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Backed by Junior Nation, Alex Bowman sees opportunity at Talladega
RELATED: Ailing Bowman presses on, nabs career-best finish With Dale Earnhardt Jr . slated to miss his first Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway since he broke into the big leagues full time as a rookie in 2000, many wonder which driver will replace the superspeedway ace as the one to beat in Sunday's Hellmann's 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App). How about, you know, the guy actually replacing him? Fresh off a seventh-place showing at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Alex Bowman is set to drive Earnhardt's No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for the third consecutive week and the seventh time this season as the driver recovers from concussion-related symptoms. This weekend is perhaps Bowman's most significant start of the year. Because it's at Earnhardt's own Talladega. RELATED: Earnhardt-Talladega streak to continue Sunday "He's got a couple fans out there," Bowman told NASCAR.com at Kansas. "Man, I'm excited about (racing at Talladega). Speedway racing is always stressful, but … ( Hendrick Motorsports ) brings such fast race cars to the race track and their speedway stuff is amazing. Always fast. Especially the 88. So, just really looking forward to having a chance to win. "I'm going to sit Dale down and have a couple-hour conversation with him about speedway racing. If there's a speedway racer left in this garage, it's him, for sure." The man's got a point. From a wins standpoint, Talladega ranks as Junior's best track with six, only closely followed by four wins at Daytona, another Earnhardt cornerstone -- and another superspeedway. Bowman's 'Dega stats don't match Junior's, of course, but he did pilot the No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet to a 16th-place finish just last year. And while it's almost jarring to hear a driver say that he is "excited" for Talladega, it's unsurprising coming from Bowman, who'll have the roar of the crowd on his side -- a fanbase that has named the man he's replacing NASCAR's Most Popular Driver for 13 years running. "Junior Nation has been great," said Bowman, 23. "It's been really cool; they've just been really supportive. Every now and then there's one fan that hates me, but for the most part they've been awesome. Casey Mears fans hate me after (Charlotte), because apparently it was my fault that we blew a tire and wrecked him, but Junior Nation has been awesome." RELATED: Dale Jr. to join broadcasts for Talladega, Martinsville Not only does Bowman have full access to Earnhardt's Talladega insight, a wealth of knowledge so deep it likely needs its own Dewey Decimal System, he's sharing substitute driving duties with a four-time Sprint Cup champ and six-time 'Dega winner in Jeff Gordon . "It’s been really cool (to share a ride with Gordon). Jeff was my favorite driver growing up when I was a kid," Bowman said. "It's been really good to learn from him. He's an open book. All five of my teammates are complete open books. It's great to lean on them and learn as much as I can, but Jeff just has so much experience and has a really interesting view on a lot of things. "It's been a great time just listening and observing and learning everything I can from him." The lessons taken at "Gordon Drivers Ed, Inc." appear to be working, too. While the final results might not show the whole picture, Bowman, at times, has looked like the more competitive driver behind the wheel of the No. 88, and owns the car's best finish -- seventh -- since Earnhardt placed second at Pocono way back in June. Bowman says that some people joke with him and say "Oh, I'm glad to see you've finally learned how to drive." He's always known how to drive, it's just been more about opportunities. And if luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity, "Bad Luck Bowman" -- a driver that once learned he'd been fired via Twitter -- knows the magnitude of the opportunity presented to him this weekend and in his remaining races. And you can be sure he'll be prepared. "I hope (this opportunity has put my name out there)," Bowman said. "We've talked to a lot of people and it always comes back to money. It's always 'Well, do you have any sponsorship?' 'Do you have any funding?' I don't, so it's just … the sport's such a business at this point that it really kind of limits what I can and can't get into and that's what's limited what I can and can't get into for the last four years. "I don't have anything lined up (for next year yet). I think my role that I had at Hendrick Motorsports before all this happened is still going to be the same. Still being a part of the team, still doing all the simulator stuff and helping as much as I can. I don't think that will change. Obviously, when Dale comes back and all that, I don't really know what that leaves for me as far as driving anything. "I don't know what the future holds there. I don't have anything going forward, really." In the short-term, at least, he'll have the full support of Junior Nation at Talladega. </p>
Full schedule for Martinsville
