Talladega: Series round 22 preview

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes - Talladega Wallace Father-Daughter Combo A NASCAR First At Talladega DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Historically, NASCAR racing is a sport in which family members have competed with and against each ...

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series News And Notes - Talladega

Wallace Father-Daughter Combo A NASCAR First At Talladega

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Historically, NASCAR racing is a sport in which family members have competed with and against each other. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is no different, where names like Bodine, Hornaday and Skinner have produced father-son combinations in the same race. Jerry and Randy Churchill became the first father-son combo ever to compete in the same race, at Bristol Motor Speedway on June 23, 1995.

This weekend will mark a different chapter of family participation in the series, when Mike Wallace (No. 48 Rockingham Speedway-Polar Bear 150 Chevrolet) will compete against his daughter Chrissy Wallace. It marks the first time a father and daughter will battle each other in a NASCAR national series event.

Mike Wallace's series debut came in 1995. Chrissy Wallace debuted last March at Martinsville.

"The big thing for me is I need to go out there and have a solid practice and learn the track again," said Chrissy, who made her first start at Talladega in the ARCA Re/Max Series last year. "I've only been able to go there once, but it was with a totally different car. So I'm going to have to go there and learn how to drive the trucks there, which is going to be a little challenging at first, but I think once I get the hang of it and go through practice and everything, we'll be okay.

"Racing against my dad, it's something that we've always wanted to do," the 21-year-old continued. "It's something that means a lot to me, and I think it's a good thing for me and him both, and hopefully I'll wind up beating him."

Added Mike Wallace: "I'm looking forward to a good race, as we always would, but looking for all the things that lead up to that event, all the media that has been generated around Chrissy and I in regards to the history-making event for NASCAR. As we have for many, many years, the Wallace tradition is very long-tied to NASCAR as far as my brothers, Rusty and Kenny, and myself and Chrissy and Steven are making a living now, and just really excited about the opportunity to show up there and be part of NASCAR history."

Drivers Continue Swapping Positions As Series Heads To 'Dega

Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Copart Chevrolet) appears to have a lock on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet) looks strong in second and third-place Mike Skinner (No. 5 PC*MILER Navigator Toyota) has more than 100 points over his closest competitor. But behind them, positions are all up in the air.

At a track where one wrong move could spell disaster for many competitors at one time, drivers vying for top-10 finishes in the points standings will rely on experience and luck as they head to Talladega Superspeedway. It is the fourth visit for the series to the 2.66-mile track, and one that will definitely have implications on those fighting for a spot at this year's banquet, where the top five drivers will be honored.

Standing fourth is two-time defending race winner Todd Bodine (No. 30 Copart Toyota), who leads Dover winner Brian Scott (No. 16 Albertson's Toyota) by 10 points -- 2,815 to 2,805. The next three drivers are all within 53 points of Bodine. Michigan winner Colin Braun (No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford) is sixth with 2,797 points, ahead of Martinsville victor Timothy Peters (No. 17 Strutmasters-Red Horse Racing Toyota) with 2,768 points. Eighth is leading Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Johnny Sauter (No. 13 Fun Sand-Rodney Atkins-Curb Records Chevrolet), who has 2,762 points.

David Starr (No. 24 Zachry Toyota) and Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar International Truck Engine Ford) are tied for ninth in points with 2,694.

Loop Data: Braun Showing Promise Once Again

Colin Braun (No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford) showed all kinds of promise last season, his rookie year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

After starting the season with a disappointing 31st-place finish at Daytona, Braun clawed his way up the standings to finish 13th.

Almost the exact same scenario is playing out this season. After finishing outside the top 20 in three of the first four races this season, Braun sat 21st in the series standings, the dreaded "sophomore slump" label just about sealed.

But just like last season, the slow and inevitable climb back began. Braun won his first race, at Michigan, and now sits sixth, just eight points outside the top five.

Now Braun heads to Talladega for the second time in his career. The first resulted in a finish uncharacteristic of a rookie -- fourth.

In that event, Braun had a Driver Rating of 115.9, an Average Running Position of 5.7, three Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 86.2%.

So, Braun comes into Talladega with experience on his side. He also has momentum.

Braun has scored top-10 finishes in four of the last six races, a span where he has gone from seventh to fifth in the standings. Over those races, Braun has an average finish of 9.0, a Driver Rating of 99.9, an Average Running Position of 7.6, 51 Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 92.6%.

He's also driving the No. 6 truck in which Mark Martin won the inaugural Mountain Dew 250 in 2006.

Inside The Cockpit With Germain Racing's Todd Bodine

Victory Lane at Talladega Superspeedway is familiar territory for Todd Bodine (No. 30 Copart Toyota).

Bodine is heading for a fifth consecutive superspeedway victory at the 2.66-mile Alabama facility, including a third straight at Talladega. Bodine has won two of the three contested NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Talladega -- in 2007 from the pole position and 2008 from the fifth-place starting position.

In the 2006 inaugural race, Bodine was penalized for dipping under the yellow line while battling Mark Martin for the win.

Bodine's victories, however, have not been blowouts, so to speak. Neither has been won by more than seven hundredths of-a-second. He has won by leading the most laps (46, 2007) and the fewest (10, 2008).

In addition, his Germain Racing team has shown brightly at the biggest tracks, winning four in succession and a pole position at Talladega.

Here Bodine discusses the draft, achieving a good finish at the track and what winning there would mean this season:

Q: How important is experience in the draft?

"Experience is everything, especially in the draft. Knowing what you want to do and how you can accomplish it. The draft is a tricky thing and you can just as easily make a mistake as make the right move."

Q: Is there a particular driver who "taught" you the drafting strategy?

"I learned drafting from watching Dale Earnhardt Sr. and my brothers. I watched what they would do and tried to learn from moves they would make and how they approached it."

Q: Do you "see" the air?

"You don't see the air but you feel the air and you have to understand what the air is doing. It's like fluid dynamics, just with air."

Q: Is having experience in earlier cars (nearly 20 years ago) at Talladega important to driving the trucks?

"Any experience drafting is important. Really, that's part of getting experience is having time on the track and getting the laps in the draft. That's how you learn it and understand it better."

Q: Is being savvy more important than having luck in getting a good finish at Talladega or Daytona?

"Being smart is more important than luck, and so is understanding how to use the draft to your advantage instead of your disadvantage. Talladega is a lot about using patience in the draft and understanding you're not just going to pull out and pass, you have to use other trucks to make your passes."

Q: How do you control your destiny in a race like Talladega?

"Well, you have to be smart when you race at Talladega. If you get too anxious or rambunctious, you end up getting in trouble."

Billy Ballew Motorsports Making 300th Start

Billy Ballew Motorsports will make its 300th start in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition at Talladega Superspeedway. The team will field trucks for Kyle Busch (No. 51 Miccosukee Resort-Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota) and Aric Almirola (No. 15 Graceway Pharmaceuticals Toyota) on Saturday.

The team is the fourth active team to reach the 300-start plateau, joining Roush Fenway Racing, Thorsport and Circle Bar Racing.

"It's overwhelming," Ballew said. "I've been fortunate to have success with that many drivers for this many years. This started as a dream -- to have my own team -- and over the years it has been become something pretty close to my heart. It is even more special that this 300th start is occurring in Talladega, which is close to my home base of Atlanta, Ga."

In addition to Busch and Almirola, other drivers for Ballew's team include Geoffrey and Barry Bodine, former motocross champion Rick Johnson, 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier, Rich Bickle, Bill Lester and Kelly Sutton. Mark Gibson finished 12th in the team's debut at Bristol in 1996. The team has 15 wins, including 14 with Busch.

Dillon To Attempt First 'Dega Start

Austin Dillon (No. 3 Chevrolet), grandson of Richard Childress, will make his first career start at Talladega. He will also be the first Richard Childress Racing driver to start at Daytona or Talladega in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

"I'm really excited to be heading to Talladega," Dillon said. "It'll definitely be one of the biggest thrills of my career to say I raced there. It's really cool because I'll be in the No. 3 truck and that number means a lot to the great fans that show up at 'Dega. I'm also excited to get the chance to run where my grandfather started his entire racing career 40 years ago."

