Turner Motorsports may already have two wins this season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, both coming courtesy of a couple of its Camping World Truck Series drivers — James Buescher and Nelson Piquet Jr. — and add to that a couple of Truck Series wins courtesy of Buescher. Still, the Steve Turner-owned organization will attempt an important milestone this weekend, its Sprint Cup Series debut.
Bill Elliott will be behind the wheel of the No. 50 Chevrolet Sprint Cup Series entry this weekend at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway for Saturday night’s running of the Coke Zero 400. Yes, the announcement of a Turner Cup debut with Elliott behind the wheel was announced back in January, but with said debut on the horizon, I thought it would be a good idea to post this reminder. To be quite honest, I forgot about it, myself, until the reminder, i.e. race preview press release from Turner Motorsports, arrived in my e-mail inbox a few days ago.
“I’m looking forward to being a part of Turner Motorsports’ Cup debut and to celebrate Walmart’s 50th birthday,” Elliott said. “This has been a pretty cool deal to be a part of. I know we’re going to have a good, competitive car. We just have to run a smooth race and put ourselves in the right position at the right time.”
The car will carry primary sponsorship from Walmart, another newcomer to the Sprint Cup Series. The sponsorship is part of a program to celebrate the retailer’s 50th birthday/anniversary, hence the car number.
Veteran crew chief Trent Owens will be atop the pit box to call the shots for the Turner Cup effort for its debut. Owens was in victory lane the last time he was at Daytona, guiding the No. 30 Nationwide Series Turner Motorsports entry and Buescher to Buescher’s first-career NASCAR national level win back in February. He was also crew chief on the No. 30 team for Piquet’s first NASCAR win, guiding him to victory in the Nationwide Series race at Road America last month.
“It’s exciting to be part of Turner Motorsports’ first Cup race with Bill Elliott and support from Walmart,” Owens said. “We’ve come a long way in just the last two years, so to take this step is realling going to be a milestone for everyone who works so hard for this team every day.”
And to say that Elliott has been successful at Daytona would be an understatement. The veteran semi-retired driver has made 59-career Cup level starts at Daytona International Speedway — 59 starts that have resulted in four wins, 15 top-fives and 24 top-10 finishes. He last visited the Daytona victory lane in 2001, winning the July Sprint (then-Winston) Cup race there in a car owned by Ray Evernham.
“Obviously, the wins are pretty special, but for the most part, any time you can go down there and run well, it’s a good deal.”
Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
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