Eric McClure hopes to make first Sprint Cup start since 2006 this weekend at Talladega

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The last time Eric McClure qualified for a Sprint Cup race was 2006.

Since then, he’s failed to qualify five times – four at Daytona and once at Talladega.

But the veteran Nationwide Series driver – he’s currently 18th in the standings – will make another bid at making his first Sprint Cup race in eight years for this Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

McClure has made just three qualified career starts in the Cup Series, including twice at Talladega (finished 26th in spring 2004 and 31st in fall 2006).

And even though he failed once again to make the field for this year’s season-opening Daytona 500, he’ll be back at it on NASCAR’s other restrictor plate track, hoping to pilot a third car for Front Row Motorsports in Sunday’s race.

Driving the No. 35 Ford, McClure hopes to qualify and make Sunday’s race with defending race winner and FRM teammate David Ragan and fellow teammate David Gilliland, who pushed Ragan to the win in last year’s spring race there. McClure will also race in Saturday’s Aaron’s 312 Nationwide Series race there, as well.

“I am very appreciative of the opportunity Bob (Jenkins) and Front Row Motorsports have given me to drive the No. 35 car at Talladega,” McClure said in a team media release. “After having a fast car at Daytona (International Speedway in February), the disappointment of missing that race still lingers a bit for me.

“I am optimistic we can make the show at Talladega and have the chance to compete for a great finish.”

In addition to his two previous starts at ‘Dega, McClure has seven NNS starts there, with a career-best 15th-place finish in spring 2008. He’ll be sponsored in his bid to make Sunday’s race by Hefty Ultimate/Reynolds Wrap.

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Scott Dixon fastest on the second day of Indianapolis 500 practice

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Scott Dixon was fastest on the second day of Indy 500 practice Thursday, turning a lap at 226.102 mph in his No. 9 Dallara-Honda at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Takuma Sato was second, followed by Marco Andretti, Conor Daly and rookie Alex Palou.

The rest of the top 10 were: Colton Herta, Charlie Kimball, James Hinchcliffe, Fernando Alonso and James Davison.

THURSDAY PRACTICE: Click here for Day 2 speeds at Indianapolis

COMBINED SPEEDS: Click here for the overall speeds from the first two days

The session had one incident as Alonso crashed with just less than an hour left in the session. The Arrow McLaren SP driver was optimistic that the car could be repaired without a backup.

Among the other notables on the speed chart Thursday: Ryan Hunter-Reay (11th); Tony Kanaan (14th); Helio Castroneves (16th); Josef Newgarden (18th); Graham Rahal (19th); Will Power (23rd); Alexander Rossi (26th) and defending race winner Simon Pagenaud (27th).

Felix Rosenqvist (24th) and rookie Dalton Kellett turned the most laps (141) around the 2.5-mile oval.

Teams mostly focused on race setup Thursday as they will receive 80 extra horsepower in the “Fast Friday” practice that will feature speeds above 230 mph for qualifying Saturday and Sunday.

The Indy 500 will take place Aug. 23; coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on NBC with the green flag at 2:30 p.m.

HOW TO WATCH THE INDY 500 ON NBCDetails for the Aug. 23 race

DAILY INDY 500 SCHEDULEClick here for all on-track activity in August at Indy