TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) — The start of Sunday's playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway has been delayed by rain and NBC has a tight television window for the important NASCAR race because of the evening airing of Tom Brady's return to New England.
Talladega marks the middle race of the second round of NASCAR's playoffs with the hybrid road course/oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway scheduled as next week's elimination race. The field of 12 playoff drivers will be whittled to eight at The Roval, and only Talladega pole-sitter Denny Hamlin has already earned a berth into the third round.
Drivers have been on edge headed into Sunday's race because of the unpredictability of the 2.66-mile superspeedway and the risks of pack racing. Both the Truck Series race and Xfinity Series race doubleheader on Saturday were crash-marred and won by non-playoff drivers.
The Cup drivers don't want the same aggressive racing because one wrong move can trigger a championship-ruining wreck.
“I'm going into a superspeedway race below the cutoff line, so it's definitely a stressful weekend,” Alex Bowman, ranked 11th out of 12 drivers, said before Sunday's race. “We're going to race to win, right? That's our game plan.”
NASCAR and NBC were in early discussions Sunday on how to mitigate crowd ambiance after spectators at Talladega on Saturday chanted a slur directed at President Joe Biden that was picked up on air during winner Brandon Brown's interview.
The race winner typically stops on the frontstretch to collect the checkered flag and then do a live interview. The chants Saturday at Talladega, where a convoy of trucks and motorcycles waved Confederate flags as they paraded past the main entrance on Speedway Blvd., could be heard over Brown's interview.
Ideas being discussed were to move the interview away from the grandstand fence in an effort to diminish the ambient noise.
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