Talladega: GM Racing preview

* Inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at Talladega Superspeedway (TSS) * Joe Nemechek will drive the No. 46 U.S. Army Silverado - first appearance in NCTS since 1998 * Chevrolet Silverado has won six of the 11 NCTS ...

* Inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) race at Talladega Superspeedway (TSS)

* Joe Nemechek will drive the No. 46 U.S. Army Silverado - first appearance in NCTS since 1998

* Chevrolet Silverado has won six of the 11 NCTS Manufacturer's Championships

* Silverado drivers have won eight of the 11 possible NCTS' Driver Championships

* Silverado drivers have won more NCTS races than any other brand

Talladega, AL - Team Chevy Silverado is primed and ready to take on Talladega Superspeedway (TSS). The John Deere 250 (Oct.7) will mark the first time the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) has competed on the historic 2.66-mile track, a landmark in NASCAR racing since 1969.

Although veteran Silverado drivers Dennis Setzer, No. 85 Shell Rotella T Silverado; Ron Hornaday, No. 33 AES HR Solutions and Mike Bliss, No. 16 Xpress Motorsports Silverado as well as Raybestos Rookie contender Kerry Earnhardt, No. 13 National Pork Board Silverado, have all raced at TSS, the track won't look or drive like it did the last time any of them were there.

For the first time since the off-season of 1979-1980, TSS has undergone a complete repaving. From the top of the 33-degree banking in the corners to the bottom of the apron where many a famed pass has been made throughout the years, there is a new, smooth pavement surface.

It took approximately 20,000 tons of cement-treated base (CTB) to be applied first in the turns of TSS followed by an estimated 50,000 tons of asphalt around the entire tri-oval superspeedway. A mere 80,000 pounds is the weight of the paver used in this project.

In addition, pit road has had a complete facelift. An estimated two feet has been gained in width and length in each of the new concrete pit stalls on pit road. In the repaving process, the portion of pit road recently repaved with asphalt gained about 10 feet of additional width.

So what does all of this mean for veteran and rookie drivers Saturday? A brand-new racing experience at one of the exciting tracks on the NCTS schedule. Veteran drivers and rookies will be on equal footing when the first NCTS practice for the John Deere 250 fires up at 12:10 p.m. CDT Thursday (Oct. 5). Aric Almirola, No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado, and Matt Crafton, No. 88 Menards/Energizer Silverado, will hit the track for practice with exactly the same amount of laps on the new TSS as those who have been there before - none.

Lending his superspeedway expertise to the Silverado delegation will be Joe Nemechek. Nemechek will be behind the wheel of the No. 46 U.S. Army Silverado. He has wins and poles in both Nextel Cup Series and Busch Series competition at TSS, but in addition to making his first NCTS appearance since 1998, Nemechek will get his first look at the new surface and pit road at the same time as the Team Chevy Silverado regular drivers.

"This weekend's race at Talladega is going to be an exciting event for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series," said Dayne Pierantoni, GM Racing Silverado program manager. "While we have several Silverado drivers who have had many starts in other NASCAR divisions at the track, the new surface and pit road configuration will be as new to them as it will be the rookie competitors.

"The fans are going to be treated to one of the best races of the season. Our Chevy teams have been working hard on fine-tuning their trucks for this race. We are looking forward to this race and seeing our Silverado teams reap the benefits of their hard work to run a second superspeedway race of the season."

Practice for the John Deere 250 is scheduled to begin 12:10 p.m. CDT on Thursday, Oct. 5. Rookie practice will be held from 1:50 p.m. to 2:20 p.m. that afternoon followed by final practice for one hour beginning at 2:20 p.m. CDT. Qualifying will be held Friday, Oct. 6 at 11:15 a.m. CDT with the 36-truck starting field impounded until the start of the 94-lap/250-mile race Saturday at 2:15 p.m. CDT.

SPEED TV will broadcast all the action live beginning with the pre-race show at 1:30 p.m. CDT. MRN Radio and XM Satellite Radio will bring fans the race in its entirety over the airwaves.

