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Daytona to Host Aaron’s Dream Weekend at Talladega

26 Feb, 2014


The racing season for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards officially kicked off this past weekend at Daytona International Speedway. Both Series will be in competition at Talladega Superspeedway for the Aaron’s Dream Weekend, May 2-4. Here are some news nuggets from the weekend:

Austin Dillon debuted the No. 3’s return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing by winning the pole position for the Daytona 500, set for this Sunday, Feb. 23. Driving for his grandfather Richard Childress, Dillon will vie for Rookie of the Year honors. The No. 3 hasn’t been in competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr., in February of 2001. Earnhardt, the all-time winner at Talladega with 10 triumphs, notched his final career win at NASCAR’s Most Competitive track in 2000. Childress is TSS’s all-time winning Sprint Cup Series team owner with 12 victories.

How many times has the Daytona 500 pole winner captured the top-starting spot for the Aaron’s 499? It has happened 11 times by eight different drivers. The list includes Bobby Isaac (1972), Buddy Baker (1973), David Pearson (1974), Cale Yarborough (1978, ‘84), Bobby Allison (1981), Bill Elliott (1985, ’86, ’87), Bobby Labonte (1998) and Jimmie Johnson (2002).

This year, Talladega’s qualifying format will be different than in years past. Three elimination rounds will determine the Pole Winner. Unlike the old system where cars took to the track one at a time, all cars can now make their way onto the high banks and can utilize the draft just as they will in Sunday’s Aaron’s 499. The first round will be 25 minutes in length with the speeds of the top 24 moving on to the second round, which will be a 10-minute session reducing the field to 12. The third and final qualifying round will be five minutes in duration and the fastest single lap speed will determine positions first through 12th in descending order. It will be a qualifying session like no other in the history of Talladega!

How many times has the Daytona 500 pole winner come to Talladega and won the Aaron’s 499? Seven times among six drivers with Cale Yarborough leading the way by accomplishing the feat twice (1978, ’84). Others include David Pearson (1974), Buddy Baker (1980), Bobby Allison (1981), Bill Elliott (1985), and Bobby Labonte (1998).

Denny Hamlin won Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited, an exhibition race for all Coors Light Pole winners (and former winners of the event) from 2013. Twice has a driver won this race and then gone on to win the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega – Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2003 and Kevin Harvick in 2010.

Alabama’s own Grant Enfinger, from Fairhope, won the season-opening ARCA race, holding off 10-time Series Champion Frank Kimmel, the defending champion of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 at Talladega. Both will be favorites at the 2.66-mile venue May 3.

Justin Allison, grandson of Hall of Famer Donnie Allison, part of the Alabama Gang, showed great promise in his second career start in the ARCA Series Saturday. Running comfortably in the top 10, he was caught up in an accident on lap 13 that was started in front of him. He plans to compete at Talladega, a track where his grandfather Donnie won two Sprint Cup Series races, including the 1971 Aaron’s 499.

Martinsville President Clay Campbell, driving for Ken Schrader Racing, had an impressive third-place effort in the ARCA race. His other start in 2014? None other than Talladega.

Racing continues this week with Budweiser Duels at Daytona (Thursday, 6 PM CT on FOX Sports 1), the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (Friday at 6:30 PM CT on FOX Sports 1 and MRN), the NASCAR Nationwide Series (Saturday at 12:15 PM CT on ESPN and MRN) and the Daytona 500 (Sunday, FOX and MRN at Noon CT).

Talladega Superspeedway Aaron’s Dream Weekend Schedule:

May 2
Practice for  ARCA & the Sprint Cup Series
Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Aaron’s 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series and the ARCA International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200

May 3
Coors Light Qualifying Elimination Races for the Aaron’s 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
ARCA International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200
NASCAR Nationwide Series Aron’s 312

May 4
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron’s 499

For ticket information for the Aaron’s Dream Weekend, log onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com

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