford) has claimed three. Denny Hamlin (Toyota; reigning playoff winner) and Ryan Blaney (Ford) both own them. Kyle Busch (Toyota), Chase Elliott (Chevrolet) and Kevin Harvick (Ford) each have one.
The four Ford drivers who are also the former Talladega winners drive the only Fords in the round of 12.
All of the playoff Fords are expected to be in the top 10 on Sunday – Blaney fourth, Keselowski seventh, Logano eighth and Harvick ninth – and 11 of Talladega’s last 14 races have been won from a top 10 starting position.
And yet, despite all these Ford-focused facts, BetMGM favored Denny Hamlin’s Toyota to win the YellaWood 500, rated at 8-1. In BetMGM’s defense, Hamlin won Talladega’s playoff race last year and won last weekend’s playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway – his second of four playoff races. He seems to have hit his stride after not a single victory in the regular season.
Logano received the second highest rating, 9-1, as Ford’s Most Appreciated Driver. Elliott and Blaney are then tied for third at 10-1. That leaves two Fords, two non-Fords with the best three ratings.
Keselowski is 12-1 and Harvick (who still hasn’t won this season) is 14-1 – just to check all of Ford’s playoff entries. They are in the top five odds, among others.
Other facts to note:
– Ford has also won all the superspeedway races this year. Can’t forget Talladega’s sister superspeedway track, Daytona International Speedway, which ends the regular season. Michael McDowell won the first game and Ryan Blaney won the final.
– Overall, Ford does not have the most Talladega wins over the three active manufacturers. It has 31 with the first via Buddy Baker on May 4, 1975. Chevrolet claims 41 victories; its breakthrough coming from Darrell Waltrip on May 1, 1977. Toyota has four since Kyle Busch on April 27, 2008.
– Of the 30 races so far this 2021 season, Ford has won seven. Ryan Blaney (playoff) has three wins. Joey Logano (playoffs), Brad Keselowski (playoffs), Aric Almirola and Michael McDowell each have one. Chevrolet leads with 14 wins. Toyota has nine.