The owner’s title battle brews behind the scenes

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The owner's title has great importance to the team

In NASCAR Nationwide Series racing, a lot of attention has been given to the championship battle between Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the No. 6 Roush Fenway racing Ford. But as in years past, there's another championship race going on in the series -- the race to be the series owner's champion.

Neither the No. 2 nor the No. 6 holds the lead in that championship battle. Instead, the Nationwide Series owner's points leader heading into Saturday's Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., is the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team. That group has a 13 point lead over the No. 2 bunch, and just like in the driver's points standings, only a single point separate the No. 2 from the No. 6. But instead of first and second, the No. 2 and No. 6 occupy second and third.

These final eight races we have to bring our ‘A game'.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

That 13-point lead the No. 18 has over the No. 2 and No. 6 teams is significant but by no means insurmountable, especially considering that there are eight races to go before the door shuts on the 2012 season.

"These final eight races we have to bring our ‘A game'," Stenhouse said. But making up points on the No. 18 team will be a lofty task at Chicagoland, especially considering that Joey Logano will be the wheelman for the No. 18 bunch this weekend.

After all, Logano is the winingest driver in Nationwide Series competition this year, despite running only a partial schedule on the circuit. He's headed to victory lane in the series six times this year in only 15 races, including his most recent appearance in the series last month at Bristol Motor Speedway.

While making up points on a Logano-driven No. 18 on Saturday is a tall task, it's by all means, not impossible for either Sadler or Stenhouse. After all, the two driver's title frontrunners each have four wins this year, tying them for second on the series 2012 wins list. Not to mention, they both fared well in their last visit to Chicagoland.

As a matter-of-fact, Sadler and Stenhouse finished first and second when the series last visited Chicagoland Speedway. Sadler drive into victory lane and Stenhouse took runner-up honors. That was after Stenhouse led more than half the race, keeping the No. 6 up front for 135 of the 200 laps that made up the race distance.

"Earlier this year, we dominated the race at Chicagoland but a late caution spoiled our bid for the win," Stenhouse said. "We’re bringing back the same car so we know our Ford will be stout."

Like Stenhouse, Sadler his also bringing back the same car he piloted around Chicagoland earlier this season.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Elliott Sadler
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Elliott Sadler

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

"We are bringing the same car back that we won with in July at the track," Sadler said. "I know that the OneMain Financial team is hungry to get back to Victory Lane, and we are going to do everything we can to get there."

As for Logano, he has a win at Chicagoland to his credit in three-career starts at the track.

“I’ve had a lot of success at Chicago in the past," Logano said. "I’ve got a win there and run really well there in the other couple of races. I am pretty pumped to get back to the Nationwide Series double duty races as well."

With the previous Chicagoland race winner and runner-up heading back to the track first and second in the driver's standings, separated by a single point, that championship battle is sure to be intense when the green flag waves on Saturday with the potential for the points lead to change hands with each driver's pass on the race track. But shift attention to the owner's championship, and that title battle becomes a three-team fight on which to focus, and that battle may get just as intense.

Amanda Vincent, NASCAR Correspondent

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Series NASCAR-NS
Article type Preview
Tags chicagoland, childress, featured, gibbs, logano, nationwide, roush, sadler, stenhouse, vincent