Driver Quotes

DRIVER: DENNIS SETZER
TEAM: No. 85 Shell Rotella T Silverado - Morgan Dollar Motorsports

"I know that everyone is really looking forward to heading to Talladega, and I cannot wait. The fans are really looking forward to seeing the trucks race there for the first time, and they will have an exciting race for sure. It should be interesting to see how many grooves open up, but I think that we will probably see three, four, and five-wide racing. I have been so used to going to Talladega and seeing the pavement with all the cracks in it, and now we will be on a smooth surface, which should provide for some great racing. I know that every driver wants to leave an inaugural race as the winner, and I certainly would like to see my name in the record books as the inaugural winner at Talladega, as well as bringing home the victory for everyone at Chevrolet and Morgan-Dollar Motorsports."

DRIVER: JOE NEMECHEK
TEAM: No. 46 U.S. Army Silverado - Morgan Dollar Motorsports

"It's been something like 10 years since I've competed in the Craftsman Truck Series so I am really looking forward to racing a truck again and being part of the Morgan Dollar team, but I know it's going to be a lot different at Talladega. I cornered Mark Martin last week in Dover hoping to get a few tips about plate racing in a truck, but all he would say is that I'm going to be in for an exciting experience. Well, if that's the case then I can't wait to jump into the U.S. Army Silverado and go at it."

DRIVER: RON HORNADAY
TEAM: No. 33 AES HR Solutions Silverado

"Gosh, I really cannot wait until we get to Talladega. I have been hoping that the trucks would race there for some time now, and I think the race is going to be a sight to see. With the big changes that the track has made, I am not really sure what to expect as far as the race goes. I do think that we will see some three and four wide racing at times, and it is going to be wild. Our AES HR Solutions team has really been working hard, and I just cannot say enough about this group of people that we have on the team. I would really like to get the team and Chevrolet another win this year, and I am optimistic we can get that done this weekend in Talladega."

DRIVER: ARIC ALMIROLA
TEAM: No. 75 Spears Manufacturing Silverado - Spears Motorsports

"Talladega is a place that I have been looking forward to racing on. Our Spears team has been strong lately, so another strong run at Talladega would really help us build momentum for the rest of the year. I am excited to see how the improvements to the track will affect the racing, especially if we will have the close packs like the Cup cars have had. We will be using the practice sessions to get acclimated to the track, and make sure we have a piece that will be competitive during the race. I am hopeful that we can leave Talladega with a great finish, and then head onto Martinsville for some great short track racing."

DRIVER: MATT CRAFTON
TEAM: No. 88 Menards/Energizer Silverado - ThorSport Racing

"After a not so stellar run in Las Vegas, I am looking to turn things around for our Menards Silverado. We need to have some good runs to get our team back in the top-ten in points. Hopefully Talladega is the place we can make the turn around. The racing will be wild, and the fans will be just as wild. Talladega is a place where the racing is always great and exciting and I think that it will be no different on the new surface. I am looking to bring our Silverado home in one piece, and have a good run for all our guys."

DRIVER: MIKE BLISS
TEAM: No. 16 Xpress Motorsports Silverado

"The Xpress Motorsports team is ready to go to Talladega. After a good run in Las Vegas, we have some momentum to carry us into Talladega. Talladega is such a fast track, and I am sure that the new pavement will only make us that much faster. The racing should be exciting for the fans to watch, and hopefully we can draw a good crowd. Our mentality going into Talladega is just like it is when we go anywhere else; we have to qualify well, survive the wrecks, have good pit stops, and be fighting at the end of the race. Our team has been so strong this year, and I am hungry for a win for Chevrolet and the team before the year is over."

DRIVER:  KERRY EARNHARDT

TEAM: No. 13 National Pork Board Silverado - ThorSport Racing

"Talladega is a place that I love. I am looking forward to seeing what we can do in our ThorSport Silverado, and I think that the racing will be very exciting for the fans. The fans at Talladega are like no other place that we go to, and it is quite a site. It will be awesome to say that I raced in the first truck race at Talladega, and it would be great to make a statement and leave Talladega with a top-ten or top-five finish."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Joe Nemechek , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Dennis Setzer , Matt Crafton , Mike Bliss , Aric Almirola , Mark Martin