Photo: Justin R. Noe/ASP, Inc.

Up to Speed: Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Preview

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

It’s the ninth race of the season and only two full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series regulars has scored a victory. The Xfinity Series returns to Talladega Superspeedway for the Sparkes Energy 300. The Xfinity Dash 4 Cash, zero Cup drivers (in the field), and stage racing are just some of the storylines heading into the eighth race of the season.

Coverage for the Sparks Energy 300 is scheduled to start Saturday at 3:00 p.m. ET. Talladega has hosted the ninth race of the season since the 2014 season. In 26 races at the 2.66-mile Tri-Oval, 21 drivers have claimed victory. The last time a Xfinity Series regular competing exclusively in the Xfinity Series won at Talladega was Elliott Sadler in 2016. Sadler is the only former winner entered in Friday’s race.

The last time the Xfinity Series visited Talladega, Aric Almirola took the victory in exciting fashion. Almirola took the lead from Sadler with four laps to go on his way to a 0.142 second victory. Sadler is the only driver that finished in the top-five that day to be entered in Saturday’s field.

By the Numbers

What:Sparks Energy 300, NASCAR Xfinity Series Race Nine

Where: Talladega Superspeedway – Lincoln, Alabama (Opened: 1969)

TV/Radio: FOX, 3:00 p.m. ET / MRN and SiriusXM Channel 90

Track Size: 2.66-Mile Tri-Oval

Banking: 32-33 degrees in the turns, 16.5 degrees in the Tri-Oval, and 3 degrees on the backstretch.

Race Length: 113 Laps, 300 Miles (Three Stages, 25/50/113)

2017 Race Winner:Aric Almirola – No. 98 Fresh From Florida Ford Mustang (Started 23rd, 13 laps led).

Track Qualifying Record: Joe Nemechek (193.517 mph – 1997).

Storylines Heading into the Sparks Energy 300:

There are several storylines going into this weekend’s race to watch for:

  • The four drivers fighting to the Xfinity Dash 4 Cash are Austin Cindric, Christopher Bell, Elliott Sadler, and Matt Tifft.
  • The race will also have Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers taking on the roles of Play-by-Play, Analyst, Pit Reporters, and inside the ‘Hollywood Hotel.’
  • Tifft will have KCMG as the primary sponsor of his No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro SS for Richard Childress Racing.
  • Shane Lee returns to the No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro SS for Richard Childress Racing.
  • Noah Gragson returns to the No. 18 Switch Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing.
  • Cindric will be in the No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang for Team Penske.
  • Dylan Lupton returns to the No. 28 thinQ Technology Partners Ford Mustang for JGL Racing.
  • John Hunter Nemechek returns to the No. 42 Fire Alarm Services Chevrolet Camaro SS for Chip Ganassi Racing.
  • Jennifer Jo Cobb will be in the No. 55 Swamp Daddy Crawfish Toyota Camry for JP Motorsports in place of Stephen Leicht.
  • Ty Majeski returns to the No. 60 Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing.
  • Chase Briscoe returns to the No. 98 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-Denbeste Racing.

Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)

Friday, April 27

  • NXS Practice 1 (11:35 a.m. – 12:25 p.m., on Fox Sports 1)
  • NXS Practice 2 (1:35 p.m. – 2:25 p.m., on Fox Sports 1)

Saturday, April 28

  • NXS Qualifying (11:00 a.m., on Fox Sports 1)
  • NXS Sparks Energy 300 (3:00 p.m. – 113 laps, 300 miles – on FOX, SiriusXM Channel 90, and the Motor Racing Network)

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Seth Eggert has followed NASCAR his entire life. Seth is currently pursuing a writing career and is majoring in Communications and Journalism. He is an avid iRacer and video gamer. Seth also tutors students at Mitchell Community College in multiple subjects. He has an Associate's Degree in History.