Hemric on what makes Talladega the 'craziest' race in NASCAR


Get set for chaos – reigning NASCAR Xfinity champion Daniel Hemric explains what makes Talladega the pure adrenaline shot it is

Image of 2021 Talladega NASCAR race

Talladega is one of the most dramatic NASCAR races on the schdule


Talladega: it’s a track which can strike fear into the heart of even the most hardened, grizzled racer.

The longest and widest oval in NASCAR facilities the championship’s highest speeds and allows for five-wide racing – it’s a superspeedway which smiles on the brave, and those blessed with good fortune too.

Current Xfinity champion Daniel Hemric, who is making his last Cup cameo appearance this year for Kaulig Racing courtesy of sponsorship from the Celsius energy drink brand, explained to Motor Sport just why the track is perhaps the most dramatic on the calendar, saying “everything involved just makes for a crazy race.”

Huge crashes are common at Talladega – last year’s GEICO 500 saw Joey Logano flipping over Bubba Wallace, the view from the latter’s cockpit looking like something out of Tom Cruise early ’90s stock car flick Days of Thunder.

However, Hemric says that despite the increased hazard in an already dangerous series, one in which safety issues now hang over it in the form of issues with its new Next Gen car – “we just drive the equipment we’re given” – the allure of Talladega isn’t diminished. He explains what it takes to win there.

“Because it’s bigger, it’s wider, the speeds are higher, it’s just about making your car as fast as it can be, and kind of just kind of hanging on to it!” he says.

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“It makes for closer packs and closer racing, as well as more energy and excitement for the fans to see from the beginning.

“I think all those things in general just make for a crazier race. Then on top of all that you throw in the playoff scenario, which adds to it – the drama at this track is very, very high.”

Built in 1959 by NASCAR founder Bill France, the circuit holds the record for the fastest ever qualifying time in NASCAR, set by Bill Elliott in 1987 at a staggering average speed of 212.809mph.

Restrictor plates, which reduce engine power and therefore lower speeds, were introduced after the ’87 Talladega race saw Bobby Allison’s car go airborne and rip through the safety railing, somehow staying out of the crowd.

Though the top speeds are now lower, they are still amongst the fastest seen in stock car racing’s top tier. Despite the extreme velocity experienced, or in fact perhaps because of it, it’s a track Hemric savours.

“For a while I felt I actually preferred Talladega over Daytona, just because you have more grip, the speeds are a little higher and the balance of your car isn’t necessarily as crucial,” he says.

“As the years went on, I have really just grown to love the superspeedway-style racing no matter where it’s at.

2022 Kaulig Racing ASCAR driver Daniel Hemric

Hemric has his sights sets on a strong result this weekend

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“As much as many people say you don’t have a lot in your control, there’s actually a lot that you have in your control. There’s a craft here, and a reason the same guys keep coming and winning over and over again.”

In a championship which features a variety of different ovals, dirt racing and road courses, Xfinity champion Hemric is confident his Kaulig team has the right approach for superspeedway success.

“Every time we go to a racetrack it’s always fun, but Kaulig is exceptional when it comes to speedway racing,” he says. “We finished 12th at Daytona this year, we were running third at Talladega in the spring before we lost the engine.

“We feel like we can legitimately go and have a shot to run inside the top 10 and ultimately have a look at being the first one to the chequered flag, if all the scenarios play into our hands. But is it a long race and there’s a lot of attrition.”

Hemric, who is again fighting for the Xfinity title this year, has his final Cup appearance of the season made possible in part by sponsor Celsius. The NASCAR racer appreciates having a brand on board which suits his and his team’s racing ethos.

“I can speak for me specifically, I’ve been on my own fitness journey for the last three years now,” he says.

“I think all NASCAR drivers are paying more and more attention to our fitness. As human beings I think we’re all looking at our health more and we’re all more observant of what we’re putting into our bodies. Celsius certainly fits with that.

“This is the first appearance for them with myself in the No16 team, but Celsius has been a partner of Kaulig for many years now. The partnership is moving the needle in the right direction from both sides.”

With ambient temperatures hitting 30C on what’s set to be a dramatic weekend of racing, Hemric will need everything he can get to keep his cool.