[media-credit id=5 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]The NASCAR Nationwide Series will take on the largest track on their schedule with Saturday’s running of the Aaron’s 312 at the Talladega Super Speedway. It’s race number seven of the 2011 34 race schedule and it’s expected to be loaded with typical Talladega excitement. It’s also loaded with special guests from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
THE STORY BREAKDOWN
For many years now NASCAR Nationwide Series events has entertained guest from the Cup Series. Add that trend to the prestige of racing and winning at Talladega and you can well imagine the interest of Cup drivers who has entered Saturday’s race. That list includes:
Jamie McMurray. #1 Phoenix Construction Chevrolet. James Finch owner
Kevin Harvick. #4 Armour Vienna Sausages Chevrolet. Kevin Harvick Inc, owner
Dale Earnhardt Jr. #7 Sauve Men Chevrolet. J R Motorsports
Trevor Bayne. #16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
Kyle Busch. #18 Z Line Designs Toyota. Joe Gibbs Racing
Joey Logano. #20 Game Stop/Mortal Combat Toyota. Joe Gibbs Racing
Brad Keselowski. #22 Discount Tire Dodge. Roger Penske Racing
Clint Bowyer. #33 Rheem Dot Com Chevrolet. Kevin Harvick Inc
Carl Edwards. #60 Fastenal Ford. Roush Fenway Racing
Joe Nemechek. #87 Nemco Motorsports Toyota
Michael Waltrip. #99 Aarons Toyota. Pastrana Waltrip Racing
Kevin Harvick Inc will be teaming up with Pinnacle Foods, the makers of Armour Vienna Sausages, to host a special day for 18 kids from the Magic Moments program. Established in 1984 in Birmingham-Alabama, Magic Moments is dedicated to making non medical wishes come true for kids who are not able to live out a normal childhood due to unfortunate illnesses.
In addition to getting an up close and personal look at the Talladega racing action, the kids will also be treated to a private meet and greet with Kevin Harvick and SPEED Channel personality Kyle Petty.
Six races in to the 2011 season, the NASCAR Nationwide Series is already generating some impressive stats. All four auto manufacturers, in the series, have now won a race since the arrival of the new Nationwide car. Dodge and Chevrolet got their wins last year when the new car ran four test and tune races. Toyota got their new car win this year at Phoenix while the Ford Mustang parked in victory lane for the first time last weekend in Texas.
There have also been four different winners in the first six Nationwide Series events this year. That’s the good news for what appears to be a rather competitive season. The bad news for the competition is Kyle Busch has won three of them. Other winners this year includes Tony Stewart, Mark Martin and Carl Edwards.
According to NASCAR’s loop scoring data, there has already three perfect driver ratings, of 150.0, this year. Kyle Busch has two of them, following the Phoenix and Bristol events, and Carl Edwards earned the third one at last weekend’s Texas race.
Roush Fenway Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr remains as the fourth series points leader in the last six events. Previous championship points leaders include Landon Cassill, Reed Sorenson and Jason Leffler.
The Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota #20, driven by Joey Logano, became the fourth leader in the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ owner’s points standings after six races. But it’s only a one point advantage over Roush Fenway Racing’s #60 Ford, driven by Carl Edwards, and Kevin Harvick Inc’s #33 Chevrolet which has featured a variety of drivers including Harvick himself.
THE RACE BREAKDOWN
The Aaron’s 312 is 117 laps/311.22 miles around the Talladega Super Speedway’s massive 2.66 mile quad oval.
The race has 45 entries vying for the 43 starting positions and the winner’s share of the race purse in excess of $1.1 million. 15 of those entries are on the go or go home list. These teams are not guaranteed a starting berth in the race because they are currently outside of the Nationwide Series’ top 30 in owner’s points. These teams will have to rely on qualifying times to earn a starting spot in the race. The Lone exception is Jeff Green who has a past champion’s provisional available if needed.
The Aaron’s 312 will mark the Nationwide Series’ debut of their new car at Talladega under competitive racing conditions. The new car was on the track for the first time in October of 2009 for a special practice session.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series has raced at Talladega 19 times in the past while sending 16 different winners to victory lane. Two time series champion Martin Truex Jr leads the series win list with three while series regular Joe Nemechek leads the current active drivers with two wins. The 19 series events at Talladega has also turned up 13 winners of the Coors Pole Position award also led by Nemechek who set fast time at the speedway on five different occasions.
The Aaron’s 312 will be broadcast live by the ESPN2 Network with the pre race show beginning at 2 pm eastern time.