A familiar number was at the top of the infield scoring pylon at Talladega Superspeedway after Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing (RCR) Chevrolet, picked up his fifth career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Busch Pole Award on Saturday afternoon for Sunday’s GEICO 500.
Speaking of numbers, Richard Childress is the winningest NASCAR premier series car owner at the 2.66-mile track with 12 victories (tied with Hendrick Motorsports). Nine of those wins came from Dale Earnhardt piloting the No. 3 car.
Dillon is a numbers kind of guy.
“It feels great,” Dillon said, who turned 29 on Saturday. “It’s RCR’s 50th anniversary, Talladega’s 50th anniversary, and my grandfather takes a lot of pride in these speedway races. To come here and get a pole, we felt like we had a car capable of doing that. We knew that didn’t hurt us, so we just wanted to go out there and do what we did.”
The top-starting spot was extra special since Childress began his Cup career at Talladega Superspeedway in the track’s first-ever Monster Energy Series race in the fall of 1969.
The No. 3 Chevrolet returned to the front of the grid for Sunday’s GEICO 500 after posting a lap of 192.544, with Aric Almirola (No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford) starting on the outside of the front row. Clint Bowyer (No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford), Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Team Penske Ford), and Daniel Hemric (No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) closed out the five fastest cars from the two-round qualifying session.
The green flag will drop on the GEICO 500 tomorrow shortly after 1:00 p.m. CDT. Ticket information for the GEICO 500 and all Talladega Superspeedway events is available on-line at www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or by calling 855-518-RACE (7223).
RCR GETS FIRST NASCAR XFINITY SERIES VICTORY AT TALLADEGA
In addition to the dozen wins in the Cup Series, RCR has won one of the Gander Outdoor Truck Series, but prior to Saturday, had never won at the 2.66-mile venue in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Tyler Reddick (No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) changed that Saturday in the MoneyLion 300 and saw $100,000 flash before his eyes that afternoon.
A short time later, he found himself in Gatorade Victory Lane with the Talladega Superspeedway Hammer and Anvil trophy, and the all-important check in hand.
The series points leader rebounded from both wall contact and a pit road penalty, taking home the Dash 4 Cash $100,000 prize with a frenzied defense of the lead after a late restart that bunched up the field.
Runner-up finisher Gray Gaulding (No. 08 SS Green Light Racing) posted his best-ever result in the XFINITY Series, earning a top-five in his first NXS race at Talladega. Christopher Bell (No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing), Chase Briscoe (No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford), and Austin Cindric (No. 22 Team Penske Ford) rounded out the top five.
“Hell of a job by all of our guys at Richard Childress Racing,” a jubilant Reddick said after the race. “I tried to take us out of this race so many times and somehow we got back in the mix, got back in the lead. We had a great day.”
Jeffrey Earnhardt, driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, was poised to make a run at his first NASCAR XFINITY Series victory until he was caught up in a multi-car accident on Lap 110 which brought out a brief red flag. Earnhardt, who started seventh, was able to continue but finished 26th.
Reddick, who collected his fourth career XFINITY series victory on Saturday, also won the race’s opening stage. Noah Gragson (No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet) picked up his first-ever XFINITY series stage win and finished 11th after finding trouble of his own on lap 86.
Great tickets to Sunday’s GEICO 500 still remain, so make the trek to NASCAR’s Most Competitive track and witness history – the 100th race at Talladega in NASCAR’s top division. For ticket information, log onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com, call 855-518-RACE (7223), or go by the main ticket office located at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (located just outside of Turn 4, or other ticket offices outside the frontstretch near the track’s interactive Fan Zone.
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