E.A. Sports Today

Let ’em through

Talladega officially opens its oversized oversized vehicle tunnel in Turn 3, just in time for this weekend’s races

Jeffrey Earnhardt (L), Grant Lynch (C) and Chase Briscoe helped open the new Turn 3 tunnel at Talladega Superspeedway that will be RVs and haulers easy access to the infield.

TALLADEGA – Horns were honking and the RVs were rolling as through the new Turn 3 Oversized Vehicle Tunnel at Talladega Superspeedway opened Wednesday.
NASCAR drivers Jeffrey Earnhardt and Chase Briscoe joined long-time track chairman Grant Lynch is cutting the ribbon as part of the tunnel’s “official” Grand Opening for thousands of fans to enter the track’s iconic infield.
With the ribbon cut, Briscoe and Earnhardt proceeded to lead the extended trail of infield campers through the new tunnel, the first phase of the track’s $50 million Transformation. Briscoe drove the official Ford Edge ST Pace Car, followed by Earnhardt in a Toyota Tundra truck, with John Ray’s patriotic Big Rig, a tradition at the 2.66-mile venue during the National Anthem in all pre-race ceremonies, in tow. 
Earnhardt, the grandson of 10-time record Talladega winner Dale Earnhardt Sr., and Briscoe will both be competing in Saturday’s MoneyLion 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race while Earnhardt will contend in Sunday’s GEICO 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event for Xtreme Concepts Racing where he will make his 2019 debut.
“The new tunnel makes it way more convenient not only for the teams but especially for the race fans,” said Briscoe, in his first full-time season behind the wheel of the No. 98 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing. “To me, Talladega is already the best fan experience. When you come here you can hang out, it’s just a good time, and now for all the improvements that we’re seeing it’s just going to make it even better. I’m looking forward to coming back in the fall to see the complete renovation.”
“I think it’s incredible,” Earnhardt said. “For the fans, this is going to be incredible, whether you might have trouble getting here and you get here late, now you can just drive on in. It’s only going to continue to make the fan experience that much better. I’m real excited about it. I know us on the team side are going to be excited about it and I know the fans are going to love it as well.”
The new tunnel, more than 28 feet wide and 16 feet high, is capable of allowing fans’ large RVs as well as race team haulers to enter and exit the track simultaneously with ease. It will be open 24 hours this weekend.
For Earnhardt, the Xfinity-Cup doubleheader marks the first time in his career he’ll be pulling double duty. It will be his first Xfinity start here since May 2, 2-15, when he finished 12thin the Winn-Dixie 300.It also will be his first Cup race since October at Kansas Speedway.
“Double duty will definitely be a new experience for me, but it’s something we’ve been preparing for,” Earnhardt said. “The JGR cars have been fast every race. We’ve seen Kyle (Busch) go out and absolutely dominate in the No. 18, and we’ve been able to pull out some really great runs. So, I’m excited to have another shot at it, especially after doing so well at Daytona.
“The Cup race will be a bit different. The Xtreme Concepts team is still new and it’s only our first Cup start this year, but we’ve had a lot of help from Joe Gibbs Racing to prepare. If you look back at Texas, that was the first Xfinity race for Xtreme Concepts. We fought for position all day and ended up in the top-10 before it was all over. I think you can look at that and see we aren’t just here to finish. We’re here to finish up front and fight for every spot. It will be the same on Sunday.”
Talladega is a fitting location for this double-duty because of its long-standing connection to the Earnhardt name. Dale Jr. won six Cup Series here and Dale Sr. won 10. The father-son duo made 79 combined Cup starts at Talladega with 35 Top 5s and 44 Top 10s.
“Talladega has always been a special place, not just for me, but the whole Earnhardt family,” Jeffrey said. “We’ve all seen the success my grandfather and uncle have had there. For the most part, it’s treated me well.

“There’s something different about Talladega. The fans are so emotionally connected to what is going on, and the feeling you get when you pull into this huge track with all of the campers and people in the infield you’ll never see or feel that anywhere else. I think knowing the family history and what they were both able to accomplish definitely adds to that feeling for me.”

NASCAR drivers Chase Briscoe (L) and Jeffrey Earnhardt (C) talk tunnels and racing with Talladega Superspeedway chairman Grant Lynch.

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