Four and Fuel: Takeaways From the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

Four and Fuel: Takeaways From the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

Each week, Greg Atkins and I examine our hot takes from the previous weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race and any burning topics leading up to the next week’s event.

Biggest takeaway from the GEICO 500:

Atkins – Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. was a man on a mission in the last few laps and put on a restrictor-plate clinic. It’s obvious that the Ford’s are bringing serious power to the superspeedways and performances like this probably should be expected in the two plate races remaining this season.

Painter – The combination of the 2017 aero-package, rules changes, and stage racing, this might have been the most entertaining race we have seen in a long time at a restrictor-plate track. Cars were racing 2, 3, and even 4-wide on a regular occasion and the lead pack of cars consumed most of the field for the entire race.

Biggest surprise from Talladega?

Atkins – Talladega has been great for producing underdog winners, but honestly, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Roush Fenway Racing were making solid progress before finally reaching victory lane this weekend.

Painter –It took over 100 career starts for Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. to finally find his way to victory lane, but he did it. I thought Stenhouse performed well all weekend and made several veteran moves at the end of the race to fend of Kyle Busch.

Does the 5-minute repair clock new to 2017 make for better racing at tracks such as Daytona and Talladega?

Atkins – Although it’s controversial, I believe it’s a positive change. Once cars become too damaged they lose their edge and become obstacles for competitive cars.

Painter – I think it makes for better racing because you don’t have as many critically wounded race cars driving around unnecessarily. It also reduces a number of debris cautions that we see due to heavily damaged cars.

In years past, races at Talladega often result in long green-flag runs with cars running single-file, this year wasn’t the case. What do you attribute most to this change?

Atkins – Stage racing has created a renewed sense of urgency from the teams. Personally, I believe that has made the difference.

Painter – A lot of it can be attributed to the Stage racing in my opinion. Drivers have an increased sense of urgency with this new format and therefore it is hard to sit back and ride around like they used to.

Fuel (bold prediction or statement) – Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. won his first career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race at Talladega, now that he has that behind him, will he win additional races this season?

Atkins – It’s not out of the realm of possibility. They’ve been trending upward lately and Stenhouse performed admirably on Sunday. It’s too soon to determine if more victories are in store for him this year, but they’re heading in the right direction.

Painter – I’m not completely sold on that idea just yet. I would like to say yes, but winning at a restrictor-plate track and winning on the mile-and-a-half tracks or short tracks are completely different animals. Plate tracks require a lot of luck and being in the right place at the right time, whereas the intermediate and smaller tracks are more aero and handling dependent. We will see, but the No. 17 team has revitalized the Roush-Fenway organization and that could certainly lead to future successes.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff (

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