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Cody Kluge Cody Kluge BVM Sports Journalist/Editor

Chase Briscoe, Ryan Preece making ‘Talladega Nights’ reality

LINCOLN, Ala. (BVM) – Talladega Superspeedway is one of NASCAR’s most infamous and storied tracks. However, for a lot of casual fans of the sport, the first thing that might come to mind when they hear the word Talladega is the 2006 film “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.”

The comedy starred Will Ferrell as Ricky Bobby and John C. Reilly as his best friend, Cal Naughton Jr., while also including cameos from some of NASCAR’s biggest names such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Darrell Waltrip and Jamie McMurray. It became an instant hit, grossing around $47 million as the No. 1 film at the box office in the U.S. in the first weekend following its release.

Since, the film which follows Bobby’s ascension to NASCAR, his fall from stardom and his comeback to the sport has remained a timeless classic for both fans of racing and casual viewers. Now, as the 2023 NASCAR schedule heads back to Talladega this weekend for the first of just six races remaining this season, “Talladega Nights” is about to become a reality on the track.

On Monday, Stewart-Haas Racing released a video on social media featuring Cup Series drivers Ryan Preece and Chase Briscoe reenacting a classic scene from “Talladega Nights” in which Bobby and Naughton Jr. were named NASCAR Cup Series drivers for the fictional Dennit Racing team. 

In the video, new paint schemes for this weekend’s race were released that include Preece adopting the same Wonder Bread scheme on his No. 41 car that Bobby had on his No. 26 car in the film, while Briscoe’s No. 14 ride will feature the Old Spice-themed paint scheme Naughton Jr. had in the film on his No. 47 car.

The Stewart-Haas drivers also spoofed the classic “shake ‘n bake” line used between Bobby and Naughton Jr. in the movie with their own version of the phrase called “Preece and Chase.”

“It is really cool to actually run these two paint schemes in a legitimate Cup Series race, and then of all places to do it at Talladega, it’s been pretty wild to see, honestly, the fans’ reaction just in 24 hours of how into it they are,” Briscoe said in a recent interview on BVM Sports’ Cup Connection. “I was pretty fired up to go into Talladega in general this weekend, but to see the fan reaction so far, I can’t wait to get down there and just see how into it everybody is.”

Both Briscoe and Preece have fond memories of first watching “Talladega Nights” when they were younger. While there are many highly-acclaimed racing movies out there, including Preece’s favorite, “Days of Thunder,” “Talladega Nights” may be the most famous racing movie ever made, and is the favorite for many, including the driver of the No. 14 Ford who has already embraced his role as Naughton Jr. this weekend.

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“I remember watching it and ever since then it’s been this, obviously, one of the top-three movies, kind of go-to movies,” Briscoe said. “It’s got so many good one-liners in it … It’s one of those polarizing movies. You either love it or you either hate it. I’m on the love it side.”

While recreating the cars from “Talladega Nights” has both drivers excited, so too does returning to race at a superspeedway this weekend, a track style which Stewart-Haas has had plenty of recent success at. In August’s race at Daytona, the team had four cars in the top five at one point before RFK Racing driver Chris Buescher eventually took home the checkered flag.

“I think we’re still going to be really fast,” Briscoe said. “I was telling Ryan earlier, there’s a real possibility we’re both on the front row, and what a story that would be. It would be pretty cool to have Ricky Bobby and Cal Naughton’s cars on the front row leading the field to green.

“We’ve had really fast cars, we just haven’t been able to execute. That’s something that’s been a big emphasis going into this week.”

For Preece, returning to a superspeedway this week also takes on a little more meaning. At Daytona in late August, he suffered an unbelievable wreck in his No. 41 car, one that hospitalized him as a precaution, but thankfully left him with no serious injuries as he returned to race at Darlington the very next week.

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“It doesn’t change to be honest with you,” Preece said about returning to a superspeedway. “When we go through events like that, you don’t want to say it’s normal, [but] it’s just a big wreck to us … I’m fine and I’m definitely ready to get to a superspeedway and get a good result.”

Although neither driver has earned a win in 2023 or reached the Cup Series playoffs this year, both will be looking to gain momentum heading into 2024 across the final six races of the season. 

“It’d be nice to end the year on a high note,” Preece added.

That starts Sunday at Talladega, where perhaps Preece and Briscoe can continue to emulate “Talladega Nights” with a one-two finish seen countless times throughout the movie by Bobby and Naughton Jr.

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