K&N Pro Series team will feature a Japanese cultural exchange at Iowa Speedway

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Friday night’s K&N Pro Series East race at Iowa Speedway will represent graduation day for a group of six Japanese college students taking a crash course in NASCAR.

Shige Hattori, whose Hattori Racing Enterprises is fielding the No. 1 Yazaki Toyota Camry for Jesse Little at Iowa, has been hosting a nine-person delegation from his native country since July 20.

The six students and three instructors from Toyota Technical College in Japan took classes and underwent pit stop training at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C., and they helped prepare Little’s car for the race. They also visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame and Charlotte Motor Speedway and watched Modifieds race at Bowman Gray Stadium as part of a stock-car indoctrination over their week in North Carolina.

They arrived Wednesday in Iowa and have been helping Little’s team during inspection and practice the past two days. Yuichi Kobayashi, Keisuke Shigemitsu, Sohya Suzuki, Daichi Kanda, Takato Ishigami and Tatsuya Ide will be working on Little’s car during the intermission of Friday’s race before returning Saturday to Japan.

“Even though we may not speak the same language, we’ve been able to work well together because we all have racing in common,” Little said. “They’ve been practicing pit stops and we’ve been talking strategy, so I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together as a team this weekend.”

The students are from three branches of the Toyota Technical College with campuses located in Tokyo, Nagoya and Kobe. They will return Saturday to Japan, completing an annual culture exchange.

“This has been a great opportunity for the students to not only become immersed in NASCAR, but to visit the United States and experience a different culture,” Hattori, a veteran of NASCAR and IndyCar, said in a release. “This is the fourth year of this program where we’ve had college students from Toyota Technical College come to North Carolina, and I’m really happy that we can provide these students with this unique opportunity and learning experience.  It’s exciting for me to be able to share what I’m doing in NASCAR as a team owner with students from Japan, where I began my racing career. ”

The K&N East race at Iowa will air at 7 p.m. Aug. 6 on NBCSN.

Saturday NASCAR schedule at Talladega Superspeedway

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Both the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series will race Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Cup cars will start the day’s action by qualifying for Sunday’s playoff race, followed by the Truck playoff race and then the Xfinity playoff race.

Talladega Superspeedway (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Saturday: Sunny. High of 78.

Saturday, Oct. 1

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 9:30 a.m. — Truck Series
  • 1 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.