Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images


Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama (Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

Despite a grill full of debris and pegged out engine temperatures, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, was determined to end his drought.

NASCAR's most popular driver won for the sixth time at Talladega Superspeedway when he took the checkered flag in Sunday's Geico 500. The victory comes over a decade since he last won at the 2.66 mile Alabama race track.

The win Sunday afternoon ended a winless streak which spanned 20 races and saw Earnhardt, Jr, finish in the top ten six times. In those 20 races, Earnhardt, Jr, led laps in all but two of them.

The 40-year-old Sprint Cup veteran admitted winning at Talladega may have been an easier task when he was younger.

"I love racing here and winning here; it's some of the hardest racing we do on a mental scale," Earnhardt, Jr, said. "It's difficult. You run about 80 to 94 laps in and you're just getting to halfway. You feel like you've been racing for ten hours, and you're only halfway. You think to yourself, 'How much is left in the tank, mentally?'. You've got to get through the rest of the race, and the hard stuff hasn't even started yet.

"It just seemed like when I was a lot younger it was easier to win these races."

Earnhardt, Jr, led six times for a race-high 67 laps. In typical Talladega fashion, there were 27 lead changes among 15 drivers and six caution flags, including a red flag period which lasted over 11 minutes.

The grandstands at Talladega erupted into a full-blown roar as Earnhardt, Jr, drove his #88 Nationwide Chevrolet across the finish line. The fan favorite admitted his Father's tremendous amount of success at Talladega makes the win more significant.

"I felt like we had a lot of supporters here because of Dad's success; he won so many races here," Earnhardt, Jr, said. "I love to be able to think of all the races that he won here and at Daytona. I love to be able to go to Victory Lane there because I feel like I add to his legacy there.

“All I ever wanted to do was make him proud and when we win at those tracks where he was successful I feel like that's exactly what we're doing.”

A large incident occurs on the backstretch during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.
(Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Earnhardt, Jr, also gave rookie crew chief Greg Ives the first Sprint Cup victory of his career. Ives, who won the 2014 Xfinity championship with JR Motorsports driver Chase Elliott, admits he wasn't concerned one bit about the rising temperature levels the team was experiencing.

"I think Dale had more heightened concern than I did," Ives said. "I wasn't doing anything about it. We saw races where people tried to get the debris off, and it hurt their chances of getting the win and I was not going to have that happen. I'd rather leave here 35th than give up the opportunity to win."

Earnhardt, Jr, led a single file charge to the finish line with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson finishing in second place. The six-time Sprint Cup champion, Johnson, was impressed with his teammate’s ability to maneuver his fast race car.

"Where I saw him most aggressive was in traffic," Johnson said. "He was relentless with a run; he didn’t ever choose to push the car in front of him and help him. Every time he had an opportunity to advance he took it, even creating lanes up through the middle. Swapping back and forth trying to find a way around the leader, I just remember seeing his rooftop down, up, down, up like two or three times just in three and four just as he had a run on someone.

“I’m like ‘Wow, go get it.' I just thought he was more aggressive coming through the field than defending.”

Paul Menard, who attempted to create a second line on the race's final lap, managed to cross the finish line in third place.

Part time Sprint Cup competitor Ryan Blaney remained in Earnhardt, Jr's, single line and salvaged a career-best fourth place finish. Blaney, running a partial schedule in the Wood Brothers #21 Ford, admitted he was more concerned with the cars behind than the cars which were running in front of him late in the race.

"I was really more focused on Denny (Hamlin)," Blaney admitted. "I knew he was going to make a move eventually, I was just trying to see if he was laying back to try to get a run. I just didn’t know when that was going to happen; I figured it was going to be with one or two to go.

“That was really all I was concerned about is trying to look in the mirror and make sure I didn’t get left out."

Martin Truex, Jr, finished right behind Blaney in fifth place. Truex, Jr, broke into NASCAR as a member of Dale Earnhardt, Inc., and a teammate of Earnhardt, Jr, felt the race's outcome was fitting.

