Talladega Superspeedway set for races this weekend

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B-2 Stealth Bomber to soar over Talladega Superspeedway

Talladega Superspeedway is known as the biggest and baddest race track on the planet. The U.S. Air Force B-2 Stealth Bomber may not be the biggest, but it is no doubt the baddest aircraft that one will ever see. The two will come together Sunday for the most anticipated NASCAR Sprint Cup race of 2015 – the CampingWorld.com 500.

The B-2 Stealth, which sports an incredible 172-foot wingspan, will be part of the pre-race ceremonies for the CampingWorld.com 500, providing an unforgettable flyover at the end of the National Anthem, which will be performed by the 313th United States Army Band. The flyover will take place just moments before the drop of the green flag for the CampingWorld.com 500, the final race of the Contender Round in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in which the field of 12 eligible drivers for the title will be trimmed to eight at the checkered flag.

The pilots and ground crew with the B-2 Stealth Bomber are from the 13th Bomb Squadron, one of the oldest units in the United States Air Force, under the 509th Bomb Wing in Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. – the only location in the world with B-2 Stealth Bombers.

The 509th Bomb Wing led the way for America’s first military response after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. in 2001. It was the first U.S. aircraft to enter Afghan airspace and flew roundtrip from Missouri, logging combat missions in excess of 40 hours – the longest on record. It paved the way for other coalition aircraft to engage Taliban and Al Queda forces.

Talladega’s weekend kicks off Friday (Oct. 23) with practice sessions for both the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the CampingWorld.com 500. Saturday’s (Oct. 24) slate includes Foodland/Food Giant Qualifying for the CampingWorld.com 500. Qualifying and the green flag for both the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™ race, (starting at noon CDT) gets underway also.

The action-packed day concludes Saturday evening at the intersection of Eastaboga and Talladega Boulevards for Talladega’s traditional infield concert, headlined by award-winning Mercury Nashville recording artist Easton Corbin. One of NASCAR’s favorites, Tim Dugger, will kick off the night and rock the rowdy infield crowd. The best part about the concert is that admission is free with the purchase of a Sunday race ticket for the Camping World.com 500 (starting at 1:30 p.m. CDT).

Two-round qualifying format returns to Talladega 

The “Two-Round” qualifying format that took place at Talladega Superspeedway’s May NASCAR weekend will be in effect when both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) returns to the biggest and baddest track on the planet this Saturday, Oct. 24.

Qualifying for both the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola and Foodland/Food Giant qualifying for the CampingWorld.com 500 will feature two rounds that will feature every driver taking one timed lap around the 2.66-mile tri-oval during the first round. The drivers with the 12 fastest lap speeds will advance to the second round. The top-12 starting positions for both races will be determined by the fastest lap speed in the second round, while positions 13 and beyond will be established off the first-round speeds.

NASCAR officials will send cars onto the track at predetermined intervals, resulting in a constant flow of drivers making qualifying runs. The action on the track will never stop, except for the 10-minute break between rounds. Jeff Gordon, in his final year of NASCAR Sprint Cup competition, captured his fourth Talladega pole award for the GEICO 500 in May during the two-round qualifying format. It will be the first time the NCWTS will use the format at Talladega.

Qualifying for the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. CDT with Foodland/Food Giant qualifying for the CampingWorld.com 500 set for 3:15 p.m. CDT. Sandwiched in between will be the exciting start of the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola race at noon CDT.

The action-packed day concludes Saturday evening at the intersection of Eastaboga and Talladega Boulevards for Talladega’s traditional infield concert, headlined by award-winning Mercury Nashville recording artist Easton Corbin.  One of NASCAR’s favorites, Tim Dugger, will kick off the night and rock the rowdy infield crowd. The best part about the concert is that admission is free with the purchase of a Sunday race ticket for the Camping World.com 500 (starting at 1:30 p.m. CDT). The race is the final event in the Contender Round in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in which the field of title contenders will be trimmed from 12 to eight at the checkered flag.

