Alabama native Grant Enfinger’s first NASCAR win at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. (  – Grant Enfinger first attended races at Talladega Superspeedway as a fan with his father. This afternoon, however, the 31-year-old Fairhope, AL native held off teammate Spencer Gallagher for his first career NASCAR national series win at his home track in the fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, capping a race filled with excitement as seven teams battled for five transfer spots to the Round of 6 in the Chase for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Only William Byron, who entered with six victories this season including one earlier in this playoff round, was safe, regardless of what happened over the course of 94 thrilling laps.

With the victory, Enfinger became the first Alabama native to win a NASCAR national series race at Talladega Superspeedway since the late Davey Allison, who won in May of 1992.

“It’s unbelievable,” Enfinger, the 2015 ARCA Racing Series Champion, said. “This is my home track. It’s so special with everybody here. It’s pretty unbelievable that we had a truck that good. I think we made the right call [on the final restart] by starting on the top. We had all four GMS trucks running up front and could have won this race. A few months ago, we didn’t even know if we were coming here, and we’re going to celebrate tonight.”

Several drivers, like Christopher Bell, Matt Crafton and Ben Kennedy, just needed to make it through the day with their point totals relatively unscathed to advance and they did just that.

Daniel Hemric and John Hunter Nemechek, however, entered today’s race needing to avoid trouble entirely, with both sitting below the transfer line in the final race of the Round of 8. Just 13 laps in, however, Nemechek brought out the first caution after his engine failed on the Alabama Gang Superstretch, effectively ending his championship aspirations and dashing any chance of him moving past the first round of the postseason, as he finished 32nd. Meanwhile, Hemric found his No. 19 Ford collected in multi-car accidents not once, but twice, sustaining damage in crashes on Laps 42 and 59, and while he battled back to finish on the lead-lap in 11th, Johnny Sauter’s 7th place finish eliminated him from title contention.

Truex Jr. wins first career pole at Talladega Superspeedway; drama of Hellmann’s 500 awaits on Sunday

The weekend culminates on Sunday with the tension and excitement of the Hellmann’s 500, set to start at 1:00 p.m. CDT. On Saturday afternoon, Martin Truex Jr. got a leg up on the 40-car field by capturing his fourth pole of 2016, and first-ever at Talladega Superspeedway with a lap of 193.423 mph (0:49.508). Truex, who has a 13-point cushion on the final transfer spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will look to advance to the Round of 8 for the second straight fall.

“This is no doubt one of the toughest races there is just to stay mentally focused. It’s not a physically demanding race, but the mental side is pretty insane to be three or four wide all day long, especially if you decide you’re going to try to stay up front all day and try to race all day and not ever go to the back and try to be in a safe spot,” Truex said. “There’s no telling what can happen here, you just have to go race hard and hopefully a little luck is on your side and you can stay near the front. That’s the most important thing.”

The scheduled 188-lap event is the final race of the Round of 12 in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The number of drivers eligible to win the title will be trimmed from 12 to eight following the race, with Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick guaranteed advancement by virtue of wins in this round. Several drivers, including rookie Chase Elliott and four-time Talladega Superspeedway winner Brad Keselowski, have their backs against the wall and will likely need a victory Sunday to avoid elimination.

“I think any success at the Cup level no matter what track, the keys are doing everything right. You have to have a great team, you have to make the right moves, and the strategies have to change and you have to have a little bit of good fortune. I don’t think there is one key,” Keselowski told about his previous restrictor-plate success. “I’ve been very fortunate to win [at Talladega] a handful of times and each time there was probably one moment that was more important than another moment and they aren’t shared between the races.”

Carl Edwards, who enters Sunday 4th in the Chase standings, knows first-hand the highs and lows of restrictor plate racing at Talladega Superspeedway, and how much pressure the NASCAR postseason can add to an already volatile environment.

“This track has been challenging to me since the first time I came here, but this race is pretty simple for us – we brought very good race cars, we’re hoping to race up front all day and try to get a victory,” Edwards said. “There’d be nothing simpler than just winning the race and not worrying about anything else.”

Edwards, six-time Talladega Superspeedway winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and defendin