"Everyone in Talladega is happy, so it's all good," Truex, Jr, told TV reporters following the race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, and his crew chief, Greg Ives, celebrate in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 3, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama.
(Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)

The race also included Talladega's famed "Big One," a wreck which collects multiple cars from a single incident. The "Big One" came 46 laps into the race and forced 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne and Kyle Larson to retire from the race.

Despite experiencing a fire on pit road, Ryan Newman was able to salvage a sixth place finish. Defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick was also involved in the "Big One" but rebounded to finish in seventh place.

Last season's Talladega winner Denny Hamlin finished ninth, and Josh Wise recorded his career best finish to round out the top ten.

Pole sitter Jeff Gordon dominated early by leading 47 laps managed to finish in 31st place following a pit road speeding penalty and a last lap caution.

Kevin Harvick continues to lead the Chase for the Championship point standings by 40 points over Martin Truex, Jr, as the Sprint Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway on Saturday, May 9th.


NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Number 10
Unofficial Race Results for the 46Th Annual Geico 500 - Sunday, May 3, 2015
Talladega Superspeedway - Talladega, AL - 2.66 Mile Paved
Total Race Length - 188 Laps - 500.08 Miles - Purse: $6,183,287

Fin    Str    Car    Driver    Team    Laps    Pts    Bns    Driver Rating    Winnings    Status    Tms    Laps