Corbin’s performance will mark the second straight evening of fun activities in the infield. On Friday, after a day of practice sessions for both the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola and the Camping World.com 500, the track will host its fourth “Big One on The Blvd” infield extravaganza featuring NASCAR’s top drivers and loads of fan fun.

Fans representing 22 countries, 49 states set to attend Talladega race weekend

Race fans from across the world are coming to NASCAR’s biggest and baddest track for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series CampingWorld.com 500 and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

Ticket purchasers who will attend this weekend’s CampingWorld.com 500 and fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at the 2.66-mile venue, are coming from 22 countries across five continents (North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia), including 49 states and the District of Columbia in the United States. Australia is the farthest country that will be represented at Talladega this weekend, which is over 9,300 miles away and more than 8,000 nautical miles away.

“Our race fans are passionate. This just proves what they will do to witness in person the incredible racing and fan experience that Talladega Superspeedway offers,” said Talladega Chairman Grant Lynch. “It is so true that when we say ‘This is more than a race, This is Talladega.’ Our fans know it first-hand.”

More than 70 percent of Talladega Superspeedway’s dedicated fans come from outside of the state of Alabama – generating more than $380 million annually for Alabama tourism – to enjoy racing that is second-to-none, as well as a fun, social atmosphere that is good for all ages.

“Everybody knows that Talladega Superspeedway throws the best party on the circuit,” says Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell. “They host world-wide marquee events and are a major contributor for tourism in the state of Alabama, which allows us to showcase to those attending what our state has to offer.”

When fans make their trip to Alabama for the CampingWorld.com 500, which is the final race of the Contender Round where the field of 12 eligible drivers for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will be dwindled to eight at the drop of the checkered flag, and the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, they will be surprised to find that “Sweet Home Alabama” has more to offer.  From delicious food delicacies to incredible road-trip destinations, Alabama has it all. Fans are encouraged to slow down, enjoy the trip, explore the cities and towns, experience the culinary side of the state and stay a little longer or come back sooner. For additional travel information, visit www.alabama.travel.

Winged Warriors back at Talladega Superspeedway 

In celebration of historic accomplishments by the famous winged cars at Talladega Superspeedway 45 years ago, the track will host more than 75 of the special edition, bold vehicles during the “Aero Warrior Reunion” parade laps around the 2.66-mile mammoth track prior to the start of the CampingWorld.com 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race this Sunday, Oct. 25.

The two parade laps, which will be part of the pre-race festivities prior to the green flag of Sunday’s CampingWorld.com 500, will be a tribute to Buddy Baker, who became the first driver in history to eclipse the 200-mph barrier on a closed course circuit at Talladega Superspeedway on March 24, 1970 while driving the No. 88 winged Dodge Charger Daytona. In addition, the Aero Warrior Reunion at Talladega will be an acknowledgment of Pete Hamilton’s sweep of both 1970 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, piloting the No. 40 Plymouth Superbird for Petty Enterprises.

Designed specifically for NASCAR racing, the winged car had a smoothed-out body and a sleek beak-like steel front nosecone while having an iconic, rear aluminum wing that was mounted on tall vertical struts. This wing towered above all other production spoilers, allowing the cars to be superior aerodynamically. Richard Brickhouse actually won the first NASCAR race at Talladega in 1969 piloting a winged Dodge Daytona.

The Aero Warrior’s Reunion consists of street version winged cars as well as a collection of celebrated winged stock cars that competed at Talladega. The stock cars scheduled to be at Talladega include: the 1970 No. 71 Dodge driven by NASCAR and International Motorsports Hall of Famer Bobby Isaac; the famed No. 43 Superbird driven by NASCAR’s “King,” Richard Petty; and the No. 7 Superbird of Ramo Stott, who swept both ARCA races at Talladega in 1970. Other significant racecars are also expected.

