Darrell ‘Bubba’ Wallace to make first Nationwide Series start at Talladega on Saturday

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Racing at Talladega Superspeedway is a completely different experience than most drivers have ever gone through before in their careers.

Darrell “Bubba” Wallace will find out what kind of beast and monster Talladega can be when he competes in his first-ever NASCAR Nationwide Series start there in Saturday’s Aaron’s 312 race.

Wallace, who is in his second full season in the Camping World Truck Series (currently ranked eighth after two races), will be making his fifth career NNS start and first in 2014.

In four NNS starts last season, the 20-year-old Wallace recorded three top-10 finishes and one pole (Dover). His worst finish was only 12th (also at Dover).

Wallace will be driving the Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota Camry in Saturday’s race.

“We’re excited to be able to provide this opportunity for Darrell in Talladega,” JGR president J.D. Gibbs said in a team media release. “He has been doing a great job in the Truck series with his KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) team and we want to make sure he continues to gain experience in our Nationwide Series cars as well.”

Wallace became the first African-American driver to win a NASCAR national event in nearly 50 years when he captured last fall’s truck race at Martinsville.

“It’s good to be back behind the wheel of a Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Nationwide Series,” Wallace said. “I’m excited to work with (crew chief) Kevin Kidd and all the guys on this Nationwide Series team.

“I know they have a good Toyota Camry and Matt (Kenseth) has been running it all season long and posted good finishes. Hopefully, we can go out there, stay out of harm’s way and add to that by posting a good, strong finish at Talladega.”

While it will be Wallace’s first start in a Nationwide car at ‘Dega, he does have one other start at NASCAR’s largest oval (at 2.66-miles around), last fall in the truck series race there.

He started 10th and appeared headed towards a top-10 finish when he was involved in a last-lap wreck coming out of turn 4 and ultimately finished 17th.

Ironically enough, Wallace won the following week at Martinsville.

If he does well in the NNS race at ‘Dega, could lightning strike twice for him in next week’s truck race at Kansas Speedway?

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Marco Andretti to drive throwback scheme to honor 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario’s last win

Photo courtesy Andretti-Herta Autosport
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Marco Andretti wanted to do something really special to honor the 25th anniversary of grandfather Mario Andretti’s final Indy car win in 1993 at Phoenix International Raceway (now known as ISM Raceway).

So the third-generation Andretti, along with his team, Andretti-Herta Autosport, came up with a plan and design that will take longtime race fans back in time when it appears early next month for the Phoenix Grand Prix.

Marco Andretti’s No. 98 Oberto Beef Jerky Circle K/Curb Honda will be decked out in the colors of the car his grandfather won his last race on the one-mile short track 25 years ago.

“When the idea of a throwback livery celebrating my grandfather’s final win was thrown around, Oberto was ready to get to the drawing board,” Marco Andretti said in a media release. “The black, white and red car resembles many of my family’s race cars and was a big part of my life growing up.

“It’s really cool to be able to add one of my cars to that family legacy.”

The car is a virtual double of the legendary Newman-Haas Racing and Texaco/Havoline-sponsored car Mario drove on that celebratory day in the Valley of the Sun 2 ½ decades ago.

Various events and ceremonies during the April 6-7 race weekend will honor the senior Andretti. That includes several of his former competitors who will be on hand to celebrate with Mario, including Emerson Fittipaldi, Bobby Rahal, Jimmy Vasser, Paul Tracy, Arie Luyendyk, and of course, son Michael Andretti and grandson Marco Andretti.

Check out what happened on that day 25 years ago:

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