1    4    88    Dale Earnhardt Jr.    Nationwide Chevrolet    188    48    5    134.7    $306,065    Running    6    67
2    5    48    Jimmie Johnson    Lowe's Chevrolet    188    43    1    118.5    $256,121    Running    2    50
3    7    27    Paul Menard    Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet    188    41        97.9    $190,060    Running        
4    3    21    Ryan Blaney(i)    Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford    188    0        103.0    $148,385    Running        
5    36    78    Martin Truex Jr.    Furniture Row/Visser Protection Chevrolet    188    39        99.1    $159,600    Running        
6    12    9    Sam Hornish Jr.    Medallion Bank Ford    188    38        83.1    $156,715    Running        
7    18    31    Ryan Newman    Caterpillar Chevrolet    188    37        58.7    $151,670    Running        
8    24    4    Kevin Harvick    Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet    188    37    1    102.6    $168,570    Running    1    1
9    17    11    Denny Hamlin    FedEx Express Toyota    188    36    1    110.9    $127,645    Running    2    5
10    34    98    Josh Wise    Phoenix Construction Ford    188    35    1    62.0    $111,070    Running    1    1
11    27    1    Jamie McMurray    McDonald's Chevrolet    188    33        86.1    $138,701    Running        
12    19    41    Kurt Busch    Haas Automation Chevrolet    188    33    1    87.8    $127,435    Running    1    1
13    41    35    Cole Whitt    Speed Stick Ford    188    32    1    68.4    $125,618    Running    1    2
14    42    23    JJ Yeley(i)    Dr Pepper Toyota    188    0        57.8    $121,993    Running        
15    28    43    Aric Almirola    Fresh from Florida Ford    188    29        81.6    $142,146    Running        
16    37    7    Alex Bowman    Golden Corral Chevrolet    188    28        63.6    $117,918    Running        
17    31    47    AJ Allmendinger    Kroger/Hungry Jack Chevrolet    188    27        55.8    $128,518    Running        
18    43    83    Matt DiBenedetto #    Dustless Blasting Toyota    188    26        55.5    $109,157    Running        
19    6    14    Tony Stewart    Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet    188    26    1    92.6    $128,724    Running    2    6
20    39    38    David Gilliland    Farm Rich Ford    188    25    1    72.9    $108,710    Running    1    1
21    25    10    Danica Patrick    GoDaddy Chevrolet    188    23        67.1    $107,435    Running        
22    15    2    Brad Keselowski    Miller Lite Ford    188    22        86.4    $143,851    Running        
23    35    51    Justin Allgaier    Brandt Chevrolet    188    22    1    57.5    $106,110    Running    1    1
24    38    34    Chris Buescher(i)    CSX/Play It Safe Ford    188    0        56.0    $94,185    Running        
25    8    20    Matt Kenseth    Dollar General Toyota    188    19        74.0    $133,721    Running        
26    29    17    Ricky Stenhouse Jr.    Fifth Third Bank Ford    188    19    1    46.9    $104,085    Running    1    1
27    32    32    Bobby Labonte    C&J Energy Services Ford    188    18    1    48.0    $95,435    Running    1    1
28    11    13    Casey Mears    GEICO Chevrolet    188    17    1    63.4    $102,885    Running    1    1
29    40    46    Michael Annett    Bene-fit Chevrolet    188    15        50.8    $91,685    Running        
30    10    15    Clint Bowyer    PEAK Commercial & Industrial Toyota    188    14        61.7    $128,643    Running        
31    1    24    Jeff Gordon    Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet    188    14    1    82.5    $145,871    Running    6    47
32    22    19    Carl Edwards    ARRIS Toyota    188    12        68.5    $97,685    Running        
33    21    22    Joey Logano    Shell Pennzoil Ford    186    11        44.3    $138,268    Running        
34    2    5    Kasey Kahne    Farmers Insurance Chevrolet    158    11    1    78.1    $109,435    Running    1    3
35    14    3    Austin Dillon    Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet    157    9        77.5    $127,721    Engine        
36    23    55    Michael Waltrip    Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota    151    8        33.6    $117,874    Running        
37    20    16    Greg Biffle    Ortho Ford    147    7        35.7    $121,469    Running        
38    9    18    David Ragan    Pedigree Toyota    123    6        51.7    $129,515    Running        
39    30    40    Landon Cassill(i)     Chevrolet    91    0        51.9    $80,465    Accident        
40    33    62    Brendan Gaughan(i)    Dia Thrive Chevrolet    90    0        39.8    $76,465    Accident        
41    26    6    Trevor Bayne    AdvoCare Ford    46    3        64.9    $117,040    Accident        
42    13    42    Kyle Larson    Target Chevrolet    46    2        50.3    $96,373    Accident        
43    16    33    Brian Scott(i)    Shore Lodge Chevrolet    18    0        27.3    $64,965    Engine        
 Race Comments:    Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, his 24th victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Prior to the start of the race, no cars dropped to the rear of the field.
 Failed to Qualify:    (2) 95 Michael McDowell, 26 Jeb Burton #.
 Time of Race:    03 Hrs, 08 Mins, 08 Secs.    Average Speed:    159.487 MPH    Margin of Victory:    0.158 Seconds
 Caution Flags:    6 for 23 laps: Laps: 20-24 (#55, 33 Accident Turn 1 [None]); 48-51 (#83,42,17,51,16,18,40,22,6,5,10,7,62,43,4 Accident Backstretch [Red 11:32] [None]); 56-58 (Debris Backstretch [17]); 92-95 (#62 Accident Turn 2 [22]); 116-118 (Debris Turn 3 [23]); 159-162 (Fluid On Track From #3 [22]).
 Lead Changes:    27 among 15 drivers: J. Gordon 1-3; K. Kahne 4-6; T. Stewart 7-11; D. Earnhardt Jr. 12-15; J. Gordon 16-19; K. Harvick 20; J. Allgaier 21; B. Labonte 22; J. Gordon 23-48; K. Busch 49; J. Johnson 50-91; D. Gilliland 92; J. Wise 93; J. Gordon 94-95; J. Johnson 96-103; D. Earnhardt Jr. 104; D. Hamlin 105-106; D. Earnhardt Jr. 107-110; J. Gordon 111-115; C. Mears 116; J. Gordon 117-123; D. Earnhardt Jr. 124-147; T. Stewart 148; D. Earnhardt Jr. 149-155; D. Hamlin 156-158; R. Stenhouse Jr. 159; C. Whitt 160-161; D. Earnhardt Jr. 162-188.
Chase Grid Outlook:     1.K. Harvick 394 (2 wins);2.J. Johnson 342 (2);3.J. Logano 335 (1);4.D. Earnhardt Jr. 319 (1);5.B. Keselowski 305 (1);6.M. Kenseth 292 (1);7.D. Hamlin 281 (1);8.M. Truex Jr. 354 (0);9.J. Mcmurray 297 (0);10.K. Kahne 286 (0);11.P. Menard 280 (0);12.A. Almirola 279 (0);13.J. Gordon 277 (0);14.R. Newman 271 (0);15.D. Patrick 253 (0);16.C. Bowyer 249 (0).
3M Lap Leader    : Dale Earnhardt Jr, #88 67 Laps    Coors Light Pole Award    : Jeff Gordon, #24 194.793 mph
Ingersoll Rand Power Move    : Kurt Busch, #41 18 positions    Mahle Clevite Engine Builder of the Race    : Hendrick Engines, #88
Mobil 1 Driver of the Race    : Sam Hornish Jr, #9     Moog Chassis Parts Problem Solver of the Race    : Paul Menard, #27 , -0.200 secs
Sherwin-Williams Fastest Lap    : Carl Edwards, #19     Sunoco Rookie of the Race    : Matt DiBenedetto, #83
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Next Race:    May. 9, 2015 - Kansas Speedway


Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images


Joey Logano asserted his restrictor plate prowess en route to victory in Saturday afternoon’s Winn Dixie 300 from Talladega Superspeedway.

The victory is Logano's third on the 2015 Xfinity series season and the 24th of his career. He led a race-high 40 laps in the #22 Discount Tire Ford for Team Penske.

 “There’s never a Talladega win that comes easy,” Logano said. “You never know you got it until the end just like every other superspeedway race we have.”

Logano has yet to finish worse than second place in his five 2015 Xfinity series starts.

“It’s cool to get our third win of the season now,” Logano added. “This has been a pretty special season so far. We’ve had really fast race cars. (Crew chief) Greg Erwin has done a really awesome job. Tab Boyd, my spotter, once again did a great job on superspeedways giving me the information I needed to make decisions out there.”

Chris Buescher was able to nose in front of Logano on the backstretch of the race's final lap. Logano then used a push from defending event winner Elliott Sadler to his advantage to jump back in front and beat second-place finisher Brian Scott to the line by 0.13 of a second.

“All day we had a really strong car,” Scott said. “We were able to stay in the top ten. I felt like every time we were able to get out front; we weren’t quite fast enough. I kept trying to ask my pit crew to put more tape on it so we could get slicker so we could try to lead a little better.

Ryan Reed, driver of the #16 Lilly/American Diabetes Association Ford, Kenny Wallace, driver of the #26 JGL Racing Toyota, Ryan Sieg, driver of the #39 Uncle Bob's Self Storage Chevrolet, and John Wes Townley, driver of the #25 Zaxby's Chevrolet, are involved in an on track incident during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

“The Fords seemed really strong and they were hard to hold off. They worked really well together, and it seemed like they were able to go to the front most of the time, anytime they wanted.”

Austin Dillon finished third followed by underdogs J.J. Yeley and Joey Gase, who rounded out the top-five.

The fifth place finish for Gase is his career best.

"It was an incredible day," Gase said.

Buescher, who failed to overtake Logano, fell all the way back to a sixth-place finish. Sadler finished in seventh-place.

The race was red-flagged for eight minutes after a caution when two crew members from Aric Almirola's team suffered injuries after Brendan Gaughan slid into the pit road wall during the caution.

One of Almirola's crew members was transported to a local hospital with unspecified injuries.

Xfinity series points leader Ty Dillon was involved in the lap 74 incident and was also involved in a separate incident 20 laps later rebounded to finish in eighth place. Aric Almirola and Regan Smith rounded out the top-ten.

Dillon's points lead is now nine points over second-place Chris Buescher.

Defending Xfinity series champion Chase Elliott had cut Dillon's points lead to just eight points entering Saturday but he has fallen back to third after a disastrous 37th place finish.

The Xfinity series will return to action on May 17th at Iowa Speedway.

Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

GORDON DOMINATES QUALIFYING - Jeff Gordon has been to victory lane more times at Talladega than any of his active Sprint Cup counterparts. The four time Sprint Cup champion took an effort to add another win to his total by qualifying first for Sunday's race at Talladega.

