The Nationwide Series will begin what should be a thrilling weekend of racing at Talladega Superspeedway.
Last year's Nationwide event at Talladega was a wild one to say the least. It featured a track-record 56 leads changes, 11 cautions, two red flags for extensive cleanup efforts and a whole lot of mayhem.
Kyle Busch was involved in a 21-car accident late in the race, but Busch somehow bounced back to win it. The scheduled 117-lap event was extended with two green-white-checkered finishes. Busch propelled to the lead on the final lap when his drafting partner and then Nationwide teammate Joey Logano bumped him to the front. He remained the leader when the race ended under caution for a crash involving Mike Wallace.
This will be the first time Busch competes at Talladega in his No. 54 Toyota.
Last Friday night at Richmond International Raceway, his elder brother, Kurt, gave Kyle Busch Motorsports its first Nationwide race win. Kyle Busch won the Sprint Cup Series race there the following night.
Kurt also drove the car in the April 13 race at Texas Motor Speedway. He suffered engine failure late in the race and ended up finishing 30th.
"I've been out of the No. 54 car for a few weeks now and have watched my brother have success with our team, so now it's my turn," Kyle Busch said. "What we accomplished last week was good for the program."
Both Kurt and Kyle Busch are among the six Sprint Cup regulars competing in the Nationwide race at Talladega. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Logano are the others. Kurt Busch will drive the No. 1 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing. He was also behind the wheel of that car for the February 25 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s fourth-place finish compared to a sixth-place run for Elliott Sadler at Richmond allowed Stenhouse to trim Sadler's points lead to just two.
Talladega has not been one of Stenhouse's best tracks in Nationwide. The defending series champion has finished 29th and 38th in his first two races there.
"I am looking forward to racing at Talladega," Stenhouse said. "We had a strong Ford Mustang at Daytona but were caught in the last-lap wreck. We need to find a drafting partner early on in the race to work with. Our plan is to stay out of trouble and be up front at the end to be able to go for the win."
Sadler placed fifth in last year's race at Talladega.
"Talladega is always a wild race," he said. "You have to be lucky, and you have to be smart. We are bringing the same car that we brought to Daytona earlier this season. It's definitely a fast car, and we finished third and led some laps [at Daytona].
"I think we've learned a lot about these new Nationwide Series cars since the last time we were at Talladega, so I'm looking forward to getting back there. It's definitely one of the races you circle on your calendar, because you don't know what is going to happen."
Forty-four teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Aaron's 312.
Series: NASCAR Nationwide. Date: Saturday, May 5. Race: Aaron's 312. Site: Talladega Superspeedway. Track: 2.66-mile oval. Start time: 3:15 p.m. (et). Laps: 117. Miles: 311.22. 2011 Winner: Kyle Busch. Television: ABC. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Satellite.