The 2022 Spring Talladega race report brings you our second second-time winner, crashes and confusion. The latter is due to drivers with some of the worst average finishing positions at Talladega in the last few years finished up front.
We did not have single caution during Stage 3 of the race, which is highly unusual for Talladega. All told, there were 6 cautions for 28 laps. That’s right about average for a spring Talladega race.
- 1 Stage End
- 2 Accidents
- 2 Spins
- 1 Stalled Car
There were 41 lead changes, which is again about average. The highest number of lead changes in a spring Talladega race since 2000 was 88 in 2011. The lowest number was 25 in 2018.
Sixteen different drivers led, with 10 of those being what I call ‘quality drivers’. That’s to distinguish drivers who earned the lead by passing (under a green flag or on pit road under green or yellow) from those who inherited the lead during green-flag pit stops.
We’ve got a couple areas of narrow stripes, which was when two drivers were swapping the lead back and forth. Ultimately, our winner, Ross Chastain, led only the last lap of the race.
Thirteen cars DNF-ed for a 33% attrition rate. That’s not so unusual for Talladega, but it is significantly different than the last two spring Talladega races, where only five cars failed to finish the race.
Two of those DNFs were due to engine failures. I wondered if we’ve seen more engine failures this year than last year. The answer is yes, but not many.
- We’ve had 69 DNFs in 10 races in 2022 — an average of about 7 DNFs per race.
- Last year, we had 181 DNFs in 36 races — an average of about 5 DNFs per race.
- This year, we’ve had 8 engine failures in 10 races (0.8 engines per race)
- Last year, we had 21 engine failures in 36 races. (0.6 engines per race)
That’s something to keep your eye on as we proceed through the season.
Unexpected Top Ten
I consider the winner unexpected, even though this was Chastain’s second win this year. In my piece for NBC Sports this week, I looked at average finishing positions for all the drivers contesting Sunday’s race. The last six drivers — those with the worst finishing positions at Talladega from 2020-2022 were:
- Martin Truex, Jr. (22.2)
- Christopher Bell (22.5)
- Alex Bowman (24.2)
- Ross Chastain (24.5)
- Kyle Busch (26.0)
- Kyle Larson (38.5)
Chastain’s average finish at Talladega from 2020-2022 (prior to this race) was 24.5. He had only one top-15 finish in 6 prior starts. But TrackHouse Racing is clearly doing something right. The new, two-car team is right up there vying for the lead with the major owners.
Busch, Larson, and Truex finished 3-4-5. Bell won the pole (which doesn’t always mean much vis-a-vis finishing), but he also led laps. Bowman finished 9th.
Ryan Blaney, whom many touted as a contender, finished 11th and complained that it was hard to pass. And, of course, a number of drivers who might have contended were taken out in crashes.
William Byron led the most laps of the race, but finished 15th.
The graph of fastest laps for the 2022 Spring Talladega race report shows that Kyle Busch, Bubba Wallace and Corey LaJoie each had 10 of the fastest laps of the race. The graph of fastest laps shows that being fast isn’t the most important thing at Talladega.
And there we have the 2022 Spring Talladega race report!