Gordon used the new restrictor plate qualifying format to his advantage and won his 80th career pole with a blistering speed of 194.793 mph.

Starting on the front row with Gordon on Sunday is his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, who recorded a speed of 193.685 mph.

Part time Sprint Cup competitor for the Wood Brothers Ryan Blaney broke up the Hendrick Motorsports party at the front by recorded a speed which will allow him to start third. Five-time Talladega winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr, joins his HMS teammates at the front and will roll off fourth.

Last year's spring Talladega winner Denny Hamlin will start 17th. Talladega's fall race winner Brad Keselowski will start 15th.

ROUSH FENWAY DRIVERS FASTEST IN TALLADEGA PRACTICE - So far the 2015 Sprint Cup series season has been a tough one for Roush-Fenway Racing.

The Sprint Cup series weekend practice sessions at Talladega were a glimmer of hope for Roush-Fenway competitors, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr, and Greg Biffle.

Stenhouse, Jr, rocketed to the top of the Friday practice speed charts with an eye popping fast lap of 200.780 mph.

Restrictor plate wiz Michael Waltrip was second fastest in Friday's session with a fast lap of 200.742. Waltrip will be driving his #55 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing.

Roush-Fenway Xfinity driver Chris Buescher was third fastest with a fast lap 200.268. Buescher will be driving for Front Row Motorsports on Sunday.

Defending event winner Denny Hamlin was fourth fastest in Friday's session and Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate David Ragan rounded out the top five.

Biffle recorded a speed of 197.929 mph, which was fastest in the final practice session. Biffle enters Talladega with just one top ten finish in 2015.

Another veteran who has had a tough start to their season is Tony Stewart but he also recorded a promising practice session. Stewart laid down a fast lap of 197.859 mph which put him up to second on Saturday's speed charts.

Aric Almirola, who recorded a restrictor plate victory last season at Daytona, was third best with a lap of 197.696.

Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon rounded out the top five fastest drivers in the final session.




TRUEX BUILDING ON 2015 SUCCESS – Martin Truex, Jr. has not achieved the greatest career success at Talladega in his Sprint Cup career. However, his consistent start to the 2015 season allows him to feel good about his chances at the superspeedway.

Truex is not lacking any confidence.

“I’ve been all over the place at Talladega,” Truex said. “However, the one place I haven’t been to in the Sprint Cup Series is Talladega’s Victory Lane, and it’s about time that we get there. I am confident that we will have a contending car on Sunday.”

In 20 Sprint Cup Series starts at Talladega, Truex has recorded one top–five and six top–ten finishes. He hasn’t finished in nine of his Talladega starts due to crashes or engine failures. On the other hand, he has been to Victory Lane in the Xfinity series; he won three consecutive races there from 2004 to 2006.

Truex and his Furniture Row Racing team are basing his confidence on how the team performed during this season’s Daytona Speedweeks. Truex grabbed top ten finishes in the Sprint Unlimited, fifth in his Gatorade Duel and eighth in the Daytona 500.

“We had so much speed with our Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevy in Daytona and feel we had the car to beat in the 500,” Truex, Jr, admitted. “We were sitting there leading the 500 with a handful of laps to go. We ran up front throughout Speedweeks. All this means is that we’ll have another fast superspeedway car at Talladega. But staying out of trouble and being in contention at the end is what it’s really about when we go to Talladega.

It has always been a very unpredictable race.”

COMING CLOSE - Third-generation racer Cody Coughlin is so close to his first victory in the ARCA Racing Series that he can taste it.  The 19-year-old made people stand up and take notice in his maiden voyage to Talladega Superspeedway Saturday in Alabama.  He scored the pole award, led a several laps and finished second in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 at the famed 2.66-mile oval.

The runner-up effort was Coughlin's best ARCA performance to date.  In fact, the Joe Gibbs Racing Development driver now has four-straight top-five finishes in series competition.

Coughlin led he race on three different occasions and was running third when a caution flew right before the white flag was presented.  That resulted in a one-lap shootout to the finish.

