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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Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.