Brad Smith, No. 26 Websites Chevrolet Preview: Talladega

Brad Smith, No. 26 Websites Chevrolet Preview: Talladega

The 2.66 mile Talladega Superspeedway. The name itself stirs many emotions deep within race fans. Even the name... Talladega with horsepower, action, blues of color and, well; those who say "everything is bigger in Texas" have never experienced Talladega!

But the facility due east of Birmingham in northern Alabama also has a stigma of outlandishness. Huge multi-car wrecks. Unexplained occurrences. Untimely fatalities. And strange happenings. Some say the reason for it is that the track rests on an old Indian burial ground. No matter the legends, Talladega has made careers... and ended them. Sort of a "Mixed Blessing".

Former driver and car owner James Hylton experienced the Talladega "Mixed Blessing." He won in an upset his second and final NASCAR Cup race there in 1972. But then he also lost his life coming home from here in a fluke highway accident almost exactly one year ago returning from last year's ARCA race. 

Another that's familiar with the "Mixed Blessing" is journeyman driver Bad Smith, who drove for Hylton until his death. He's been part of the ARCA Menards Series since 1988. In that time he’s seen a lot of green flags. Unfortunately, he hadn’t had a whole lot of attention afforded him until the 2015 General “200” at Talladega Speedway. In that race, his Ford was in the lead draft, biding his time and had actually turned the fastest lap of the race. But with only a handful of laps to go, another driver at the front of the pack lost control, spun up the track and into Smith’s path, leaving him nowhere to go. Brad collected the car, then the wall, and as the crowd became silent, Smith’s #48 was now headed for the inside wall. For the fans, it seemed like an eternity as Smith’s  car, now undriveable, was headed for the inside wall. When the wreck was over, he had severe injuries to both legs and was out for the rest of the season. 

That wasnt his only misfortune at the track. His very first attempt at an ARCA race was at Talladega in 1988 but he did not qualify. In 1995, he lost an engine and crashed in the oil but climbed out amid flames and was not injured. And in 2003, he was burned badly on his qualifying run and had to miss the race. “It was one of those deals where you’re busy, trying to do ten things at once, different people are talking to you, and we forgot to tighten the fuel line. When I went out it was only hand tight.” And while Brad was in a local hospital, the team loaded up and as they attempted to leave the track, tried driving out of the tunnel and got the trailer stuck. 

However, on the blessing side, Paul Menard, driving for Andy Petree, missed the race and used Brad’s number to get into the race and then went out and won it! So technically Smith is the car owner of record as a winner at the fastest track on the circuit. 

The team needed to start 2019 on a bright note and did that by finishing 19th at Daytona the first car one lap down. But the run was by design. "We needed to finish. If we wrecked that car, we were done for the season." So Smith played it safe and placed "in the money". However, the mechanical gremlins that plagued the team that surfaced following Hylton and his son James "Tweet" Jr.'s passing, resurfaced at the second season event at last month's run at Pensacola (a race that where the Shelby Twp., MI resident was the only returning driver from ARCA's last time there in 1996). But perhaps a breakthrough in that the team feels they may have found the issue behind their engine issues. 

For now, they'll be taking a different car and are looking forward to honoring Hylton and Tweet with a great run. The team is ready for the "blessing" this time! In 11 races, Smith's only finished four with a best of 15th in 2006. It's time for a good run and they think the General Tire 200 is the place to turn their season around! 

Randy G

Let's go Brad!!!


Win it for James Harvey and James Jr.

Also, Why does it say 26?


Best of luck at Talladega .