JR MOTORSPORTS TEAM PREVIEW No. 88 GT Vodka Chevrolet / No. 7 Suave Men Chevrolet
EVENT – Aaron’s 312 (117 laps / 312 miles) TRACK – Talladega Superspeedway (2.66-mile tri-oval) DATE – Saturday, April 16, 2011 TV / RADIO – ESPN2 (coverage begins at 3 p.m. EST) / MRN (broadcast begins at 2:30 p.m. EST) Aric Almirola No. 88 GT Vodka Chevrolet
“The best way to describe racing at Talladega is it’s kind of like going 200 mph blindfolded. You’re so close to the car in front of you pushing him, you can only see what’s directly in front of you. It’s why you typically can’t see a wreck until you’re in it. You really depend a lot on your spotter at Talladega.
“It’s not a tough place to drive physically, but it’s very mentally draining. All race long you’re just trying to position yourself in the best possible place, while at the same time trying to figure out what your competitors are doing. You’ve heard people say it’s like a chess match, and that’s a good analogy. It’s all about positioning yourself in those closing laps. I know Pops (Tony Eury Sr.) and the crew had a great car there last year. They led a lot of laps and were in contention all race long. Maybe we can capitalize on that this weekend.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 7 Suave Men Chevrolet
“This will be the first time this year I’ll get to work with Tony (Eury) Jr., so I’m looking forward to that. My first two races in the Nationwide Series this year we wanted to give our buddy Chris Heroy a shot to be the crew chief and call his own race since we were running three cars. But working with Tony Jr. is always fun, especially at Talladega. He builds a really good super-speedway car, and it’s always fun to drive. No matter how the race ends, we’ll put on a show for sure. It ought to be a good time.
“We’ll know Thursday after the two practices what to expect as for the style of racing. The two-car draft has been the way to get around the past few years. I guess it became a little more noticeable at Daytona this year, but it’s been this way for a few years. I don’t particularly like the two-car drafting, because I’d rather have control of just what I’ve got to do rather than worrying about somebody else. But restrictor-plate racing is a game. You still have to be lucky, and you still have to survive. We’ll race smart and hopefully the JR Motorsports cars work well together so we can have something for them at the end.”
JR MOTORSPORTS NOTEBOOK – EURYS’ SUCCESS – While many are familiar with the Earnhardt family’s success at Talladega, the name Eury is just as synonymous with their success. The father/son combo of Tony Eury Sr. and Tony Eury Jr. has combined for 12 wins at Talladega Superspeedway over the course of their careers. The pair served as crew chief and car chief on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car when he won five races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (four consecutively from 2001 to 2003), and both were on Dale Earnhardt’s winning team in the Nationwide Series event in 1993.
THE BOSS IS BACK – Earnhardt Jr. has two starts in Nationwide Series competition this year with finishes of fourth (Daytona) and third (Bristol). But this is his first start behind the wheel of the No. 7 Suave Men Chevrolet. He piloted the No. 5 Chevrolet in his previous starts in 2011 to earn an average finish of 3.5.
WINNING COMBINATION – Talladega will feature the Earnhardt Jr./Eury Jr. combination for the first time in 2011. In the pair’s most previous collaboration they went to victory lane in the summer event at Daytona International Speedway in 2010 with the familiar No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet. NO. 88 SEASON STATS – The No. 88 GT Vodka team has earned two top-10 and five top-15 finishes this season. Almirola is currently ranked sixth (-31) in championship points and the No. 88 is 11th in owner points. ALMIROLA AT TALLADEGA – The bulk of Almirola’s success at Talladega came in the Camping World Truck Series. In three starts he has twice finished second, and averaged a finish of 8.7. In his only start in Nationwide Series competition, Almirola finished 20th. Racing four times in the Sprint Cup Series, the Tampa, Fla. native secured a best start of third and best finish of 13th in fall 2008. EARNHARDT JR. AT TALLADEGA – In seven career Nationwide Series starts at Talladega, Earnhardt Jr. has one win (2003), three top-fives, five top-10s, and has led 90 laps, leading in six of those seven events. This marks Earnhardt Jr.’s third start at Talladega under the JR Motorsports banner. During his Sprint Cup career, he has amassed five victories, including four consecutive wins from the fall of 2001 through the spring of 2003.
NO. 7 SEASON STATS – Earnhardt Jr. will become the third driver to pilot the No. 7 Chevrolet this year, joining Danica Patrick and Josh Wise. The No. 7 Suave Men team has one top five, one top-10 and three top-15 finishes this season. The team occupies 16th in owner points.
JRM AT TALLADEGA – JR Motorsportshas earned one top-five with four top-10 finishes at Talladega. The team has led 71 laps dating back to its first event there in 2006.
DRIVER APPEARANCES –Aric Almirola and Josh Wise will both appear at the JR Nation merchandise hauler in the fan concourse area to sign autographs on Saturday, April 16 from 11 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. CST.
NEW JRM RACING WEBSITE–JRMracing.com is the digital home of the JR Motorsports NASCAR Nationwide Series race teams. Visit it for more information about the company, its history, and drivers, including Aric Almirola, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Danica Patrick and Josh Wise. Watch exclusive video content, including pre- and post-race reports with drivers and crew.