Series off-week news 2010-10-26

*Title Town: Keselowski Can Clinch 2010 Championship In Ft. Worth *Pick Six: Busch Can Set Series' Consecutive Win Mark At Texas *2010 NNS/NCWTS Award Banquet Champions' Luncheon Is Nov. 22 The Wait Continues: Open Week Has Title On Hold For ...

*Title Town: Keselowski Can Clinch 2010 Championship In Ft. Worth
*Pick Six: Busch Can Set Series' Consecutive Win Mark At Texas
*2010 NNS/NCWTS Award Banquet Champions' Luncheon Is Nov. 22

The Wait Continues: Open Week Has Title On Hold For Keselowski

Last Saturday at Gateway International Raceway, Brad Keselowski captured his sixth win of the season, second only to reigning NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Kyle Busch's singleseason record 12 victories. He also had a chance to clinch the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series driver championship, carrying a seemingly insurmountable lead over second-place Carl Edwards into the race.

Despite the lead and the win, he wasn't able to clinch. He'll have to wait at least until Nov. 6 at Texas Motor Speedway when the series races again. This is the final open week of the season.

Carl Edwards, a Missouri native, made sure Keselowski didn't clinch at Edwards' home track, especially at the final race at the facility. Edwards, second in the standings, finished fifth at Gateway, high enough in the final results to negate an early clinch by his rival.

In order to capture his first NASCAR national-series title -- and also the first NASCAR national-series championship for team owner Roger Penske -- Keselowski has to leave Texas with a 391-point lead over second place. Here's the math: he needs to finish 21st or better, 22nd and lead at least one lap, or 24th and lead the most laps in order to clinch following at Texas. He'll come in with a 485-point lead over Edwards.

If his Lone Star State racing history is any indication, Keselowski's odds for the second early driver title clinch at Texas -- since 2007 -- are solid.

His average finish there is 14.0 in eight career races. He ranks 20th in Driver Rating at Texas at 84.1, but has top-five finishes in his last three races, including fifth in this event last year. Busch, however, leads all drivers with a 125.9 Driver Rating at Texas. Edwards has a 97.4 Driver Rating at TMS, 10th-best among all drivers. His average finish is 13.0, one spot better than Keselowski.

Dodge also is seeking its first NASCAR Nationwide Series title. The manufacturer has four championships in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and two in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Busch Poised To Bash More Series Records

Although he's not defending his NASCAR Nationwide Series driver championship, Kyle Busch still is zeroing in on a recordtying third straight owner championship for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Busch's No. 18 team currently has a 71-point lead on Brad Keselowski's No. 22 Penske Racing team. Keselowski was able to cut into what was a 119-point advantage for JGR with his win at Gateway last Saturday. That's the good news for Penske.

Brad Coleman, who has run all but one stand-alone event this year in the No. 18, finished eighth. That allowed JGR to maintain its lead with three races to go.

But the bad news for Penske? Busch will be in the No. 18 for the series' final three events this season. Simply stated, Busch has been utterly dominant in recent series races at Texas and Phoenix International Raceway, two of the final three tracks on the schedule.

At Texas, he'll attempt to break the series record of five consecutive wins at one track that he shares with Dale Earnhardt (Daytona International Speedway) and two-time series champion Jack Ingram (South Boston Speedway).

Busch also has won three times at Phoenix, including in April. Another win there would set the all-time series victory mark at the track -- four. In 2009 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, he became the second driver to win the season finale in his championship year.

Keselowski has yet to register a win at any of the final three tracks on the schedule.

Having It His Way: "BK" Authors One Of Series' Most Dominating Title Runs

Brad Keselowski has all but locked up the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, and it's one that onlookers should recognize as one of the most dominant ever.

Keselowski's 2010 season ranks as the second-strongest since NASCAR started collecting Loop Data in 2005.

Here's a stat-by-stat breakdown of the past five champions:

Driver Rating: Get used to reading this for the remainder of this notes item: Kyle Busch ranks first. In last season's championship campaign, Busch had a Driver Rating of 126.6, by far the best. Keselowski won't touch that number, but he'll likely come closer than anyone else. Currently, Keselowski's Driver Rating of 118.4 would be second among the last six champions, surpassing Kevin Harvick's 2006 rating of 116.2.

Average Running Position: Again, Busch is the benchmark. He owned an Average Running Position of 5.6 last year. The amazing part: Keselowski has a realistic chance of matching it. Currently, the probable 2010 champion has an Average Running Position of 5.7. Harvick was in second, with a 7.6.

Average Finish: Keselowski comes up a tad short, again -- this time to Harvick. In 2006, Harvick had an average finish of 4.6. This season, Keselowski has a 5.4. For the record, Busch's average finish last year was 6.4.

Laps in the Top 15: Even though there's another 600 laps scheduled to run this season, Keselowski already ranks fourth among champions in Laps in the Top 15 with 5,564. Busch (6,022) is first; Harvick (5,963) is second and Clint Bowyer is third (5,641 in 2008). He'll almost certainly catch Bowyer and Harvick, and could catch Busch. To match Busch's total, he'll need to run 76.3% of the remaining laps among the top 15. His percentage through the first 32 races: 94.6%.

Fastest Laps Run: Keselowski already ranks second among the past six champions in this category,

***

The 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series/ NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Awards Banquet is Monday, Nov. 22 at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel (invitation only).

