Rain forced NASCAR to postpone Sunday’s YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway until today at 1 p.m. The race will set the showdown for the next round of the playoffs, which is wide open. So far, only Denny Hamlin, who is on the pole at the 2.66-mile track, is guaranteed a spot in the field of 8.
You can watch the green flag drop at the always unpredictable Talladega Superspeedway on NBCSN. You can stream it live here.
Rain washed out Sunday’s race, and it’s threatening that area again on Monday, though the worst of it isn’t expected until 4 p.m. Weather forecasts predict precipitation in Talladega through Wednesday.
NASCAR rules say that the race won’t start unless officials believe drivers have enough time to finish it. Since there are no lights at Talladega, that means the race must start by 2:45 p.m. EDT, Fox News reported. It’s unclear what NASCAR will do if the race is rained out again on Monday.
Drivers were ready to get going on Sunday. The delay raised the stakes on an already tight contest.
“I always hate these days. I just want to get in and go,” said Martin Truex Jr., who starts sixth on Monday. “Still thinking about the same things as we were this morning and last night. … Hopefully, stay at the front and get some stage points and hopefully be running at the end. That’s always the first goal.”
Truex is a NASCAR playoff contender as he sits in fourth place heading into Monday’s race. Kyle Larson leads the pack, followed by Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Truex, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, and Brad Keselowski.
William Byron, Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, and Christopher Bell are below the cutline but are within striking distance of the top 8. The elimination race is Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
NASCAR Playoffs Very Tight Heading into Talladega
Only Denny Hamlin is safe heading into Charlotte. He secured his spot in the next round of the playoffs with a win at Las Vegas last week. Only a few points separate the rest of the field. And drivers on the bubble are feeling the pressure.
“I’m going into a superspeedway race below the cutoff line, so it’s definitely a stressful weekend,” said Bowman, who is 13 points behind Keselowski. “We’re going to race to win, right? That’s our game plan.”
Six drivers can advance just on points. Larson, Busch, Truex Jr., Blaney, Elliott, and Logano need to score 56 points ahead of the seventh-place finisher to move on, according to NASCAR. While that’s still no easy feat, it’s much safer than Brad Keselowski, who is in a precarious position. He’ll need to fend off the drivers outside of the top 8 or face elimination.
Luckily for him, he’s one of the best superspeedway drivers in the field. He has won at Talladega six times during his career, USA Today said.