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Joe Gibbs Racing: 2014 Aaron’s Dream Weekend preview at Talladega

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Restrictor plate racing is on the schedule for this weekend in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, as the stars race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. The Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312 goes green Saturday, May 3rd, while the Cup Series Aaron’s 499 takes the green flag on Sunday, May 4th. Joe Gibbs Racing will bring six teams and six drivers to the track, with Sam Hornish Jr. and Darrell Wallace Jr. making their first Nationwide Series starts of the season.

Denny Hamlin, driving the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry on Sunday, has five top 10 finishes in 16 starts at Talladega, but hasn’t finished in the top 10 since fall 2011. Last season, Hamlin had finishes of 34th and 38th at the 2.66-mile track.

Kyle Busch, in the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota on Sunday, gets a rare weekend off in the Nationwide Series this week. Busch has one win – spring 2008 – and five top 10 finishes in 18 starts at Talladega, three of which have come in the last four races. Last season, Busch had finishes of 37th in the spring and fifth in the fall.

Matt Kenseth, in the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota on Sunday, has one win and nine top 10 finishes in 28 starts at Talladega, the win coming in fall 2012 for Roush Fenway Racing. Last year, Kenseth put together finishes of eighth and 20th at the track.

Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 11 OneMain Financial Toyota Camry in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, has two top 10 finishes and a pole in five Talladega starts in the series. Last season, Sadler finished just outside the top 10 in 11th.

Wallace Jr., in the No. 20 ToyotaCare Toyota, makes his first Nationwide Series start of the season for JGR and his first Nationwide Series start at Talladega. In last year’s Camping World Truck Series race at the track, WallaceJr. qualified 10th and finished 17th.

Hornish Jr., in the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota that is normally the home for Busch, will make his first Nationwide Series start for JGR. In three previous Nationwide Series starts at Talladega, Hornish Jr. has two top 15 finishes; he started sixth and finished 25th at least year’s event.

The Nationwide Series qualifies at 5:40 p.m. CT. on Friday for the Aaron’s 312; the race goes green Saturday at 2 p.m. CT. Qualifying for the Sprint Cup Series Aaron’s 499 takes place Saturday at 12:10 p.m. CT; the race takes the green flag at noon CT on Sunday. Keep up with the action at joegibbsracing.com.

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