RELATED: Find NBCSN in your area " Watch live online at NBCSports.com The NASCAR Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series will gather for a doubleheader showing at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. Check out the full schedule below. Note: All times are ET FRIDAY, OCT. 28: ON TRACK -- 11 a.m.-12:25 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series first practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Follow live ) -- 12:30-1:25 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series first practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 2:30-3:50 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series final practice, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- 4:40 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Follow live ) GARAGECAM ( Watch live ) -- 10:30 a.m.: Sprint Cup Series -- Noon: Camping World Truck Series SATURDAY, OCT. 29: ON TRACK -- 9-9:55 a.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, CNBC ( Follow live ) -- 10:15 a.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Qualifying, FS1 ( Follow live ) -- Noon-12:50 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series final practice, NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Follow live ) -- 1:30 p.m.: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Texas Roadhouse 200 presented by Alpha Energy Solutions ( 200 laps, 105.2 miles), FS1 ( Follow live ) SUNDAY, OCT. 30: ON TRACK -- 1 p.m.: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody's Fast Relief 500 (500 laps, 263 miles), NBCSN/NBC Sports App ( Follow live )
NASCAR TV schedule: October 24-30
Talladega Sprint Cup qualifying order
RELATED: How qualifying works at Talladega # Car Driver Team 1 32 Bobby Labonte VisoneRV.com Ford 2 93 * Matt DiBenedetto Dustless Blasting Toyota 3 7 Regan Smith Golden Corral Chevrolet 4 46 Michael Annett Pilot Flying J Chevrolet 5 55 * Reed Sorenson Toyota 6 35 * David Gilliland Dockside Logistics Ford 7 1 Jamie McMurray Cessna Chevrolet 8 83 Jeffrey Earnhardt # Starter Toyota 9 23 David Ragan sweetFrog Toyota 10 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Chevrolet 11 41 Kurt Busch (C) Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet 12 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet 13 3 Austin Dillon (C) American Ethanol Chevrolet 14 22 Joey Logano (C) Shell Pennzoil Ford 15 21 * Ryan Blaney # Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford 16 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 17 2 Brad Keselowski (C) Miller Lite Ford 18 14 Tony Stewart Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet 19 10 Danica Patrick Nature's Bakery Chevrolet 20 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet 21 11 Denny Hamlin (C) FedEx Ground Toyota 22 42 Kyle Larson Energizer Chevrolet 23 78 Martin Truex Jr (C) Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota 24 18 Kyle Busch (C) Snickers Halloween Toyota 25 99 * Ryan Reed (i) Lilly Diabetes/American Diabetes Association Ford 26 27 Paul Menard SYLVANIA/ Menards Chevrolet 27 88 Alex Bowman (i) Mountain Dew Chevrolet 28 5 Kasey Kahne UniFirst Chevrolet 29 19 Carl Edwards (C) Subway Toyota 30 24 Chase Elliott # (C) NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 31 20 Matt Kenseth (C) DeWalt Flexvolt Toyota 32 48 Jimmie Johnson (C) Lowe's Pro Services Chevrolet 33 4 Kevin Harvick (C) Jimmy John's Chevrolet 34 38 Landon Cassill FR8 Auctions Ford 35 44 Brian Scott # Goody's Ford 36 95 Michael McDowell KLOVE Radio Chevrolet 37 6 Trevor Bayne AdvoCare Ford 38 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Zest Ford 39 34 Chris Buescher # Love's Travel Stops Ford 40 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger/Scott Products Chevrolet 41 16 Greg Biffle Cheez-it Ford *Driver is required to qualify on time, (i) ineligible for driver points in this series
Trouble knocks Nemechek, Hemric from Chase hunt
RELATED: Chase Grid " Race results TALLADEGA, Ala. -- It was high drama for both NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers contending for a spot to advance in the series' Chase on Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway . For John Hunter Nemechek , it was an abbreviated fate; for Daniel Hemric , the action went right to the wire. Neither was able to race into the six-driver next phase of the title Chase, however, which will include William Byron, Christopher Bell , Timothy Peters , Matt Crafton , Ben Kennedy and Johnny Sauter . The motor on Nemechek's No. 8 Fire Alarm Services Chevrolet blew only 13 laps into Saturday's 94-lap elimination race. And he was scored in last place in the 32-truck field. Hemric, 25, was caught up in three incidents -- two of them multi-truck crashes including "The Big One" with 36 laps remaining that essentially sealed his fate, leaving his No. 19 DrawTite Ford with heavy damage to the rear and left side. But still drivable. He spun out again with 12 laps remaining and pitted for repairs. And despite all the drama, he still finished 11th and on the lead lap. "Today was another statement of what we've done all year, battle to the end," Hemric said, adding, "It was a matter of keep fighting, because you never know. We were trying to put ourselves in the best situation. I promise we made the most out of what was presented to us." In fact, with six laps remaining, Hemric's closest competitor in the Chase, Matt Crafton , went behind the wall, his truck smoking when the crew lifted the hood. But even by that point, pulling out a victory remained Hemric's best option to move on. "Honestly, we were