Steven B. Wilson
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Tunnel Vision: NASCAR Icon Waltrip Visits ‘Dega to Talk Track’s 50th Anniversary and Gets Look at Transformation Construction21 Feb 2019
Darrell Waltrip vividly recalls his first visit to Talladega Superspeedway in 1972 for his first career start in NASCAR’s premier series. Thursday at the track, which is celebrating its 50th Anniversary, the Hall of Famer made a return trip to take a stroll through the venue’s new Turn 3 Oversized Tunnel, which is under construction and will be ready for the track’s upcoming tripleheader motorsports weekend, April 26-28.
“This place is the biggest track there is, and it has needed a big tunnel to go with it. Mission accomplished,” said Waltrip, who, after that initial start in ’72, went on to win four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Talladega. “I remember coming here 47 years ago and was mesmerized at the size of this place….the infield, the track itself…just massive. Today, I am dazzled at the new tunnel. A lot of tracks have tunnels, but this is the ‘be all end all’ of tunnels….it’s unbelievable and is going to be great for the fans and teams.”
Waltrip, a NASCAR on FOX analyst since 2001, toured the tunnel - which now has all pre-cast arches and most of the entry and exit walls in place - and the new Finish Line Premium RV area. Both will be ready for the spring weekend to kick off Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project presented by Graybar. In addition, he also saw the foundation of the new Operations Tower, which will house the television booth for LIVE network coverage of Talladega races and will be ready for the fall event weekend.
Waltrip’s Hall of Fame career got its start on Sunday, May 7, ’72 after he rebuilt an old, wrecked Holman Moody ’71 Mercury, and made the venture to Talladega. His gold No. 95 machine started 25th and was competitive but finished 38th after engine failure.
“We fixed the car and had it ready to go, and Talladega was the next race on the schedule, so we loaded it up,” said Waltrip, who would finish his career with 84 victories, tied for fourth on the all-time NASCAR win list. “I had never been to a track like Talladega. I thought that day ‘I am a big time Cup racer,’ running with the likes of Richard Petty, Bobby Allison and David Pearson….and I was passing them during the race. It was just incredible.”
Five years later, he would go to Gatorade Victory Lane. His wins came in the spring of ’77 and summer of ’79 driving for Digard Racing (#88) with a sweep in ’82 for owner Junior Johnson (#11).
He recorded 14 top-five finishes at the 33-degree banked venue which included five runner-up results. He also took home the trophy during the 1984 International Race of Champions (IROC) event and stood in Gatorade Victory Lane on another occasion, although he wasn’t credited with the win. That came in the summer of ’77 when Waltrip, who fell out at the midway point in his own car, came back into the race as a relief driver for Donnie Allison who had gotten ill with just under 25 laps remaining. Waltrip held off Cale Yarborough, but the victory went to Allison per NASCAR rules that the driver who starts the race is awarded the result.
“Man, I thought it was so cool to win the race for them,” Waltrip smiled. “So, I pulled into Victory Lane and saw Donnie and Hoss (Ellington, owner of Allison’s team) in there already celebrating. I am sitting in the car and no one even comes over to me….no one asks do I need anything. I am like ‘what is going on?’ So, I finally just got out the car and started walking out and Hoss asked Donnie what are you going to do for Darrell (for winning him the race)? Donnie said ‘I think I might buy him a Gatorade jacket.’ I didn’t need a Gatorade jacket since I had many because Gatorade was my sponsor. Another memory of this incredible race track.”
The approximately $50 million Transformation Infield Project presented by Graybar is part of International Speedway Corporation’s (Talladega’s parent company) long-term capital allocation plan and reinvestment into its major motorsports complexes. The oversized, 2-lane tunnel will be capable of allowing vehicles as large as race team haulers and fans’ recreational vehicles to enter and exit the track simultaneously with ease. It will be open 24 hours during event weekends. Despite battling much inclement weather conditions over the winter, the project – headed by Taylor Corporation of Oxford, AL - is still on schedule.
“We continue to remain on a good timeline, with both the tunnel and the Finish Line Premium RV area, despite all the weather issues we have had,” said Lance Taylor, President of Taylor Corporation. “It is our priority to stay on schedule. We have a great pumping system and have pumped out over 30 million gallons of water since mid-October. We are in a great place.”
The culmination of Transformation will occur this October and will allow fans to be immersed into the sport of NASCAR with the one-of-a-kind Talladega Garage Experience, which will feature “up-close” access, interactive attractions and enhanced amenities for fans, sponsors, teams and stakeholders in the iconic Talladega infield.
