Event: Sunoco 159, Race 12 of 23, 44 laps – 12/13/19; 158.85 miles
Location: Daytona International Speedway Road Course(3.57-mile, 14-turn road course)
Date/Broadcast: Aug. 16, 2020, at noon ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
What You Need to Know:
Alex Tagliani returns to KBM to drive the No. 51 Tundra at in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Race at the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway Road Course Sunday. Tagliani’s Toyota will carry co-primary sponsorship from RONA, one of Canada’s leading home improvement companies, and VIAGRA. Tagliani has competed in two Rolex 24 events on the Daytona Road Course: the 2007 event in the GT class and in 2014 in the Prototype Challenge class.
The Canadian driver has two poles, 15 laps led, two top-five and three top-10 finishes across five career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series starts, all which have come at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) in Bowmanville, Ont., including a runner-up finish for KBM in last year’s event.
In addition to his four Gander Truck Series starts, Tagliani has compiled four poles, 92 laps led, four top-five and five top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 13.0 across eight NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, all on road courses. A full-time competitor in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series the last several seasons, the veteran driver has collected nine wins, 10 poles, 36 top-five and 56 top-10 finishes across 81 career starts. He finished second in the championship standings in 2018 and third in 2016.
On Sunday, the Triple Truck Challenge returns to the Truck Series. This year’s program will consist of the events at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Dover (Del.) International Speedway (Aug. 21) and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway (Aug. 30). An extra $50,000 from Gander RV & Outdoors is on the line for each of those three events, should a driver win two of the three races he will get a $150,000 bonus and if a driver can win all three races, they will get a $500,00 bonus. Last June, Greg Biffle won the first Triple Truck Challenge for KBM at Texas Motor Speedway in the No. 51 Tundra.
The No. 51 team ranks second in the Gander Trucks owner’s point standings after 11 races, trailing the No. 16 team by 32 tallies. So far this season the team has four wins, one pole, four top-five and four top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 11.0. Kyle Busch captured victories at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway, Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, while Brandon Jones was victorious at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.
Veteran crew chief Danny Stockman leads the No. 51 team in 2020. Stockman called the shots for Austin Dillon’s championship efforts in both the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series (2011) and the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2013) and has experience as a crew chief in all three national series. In Dillon’s Gander Trucks championship season, the pair totaled two wins, five poles, 10 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes. The majority of Stockman’s experience atop the pit box has come in the Xfinity Series, where his drivers have recorded seven wins, 19 poles, 80 top-five and 148 top-10 finishes across 209 starts from 2012 to 2018. Sunday marks Stockman’s first time calling a race in the Truck Series on a road course. He has one win across NASCAR’s top three divisions on a road course: the 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Road America in Elkhart Lake Wisc. with Paul Menard.
Alex Tagliani Q & A
How did it come about for you to return to KBM for the Daytona Road Course race?
“I think it is a combination of things. I want to take the opportunity to thank Kyle and Samantha Busch for the tremendous opportunity. I truly believe that they don’t realize how much it means to me. It’s the fact that the team was probably running low on options with the rule that you won’t be able to drive multiple cars during the weekend, and when a driver leaves a good taste in a team’s mouth after working with them in the past. I think it’s easier to call them back. The fact that the opportunity came at a good time because we were looking for ways our sponsors – RONA, VIAGRA, Andy, St Hubert and CanTorque – in this pandemic situation to modify our season. They are bringing a weekender into a race program like this was a perfect opportunity.”
You’ve raced in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. What do you think having a Truck Series race at the Daytona Road Course is going to be like?
“It’s going to be great. I really believe that it will provide some great racing. The high-speed banking and the combination with the road course will have a pretty amazing track for the fans to be entertained during the race.”
You’ve come close to winning a NASCAR race in both the Xfinity Series and the Trucks Series. What would a win Sunday mean to you?
“It’s everything. I raced for Mr. Penske in the No. 22 car. We got some poles and finished second many times. I got some bad luck by running out of fuel on the last lap at Road America. I got punted out of the race at Mid-Ohio, but nevertheless, winning would mean a lot. I would love it. When you are driving the 22 or driving the 51, you have to remember that you are driving for a team that goes into a championship and multiple drivers are driving particular vehicles. You need to show up there and be a team player doing everything for the team. If the race unfolds for you, then winning would be amazing. It would mean a lot to me for sure.”
Do you feel that with not getting any practice time that having made laps there before will give you an advantage?
“I think it will compensate. I believe that there is an advantage of testing the truck or being in a truck prior to the event and not knowing the track. If you give me the choice, I would probably like to be in the truck the day before and get used to it to be back in the thick of things. I have not been driving in a year. Just jumping in at the drop of the green flag will be challenging. I think the two will compensate. I believe that the guys these days are getting stronger on road courses. They are running at Mosport regularly on a normal year, and Mosport is a difficult track. When you are able to master Mosport, I think you can bring that experience and apply it to other tracks. I think it is going to be difficult for everyone in different aspects. Hopefully, we will be able to get the feeling back of the truck quite quickly in the race. I think the guys are capable of doing simulator test runs. I will have the chance to run on Thursday. That helps tremendously knowing the track. Being in the truck and driving it every weekend and knowing the track via a simulator, I think you are getting really close to what you really need to be and where you need to be strong right away. I think it will be tough and not a walk in the park. The guys are really strong right now on the road course.”
With your experience road course racing, in particular a few at Daytona, will you be able to help your crew chief Danny Stockman with input on the setup of your Tundra?
“I think it might be the other way around. I will for sure try to discuss prior to the race with him and give him as much feedback as I had on the sim and what I felt on the track when I drove there a couple of years ago. I think the team is really strong. The people are super dedicated to make the KBM team a very strong team. They bring good pieces. They do their homework before. I think they are at a very high level. With the challenges of not being able to run practice and qualifying, it’s difficult for a driver to give the proper feedback on the proper weekend with the way the track is with the truck You’re going to have to drive the piece that is brought to the track and evolve with it and give the best feedback as the track and race evolve. Hopefully, that combination will work will. We will have a better piece at the end and put the No. 51 truck in victory lane.”
Alex Tagliani Career Highlights:
Overall, across 81 career Pinty’s Series starts Tagliani has collected nine wins, 10 poles, 36 top-five and 56 top-10 finishes. He finished second in the championship standings in 2018 and third in 2016.
The veteran driver also has eight NASCAR Xfinity Series road course starts with four top-five and five top-10 finishes and four poles.
In addition to his NASCAR starts, Tagliani has 131 starts and one win in the CART Series and 74 IndyCar Series starts, as well as multiple starts in other series. He won the pole for the 2011 Indianapolis 500 and overall, across eight starts in the event produced a best result of 10th in 2010.
Alex Tagliani’s No. 51 RONA/VIAGRA Tundra:
KBM-061: The No. 51 RONA/VIAGRA team will unload chassis KBM-061 for Sunday’s NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series event at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course. Tagliani piloted the same chassis to a runner-up finish last year at CTMP.
KBM Notes of Interest:
KBM drivers have collected one win, 65 laps led, seven top-five and nine top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 8.8 across 20 starts on road courses in Truck Series action, all previously coming at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
KBM holds the NGROTS records for most career wins (79) and most wins in a single season (14 in 2014). In addition to collecting a series-record seven owner’s Championships, the organization has produced two championship-winning drivers: Erik Jones (2015) and Christopher Bell (2017).
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!