hoping to be in a points battle moving forward, but with knowing that situation was you still need to win races," Hemric said. "… We're going to go down swinging. I hate coming up short, but now we have nothing to lose to make that situation a reality." The first multi-truck crash happened with 51 laps remaining. Hemric's teammate Tyler Reddick drove into the rear of his Ford while they both were trying to avoid an accident in front of them. Hemric had to make an extended pit stop for repairs, going a lap down at the time but got back on the lead lap a handful of laps later as a result of another accident. "A busy day to say the least. We didn't qualify where we wanted to but I was around our teammates. I thought we would be OK. We knew coming here the variables of superspeedway racing. … I hate we got caught up in what we did but we did everything we could. "The effort from this team was second to none. We were just a part of a lot of very unfortunate situations there that we couldn't avoid, couldn't miss. One, you can rebound from, two, you can probably rebound from, but the third one definitely put us in a bad situation. Hate we couldn't win a race earlier and get locked in." The disappointment was also palpable for the 19-year-old second-generation driver Nemechek, whose family-owned team had positioned him for his first try at the series title. Nemechek qualified for the series' first version of the Chase thanks to wins at Atlanta and again in a controversial close finish on the Bowmanville, Canada, road course. But he hardly even got a shot to race into the next round after his motor let go on the Talladega high banks minutes into the race. "All my temps were fine, I haven't seen a big blow-up like that in a while," said Nemechek. "We didn't even really have a shot to race our way in. But that's kind of how our last three weeks have been. I haven't seen a motor blow up like that in a while. Bad stuff can happen at Talladega and unfortunately we got the bad side. "We'll go back and regroup. I'm very proud of all our guys and now our focus will be on just getting some wins." Nemechek has a pair of runner-up finishes (2015 and 2016) at next week's short-track stop, Martinsville Speedway .
'Big One' hits Talladega Truck Chase race
RELATED: Race results " Updated Truck Series Chase Grid A severe multi-truck crash thinned the field in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway . The melee was triggered in the 59th of 94 laps, when Ben Rhodes ' ThorSport Racing No. 41 Toyota was shuffled out of line after a push from Timothy Peters heading into the 2.66-mile track's first turn. After bouncing off the outside retaining wall, Rhodes' truck veered back into traffic, touching the No. 86 of Brandon Brown and congesting the high banks. "It's just a shame that it ended that way," said Rhodes, who was running third at the time of the crash. "I just felt a huge shove from the rear and I had no way of controlling it." With the track blocked, several other drivers piled in. Among those involved: pole-starter Cole Custer , Chase competitors Daniel Hemric , Peters and William Byron as well as Korbin Forrister , John Wes Townley , Tyler Reddick , Chris Fontaine , Dylan Lupton , Austin Cindric, Rico Abreu and Cody Ware . Although several trucks absorbed hard hits -- with Brown's among the hardest -- all drivers were evaluated and released from the track's infield care center. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Driver Sober 200 postponed at Dover
The Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway has been postponed and will be run prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday, October 2nd.
Twitter-less no more? Edwards vows to join if he wins title
TALLADEGA, Ala. – Carl Edwards joked earlier this week about the possibility of finally, at long last, joining the popular social media site, Twitter. And the two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship runner-up was asked again about it Friday at Talladega Superspeedway , where Edwards again promised he would join the social media site if he wins the 2016 season championship. "Yeah, it's going to happen,’" Edwards said, shaking his head and smiling. Among NASCAR's most famous "Twitter-less" drivers, Edwards told reporters he didn't know how popular the social media site would be by the time he finally acquiesced. “ By the time I join Twitter, Twitter will be like out of fashion probably," he said. "But that's my plan ... to tweet from Victory Lane at Homestead. That would be good." There's one small hitch: Edwards was admittedly unsure of the details. "I don't know what my Twitter handle would be," he said. Earlier in the week, reporters attending a NASCAR test at Homestead-Miami Speedway had reminded Edwards of his pledge to join Twitter if he clinched the 2016 Cup title. And he surprised the media group by telling them he had considered posting something from that test session on Twitter via his public relations representative's account. Other high-profile drivers such as Jimmie Johnson , Danica Patrick and Brad Keselowski have been active on the site. Dale Earnhardt Jr . famously started using his Twitter account after winning his second Daytona 500 in 2014, and now has 1.76 million followers. Only one thing is stopping Edwards from joining right now. "I committed if we won the championship I will join," Edwards said.
