The Alabama Gang rides again: Justin Allison to race at Daytona

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NASCAR’s infamous Alabama Gang will ride again – and at Daytona, to boot.

Justin Allison, grandson of former NASCAR star Donnie Allison and grand-nephew of NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, will become the third generation of Allisons to take to Daytona International Speedway’s high banks this Saturday.

He’ll compete in the 51st ARCA race at DIS, the Lucas Oil 200 presented MAVTV American Real, prior to NASCAR’s running of the Sprint Unlimited.

A cousin to the late Davey and Clifford Allison (Bobby’s sons), this will be the second career ARCA race for Justin, who started and finished 11th in his series debut last fall at Kansas Speedway.

Admittedly, having such a famous surname adds pressure, just as if his last name was Petty, Earnhardt or Jarrett. The 21-year-old Salisbury, N.C., resident is ready for the pressure, he said in a story at ARCARacing.com.

“There’s always pressure there regardless of your last name,” Justin said, adding, “I really don’t let it bother me. I just do my thing and try to block out the unwanted pressure.”

Justin has some big family shoes to fill. Davey Allison was the 1984 ARCA Rookie of the Year, won eight of 40 career ARCA Racing Series starts from 1980 through 1986, finished second in the 1984 standings and third in 1985.

Davey’s younger brother Clifford made 12 ARCA career starts from1988 through 1992, with a best of runner-up finishes at both the formidable Michigan Int’l Speedway and Pocono Raceway in 1992.

Davey and father Bobby Allison both won the Daytona 500 in their careers.

And now, even though he’s a rookie, Justin feels it’s his turn to carry on the Allison family tradition and win at Daytona.

“Our goal is to win it,” he said. “Obviously, we have to run the whole race to accomplish that, and I know I’ve got a lot to learn out there.

“I’m really looking forward to the experience, but if we’re there at the end, our goal should be nothing short of winning it. That’s why we do this.”

Saturday’s race will be the first of at least 10 ARCA events Allison plans to compete in for Team BCR. He’ll be behind the wheel of the No. 88 Havaco-Multi Services Ford, powered by a Roush Yates motor.

The younger Allison has received extensive coaching and advice from grandfather Donnie, who won 10 Sprint Cup races in his career, including the 1970 Firecracker 400 and the 1970 World 600, and had career-best finishes of third and fourth in the Daytona 500.

“He’s (Donnie Allison) always giving me advice,” Justin said. “He pretty much told me that you really have to pay attention at (Daytona) more so than the rest. He’s given me a lot of great advice. With all the experience he has in stock cars, there isn’t a paper big enough for all the advice he’s got.”

Justin learned the nuances of Daytona during ARCA’s open test there in December.

What was the biggest thing he took away from that test?

“Just pretty much hold it to the floor and turn left.”

Spoken like a true racer – and a true Allison, as well.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.