Fans can learn more about the project and view the progress 24/7 via the construction cam by visiting www.talladegasuperspeedway.
|2/20/2019||N/A||Chris J. Chase||N/A||N/A||Chris J. Chase has met all requirements set forth by NASCAR |
and his Indefinite Suspension from NASCAR has been lifted.
Graybar Joins ‘Dega Family for Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project Presented by Graybar21 Feb 2019
Talladega Superspeedway is proud to announce that Graybar, a Fortune 500 company and leading distributor of electrical and communications products, has joined its family of presenting sponsors. Moving forward, the track’s $50 million endeavor Transformation will now be known as Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project presented by Graybar.
Currently underway and scheduled for completion in October 2019, Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project presented by Graybar is part of International Speedway Corporation’s (Talladega’s parent company) long-term capital allocation plan and reinvestment into its major motorsports complexes. Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project presented by Graybar will allow fans to be immersed into the sport of NASCAR like never before with “up-close” fan access to the drivers and teams and interactive attractions.
Talladega Superspeedway, the most competitive track in NASCAR and biggest (2.66-miles), is celebrating its 50th anniversary (kicks off 2019 with its tripleheader weekend, April 26-28, featuring the GEICO 500) this season.
Graybar is also celebrating two important milestones in 2019: its 150th anniversary and 90 years of employee ownership.
“As a company with a long history of innovation and a focus on creating the best customer experience, Graybar is proud to work with forward-thinking organizations like International Speedway Corporation,” said Kathleen M. Mazzarella, chairman, president and CEO of Graybar. “The infield Transformation at Talladega Superspeedway will redefine the fan experience for motorsports, and we are honored to be a part of this historic project.”
This spring, as part of the kickoff to Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project presented by Graybar, fans will be treated to a new Turn 3 Oversized Vehicle Tunnel as well as the Finish Line Premium RV area (located just past the start-finish line & includes full hookups). The 2-lane tunnel will be capable of allowing vehicles as large as race team haulers and fans’ recreational vehicles to enter and exit the track simultaneously with ease. It will be open 24 hours during event weekends. New Infield Shower Trailers are also scheduled for completion in time for the much-anticipated weekend that will see current NASCAR premier series champion Joey Logano go for his second straight GEICO 500 victory.
“Our family of supporters and partners continues to grow with the biggest project at the speedway since its inception,” said Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch. “We are ecstatic that Graybar has come on board and sees, with us, the incredible future of motorsports competition and entertainment avenues that only Talladega Superspeedway can provide.”
When the 2019 fall race weekend rolls around for Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project presented by Graybar, fans will be greeted by a one-of-a-kind Talladega Garage Experience (140,000 square foot of social and engagement areas), that will feature Wi-Fi, a 35,000-square-foot covered Open Air Club (complete with a 41-foot diagonal video board), a new Gatorade Victory Lane, a Pit Road Club, and enhanced amenities in the iconic Talladega infield.
For more information on Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project presented by Graybar, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.
In addition to the GEICO 500 on Sunday, April 28, the upcoming tripleheader weekend at Talladega will consist of the General Tire 200 for the ARCA Menards Series on Friday, April 26, as well as the MoneyLion 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series on Saturday, April 27. For ticket information, log onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-RACE (7223).
5 Flags Speedway PR
Kingsport Speedway is the only weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series sanctioned concrete surfaced short-track in the United States, and week-in and week-out you just can't beat the exciting racing action at the .375-mile banked track in the Model City.
"I want to thank The Mall at Johnson City for hosting the Kingsport Speedway Race Car Show for the third straight year," said Kingsport Speedway GM and promoter Tunnell. "The people at the mall are great to work with. We've done this a few years now and it's just a great opportunity for the local race fans to come out and get geared-up for the exciting season of racing we have planned.
"Fans will enjoy getting to take close-up looks at the race cars that will be in action at Kingsport Speedway, and also getting to shake hands and meet the drivers to get autographed hero cards and other items. The start of a new racing season will be here before you know it."
The 2019 season-opener at Kingsport Speedway is scheduled for Saturday, March 23, which will be an afternoon of racing. Fans can expect to see NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car, Modified Street, Mod 4, Pure 4, Pure Street and Vintage racing action this season.
Kingsport Speedway is located at 2961 North John B. Dennis Highway. For more information, contact general manager and promoter Karen Tunnell at (276) 393-9594. You can visit the Kingsport Speedway website at www.NewKingsportSpeedway.com or The Mall at Johnson City info available at www.MallAtJohnsonCity.com.
After sporting the Motorcraft/Quick Lane colors throughout Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway, the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford Mustang will be going Menards/Moen neon yellow and blue for this weekend’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
But that won’t be the only major change for Paul Menard and the No. 21 team, as well as the rest of the drivers and cars in the Monster Energy Cup Series. Beginning at Atlanta, Cup cars will transition to a higher downforce/lower horsepower package that is intended to foster more side-by-side racing.
That drastic rules change has many veterans in the garage, including Eddie Wood, wondering just how the new engine/aerodynamic combination will play out once the green flag drops on Sunday.
“We tested the new package at Las Vegas, and Paul and the team were pleased with how it went, but no one really knows what to expect when there are 40 cars on the track,” Wood said, adding that NASCAR and its teams have put a lot of work into the new package, which is similar to the one used in last year’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “There’s going to be a big difference in horsepower from what we’re used to, but there’s been a lot of work done and a lot of research put into this rules change so the racing should be good.”
For the Woods and their fellow Ford campaigners, Sunday’s 500-miler at Atlanta will be the first intermediate-track race for the new Ford Mustang.
“We were really happy with the performance of the Mustang at Daytona,” Wood said. “I’m confident the Ford teams have adapted to the new package, and I’m anxious to see how it all plays out at Atlanta.”
Menard will be making his 18th career Cup start at Atlanta, while the Wood Brothers will be making their 107th Atlanta start, with 12 wins, 33 top-five and 45 top-10 finishes at the Georgia track.
Cup qualifying at Atlanta is set for 5:10 p.m. on Friday, and the 325-lap race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.
Long before Ryan Preece turned heads by avoiding not one, but two big wrecks during the closing laps of the Daytona 500, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie-of-the-year candidate was turning heads at Martinsville Speedway as a 17-year-old behind the wheel of a modified.
Preece, who is now driving the No. 47 Chevy for JTG Daugherty Racing, won at Martinsville in 2008.
“My Martinsville clock is in my foyer when you walk into the house,” he said. “It’s pretty special when you walk through that door and know that you’ve won at Martinsville. To be able to go back for the first time since 2010 and have another opportunity to chase after another clock, that’s pretty special to me.”
Like so many weekly racers before him, it seemed as though the 28-year-old from Connecticut would make a career out of racing on Friday and Saturday nights, with an occasional start in one of NASCAR’s top divisions.
Now, his career will consist of racing in front of big crowds, on big tracks, such as Daytona, where he finished eighth and had the at-track crowd of 101,000 shouting “Let’s Go Ryan,” with more watching on TV at home likely joining in the cheers.
While that is a thrilling feeling for any driver, Preece also spent the week racing at New Smyrna Speedway, a half-mile bullring located 15 minutes south of Daytona. It’s racing that he knows and it’s why he’s excited to return to the Half-Mile of Mayhem for the STP 500.
“I love close quarters racing and half-mile race tracks where you’re up on the wheel the entire time and I’m definitely looking forward to my Cup debut there,” Preece said. “I love short-track racing and it doesn’t get much better than Martinsville.”
While he would love to add another clock to his collection, he knows his Cup Series debut at Martinsville will bring a challenge: a challenge he looks forward to.
“I think we’re going to have a pretty solid day,” he said. It’s just about getting the car to turn in the center of the corners. Everything is about turning the center and getting forward drive. It’s a pretty tough balance, but I’m confident we can get it and we’re just going to have to play the race as it goes.
“There’s definitely a lot of mistakes to be made and those can ruin your day, so hopefully we minimize them and come out with a really good day.”
The STP 500 weekend is March 22-24.
The weekend starts with a practice day for the truck series on Friday, followed by NASCAR America Fan Friday and the Hauler Parade.
On Saturday, the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series is in action with a 250 lap race. Following the race the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will qualify for Sunday’s STP 500.
Sunday the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is in action with the running of the STP 500. The race is the first short-track race of the season and the first race back on the East Coast after the Series’ “West Coast Swing.”
Advance ticket prices for the STP 500 begin at $47 with youth tickets for fans 17-and-under just $25 regardless of location. Youth 17-and-under are admitted free to the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series 250 lap race on Saturday. Friday’s practice day is free to everyone.
Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.
Martinsville Speedway PR