For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down live sports globally, a NASCAR Cup Series race is being run with generally admitted fans in the stands, albeit in limited numbers. This relative return to normalcy is happening at Talladega Superspeedway, NASCAR’s biggest and arguably its most exciting track.
Sunday’s race at Talladega also marks the first Cup Series event at a 2.5-mile superspeedway since the Daytona 500, which ended with Ryan Newman’s terrifying crash on the last lap. That accident led to some superspeedway-specific rule changes that are being implemented for the first time Sunday at Talladega.
Because Ford and specifically Team Penske have been so dominant at Talladega of late, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano are among the favorites to win Sunday’s Geico 500. Also a popular pick to win is Chase Elliott, who took the victory in the spring race at Talladega last season.
Of course, picking the winner of a NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega is the motorsports equivalent of throwing pegs at a dart board. The great equalizer that is pack racing should make for an exciting race that, with some speed and a little more luck, can be won by just about anybody.
Sporting News is tracking live lap-by-lap updates and highlights from Sunday’s NASCAR race at Talladega. Follow below for complete results from the Geico 500.
NASCAR at Talladega live updates, highlights from Geico 500
(The race at Talladega is scheduled to take the green flag at 3:24 p.m. ET.)
2:35 p.m. ET: Due to a lightning strike near the track, NASCAR puts a 30-minute hold on activity at Talladega. Here are some strong storms to the west of the track.
1:08 p.m. ET: NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell tweets a message in response to a massive Confederate flag banner with the words “Defund NASCAR” being flown by a plane over the track.
You won’t see a photo of a jackass flying a flag over the track here…but you will see this…Hope EVERYONE enjoys the race today. pic.twitter.com/ppwP1ggNjt
— Steve O’Donnell (@odsteve) June 21, 2020
10:37 a.m. ET: Joe Gibbs Racing showcases a special paint scheme for Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota Camry. Courtesy of the team’s primary sponsor FedEx, the all-black look features the logo of the National Civil Rights Museum on the hood of the car.
For today’s race, @FedEx has chosen to remove all of their branding and traditional colors, with this week’s theme being to listen and learn as they spotlight the @NCRMuseum, which they are featuring on the hood. pic.twitter.com/hfd5aGq2e9
— Joe Gibbs Racing (@JoeGibbsRacing) June 21, 2020
8:44 a.m. ET: Brian Neudorff, a meteorologist who provides weather forecasts for NASCAR races, warns that there are expected to be scattered thunderstorms in the Talladega, Ala., area on Sunday that could impact the race.
We will see isolated to scattered showers/storms this afternoon. I’d say odds of RACING today are 65-75 percent – will have to monitor radar through the afternoon with @RaceWeather for @TalladegaSuperS #NASCAR
— Brian Neudorff (@NASCAR_WXMAN) June 21, 2020
What time does the NASCAR race start today?
The green flag for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega will wave shortly after 3 p.m. ET, but Fox’s TV coverage will begin at 2 p.m. ET.
Talladega, Ala., is located in the Central Time Zone, so the race’s start time locally will be 2 p.m. ET. That’s notable considering Talladega Superspeedway does not have lights in the event the race is delayed.
NASCAR starting lineup at Talladega
Here are the results from the draw for NASCAR’s starting lineup at Talladega:
|1||Martin Truex Jr.||19||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|2||Denny Hamlin||11||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|3||Kyle Busch||18||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|4||Jimmie Johnson||48||Hendrick Motorsports|
|5||Kevin Harvick||4||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|6||Brad Keselowski||2||Team Penske|
|7||Kurt Busch||1||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|8||Alex Bowman||88||Hendrick Motorsports|
|9||Joey Logano||22||Team Penske|
|10||Clint Bowyer||14||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|11||Chase Elliott||9||Hendrick Motorsports|
|12||Ryan Blaney||12||Team Penske|
|13||Matt Kenseth||42||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|14||Ryan Newman||6||Roush Fenway Racing|
|15||Aric Almirola||10||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|16||Tyler Reddick||8||Richard Childress Racing|
|17||Austin Dillon||3||Richard Childress Racing|
|18||Erik Jones||20||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|19||William Byron||24||Hendrick Motorsports|
|20||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||47||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|21||Chris Buescher||17||Roush Fenway Racing|
|22||John Hunter Nemechek||38||Front Row Motorsports|
|23||Matt DiBenedetto||21||Wood Brothers Racing|
|24||Bubba Wallace||43||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|25||Corey LaJoie||32||Go Fas Racing|
|26||Michael McDowell||34||Front Row Motorsports|
|27||Brennan Poole||15||Premium Motorsports|
|28||Cole Custer||41||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|29||Gray Gaulding||27||Rick Ware Racing|
|30||BJ McLeod||77||Spire Motorsports|
|31||Ryan Preece||37||JTG Daugherty Racing|
|32||Quin Houff||00||StarCom Racing|
|33||Ty Dillon||13||Germain Racing|
|34||JJ Yeley||53||Rick Ware Racing|
|35||Christopher Bell||95||Leavine Family Racing|
|36||Joey Gase||51||Petty Ware Racing|
|37||Daniel Suarez||96||Gaunt Brothers Racing|
|38||Timmy Hill||66||Motorsports Business Management|
|39||Brendan Gaughan||62||Beard Motorsports|
|40||Garrett Smithley||78||B.J. McLeod Motorsports|