Grant Enfinger earns first win in Talladega truck thriller
RELATED: Race results " Updated Truck Series Chase Grid TALLADEGA, Ala. – In the race that decided the lineup for the Round of 6 in the inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase, Alabama native Grant Enfinger stole the thunder from the playoff drivers in Saturday's fred's 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Talladega Superspeedway . With a strong push from GMS Racing teammate and Chase driver Ben Kennedy after a restart on Lap 93 of 94, Enfinger surged to the front and stayed there in the face of a last-lap challenger from another teammate, Spencer Gallagher , who came home second, .108 seconds behind the winner. The victory was Enfinger's first in 13 career starts in the series. "It's unbelievable," said Enfinger, who led the first-ever 1-2 finish for GMS. "It's my home track. It's just so special." RELATED: 'Big One' shakes up Trucks Chase The race reduced the NCWTS Chase field from eight drivers to six. Third-place finisher Timothy Peters was the highest finisher among those who advanced, followed by Kennedy in fifth place, as GMS drivers claimed four of the top seven positions. "I got behind Grant Enfinger and tried to push him as much as I could," said Kennedy, who shoved his teammate's No. 24 Chevrolet to the front in the outside lane. "I knew the outside line had a little bit of something. I pushed him as much as I could, and once he got out to the lead, that truck was so fast out there. "I thought about trying to make it three-wide, but I didn't really have the momentum to carry it around him." Also moving on to the Round of 6 were sixth-place finisher Christopher Bell , GMS driver Johnny Sauter (seventh on Saturday), 10th-place finisher William Byron (who already had clinched a spot with a victory in the opening Chase race at New Hampshire) and Matt Crafton (who came home 22nd after his blown engine caused the seventh and final caution on Lap 89). WATCH: Nemechek out after his engine expires John Hunter Nemechek was eliminated from the Chase early in the race. The engine in his No. 8 Chevrolet expired on Lap 13, and Nemechek retired in 32nd place. Daniel Hemric , who entered the race below the Chase cut line, remained there thanks to three separate incidents on Saturday, the most costly a 14-car wreck on Lap 59 that severely damaged his No. 19 Ford. Hemric finished 11th, but fell 13 points short of Crafton, whose engine problems occurred too late to be of help to Hemric, given that 10 other trucks already were in the garage when Crafton’s motor blew. "Today was completely full of trials and trying to overcome things," Hemric said. "All we can do now is try to win races. It wasn’t for lack of effort. We got involved in three or four different situations there and never had the opportunity to get back to the front." Sunoco Rookie Rico Abreu finished fourth, his second top-five of the season and his best result in the series on pavement. Byron is the top seed in the Round of 6, followed by Bell, Peters, Crafton, Kennedy and Sauter. All six drivers start the Round of 6 with points reset to 3,000. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Roush Fenway Racing to keep Ryan Reed for '17, beyond
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Roush Fenway Racing has signed a multi-year renewal agreement for driver Ryan Reed to continue to pilot the No. 16 Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Reed, who five years ago was told he would never race again after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, qualified for the 2016 inaugural XFINITY Series Chase and scored his first victory in the series last season at Daytona. "We are very excited to continue our program with Lilly Diabetes," said Reed, who will make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway . "Not only to continue to drive the No. 16, but more importantly, the opportunity to encourage and educate people who are living with diabetes and those who care for them. We will continue to share the message about diabetes awareness, specifically the importance of talking to doctors as well as proper nutrition and daily exercise." Reed will look to make history this weekend as the only driver actively managing his diabetes to race at the Sprint Cup level. The Bakersfield, California native manages his diabetes through a strict diet and exercise program, the use of a wireless glucose monitoring device to provide in-race, real-time data, and consistent communication with his medical team in California. "Through sharing his diabetes story with NASCAR fans throughout the country over the past three years, Ryan has inspired thousands of people affected by diabetes to live healthier lives and take an active role in managing their health. Lilly Diabetes is proud to renew our sponsorship so together we can continue to make a difference in people’s lives," said Mike Mason, vice president, U.S., Lilly Diabetes. "Like NASCAR, Lilly has been an American institution for generations. We introduced the world’s first commercialized insulin in 1923, and our innovative medicines and education programs have helped people with diabetes ever since. This sponsorship is another step forward in our drive to help more people who have the disease or care for someone who does." Reed posted career highs in Chase races at Kentucky and Dover to advance to the ‘Round of 8’ in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase at Charlotte. He is currently only two points outside of the top four, with two races remaining before the series champion is decided in the season finale at Homestead. Roush Fenway Racing is the winningest team in NASCAR history, fielding multiple teams in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY Series competition with drivers Greg Biffle , Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., Trevor Bayne , Ryan Reed , Chris Buescher and Bubba Wallace. Now in its 29th season, Roush Fenway is a leader in driver development, having launched the careers for many of the top drivers in the sport. Off-track, Roush Fenway is a leader in NASCAR marketing solutions, pioneering motorsport’s first team-focused TV show and producing multiple award-winning digital and experiential marketing campaigns. Roush Fenway is co-owned by Jack Roush, the winningest team owner in NASCAR history and Fenway Sports Group, parent company of Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox and English Premier League’s Liverpool F.C. Visit RoushFenway.com, circle on Google+, become a fan on Facebook and Instagram and follow on Twitter at @roushfenway.