Shootout at Talladega Superspeedway: The NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron's 312 Preview

TALLADEGA, AL - APRIL 25: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, leads the field during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 25, 2010 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images)


Look at my arms.  See those goosebumps?  No, someone didn't walk across my grave, it's because Talladega is on the horizon.  'Dega is the second superspeedway that we head to on the schedule.  'Dega and Daytona are similar but different. Talladega seems to have more driving lines, and produces more four and five wide racing battles compared to Daytona.  Talladega also boasts the "Big One" or rather the "Bigger One" compared to Daytona's "Big One". 

There is a longstanding rumor that Talladega Superspeedway is cursed. Some claim that a local Native American tribe held horse races in the valley where the track currently resides. In the story, a chief was killed when he was thrown from his horse. Others say that the site of the superspeedway was once an Indian burial ground ala Poltergeist. Still another version says that after the local tribe was driven out by the Creek Nation for their collaborating with the forces of Andrew Jackson, a shaman put a curse on the valley. 

Since 1968 when the track broke ground, many strange happenings and untimely deaths have fueled the rumors of a curse. In 1973, Bobby Isaac left his car during the race on lap 90 because of voices he claimed to have heard which told him to park his car and get out. Nowadays we call them Start and Park teams.  I kid, I kid.  Earlier on lap 14, young driver Larry Smith died in a seemingly minor wreck. This could be chocked up to the less safe design of the cars from that time, or possible just bad luck - or both.  In 1974, the morning before the Winston 500, drivers and crews alike found multiple cars sabotaged by cut brake lines and sand in the gas tank.  The culprit was never caught.

In May 1987 Bobby Allison blew his engine while going through the tri-oval portion of the track. The force of the failure dislodged the driveshaft, which vaulted his car airborne. His car damaged a portion of the frontstretch catch fence, but did not enter the grandstand area. NASCAR imposed rule changes to slow the cars after the incident, with a 1988 rule requiring cars running there and at Daytona to use restrictor plates.  Although it was a sign of Nascar's reactionary style of safety proticals from back then the restrictor plates have helped in safety.

In 1993, Bobby's son, Davey Allison, died from injuries sustained in a helicopter crash in the infield of Talladega. 

Most of these events can be explained away.  But the shear volume of injuries, deaths, and strange happenings do seem to lend a little credence to the curse.

Curse or not, Talladega should be yet another spectacular race. 

We have a few past winners entered in Saturday's race.  Joe Nemechek won in 1998 and 2000.  Dale Earnhardt Jr won in 2003, and Brad Keselowski won last year.  I was surprised to see Martin Truex Jr not entered this week, he won three in a row from 2004-2006.  Besides those guys, Harvick, Busch, Bowyer and McMurray should also be favorites to take the win at Talladega.

As I was checking out my past stories I realized that this will be my 70th Preview/Review article (counting ones that were combined with race threads) and my 71st article to date (counting my Top Ten Championship contenders article). 71 is my lucky number, so it is fitting that I hit that number on one of my favorite tracks, Talladega.

Entry List and more after the JUMP!

