2023 Talladega GEICO 500 Driver Ratings

Crash NASCAR journalist Chad Smith goes through the field to hand out driver ratings for the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing at Talladega
Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing at Talladega

Kyle Busch: 9

Good luck may have been shining down on him, but credit Busch for being in the right place at the right time to score the victory.

Ryan Blaney: 9

He was in position to win his third Talladega race, and snap his long winless streak, but he came up just short after the contact with his friend Bubba Wallace on the final lap. He did lead a race-high 47 laps on Sunday.

Chris Buescher: 8

A great result for Buescher, who got sent to the back of the field after being penalized.

Chase Briscoe: 8

Quite the rebound for Briscoe, who spun and brought out the second caution of the race after spinning on pit road by himself.

Brad Keselowski: 8

After hanging near the back for much of the race, Brad picked up his teammate after he was penalized, and the two of them moved to the front in impressive fashion.

Erik Jones: 7

His name was never mentioned on the broadcast, but a much-needed result for the Legacy Motor Club driver, in what has been a frustrating season.

William Byron: 7

A quiet day at Talladega is often a good thing, as Byron proved today.

Christopher Bell: 7

Bell was strong in this race, but was never able to stay up front.

Daniel Suarez: 7

He wasn’t the best Trackhouse Racing driver in this race, but he was the one that came away with a top-ten result.

Todd Gilliland: 8

It doesn’t matter which car he is in, Gilliland continues to prove that he belongs in the series as a full-time Cup driver with another top-ten finish.

Chase Elliott: 7

He won the first stage and nearly the second, but Chase simply didn’t have the track position in the final stage to pull off back-to-back Talladega wins.

Chase Elliott
Chase Elliott

Tyler Reddick: 5

It was a rough afternoon for Reddick, who spun and hit the wall coming to pit road during his first stop. He was able to hang around and earn a top-15 result but it could have been much better.

Alex Bowman: 6

Another average finish for the most average driver in the series.

Denny Hamlin: 8

The pole sitter was strong for most of the race, but his chance to win again went out the window when he was forced to pit for fuel before the final restart.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr: 6

The Daytona 500 winner is normally one of the best on superspeedways, but he just wasn’t a major factor in this race today.

Aric Almirola: 7

He started the race on the front row and ran up front for most of the day before being taken out at the end.

Kevin Harvick: 7

Like Hamlin and a few others, he was too close to running out of fuel at the end to warrant taking the gamble.

Ross Chastain: 6

He was involved in another incident while batting for the lead late in the race, but he too was about to run out of gas and had to hit pit road.

Austin Cindric: 5

Cindric was surprisingly a non-factor in today’s race.

Martin Truex Jr: 8

This was going to be Martin’s best day at Talladega, leading 19 laps before he was taken out in the last-lap crash while running inside the top-five.

Bubba Wallace: 8

With team co-owner Michael Jordan in the house, Wallace led 35 laps and was in play to win his second Talladega race, but the contact with Blaney on the final lap did him in.

Bubba Wallace
Bubba Wallace

AJ Allmendinger: 5

Superspeedway races aren’t typically his thing, so his poor result today was not much of a surprise.

Joey Logano: 5

A speeding penalty on pit road sent him to the back of the pack, then a bump from behind later in the race sent him spinning, as he had to settle for a 30th place finish.

Ty Gibbs: 8

The rookie was up front for much of the race, but his gamble on fuel did not pay off as he ran out of gas on the final restart of the race.

Noah Gragson: 6

The contact with Chastain is what put him out of the race, but perhaps it was a bit of karma.

Kyle Larson: 6

The good news is that Larson is okay after that scary impact when he was t-boned at full speed.

Ryan Preece: 6

See above. The hit that Preece took could have been so much worse.

Michael McDowell: 3

It was a bizarre start from the beginning for McDowell, who crashed by himself, just two laps into the race.

Harrison Burton: 8

It was shaping up to be a banner weekend for the Burtons. Jeb Burton won the Xfinity race yesterday and Jeff Burton was just named to NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers List. Harrison led 11 laps and was in the lead when contact from Gragson behind ended his day.

Austin Dillon: 1

It doesn’t get much worse for Dillon, who failed inspection and had to start at the rear of the field. He crashed all by himself early in the race, and his teammate went on to win the race.

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