On the restart, Tom Hessert ran out of fuel while leading and right in front of Coughlin.  The Delaware, Ohio native was forced to check up, but coming to the checker, Coughlin was involved in a three-wide fight for second.  He just inched his Sport Clips Toyota Camry in front of the challengers for the runner-up spot.

"A green-white-checkered is hectic enough, especially here, but then when we have just one lap, it's really hectic,"said Coughlin after the race.  "We tried to go out there and push as hard as we could to get the best finish for the 55. That's what we did and we came home with second.

"There was some hope that a win was in the making, but it didn't line up that way due to what happened on the restart.  We couldn't control that, but we did the best that we could and I'm proud of our second place effort."

Coughlin also started the day by winning his first career pole in ARCA competition with a speed of 187.883 mph.  That feat put a Venturini Motorsports car on the pole at Talladega since 2013.

The second place finish ends his streak of fourth place finishes in his last three ARCA Racing Series events that came at Kentucky Speedway, Kansas Speedway at the end of last season and Daytona International Speedway earlier this season.

GORDON RESTRICTOR PLATE SUCCESS UNMATCHED – Many highlight wins in Jeff Gordon’s illustrious Sprint Cup career have come at Daytona and Talladega, the two mandatory restrictor plate tracks.

His 12 wins in restrictor plate races are the most of any Sprint Cup competitors, past or present. Gordon’s six wins at Talladega are also more than any other active Sprint Cup competitor.

Gordon admits restrictor plate racing is a mind game.

“Restrictor–plate racing is a white–knuckle experience where we race in big packs while trying to avoid the ‘big one’– the big wreck that collects a lot of race cars,” Gordon said. “It’s hectic. It’s physical. It’s mental.”

EDWARDS STILL EYEING FIRST WIN AT JGR, TALLADEGA – In 2009, Carl Edwards came incredibly close to a win at NASCAR’s biggest track. Edwards was blocking Brad Keselowski when contact between the two sent him airborne and into the catch fence.

Edwards jokingly ran across the finish line.

Not only is Edwards looking for his first win at Talladega; he’s looking for his first win in his first season at Joe Gibbs Racing.

“Our superspeedway program has been really good here at JGR,” Edwards said. “We feel like it’s an opportunity for us to go out and grab a win. We didn’t run the way we wanted to at Richmond, but we never quit. We never gave up and I’m really proud of my guys for that.”

Edwards has made 21 Sprint Cup Series starts at Talladega and finished in the top–five twice and has five top–ten finishes.

He believes his JGR teammates already qualified for the Chase puts pressure on his team.

“With Matt and Denny already in the Chase, it’s really up to our 19 team to take any opportunity we can to get a victory,” Edwards admitted. “I really feel like the format of the restrictor plate race gives us just as good an opportunity as anyone. So we’re going to Talladega and try to be there for that final lap and the run to the finish, and maybe we can put ourselves in a good position.”

BIG CHANGES ON THE HORIZON FOR RAGAN – Since the second week of the Sprint Cup season in Atlanta, David Ragan has been substituting for the injured Kyle Busch in Joe Gibbs Racing’s #18 Toyota.

Ragan's status is about to change.

Ragan, who entered this season as the driver of the #34 Front Row Motorsports Ford, will drive the #18 at Talladega for the final time. Earlier this week it was announced Ragan would be moving over to Michael Waltrip Racing to drive the #55 Aaron’s Toyota, a seat vacated by Brian Vickers who is battling blood clots.

Ragan will be Chase–eligible and start driving for MWR at Kansas.

The seat Ragan is leaving at JGR will be filled by 18–year old phenom Erik Jones, who substituted at Bristol for Denny Hamlin, who was suffering from back and neck spasms.

Jones has won in Xfinity competition this year for Joe Gibbs Racing at Texas and has previously won for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series.

JGR has not announced a timetable for when veteran driver Kyle Busch will be back in his regular #18 ride.

SPRINT CUP SERIES ENTRY LIST NOTES – There are 45 teams entered for Sunday’s Sprint Cup event at Talladega.

Two veterans will be making appearances in Sunday’s race including two–time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip, who will be piloting the #55 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing. Former Sprint Cup champion Bobby Labonte will also be in Sunday’s field driving the #32 C&J Energy Services Ford.