Ent. Car # Driver Sponsor Manu Owner
1 1 Jamie McMurray(i)   10 Chevy James Finch
2 01 Mike Wallace G&K Services 11 Chevy Lori Davis
3 2 Elliott Sadler OneMain Financial 11 Chevy Delana Harvick
4 4 Kevin Harvick(i) [PC1] Armour Vienna Sausages 10 Chevy Delana Harvick
5 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Blackwell Angus 11 Ford Jack Roush
6 7 Dale Earnhardt Jr(i) Suave MEN 11 Chevy Kelley Earnhardt
7 07 Team withdrew   Thomas Efland Jr
8 09 Kenny Wallace Family Farmers 11 Toyota Robby Benton
9 11 Brian Scott Shore Lodge 11 Toyota J D Gibbs
10 12 Sam Hornish Jr Alliance 11 Dodge Roger Penske
11 14 Eric McClure Hefty BlackOut / Reynolds 11 Chevy Mark Smith
12 15 Timmy Hill   11 Ford Bob Germain
13 16 Trevor Bayne   11 Ford Jack Roush
14 18 Kyle Busch(i) Z-Line Designs 11 Toyota Joe Gibbs
15 19 Mike Bliss   11 Chevy Mark Smith
16 20 Joey Logano(i) GameStop 11 Toyota Joe Gibbs
17 21 Tim George Jr Applebee's 11 Chevy Richard Childress
18 22 Brad Keselowski(i) Discount Tire 11 Dodge Roger Penske
19 23 Robert Richardson Wildlife Conservation Society 11 Dodge Robert Richardson
20 28 Derrike Cope Pouch Tech 11 Chevy Jay Robinson
21 30 James Buescher(i) ABF 11 Chevy Harry Scott Jr
22 31 Justin Allgaier Brandt 11 Chevy Steve Turner
23 32 Reed Sorenson Dollar General 11 Chevy Sandra Turner
24 33 Clint Bowyer(i) Rheem.com 11 Chevy Delana Harvick
25 38 Jason Leffler Great Clips 11 Chevy Steve Turner
26 39 Josh Wise Cajun Ind. 11 Ford Jack Roush
27 40 Scott Wimmer   11 Chevy Curtis Key Sr
28 41 Jennifer Jo Cobb   11 Ford Rick Ware
29 44 Jeff Green [PC2]   11 Chevy Mark Smith
30 49 Team Withdrew   Jay Robinson
31 51 Jeremy Clements www.racedaysponsor.com 10 Chevy Johnny Davis
32 52 Danny Efland My Three Sons Vending 10 Chevy Jimmy Means
33 55 Team Withdrew Cindy Shepherd
34 60 Carl Edwards(i) Fastenal 11 Ford Jack Roush
35 62 Michael Annett Pilot Travel Centers/Flying J 10 Toyota Rusty Wallace
36 66 Steve Wallace 5 Hour Energy 10 Toyota Rusty Wallace
37 68 Carl Long   11 Ford Craig Partee
38 70 Dennis Setzer Foretravel 11 Chevy Mary Louise Miller
39 74 Mike Harmon Riverwalk Cafe 11 Chevy Mike Harmon
40 79 Tim Andrews   11 Ford Rick Russell
41 81 Donnie Neuenberger Eagle Convenience Stores 10 Dodge Pat MacDonald
42 82 Blake Koch RIzeUp.us 10 Dodge Randy MacDonald
43 87 Joe Nemechek   11 Toyota Andrea Nemechek
44 88 Aric Almirola Grand Touring Vodka 11 Chevy Dale Earnhardt Jr
45 89 Morgan Shepherd Imperial Bedding 11 Chevy Morgan Shepherd
46 99 Michael Waltrip(i) Aaron's 11 Toyota Gary Bechtel
      Driver not running for Championship    
      Driver must qualify on time    
      Driver locked in as Past Champion    

News and Notes:

  • With the #55 Team, #49 team, and the #07 team withdrawing from the event, we now have 43 cars on the entry list.  So everyone will make the race.
  • #1-Jamie McMurray makes his 2011 Nationwide Debut.  McMurray will pilot Phoenix Racing's #1 Chevy which last finished 2nd at Daytona.  McMurray is a winner here in the Cup Series.  Jamie will have to qualify on time.
  • #4-Kevin Harvick will drive a third KHI Chevy this week.  Checking around the web, almost every list has Kevin Harvick needing to qualify on time.  Harvick is a two time Nationwide Champion, which means he is locked into the field.  Not sure why everyone is forgetting this.  Weird.  Harvick is in the car, or at least the team, that Tony Stewart won at Daytona with.
  • #7-Dale Earnhardt Jr takes a spin in his own Chevy this week.  Jr is a superspeedway expert, and is a favorite to win.
  • #52-Danny Efland returns to action this week in Jimmy Means team after his team withdrew. Efland is making his 2011 debut after being part time last year.
  • #12-Sam Hornish will make his third attempt of 2011.  Hornish has a bit of a accident prown stigma attached to him.  Hopefully he can shake that off this week.
  • #21-Richard Childress Racing developmental driver Tim George Jr makes his first attempt of 2011.  George is expected to make the jump to the truck series next year.  George will pull double duty this week as he will race in the ARCA race this weekend at Talladega as well.  Both cars will be sponsored by Applebee's, a personal favorite in the Troy J. Family.
  • #30-James Buescher joins the talent packed Turner Motorsports this week.  Buescher will have to qualify on time.
  • #33-Clint Bowyer will run KHI's flagship team this week.  Bowyer is coming off a great finish in the Cup Series, and is looking for momentum this Saturday.
  • #39-Josh Wise returns to Go Green Racing after spending the last few races with JR Motorsports.
  • #70-Dennis Setzer will take over the #70 team this week since Shelby Howard has decided to leave the team.  Howard and ML Motorsports have split but will stay on good terms.  David Stremme will join the team next week full time.
  • #82-Blake Koch enters a second Macdonald Motorsports Dodge this week.  Both Koch and Neuenberger will race the entire race.
  • #99-Michael Waltrip steps into the #99 this week.  Ryan Truex is still out, but Waltrip planed on being in this ride at the start of the year.  Waltrip is a superspeedway expert, and should be a threat to win.

Something this good shouldn't feel this awesome.  Talladega racing, Nationwide Style!  Don't miss it. 

Join us Saturday April 16th, at 2pm Eastern for the Aaron's 312 from Talladega, Alabama live on ESPN2!  Enjoy!

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