Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Talladega Storylines: 2014 Aaron's 499

Long shots winners do occur often at Talladega
NASCAR Storylines for Week of April 28, 2014

Below are the NASCAR storylines for the three national series for the week of April 28, 2014.


Talladega Provides Dark Horses Best Chance Of Making Chase
Talladega is the ultimate Wild Card; it’s the great equalizer. Take for instance last spring’s race where David Ragan and David Gilliland gave Front Row Motorsports its first 1-2 finish or Jamie McMurray’s victory in last fall’s event. The wins were both drivers’ only victory of 2014. In 2009, Brad Keselowski landed Phoenix Racing in Victory Lane for the first time, and Vickers surprised everyone in fall 2006 when he crossed the finish line first at Talladega. With changes made to how one qualifies for the Chase, a surprise winner Sunday could very well lead to a surprise championship contender.

Logano Wins Exciting Richmond Race, Second Victory Of 2014
After seven different winners to begin 2014, Joey Logano became the second driver to capture two wins, joining Kevin Harvick. Logano’s Richmond victory guarantees he will be among the top-16 drivers on the Chase Grid provided he finishes in the top 30 in points at the end of the regular season and attempts to qualify for every race. Logano and his teammate Brad Keselowski have developed a penchant for starting races up front, which is important at Talladega. In 2014, Logano has started on the first two rows in five races, while Keselowski has started on the first row six times.

Earnhardt Strong At Talladega, Could Find Second Win
If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is looking for his second win of 2014 to further cement his place in the Chase, Talladega is the most likely location for him to do so. The popular driver has celebrated in Victory Lane at the 2.66-mile superspeedway five times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, more than any other track, including four straight from fall 2001 to spring 2003. Earnhardt started the season with a victory at Daytona, the only other restrictor-plate track on the schedule. In addition, his father Dale Earnhardt holds the track record with 10 wins.

Four Champions Still Seeking First Win Of 2014
Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth have 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championships between them. The foursome, however, has zero wins among them nine races into the 2014 season. Chances are most of them, if not all, will have scored at least one victory before the Chase begins. All four past champions have at least one win at Talladega Superspeedway – the site of their next opportunity to get in the wins column – with Gordon leading the way with six. Johnson has two wins, while Stewart and Kenseth both have a win apiece.

McMurray Goes For Two In A Row At Talladega
Jamie McMurray was a surprise winner last season at Talladega and judging by his season so far another win at the 2.66-mile superspeedway isn’t unfathomable. Through the first nine races of the season, he’s finished outside the top 20 only twice and has a best finish of sixth at Auto Club. In 23 races at Talladega, McMurray has two wins, six top fives and seven top 10s, including a win in the fall 2009 event. In addition, he has two victories at Daytona International Speedway – the only other restrictor-plate track on the schedule.


Alabama Native Darrell Wallace Jr. Returns To Nationwide

Darrell Wallace Jr. returns to the NASCAR Nationwide Series for the first time since 2012 at Talladega Superspeedway. The Alabama native will pilot the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in his fifth career Nationwide start. In his previous four starts, Wallace earned one pole (Dover) and three top-10 finishes.

JRM Adds Win No. 4 To 2014
With four wins under their belt in 2014, JR Motorsports is looking better than ever. Regan Smith, Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick have accumulated an impressive four wins in eight races, including the organization’s first 1-2 finish at Richmond this past weekend. Smith won the season opener at Daytona before Elliott won back-to-back races at Texas and Darlington. Harvick won last Friday night’s event at Richmond. Smith captured his first victory for JRM at Talladega last spring.

Hornish Makes First Start Of 2014 For JGR
Sam Hornish Jr. makes his first start of 2014 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Talladega with a different team and number. Talladega will be the first of seven starts he will make this season behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Hornish finished second in the series standing last year with Team Penske.


Burton Looks To Turn Season Around At Kansas

After a successful test at the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway last week, Jeb Burton heads to Kansas Speedway, another 1.5-mile track, in two weeks hoping to turn his season around. Burton switched rides during the offseason and has not had the finishes he has hoped for so far, but that could change at Kansas. Burton scored his lone truck series win on another 1.5-mile track (Texas) last season, and Kansas will be the first race of 2014 on a track that size.

Blaney To Perform Double-Duty
Ryan Blaney has been a regular in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for more than two years. He is currently fourth in the points standings. The young driver picked up a NASCAR Nationwide Series win last season at Kentucky, and finished ninth most recently at Richmond on Friday night. When the truck series returns to action in two weeks in the SFP 250 at Kansas, he will make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut for the team on Saturday night.


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