Entry lists for iRacing events at Talladega Superspeedway

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The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series continues this weekend with its fifth round of competition, held on a virtual Talladega Superspeedway.

The race will air at 1 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox and FS1 and will feature the series debut of Jeff Gordon.

William Byron will try to win his third consecutive race after victories at Richmond and Bristol.

The race will be 70 laps, with manual cautions, one reset and a maximum of three green-white-checkered finish attempts.

Here’s the entry list for the event (without Gordon listed)

# Name Team
1 Kurt Busch Ganassi
2 Brad Keselowski Penske
3 Austin Dillon RCR
4 Kevin Harvick SHR
6 Ross Chastain Roush
8 Dale Earnhardt Jr Invitation
9 Chase Elliott HMS
10 Aric Almirola SHR
11 Denny Hamlin JGR
12 Ryan Blaney Penske
13 Ty Dillon Germain
14 Clint Bowyer SHR
15 Brennan Poole Premium
17 Chris Buescher Roush
18 Kyle Busch JGR
19 Bobby Labonte Invitation
20 Erik Jones JGR
21 Matt DiBennedetto Wood Bros.
22 Joey Logano Penske
24 William Byron HMS
31 Tyler Reddick RCR
32 Corey LaJoie GoFas
34 Michael McDowell Front Row
37 Ryan Preece JTG
38 John Hunter Nemechek Front Row
41 Cole Custer SHR
47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. JTG
48 Jimmie Johnson HMS
49 Chad Finchum MBM
51 Garrett Smithley Invitation
52 JJ Yeley Rick Ware
53 Joey Gase Rick Ware
66 Timmy Hill Invitation
77 Parker Kligerman Invitation
88 Alex Bowman HMS
89 Landon Cassill Invitation
96 Daniel Suarez Gaunt Bros.

Saturday night will feature another edition of “Saturday Night Thunder,” an event for non-Cup Series drivers. The event is open to Xfinity, Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, NASCAR Peak Mexico Series, Pinty’s Series, Whelen Euro Series and ARCA drivers.

It airs at 8 p.m. ET on eNASCAR.com/live and NASCAR’s YouTube Channel.

Qualifying will consist of two lap, single-car runs to arrange lineups for two heat races. The heat races will be 10 laps with 20 cars transferring to the 40-car field for the feature. The feature will be 57 laps, with one reset, manual cautions and a maximum of three green-white-checkered finish attempts.

Among the entries is Brett Moffitt, who broke both his legs six weeks ago in a dirt bike accident.

Here is the entry list.

NAME CAR #
Alex Labbe 90
Angela Ruch OO
Anthony Alfredo 33
Austin Cindric 22
Bayley Currey 74
Blake Koch 57
Brandon Brown 68
Brett Moffitt 23
Chase Briscoe 98
Chase Cabre 4
Christian Eckes 81
CJ McLaughlin 39
Derek Kraus 19
Donny Lia O7
Drew Dollar O15
Gus Dean 56
Harrison Burton 20
Jeb Burton 8
Jeffrey Earnhardt 50
Jesse Iwuji 36
Joe Graf Jr. 80
Josh Berry 88
Josh Bilicki 99
Josh Williams 92
Justin Allgaier 7
Justin Haley 10
Kaz Grala 29
Kyle Weatherman 54
Landon Huffman 75
Logan Seavey 67
Matt Mills 5
Myatt Snider 93
Noah Gragson 9
Ruben Garcia 27
Ryan Ellis 78
Ryan Truex 40
Ryan Vargas 51
Scott Stenzel 63
Spencer Boyd 0 2
Stephen Leicht 25
Stewart Friesen 52
Thad Moffitt 46
Todd Gilliland 38
Ty Majeski 45
Ty Gibbs 18
Tyler Ankrum 26
Will Rodgers 55
Raphael Lessard
Tommy Joe Martin 44

Team Penske looks to extend Talladega dominance amid 2020 woes

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If there’s one thing Talladega Superspeedway is known for, it’s chaos.

But for as much chaos as the 2.66-mile track can provide, Talladega has another quality it produces: consistency in Victory Lane.

In the 2010s and up through the June Cup race, the consistency has been produced by Team Penske.

Since May 2012, Penske drivers have won nine of 17 races. Brad Keselowski has four of his five Talladega wins, Joey Logano has three and Ryan Blaney has won each of the last two races by .007 seconds.

The other eight races were won by Roush Fenway Racing (two wins), Hendrick Motorsports (two), Front Row Motorsports (one), Chip Ganassi Racing (one), Stewart-Haas Racing (one) and Joe Gibbs Racing (one).

When it comes to races like this weekend’s playoff event (2 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC), one would expect even more chaos and less consistency among winners.

You’d be wrong on the latter.

Penske’s three drivers have combined to win five of the last six Talladega playoff races. The winner of the sixth race was Aric Almirola in the 2018 playoff race.

Last week Keselowski observed how races at superspeedways have “ebbs and flows” with them currently resembling “a MAVTV demo derby just a little faster.”

On Thursday, the 2012 Cup champion credited Team Penske having a “great” driver lineup with its ability to win in a form of racing that’s constantly evolving.

“I think we have the strongest driver lineup in Cup right now,” Keselowski said. “I know that’s probably arguable and it’s completely subjective. That’s played to our favorite tracks like the plate tracks and we’re going to continue to try and leverage it.”

While Blaney has enjoyed recent success at Talladega with his two victories, Keselowski looks to re-establish his winning ways at the track he has five victories, the most among active drivers.

