Following a month reprieve since the second round of the ARCA Menards Series season at Phoenix Raceway, drivers and teams are gearing up for Saturday’s (April 24) General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway.
While Ty Gibbs enjoyed his victory at Phoenix, the 18-year-old makes his first start at the 2.66-mile superspeedway alongside 28 other competitors.
Saturday afternoon’s General Tire 200 will be a 76-lap event.
Last year, Drew Dollar emerged victorious over his Venturini Motorsports teammate Ryan Repko by a margin of 0.115 seconds while eventual champion Bret Holmes, Riley Herbst and Michael Self rounded out the top five.
Compared to last year’s race in which only 21 drivers competed, 29 cars will vie for Talladega glory Saturday. Dollar looks to defend his victory in his No. 15 Sunbelt Rentals Toyota Camry fielded by Venturini Motorsports.
Talladega week!!!! https://t.co/8vS9gBWHwF
— Drew Dollar (@DrewDollar00) April 19, 2021
With finishes of third in last year’s season opener at Daytona International Speedway, first at Talladega and a runner-up finish in this year’s opener at Daytona, Dollar seems like a solid pre-race favorite with an average finish of second on superspeedways.
On the other hand, Nick Sanchez, driver of the No. 2 Rev Racing Chevrolet, hopes Talladega treats him better than Daytona and Phoenix. Ranked 17th in the points standings after back-to-back crashes, Sanchez looks to apply the lessons learned from Daytona at Talladega.
“I think I learned a lot from Daytona,” Sanchez said in an interview with podcaster Casey Campbell. “I put myself in a precarious position but learned from that. I’ll try to position myself in a lot cleaner of a matter for ‘Dega. My goal is to be there at the end because I feel like if I am, I think we really do have a shot.”
“I look at Talladega the same as I do with Daytona. People just say it’s a wider track and it’s wide open. Practice is just to make sure that everything is right in the car and it’s not hitting the ground. I’d say practice is more for the cars since the front end’s been rebuilt since Daytona due to the wreck. But as far as the rest of the car, it’s pretty much identical to Daytona so that is a very good thing.
“As much as I want to discuss a plan, everything changes on the fly. I just want to be very conservative. I prefer to be either in the front or the back. I don’t really care to be in the middle because you’re kind of in a tough situation. I kind of want to lag back but I also don’t want to lag back too much because I don’t want to lose the draft. I know we have a halfway break. So as long as we are there in the end, that’s all I can ask for.”
Another young gun worth watching on Saturday afternoon is 20-year-old Kyle Sieg of Tucker, Georgia. Despite Sieg making his maiden start at Talladega, the driver of the No. 28 RSS Racing Chevrolet is off to a cracking start this year with a fifth at Daytona and a fourth at Phoenix. Sieg’s solid start has his team excited.
— RSS Racing (@RSS383993) April 20, 2021
Venturini Motorsports and superspeedways tend to be a perfect combination, like Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Lieutenant Commander Data and a deck of poker cards. One of those potent Venturini Motorsports drivers worth watching is Corey Heim, this year’s Daytona ARCA winner. On the strength of a 1.5-average finish with his Daytona victory and runner-up at Phoenix, Heim and his No. 20 Toyota team are quite a formidable contender for the win at Talladega, even with a friend and rival in Gibbs to consider.
“Ty definitely is going to be a big competitor this year, but we’re also trying to beat the other 20 cars on a weekly basis at the racetrack,” Heim said in an interview on ARCA’s official site. “A lot of people will set their sights on one person and kind of lose track of everyone else. That’s not what I’m trying to do.”
However, besides focusing on battling for the checkered flag at Talladega and this year’s ARCA title, Heim will have his sights set on his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start next month at Darlington as Frontstretch‘s Luken Glover shared. Understandably, Heim seems quite excited about this opportunity.
— Corey Heim (@CoreyHeim3) April 21, 2021
In spite of an average finish of 15.5 at Talladega, 20-year-old Thad Moffitt remains quite optimistic about his chances Saturday. Following a 21st-place finish at Daytona, Moffitt scored a podium at Phoenix which has the Trinity, North Carolina native ranked fifth in the championship standings.
“The last six weeks since our race at Phoenix have felt like forever,” Moffitt said in a team press release. “I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of the No. 46 Fusion and see if we can better our third-place run. The superspeedway races are two of my favorite races on the schedule and ones that I feel confident heading into. I would love to get my first ARCA win at Talladega.”
All things considered, 20-year-old Jack Wood of Loomis, California looks forward to race No. 3. Showcasing some prowess and potential with a ninth at Daytona, Wood was collected in an opening lap, turn 2 crash at Phoenix that relegated him to a 29th-place result.
It’s has been three really tough races for our @GMSRacingLLC team. I have never worked with a more dedicated group of people and we will pull through. All we need is just a little bit of luck and we will be right there contending for wins.
— Jack Wood (@DriverJackWood) March 13, 2021
Finally, Bret Holmes, the 23-year-old defending ARCA champion, has to be considered as a contender. A native of Mulford, Alabama, Holmes is not running the full ARCA season schedule, but he certainly knows his way around this 2.66-mile superspeedway. Logging an average finish of 15th, including a third in last year’s race, the driver of the No. 23 Chevrolet SS looks to best his Talladega efforts.
All in all, drivers and teams will not have much on-track time before the race other than a half hour practice session in groups Saturday morning.
The General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway gets the green flag on Saturday, April 24 shortly after 1 p.m. ET with TV coverage provided by FS1 while being live streamed on the Fox Sports app.