Ryan Blaney will attempt to make his third race of the year for the Wood Brothers #21 entry.

Chris Buescher is back in the #34 for Front Row Motorsports on Sunday after not driving last Sunday in Richmond.

Both Blaney and Brendan Gaughan must record speeds faster than 36th in the first round of qualifying in order to make the field because they have no provisional available to them.

If qualifying cancels, Blaney and Michael McDowell, who is entered in the #95 Ford, would miss the field due to having the least amount of race attempts on the entry list.

GOODYEAR TIRE NOTES – Goodyear will be providing its usual Goodyear Eagle Superspeedway Radials for this weekend’s events at Talladega. The tires are the same for both Sprint Cup and Xfinity teams.

The left side tire code is D–4596 and the right side tire code is D–4630.

Sprint Cup teams will be allotted three sets of tires for practice and qualifying and six sets for the race. Xfinity teams will be provided with four sets of tires which must last the duration of the event weekend.

The tire code combination Sprint Cup teams is the same as the teams ran last October. While the Xfinity series ran this left side tire code last season in Talladega, they did so with a different right side tire. The right side tire is the same code the Xfinity series used in Las Vegas earlier this season.

As with all one–mile or larger tracks, NASCAR mandates an inner liner be run by teams.

XFINITY SERIES ENTRY LIST NOTES – There are 44 teams in Saturday’s Winn–Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Texas winner Erik Jones will be back in the seat of the #20 Joe Gibbs Racing entry after piloting the #54 Toyota for JGR at Richmond one week ago. 52–year old road course specialist Boris Said will be behind the wheel of the #54 for JGR this week.

Kasey Kahne will make his Xfinity series debut Saturday, driving for Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr’s, team in his #88 Chevrolet.

Elliott Sadler won this event last season; he will drive the #1 Roush–Fenway Ford this season. Last season he piloted the #11 JGR entry.

CHANGES COMING TO TALLADEGA QUALIFYING – Pole qualifying format for this year’s running of the Daytona 500 drew ire from drivers and fans alike.

The first session will separate the field into four groups allowed each one 2.5 minutes to get their qualifying lap in with a three-minute break between groups. Once a car begins to move on pit road, it cannot wait for others to join them in a pack.

The second round of 24 teams will be divided into two groups of 12 cars. They will also have 2.5-minute sessions with three-minute breaks in between sessions.

The final session will include the 12 fastest from the second session and last 2.5 minutes.

“We continue to work in collaboration with the industry to implement the most exciting and competitive qualifying format, especially as it relates to Superspeedways,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President, and Chief Racing Development Officer. “As a result, we have made a few adjustments to the format for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR XFINITY Series events later this week at Daytona. We will continue to review the qualifying format for future Superspeedway events.”

KNOW YOUR TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY HISTORY – Talladega Superspeedway, originally named Alabama International Motor Speedway, opened on September 13th, 1969. Bill France, Sr designed the track to be a faster and longer version of Daytona International Speedway.

Richard Brickhouse won the first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at the 2.66 mile, tri-oval track.

Bill Elliott set the NASCAR speed record of 212.809 in 1987 which still stands today. 1987 was also the year which saw Bobby Allison and his car go airborne into a catch fence following a cut right rear tire.

Citing concerns about safety with excessive speed increases, NASCAR mandated restrictor plates for Talladega and Daytona prior to the 1988 season. Restrictor plates limit the amount of air and fuel which enter the engine’s intake.

Talladega, which is a favorite for many NASCAR fans, hosts two Sprint Cup events a year and has been the site of many finishes in NASCAR lore. The track has often become the site of “The Big One”, a wreck or series of wrecks which takes out many drivers who are contending for the win.

The Earnhardt family is a staple at Talladega with Dale Earnhardt, Sr, owning the record for most wins at the Alabama track with 10. Dale Earnhardt, Jr, is the owner of four consecutive wins at Talladega, which also has never been matched.

Talladega was the site of 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski’s first career win back in 2009. The track also hosted the first victory of Davey Allison, Ken Schrader and Brian Vickers.




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