After winning the 2017 playoff race, he has five consecutive finishes of 13th or worse, including two DNFs for wrecks.

“It’s been up and down for me,” Keselowski said. “The last few races have probably been down. Last fall I thought we were going to win the race with two or three (laps) to go. We were making the pass for the lead and the next thing I know we’re all wrecked. It’s a love-hate affair with that track for sure and hopefully we’ll love it. I feel like we’re due for a good finish there.”

Keselowski enters Sunday’s race after miserable outings in the last two playoff races. He finished 34th at Bristol (power steering problems) and 13th at Las Vegas.

Talladega could be the relief Keselowski’s teammates are looking for as well.

Blaney, who was eliminated from the playoffs after the Round of 16, hasn’t had a top-five finish in the last nine races. Logano, while he has two top fives in the playoffs (third at Darlington and Richmond), hasn’t won since the March race at Phoenix. That was the last race before the COVID-19 shutdown.

Keselowski said “it is a bit strange” that Team Penske can view Talladega as a track where it can turn its season around.

“We haven’t been where we want to be on the mile-and-a-halfs, there’s no doubt about that,” Keselowski said. “The mile-and-a-halfs and road courses have been a weak spot for us. The superspeedways and short tracks have been a strong spot for us. Thankfully we have the superspeedway this weekend and couple of short tracks coming up in the next round (Martinsville).

“We need to kind of maximize out strengths and minimize our weaknesses. This weekend is certainly looking like a strength for us. We have high expectations.”

Kaz Grala subs for Natalie Decker in Talladega Truck race

Kaz Grala
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Natalie Decker has not been medically cleared to compete in Saturday’s Truck Series race at Talladega (1 p.m. ET on FS1) and will be replaced by Kaz Grala in Niece Motorsports’ No. 44 Chevrolet the team announced Thursday.

Decker withdrew from last weekend’s race at Las Vegas after she was not medically cleared shortly before the race. She was credited with a last-place finish.

Decker tweeted Saturday that she was flying home where “more tests (would be) run so they can further evaluate and diagnose.”

No further details about Decker’s condition have been announced.

“We are thankful that Kaz is able to fill in for Natalie this weekend and appreciate him working with our team,” team general manager Cody Efaw said in a press release. “We wish Natalie the best as she works to be as healthy as possible to return to racing.”

Grala will make his first Truck Series start since 2017. He has 32 career starts in the series, including one win in the 2017 season-opening race at Daytona.

He drove in Austin Dillon’s place earlier this year in the Cup race on the Daytona road course after Dillon tested positive for COVID-19.

“My thoughts will be with Natalie this weekend as I wish her a quick recovery,” Grala said in a press release. “I know she loves the restrictor-plate races, so I feel bad that she’ll have to miss this one, but I hope I can give her something to cheer for on Saturday. 

“It’s been a few years since I’ve been in a Truck, but the superspeedway races have been very good to me in the past, so I’m really hoping to be able to go grab a win for Niece Motorsports at Talladega.”

FanVision closes due to impact of COVID-19 pandemic

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FanVision Entertainment, the company that produces video devices used by race fans at NASCAR events, has ceased operations due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The news was announced in a statement from Racing Electronics, the company which sold and supported FanVision devices at NASCAR tracks through a license with FanVision Entertainment.

Racing Electronics, which is owned by NASCAR, can no longer sell or support the devices.

“We recognize this news will be met with disappointment by motorsports fans across the country who utilized FanVision’s products as part of their at-track experience,” Racing Electronics president Chad Willis said in a statement.

“To help fans and industry members transition to Racing Electronics products, we are working with existing FanVision device owners to solve their race day needs. When Racing Electronics returns to the track, fans and industry members will have access to all the sounds that make racing so special.”

RCR, Hendrick to collaborate on Chevy engine

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Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing will team up on research and development of a common Chevrolet engine after the conclusion of the 2020 season, the teams announced Thursday.

The two organizations will continue to function independently as they “fully leverage the knowledge and intellectual property of our two successful programs to advance Chevrolet’s engine for NASCAR,” they said in a joint statement.

Engines produced by Hendrick Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing (via ECR Engines) have earned a combined 20 Cup titles and the two teams have totaled 369 Cup wins.

Jeff Andrews, the new executive vice president at Hendrick Motorsports, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” Thursday that discussions about the venture between his team and RCR began two years ago.

“The day was going to come when we really needed to figure out how to get these two programs together,” Andrews said. “A tremendous amount of talent, people and a tremendous amount of equipment and resources between the two programs. How could we do this? How could we take the longstanding heritage between these two companies and get that together to start working on an alliance that truly would produce the ultimate powertrain for Chevrolet NASCAR?”

RCR is headquartered in Welcome, North Carolina and Hendrick’s campus is in Concord, North Carolina.

“I think when you step back and look at it, ultimately you have to get to a point to where, when you have these resources and you have these people, we have to do what’s best for Chevrolet, first and foremost, to continue to push their performance and get them back to the front of the field and get them wins and championships,” Andrews said. “Really, we work together in a very similar fashion. We started two years ago on the aerodynamic side with our groups working very close together and we’re kind of taking somewhat of that template and applying to the engine side in starting this joint alliance.”

Chevrolet last won a Cup title in 2016 when Jimmie Johnson earned his record-tying seventh championship. Since then, Chevy has not had a car reach the championship four.

The Cup Series is in the middle of the Round of 12. The series races Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Of the 12 cars that remain, four are Chevrolets: Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon, Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch.

Chevrolet cars have won six times through 30 races this season. That’s compared to seven wins in all of 2019, four in 2018 and and 10 in 2017.