* Finally! Joey Logano To Make Long-Anticipated Series Debut * Can Dover Slow 2004 Series Rookie Of The Year Kyle Busch? * In The Loop: Edwards May Have 'Concrete' Evidence For Win * Young Keselowski Believes In Old-School Racing Logano: "Been...
* Finally! Joey Logano To Make Long-Anticipated Series Debut
* Can Dover Slow 2004 Series Rookie Of The Year Kyle Busch?
* In The Loop: Edwards May Have 'Concrete' Evidence For Win
* Young Keselowski Believes In Old-School Racing
Logano: "Been Waiting My Whole Life To Get To The Nationwide Series"
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 27, 2008) -- Not too long ago, Joey Logano (No. 20 GameStop Toyota) may have feared monsters under his bed.
Now, the tables may be turned as the track known as "The Monster Mile" has the 18-year-old feeling wary.
Logano, a native of Middletown, Conn., turned 18 last Saturday thereby making him eligible to compete in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and is set for one of the most anticipated debuts in NASCAR national series history.
The 2007 NASCAR Camping World Series East champion -- a title he officially clinched at Dover International Speedway last fall -- hopes to follow in the footsteps of a fellow Northeasterner who also made his series debut at the track.
Martin Truex Jr. started his first series race at Dover in 2001 and three years later the native of Mayetta, N.J., won the first of consecutive series titles.
Logano began racing quarter-midgets at age seven before moving to Bandolero and Legends cars. In 2005, he posted his first USAR win at Mansfield Motorsports Park in his second career start breaking the previous record of youngest winner held by 2003 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Brian Vickers.
After besting the GM Racing Development Driver Evaluation program in 2005, he signed with Joe Gibbs Racing and truly began his ascent last year.
He defeated two--time series champion Kevin Harvick (No. 33 RoadLoans.com Chevrolet) at Iowa Speedway before going on to win the NASCAR Camping World Series East crown and rookie of the year honors -- the first driver ever to win both. And to cap the season, he won the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale, Calif.
Kyle Busch A Double-Championship Contender
Although he has yet to announce that he would drive a full season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Kyle Busch (No. 32 Dollar General Toyota) is quickly becoming a favorite to make NASCAR national series history by becoming the first driver to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series titles in the same year.
Busch leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings and is second to Clint Bowyer (No. 2 BB&T Chevrolet) by 67 points in the NASCAR Nationwide Series rankings heading to Dover.
He won his fourth race of the season last week in Charlotte, tying Tony Stewart for the series lead.
Busch has wins in three different cars for two different owners in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, plus three wins in NASCAR Sprint Cup for Joe Gibbs Racing and two in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for Billy Ballew Motorsports.
Busch was runner-up in the 2004 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. He earned Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors with five wins and five poles and was the first rookie in series history to lead the standings.
"Old School" Keselowski Enjoys Career-Best Finish, Ranking
Last Saturday night in Charlotte, Brad Keselowski (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet) finished third, just ahead of his JR Motorsports team owner and two-time series champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fourth). It marked the best finish of Keselowski's career.
A self-proclaimed "old-school" racer at the ripe age of 24, he coupled his result with a late-race tête-à-tête with Denny Hamlin (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Driven Hot Rod Oil Toyota) reminiscent of battles between former series foes such as two-time series champion Randy LaJoie and Buckshot Jones.
His finish pushed him two places to fifth in the standings, making him the highest-ranked series-only regular -- also a career best.
Keselowski has competed in two series races at Dover, both last year. In this event, he finished 24th and out of the running due to an accident while competing for his former team.
He was driving for Earnhardt in the fall race last year and posted a seventh-place result.
The four other series-only regulars in the top 10:
7. Mike Bliss (No. 1 Miccosukee Resorts Chevrolet) dropped two spots after a 15th-place finish last Saturday, his worst finish in seven races. Bliss had been in fifth for three consecutive weeks.
He was ninth at this race last year. He has two top fives and four top 10s in six starts at Dover.
8. Jason Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips Toyota) has nine series starts at Dover with three top-five and four top-10 finishes. He was 11th in this race last year.
9. Mike Wallace (No. 7 GEICO Chevrolet) is looking to use his experience of 20 series starts, one win, four top-five, and seven top-10 finishes to get his team back on track after consecutive finishes of 23rd or worse over the last two races.
10. David Stremme (No. 66 Atreus Homes & Communities Chevrolet) is 10th in points with two top-five and seven top-10 finishes this season.
He hasn't raced in a NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Dover since 2005 when he finished 33rd in this event and 19th in the fall race, his best finish at "The Monster Mile" in series competition.
