Today’s iRacing Cup race at virtual Talladega: Start time and more

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Round five of the eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series takes place today with drivers competing at a virtual Talladega Superspeedway.

William Byron has won the past two events but a new rule means he will start today’s race last. Can he come from the rear to make it three in a row?

Or will Jeff Gordon, making his first Pro Invitational Series start, steal the show?

Here is the information on today’s virtual race:

(All times are Eastern)

DIGNITARIES: Actor Tim Allen will be the grand marshal and give the command. Randy Owen of the group Alabama will perform the national anthem. Bryson Byrnes, son of the late Fox broadcaster Steve Byrnes, will give the invocation.

FORMAT: One hour of practice begins at noon. Qualifying begins at 12:50 p.m. The session will be four minuets and set the field. The top 10 qualifiers will be inverted. Also, last week’s top-three finishers (William Byron, Timmy Hill and Parker Kligerman) will start at the back of the field.

RACE: The GEICO 70 is scheduled to begin at 1:14 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 70 laps (186.2 miles) around the virtual 2.66-mile oval.

RULES: Drivers will be allowed one reset to repair damage. Cautions will be determined by race officials. There will be a maximum of three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish.

TV: The race can be seen on FOX (where available), FS1 and the Fox Sports App. Coverage begins at 1 p.m.

DRIVERS SCHEDULED TO COMPETE (subject to change):

#1 Kurt Busch
#2 Brad Keselowski
#3 Austin Dillon
#4 Kevin Harvick
#6 Ross Chastain
#8 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
#9 Chase Elliott
#10 Aric Almirola
#11 Denny Hamlin
#12 Ryan Blaney
#13 Ty Dillon
#14 Clint Bowyer
#17 Chris Buescher
#18 Kyle Busch
#19 Bobby Labonte
#20 Erik Jones
#21 Matt DiBenedetto
#22 Joey Logano
#24 William Byron
#24 Jeff Gordon
#31 Tyler Reddick
#32 Corey LaJoie
#34 Michael McDowell
#37 Ryan Preece
#38 John Hunter Nemechek
#41 Cole Custer
#47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
#48 Jimmie Johnson
#49 Chad Finchum
#51 Garrett Smithley
#52 JJ Yeley
#53 Joey Gase
#66 Timmy Hill
#77 Parker Kligerman
#88 Alex Bowman
#89 Landon Cassill
#95 Christopher Bell
#96 Daniel Suarez

WHAT DRIVERS ARE SAYING: 

Aric Almirola: “Well, I’ve won at Talladega before, so it shouldn’t be that hard, right? In all seriousness, I’ve seen these veteran drivers and champions of the sport practice for hours and still struggle to finish the race, so the expectation for myself is low. It’ll be interesting to make my Pro Invitational debut at Talladega where we’ll just have to survive. Who knows, maybe I’ll be one of the last guys standing and have a shot at it.”

Clint Bowyer: “I finished last Sunday at Richmond, so I can only get better this week at Talladega.”

Kyle Busch: “I got a chance to run in the Replacements race on Tuesday night, so that was my first taste of Talladega in iRacing. It had a lot of the same factors that you deal with running the real thing. You just have to try and stay out of trouble and put yourself in a position to have a shot toward the end of the race. The biggest difference is, obviously, there’s a lot less consequences and no torn-up equipment like the real thing.”

Cole Custer: “Going into Talladega, I’m hoping we can just get to the end of the race.”

Matt DiBenedetto: “I would guess (the race is) going to be great entertainment. I’m kind of curious to see if everyone goes all out or plays it safe.”

Austin Dillon: “I really enjoy superspeedway races like Talladega. I feel like as a whole at Richard Childress Racing, we’ve been really close to winning. It’s a very cool track so it will be interesting to experience it virtually. The key is going to be avoiding the melee.”

Kevin Harvick: “The whole iRacing process is sort of overwhelming for me. I finally just said, ‘The heck with it. I’m going to go race.’ And it’s just like racing anything else – if you don’t go race, you just get further behind, because everyone is getting better.”

Erik Jones: “Talladega is always a pretty crazy race and I expect in iRacing for it to be no different, if not crazier. Should be interesting. I’m sure some guys will put in some practice this week, probably not quite as much as what was done for the races we’ve done this years, but guys will be learning how to draft and how all that works in iRacing compared to the real world. I’m excited and hopefully we stay out of trouble and can go up and contend. I think this is our best shot at a win.”

Tyler Reddick: “Talladega Superspeedway is wild, both in real life and virtually. It’s a big, wide track that lends itself to being a little bit more aggressive than you can be at Daytona International Speedway.”

Daniel Suarez: “I have no idea what to expect, to be honest. I don’t know if there’s anything different we can do to prepare for this one. The real races on the superspeedways are already unpredictable. I think you can say, for sure, that this one will be even more unpredictable after some of the crazy things we have seen happen on the short tracks the last few weeks. The key to winning on the superspeedway is always about being smart and patient, so that will need to happen this week, for sure.”

Bubba Wallace will  not race today:

 

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.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.