Director's Take: Wayne's Words

"What a difference a week makes. One week, we're running at one of the smallest tracks on the schedule -- at Martinsville Speedway. Now, we're heading to the largest track -- Talladega Superspeedway. Obviously, we'll be looking at two different kinds of races, with two different attitudes.

"First, the track lengths are at different ends of the spectrum. Martinsville is .526 miles, and Talladega is 2.66 miles. It's also wider, which changes how you will maneuver and pass.

"Whereas passing comes at a premium at Martinsville, it is much easier to do so at Talladega. We'll have more slingshot passes because of the draft, and we'll have three- and four-wide racing, while we could only have two cars run side-by-side at Martinsville.

"Then, there's the layout. We leave one of the tightest and lowest-banked tracks in Martinsville, which has different surfaces on the straightaways and in the turns, to one of the smoothest and highest-banked tracks in Talladega.

"Speaking of track layout, the positioning of pit road and the start/finish line produces some additional challenges for our competitors this weekend. While pit road begins coming off of Turn 4, competitors will have to leave pit road before passing the start/finish line. That could make strategies interesting, especially at the end of the race.

"Quite a list of contrasts, but some things expected to stay the same -- the closeness of the competition, and the excitement. At Martinsville, we had a last lap pass for the lead. In three races at Talladega, not once has the margin of victory exceeded eight hundredths of-a-second. Last year, Todd Bodine (No. 30 Copart Toyota) beat Ron Hornaday Jr. (No. 33 Copart Chevrolet) by only 0.074 seconds, the largest margin of victory of any of the races so far!"

"Talladega has also been a staple within the NASCAR family, and it's a pleasure for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to return to Talladega again this weekend It's an awesome place."

- Wayne Auton, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Director

Manufacturers' Standings:

Toyota holds the lead as the series heads to Talladega this weekend, and a finish ahead of Chevrolet earns the manufacturer the title. Todd Bodine has delivered Toyota their two wins at the track, with Mark Martin triumphing for Ford in 2006.

One Week Left To Cast Your Vote

Be sure to cast your vote for the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Most Popular Driver. Polls will close this Saturday, Oct. 31. Since opening July 6, more than 25,000 votes have been cast.

Visit NASCAR.com to vote or to write in your favorite driver. If they're not among the nominees, write to fanfeedback@nascar.com.

Up Next: Texas Motor Speedway

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads back to Texas Motor Speedway for the second time this season on Nov. 6. The 1.5-mile track has hosted the series a record 23 times (Martinsville has 22), and twice a season for the last 11 years.

In June, Todd Bodine moved into sole possession of the most TMS victories with five when he beat Matt Crafton (No. 88 Menards Chevrolet) by 1.321 seconds in the 167-lap race. Crafton left the race with the points lead.

Bodine's Germain Racing team also leads all teams with five victories.

Chevrolet, still in the hunt for the series manufacturer championship, leads all manufacturers in victories with eight.

Fast Facts

The Race: Mountain Dew 250 fueled by Fred's
The Place: Talladega Superspeedway

The Date: Sat., October 31, 2009
The Time: 3 p.m. CT

Race Distance: 94 laps / 250.4 miles
Track Layout: 2.66-mile oval

TV: SPEED, 3:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS XM. Listen locally on WTDR-FM 92.7

2008 Winner: Todd Bodine
2008 Polesitter: Erik Darnell

Friday: Practice, 9-11 a.m.; Qualifying, 4:10 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Rich Bickle , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , David Starr , Mike Wallace , Buddy Lazier , Ron Hornaday Jr. , Colin Braun , Rick Crawford , Matt Crafton , Johnny Sauter , Mark Gibson , Bill Lester , Timothy Peters , Aric Almirola , Erik Darnell , Brian Scott , Chrissy Wallace , Austin Dillon , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin
Teams Germain Racing , Roush Fenway Racing , Red Horse Racing