In The Loop: Surprisingly Quiet Edwards Could Make Noise At Dover
Maybe now someone else can get a crack at Victory Lane in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Because if the statistics stay true to form, Kyle Busch won't add to a win list that is already four races long this season.
Busch, who did not run in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Dover in 2007, does have some success there. He notched two consecutive top-10 finishes in 2006. But he also knows failures, as his 36th- and 37th-place finishes in 2005 would prove.
Over those two up and down years, Busch notched a Driver Rating of 85.8, an Average Running Position of 16.8 and ran only 60.3% of the Laps in the top 15.
But if not Busch, who? A couple of the "usual suspects" top many of the statistical categories. One of those has been oddly quiet this season.
Defending series champion Carl Edwards (No. 60 Save-A-Lot Ford) sits in third place and has zero wins this season -- compared to first-place standings and two wins at this point last season.
The "slump" may come to an end at Dover, a concrete track Edwards loves. He won there last spring and added a sixth-place finish in the fall race. In his six-race Dover career, Edwards has a Driver Rating of 114.0, an Average Running Position of 6.1, a series-high 129 Fastest Laps Run and has run a series-best 95.1% of the laps in the top 15.
Also figure on series points leader Clint Bowyer to run up front. Bowyer did not run at Dover in the series last season, but won there in 2006 and has finished in the top five in his last three Dover races. In his four starts at Dover, Bowyer has a Driver Rating of 110.9, an Average Running Position of 7.9, 80 Fastest Laps Run and has run 80.9% of the laps among the top 15.
The Director's Take: Monster Mile's "Bullring" Style Awaits Series Drivers
"We're back to racing on concrete," said Joe Balash, NASCAR Nationwide Series director of this week's race at Dover.
"This track is smaller and has more banking than the concrete track at Nashville where we'll be next week," he said. "It's a very fast track that races like a short track. Even though it's a mile in length, it races like a bullring.
"Track position is always extremely important here which means there's more emphasis on qualifying and getting a good starting position."
He also noted that the first career series start for a certain driver will also have the attention of the garage at "The Monster Mile."
"I'm sure the teams will be curious to see what Joey Logano has to offer in his first race in our series," Balash said.
In its second season of NASCAR Nationwide Series competition, Toyota is on pace to break the series record of most wins in a single season by a manufacturer.
In 1999, Chevrolet set the record with 24 wins. After the first 13 races that season, Chevy had posted eight wins. This year, Toyota has nine wins after the first 13 events.
Over the past two years, Chevrolet has come close to breaking its own record, posting 22 wins each season.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series now runs a 36-race schedule while in 1999 the series ran 32 events.
Scott Wimmer (No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet) claimed his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory at Dover in September 2002 in his 63rd career start.
He went on to win three of the final seven races that season at Memphis Motorsports Park, Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
His current crew chief, Pat Smith, also registered his first series win at Dover. Wimmer's teammate, Jeff Burton, was behind the wheel of the No. 29 Chevrolet for that victory in June 2006.
Dario Franchitti (No. 40 Fastenal Dodge) is back on the entry list this week. If ready to compete, it would mark his first race since breaking his left ankle last month at Talladega following an accident involving Larry Gunselman (No. 49 Jay Robinson Racing Dodge). Franchitti leads the Raybestos Rookie standings over Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates teammate Bryan Clauson.
Bill France Performance Cup Standings
Toyota won its seventh consecutive race last Saturday and continued to build its lead in the Bill France Performance Cup standings.
History may be on the side of second-place Chevrolet, though, as it has the most series wins at Dover with 26 and seven of the last 10.
Third-place Ford and driver Carl Edwards won this race last year; Edwards won all four series races on concrete tracks in 2007.
Up Next: Federated Auto Parts 300 At Nashville Superspeedway
Defending series champion Carl Edwards had won the previous three races at Nashville Superspeedway before Scott Wimmer broke that streak there this past March.
All four of Edwards' wins in 2007 came on concrete racetracks.
Steve Wallace (No. 64 Atreus Homes & Communities Chevrolet) is the defending pole winner of this event. He also had his best finish of the 2007 season (12th) at this race.
The Race: Heluva Good! 200
The Place: Dover International Speedway
The Date: Saturday, May 31
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
The Distance: 200 miles / 200 laps
Track Size: 1-mile concrete
TV: ESPN2, 2:30 p.m. ET
2007 Winner: Carl Edwards
2007 Pole: Denny Hamlin
Friday--Practice 9-10 a.m.; Final Practice 1:15-3 p.m. Saturday--Qualifying, 10:35 a.m.