Before heading to Talladega, the Aero Warrior’s Reunion will begin on Friday at the Wellborn Musclecar Museum, owned by car enthusiasts’ Tim and Pam Wellborn, in Alexander City. The fun-filled day will feature some of the most legendary names in Aero Warrior history.

On Sunday, however, the attention will be on Baker, known as the Gentle Giant, who passed away in August at the age of 74.  Each car in the parade laps will sport a specialized Buddy Baker sticker affixed to the windshield honoring the man known as “Leadfoot.” Baker’s monumental official record speed of 200.447 mph in 1974 made him legend, something that he was especially proud of in his career.

“We had the winged cars and the big question was who could get to 200 mph first,” remembered Baker, an International Motorsports Hall of Famer. “Dodge called and asked me if I was interested in going to Talladega to try to accomplish it and I said ‘you bet.’ Bill France (builder of Talladega Superspeedway and President of NASCAR) was there also. I think it was the third lap around the track where we hit 200.447 mph.

“I came in and said ‘let’s dial this thing up, really set the timing on up, and set a record they will remember.’ The crew said ‘no because the next big criteria would be 300 mph.’ I said ‘put it back on the truck.’ It is one of those records no one can take away from you.”

While he didn’t win in 1970 in a winged car (finished 12th and fifth at TSS), Baker would go on to win four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at NASCAR’s biggest and baddest track. He became the first driver in history to win three consecutive events at TSS, sweeping both NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 1975 and winning in the spring of 1976. He topped it off with an impressive triumph in 1980, driving his infamous No. 28 “Gray Ghost” paint scheme.

Talladega’s weekend kicks off on Friday (Oct. 23) with practice sessions for both the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola and the Camping World.com 500. Saturday’s (Oct. 24) slate includes Foodland/Food Giant qualifying for NSCS, as well as qualifying for NCWTS. The drop of the green flag for the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race (starting at noon CDT) which will feature veterans like Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter as they try to hold off hard-charging young guns like Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick and others in the NCWTS championship chase. The day concludes in the evening with Talladega Superspeedways traditional infield concert featuring award-winning Mercury Nashville recording artist Easton Corbin. The CampingWorld.com 500 gets the green flag at 1:30 p.m. CDT.

UAB’s Bill Clark to be Honorary pace truck driver at Talladega 

University of Alabama at Birmingham head football coach Bill Clark will serve as the “Honorary Pace Truck Driver” for the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race this Saturday, Oct. 24.

Clark, a native of nearby Anniston who was named head football coach at UAB in 2014 and then was awarded the Conference USA Coach of the Year, will pilot the Official Chevrolet Silverado Pace Truck to lead the 32-driver starting grid to the green flag at the start of the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, which is set for 12:00 p.m. CDT.

Clark became the fifth head coach in Blazers’ history and completely turned around the UAB program. In his first year as head coach he led the Blazers to a 6-6 record after UAB had won only a combined five games the previous two seasons, making the Blazers bowl eligible for the first time in a decade. The Blazers set a school record with 15 players earning All-Conference USA honors, including three first-team selections. The Blazers also increased home attendance by 130 percent, the second-highest increase nationally.

The UAB football program was dropped on Dec. 2, 2014, but reinstated on June 1 of this year. Clark remained as head coach through that time. The Blazers will restart competitive football again in 2017.

Clark has more than 20 years of coaching experience, taking his expertise to the collegiate and high school level. A graduate of Jacksonville State University in 1990, he became the Gamecocks head coach for the 2013 season and led JSU to an 11-4 record. It was the most victories at JSU since the 1992 campaign when the Gamecocks won the NCAA Division II National Championship under legendary coach Bill Burgess.

The fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola kicks off the action packed weekend, which also includes the CampingWorld.com 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday Oct. 25 – the sixth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the final race in the Contender Round, where the field of eligible drivers will be trimmed from 12 to eight at the checkered flag. In addition to the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, Saturday’s schedule includes Foodland/Food Giant qualifying for the CampingWorld.com 500, as well as qualifying for the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola.

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