This is the second year the banquet has been a combined affair and will celebrate the driver and owner champions in both series. Drivers in both series who finish in positions 2-5 in the standings also will be featured on-stage, while those drivers in positions 6-10 also will be recognized for their accomplishments.

SPEED personalities Rick Allen and Krista Voda will host the banquet for the second consecutive year. Additionally, comedian Tom Papa (http://www.tompapa.com/bio.html), who was personally chosen by Jerry Seinfeld to host the popular NBC show 'The Marriage Ref'-- and has toured with Seinfeld for nearly a decade, will entertain the crowd. The banquet will air on SPEED on Friday, Dec. 3 from 7-9 p.m. ET as a leadin to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Banquet broadcast, also on SPEED.

Again this year, a luncheon featuring the champions of both series, their crew chiefs, NASCAR President Mike Helton, NASCAR Nationwide Series director Joe Balash and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series director Wayne Auton will precede the Monday's banquet and is tentatively scheduled from 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. at the Loews (exact location TBA). The luncheon is open to the media.

Hog Heaven: Edwards To Auction Off Road America Harley, Other Memorabilia

Carl Edwards and one of his sponsors, Copart, Inc., a leading online vehicle auction company, have teamed up to auction off some personal memorabilia belonging to the 2007 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion.

The auction began on Oct. 25 and will continue through Nov. 15. Fans should access Copart.com to bid on items including the unique Harley-Davidson motorcycle Edwards was awarded following his victory at Road America. Also up for bid are a race-used firesuit, the hood of his No. 60 Copart Ford raced at Nashville Superspeedway and an autographed pit crew uniform.

Edwards intends to donate all proceeds from the auction to Back2Back Ministries' orphan care program, which is based in Monterrey, Mexico and overseen by Lonnie Clouse, who formerly served as NASCAR Nationwide Series chaplain for Motor Racing Outreach.

- Track officials showed us the Harley (an XR1200) that would go to the race winner and while Lonnie and I were admiring it, I told him, ' -- If we win this race I will donate this motorcycle to Back2Back Ministries,'-- Edwards said.

- I started thinking about how to sell the motorcycle, through a raffle or some sort of silent auction. And then it hit me that I have the perfect sponsor who sells vehicles online to help us raise money for this charity. It was a case of everything falling into place.

NNS Etc.: Open-Week Edition

Morgan Shepherd Driver of the Week

One of NASCAR's mainstays -- and arguably its best roller-skater -- Morgan Shepherd, is this week's Nationwide Insurance Driver of the Week. He'll be featured on NASCARnationwide-series.com and will host a chat with fans Wednesday, Oct. 27 at noon ET.

Shepherd, who is in his 43rd consecutive year as a driver in NASCAR's national series, celebrated his 69th birthday on Oct. 21.

He has 19 wins and 855 starts -- 286 in the NASCAR Nationwide Series -- across all three national series.

To date, fans have voted Shepherd as one of their top five favorites for the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series Most Popular Driver award. Voting continues until November 13 and the winner will be announced at the NASCAR Nationwide Series/NASCAR Camping World Truck Series banquet on Monday, Nov. 22 in Miami, Fla.

Shepherd recently announced that he and a group of volunteers will make their 24th annual charity trip to the mountains of Virginia to deliver 1,500 gift bags to the handicapped and needy. Those interested in making monetary or product donations can contact Shepherd's office at (828) 256-2194 or by mail at P.O. Box 623, Conover, N.C., 28613.

Up Next: Texas Motor Speedway

Appropriately, the NASCAR Nationwide Series could go big -- very big -- on Saturday, Nov. 6 at Texas Motor Speedway:

- Brad Keselowski could clinch the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship;

- Kyle Busch can set a new series record for consecutive wins at one track (aiming for six);

- Texas hosts the fourth of four 2010 'Dash 4 Cash'-- races, an incentive program designed by series sponsor Nationwide Insurance where full-time, part-time and limited-schedule series-only drivers along with fulltime double-duty drivers can pocket an extra $75,000 with a win. ESPN2 has the broadcast beginning at noon eastern time.

The last driver not named Busch to win at Texas was two-time series champion Kevin Harvick in this race in 2007.

Busch is tied with 2000 series champion Jeff Green and Matt Kenseth for most poles at Texas (two). Kenseth won the pole for the 2009 fall race while Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate, Joey Logano, won the pole back in April.

Off Week: Daddy Instead Of Driver

During this last off-weekend of the year, Eric McClure and his family are using the time to enjoy a vacation at Walt Disney World.

It's their second trip this year to the Orlando, Fla., theme park. It's also the first with his youngest daughter, Mirabella, who is three months old.

McClure will be outnumbered on the journey, however. He and his wife, Miranda, also have two other girls: Mabreigh (3 1/2) and Mary-leigh (2).

Fast Facts

Next Race: O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge
The Place: Texas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)

The Date: Saturday, November 6
The Time: 12:55 p.m. ET

The Distance: 300 miles / 200 laps

TV: ESPN2, 12:00 p.m. ET #Radio: PRN/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio

2009 Winner: Kyle Busch
2009 Polesitter: Matt Kenseth

Schedule prior to race day (times CT):
Friday: Practice, 9-10:15 a.m.; Final Prac-tice, 10:40--11:55 a.m.; Qualifying, 5:35 p.m.

-source: nascar

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