Jeffrey Earnhardt too full advantage of a career opportunity Friday when he captured the pole position for the Ag-Pro 300 (3 p.m. CDT on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Talladega Superspeedway – the first time he sat behind the wheel of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
It was announced just last week that the grandson of 10-time Talladega winner Dale Earnhardt, Sr. would get a one-race deal with RCR (his first ever with the team), and it would be in a No. 3 – that his “grandpa” made famous.
“I tell ya this is unbelievable man,” said an emotional Earnhardt. “This is a dream of mine for years, to get to this opportunity and everything is falling into place. The good Lord is taking care of us. Everyone from ForeverLawn have supported me tremendously. All the guys at RCR, man, all I’ve got to do is hold a pretty wheel. They’ve proven time and time again they bring fast cars to the superspeedways. Not a bad starting spot. We’re going to try to keep ‘er there all race and hopefully put it in victory lane.”
For Childress, whose No. 3 that Earnhardt, Sr., collected nine of those triumphs, it was extra special. “To see that 3 car back on the track with an Earnhardt in it, it’s kind of touching to me anyway because I was always a big Earnhardt fan. And this is Earnhardt country…pretty amazing.”
Jeffrey’s best-career result in the NASCAR Xfinity Series came in 2019 when was third at Charlotte in a Joe Gibbs Racing machine. His best at ’Dega is a 12th (2015). Hoping for his first career triumph, he will have FOX analyst Larry McReynolds serving as his crew chief. McReynolds, before he started his stint with FOX in 2001, had 23 victories as a crew chief, including the 1998 DAYTONA 500 with Dale Sr. at the wheel.
RCR took three of the fop-four spots with Austin Hill second and Sheldon Creed fourth. Ty Gibbs was third and Daniel Hemric fifth.
Dash 4 Cash Continues in AG-Pro 300, Other Storylines
Jeb Burton earned his career first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory in the Ag-Pro 300 last year, leading the final nine laps and ultimately holding off Austin Cindric, current series points leader A.J. Allmendinger, Riley Herbst, Ryan Sieg and Noah Gragson.
Burton, who now drives the No. 27 Our Motorsports Chevrolet, would love to back up his victory with his first top-10 finish of the year – and first for his new team – at Talladega this weekend. However, he can expect typically tight competition, among multiple drivers and the kind of last lap drama that has long characterized the speedway and made this one of the most thrilling races of the season.
Kaulig Racing’s A.J. Allmendinger is in the midst of a stellar season start, earning his first victory of the year at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas road course and is the only driver in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with top-10 finishes in all eight races. Last year’s third place effort at Talladega is his best showing in four Xfinity Series starts there.
Nineteen-year-old Gibbs, who will be making his Xfinity Series Talladega debut, is currently second in the Xfinity Series driver standings trailing Allmendinger by 20 points, with a series-best three victories. His only superspeedway experience-to-date, however, is an 11th-place finish in the season-opener at Daytona in the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300. The driver of the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has a series-best 325 laps led on the season and has won pole position in the last three races.
Noah Gragson sits just behind Gibbs in the standings and the driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet has been good on the Talladega high banks earning top-10 finishes in four of his six starts there with a best showing of third-place in 2020. Gragson was third in the first superspeedway race of 2022 – at Daytona. And his four-race run atop the championship standings mid-season is the longest time a driver has led the points consecutively so far.
Brandon Brown, Ryan Sieg and the most recent Xfinity Series race winner Brandon Jones (at Martinsville, Va.) all have good cases as race favorites too. Brown won the series last race at Talladega in October of 2021 – his only win in the series. He’s finished top-10 in the last three races at the track.
Sieg, who has five top-10 finishes in 2022, has finished 11th-place or better in the last three Talladega races, including a runner-up finish in 2020. Jones, driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, has three top-five finishes and was runner-up to Brown in the Fall race last year
Saturday’s race marks the third round of the Dash 4 Cash incentive with $100,000 on the line to the top finishing driver Saturday among these four: Brandon Jones, Landon Cassill, Allmendinger and Austin Hill.
General Tire 200
Willie Mullins led the way in ARCA practice Friday in preparation for the General Tire 200, which will take place on Saturday at 12 Noon CDT. Greg Van Alst was second followed by Drew Dollar, Daniel Dye and Rajah Caruth.
Drew Dollar will start on the pole for the General Tire 200, followed by Corey Heim, Parker Chase, Nick Sanchez and Toni Breidinger. Dollar won the event in 2020. Munford, AL native Bret Holmes will roll off 16th.
To see all weekend admission opportunities, including for Sunday’s GEICO 500 that will feature NASCAR’s Next Gen car, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 1-877-Go2-DEGA. Several options await fans like the fan-favorite 140,000 square-foot Talladega Garage Experience, which includes up-close access to Garage Viewing Walkways, Pre-Race Ceremonies and Victory Lane. In addition, there are hospitality areas such as Fan Suites, Premium Box seating, and Busch Balcony, along with incredible Kid’s programming.
Fans are encouraged to keep up with all the happenings at the biggest, baddest race track on the planet by following Talladega Superspeedway on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram