Auburn head basketball coach Bruce Pearl, who has guided the Tigers to over 150 wins in eight seasons, as well as the team‘s first-ever appearance in the Final Four, will serve as the Honorary Starter for Sunday‘s (Oct. 2) YellaWood 500 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs race at Talladega Superspeedway.
From the flagstand that overlooks the start/finish line at the iconic 2.66-mile mammoth track, Pearl will wave the green flag to get the YellaWood 500 underway at 1:00 p.m. CDT. Great tickets remain for the anticipated event and fans are urged to call 1-877-Go2-DEGA or visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com for opportunities.
“I am super excited to wave the green flag to start the YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway,” said Pearl, a Boston, Mass. native. “I can‘t wait to see the speed of the cars plus see how the race teams will strategize to get to get a ‘W.‘ I am thankful to the YellaWood team for giving me this opportunity.”
“I am sure Coach Pearl will bring that same passion that he showcases on the court at Auburn to Talladega Superspeedway for the YellaWood 500,” said Talladega Superspeedway President Brian Crichton. “He will add even more to what is already going to be an electric atmosphere. We, like many fans who will be here in attendance, are thrilled he will be here.”
Pearl‘s accomplishments with the Tigers include 154 victories, three Southeastern Conference Championships, four NCAA NCAA Tournament berths and the school‘s initial appearance in the Final Four, which came in 2019.
Since he arrived at Auburn for the 2014-15 season, he has produced one of the biggest turnarounds in the college basketball landscape. Prior to his arrival, Auburn had an average RPI (ranking based on wins and losses and strength of schedule) of 191.8. In the past four seasons, the Tigers finished its campaign 16th, 13th ,27th, and 11th respectively in the final RPI, highlighted by four NCAA Tournament bids (2020 tournament cancelled due to COVID) and three conference titles. His teams have been just as successful off the court as Auburn has had 31 graduates since 2014 — the most in the SEC.
In 27 seasons as a head coach, he has guided his teams to the NCAA Tournament 20 times (would have been 21 if not for the cancelation of 2020 season) and is the only coach (football or men‘s basketball) to lead two programs to a No. 1 national ranking (Auburn in 2022 and Tennessee in 2008). He is just one of three head coaches to take four programs (three at Division 1 level) to the Sweet 16, joining Lon Kruger and Eddie Sutton.
He has set single-season wins records at four different schools with the most recent coming during the 2018-19 season when the Tigers amassed 30 victories en route to the Final Four.
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Coach Pearl will also be a part of pre-race festivities at the Driver Introductions Stage on pit road. Fans can get an up-close spot to see the activities prior to the start of the YellaWood 500 with the purchase of a Talladega Garage Experience admission, which allows fans to see Driver Intros, Driver Q&A sessions, the Driver Red Carpet Walk, the race cars up close inside the team garage bays, plus much more. For more information, log onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com.
While the YellaWood 500 culminates an action-packed NASCAR Playoffs Tripleheader Weekend, things kick off Friday afternoon (at 2:30 p.m. CDT) with qualifying that will determine the starting lineup for both the Sparks 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race and Chevy Silverado 250 for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Saturday‘s festivities get under way 11:30 a.m. CDT with the drop of the green flag for the Chevy Silverado 250, followed by the Sparks 300 at 3 p.m. CDT.
Multi-Platinum singer-songwriter Chase Rice, who also has NASCAR ties, will be the featured artist for the track‘s traditional Saturday Night Infield Concert (Oct. 1). The best part about the concert is that admission is FREE with the purchase of a Sunday race ticket for the YellaWood 500. Breakout country artist Bailey Zimmerman will open the anticipated night.
A victory by a playoff eligible driver in any of the trio of October events will make it to the next round of their respective NASCAR Playoffs series. Bubba Wallace is the defending Champion of the YellaWood 500, which will feature NASCAR‘s Next Gen car.
— Talladega Superspeedway —