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USA Insider Race for the Championship

Why Talladega Superspeedway Is Such An Iconic NASCAR Track

"Race For The Championship" gives an inside look as drivers competed in a high-stakes Cup Series race at Talladega.

By Tyler McCarthy

As the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series reaches its final stages, “Race For The Championship” is following the drivers behind-the-scenes at one of the sport's most beloved and interesting tracks — Talladega Superspeedway. 

How to Watch

Catch up on past episodes of Race For The Championship on Peacock

It’s without a doubt one of the most notorious and recognizable track names in all of motorsports. However, despite its name recognition, many may not know exactly what draws everyone’s eyes to Talladega every time there’s a race. Obviously, the fact that the second Cup Series race held there every season comes so deep into the playoffs means every decision and move made among the remaining contenders is make or break. 

However, what really makes Talladega Superspeedway such a spectacle is the technicalities of how stock car drivers have to perform. Because of its construction, it’s very easy for drivers to exceed speeds of 200 mph. While that makes for a great show, it also mean drivers can get airborne pretty easily. As a result, USA Today reports it’s one of the few tracks in the NASCAR Cup Series that require cars to have restrictor plates, which limit the speeds they’re able to hit.

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This makes it much more difficult for drivers to break away from each other and forces them to use techniques like drafting to gain placement. Even then, it’s difficult. Cars move inches away from each other often remaining three wide at all times. So, if you’re this late in the Cup Series, your car can only go so fast and you need to make up some ground … something dramatic is likely to happen. 

The NASCAR Hall of Fame notes the track is just as likely to see a rookie driver take home their first Cup Series win as it is to see them involved in a 20-car pileup. There’s simply no way to predict what will happen when everything is happening so fast. However, that means Talladega is home to many history-making moments.

Speaking of the construction of Talladega, it also stands out as being NASCAR’s biggest and fastest track, according to NBC Sports. Before it opened in 1969, its founders were hoping to attract audiences with speed, speed and more speed. So, the oval track was built at 2.66 miles, which allows cars to get up to speed on three large straightaways. When it comes to the banks of the 48-foot wide racing surface, they sit at 33 degrees in elevation. That’s roughly a two-story house between the height of a car on the inside of the track and the car on the outside. 

So, when it comes to sheer racing, it’s no surprise why Talladega Superspeedway is such a notorious course. It’s built to let cars go at their maximum capacity while simultaneously leveling the playing field between all the drivers. It all comes down to the racer’s talent, vehicle and a touch of luck to take home the checkered flag. 

You can see all the drama unfold on “Race For The Championship” every Thursday at 10/9c on USA Network. You can catch up on past episodes on Peacock right now.