Bristol: Series round four preview

NASCAR Nationwide Series News And Notes - Bristol Back At It Again: Harvick Chases Houston, History After two consecutive open weeks, the NASCAR Nationwide Series makes its return Saturday afternoon at Bristol Motor Speedway. After three ...

NASCAR Nationwide Series News And Notes - Bristol

Back At It Again: Harvick Chases Houston, History

After two consecutive open weeks, the NASCAR Nationwide Series makes its return Saturday afternoon at Bristol Motor Speedway.

After three races, the drivers in the top 10 in the standings look like a veritable all-star team -- five of the 10 are reigning for former series champions including Kyle Busch (No. 18 Z-Lines Designs Toyota) (2009), Carl Edwards (No. 60 COPART Ford) (2007), Brian Vickers (2003), Greg Biffle (No. 27 Redman Moist Snuff Ford) (2002) and two-time series champ and defending race winner Kevin Harvick (No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet) (2001 and '06).

Harvick currently is seventh in the standings after posting a win at Las Vegas in the series' last race on Feb. 27 to go along with a third-place result at Daytona.

Bristol is a favorite track of Harvick's. He has the most series wins there (five), and is the defending winner of this race, which was his first victory in his own KHI equipment. This trip to Bristol could be extra special for Harvick as he's currently tied for second on the series' all-time top-fives list with Jack Ingram (122). If he finishes in the top five Saturday, he'll tie Tommy Houston for the all-time series lead at 123.

He leads the series with the most top fives (12) at Bristol and has finished in the top-10 15 times, which is second most all-time to Kenny Wallace (No. 28 Jay Robinson Chevrolet) with 18.

If he wins the Coors Light Pole, Harvick will tie Jason Keller (No. 35 Chevrolet) and Morgan Shep(No. 89 Fans For Faith Chevrolet) for the most series poles (three) at Bristol.

Edwards and Keselowski: Thunder Valley Showdown

Carl Edwards (No. 60 COPART Ford) and Brad Keselowski (No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge) are 1-2 in the series standings heading to Bristol, the first short track on the 2010 schedule. They're also both very good at the .533-mile coliseum, the site of their first race since their controversial NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

In 11 starts at Bristol, Edwards has one win (2007), four top fives, six top 10s and one pole (2005). He started and finished second during both 2009 events at BMS.

Count on Keselowski also running up front on Saturday. In six starts at Bristol, he's collected three top fives and four top 10s. Last year, he started 15th and finished 12th in the spring event and captured the pole and improved to finish third in the fall race. Keselowski won at Bristol in the fall of 2008.

Edwards, the 2007 series champion, has a 41-point advantage on Keselowski after the first three races of the season. Keselowski is seven points ahead of third-place Brian Vickers (who isn't running in this race) and 15 points in front of his Penske Racing teammate Justin Allgaier (No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge), who's in fourth. Kyle Busch rounds out the top five.

Quick Study: Allgaier Gets His Groove On At Bristol

It didn't take long for Justin Allgaier to take to the high speeds of the Bristol Motor Speedway "cereal bowl."

Most everything was new last season, his rookie campaign. Just walking into the unique stadium-style track must have been daunting enough. Never mind the close confines and constant two-wide racing.

Still, Allgaier adapted quickly. He finished fifth in his first Bristol event last March. In that race, he posted a Driver Rating of 102.8, an Average Running Position of 8.9 and 11 Fastest Laps Run, all while running each of the 300 laps among the top 15.

Allgaier wasn't so lucky during the summer night race. He was strong early on, leading two laps. But sooner rather than later, Bristol bit the rookie. He was involved in two accidents. One was in Turn 3, on Lap 38. The second was on the very last lap of the race -- Lap 254. The long day ended with a 27th-place finish. Still, when he was in contention, he ran well, as his 96.3 Driver Rating can attest.

Overall, in 2009, Allgaier had a Bristol Driver Rating of 99.6, an Average Running Position of 17.7, 19 Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 60.8%.

Though Brendan Gaughan (No. 62 South Point Casinos Toyota) had a five-race Bristol sampling from his years in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, 2009 was his first in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

His Bristol finishes in his debut season weren't indicative of his actual performances.

In his first Bristol race in March, Gaughan finished 21st. But he had the 14th-best Driver Rating of 85.4. In that race, he turned the fastest lap six times.

In the August race, Gaughan finished 19th, but had a Driver Rating (89.3) that ranked 10th. His Average Running Position that event was 10.0, and he had two Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 78.7%.

Overall at BMS, Gaughan has a Driver Rating of 87.4, an Average Running Position of 17.3 and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 45.1%.

Menard Off To Strong Start In NASCAR Nationwide Return

Paul Menard (No. 98 Tide/Menards Ford) has lifted off like a rocket with a career-best start this season driving for Jack Roush and Roush Fenway Racing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

"To be associated with Jack Roush is an honor," said Menard. "The man has over 400 motorsports wins and is a legend in the sport. He has great cars at every level and is as competitive as anybody in the sport of NASCAR and racing. The cars are fast and I believe we are close to sealing the deal in one of these NASCAR Nationwide races very soon."

Menard currently is ninth in the standings after posting two top-10 finishes at Daytona (sixth) and Las Vegas (eighth), and a 19th at Auto Club Speedway.

Menard competed in 16 events last season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series driving for Yates Racing with his best finish being fifth at Texas Motor Speedway. His best points finish (sixth) in the series was in 2005 and '06, the last time he ran full schedules.

Menard has eight series starts at Bristol posting two top 10s, including last year's fall event where he finished ninth

His success hasn't been limited to the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season. He also is in the top 10 in the standings in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as well.

Bayne Heads Home To Rocky Top; Made First NNS Start At BMS

Some of the most loyal fans in all of sports reside in the state of Tennessee. So it should be no surprise that Michael Waltrip Racing's youngest addition, Trevor Bayne (No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine), who hails from Knoxville, would be excited to go race in front of his home crowd.

"The track itself is unbelievable," said Bayne, 19. "You walk in and it's like a bullfighting arena and that's what it turns out to be.

"It's an awesome place and I love going back home to Knoxville. It's pretty cool to see those fans. They come up and they've got pictures of me from when I was six or seven years old racing and it's just cool to see that. I love going home."

While this season started off slow for Bayne, finishing 41st at Daytona International Speedway after being caught in an accident on Lap 6, he's rallied back, posting an 11th-place finish at Auto Club Speedway and his first top 10 of the season (sixth) at Las Vegas.

Bayne made 15 starts last season for owners Michael Waltrip (12 starts), Jimmy Means (first career series start last season at Bristol) and Bryan Mullet (two starts), registering one pole (O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis) and parlaying that into one of his two top-10 finishes. The other was at Richmond International Raceway.

Bayne started twice at BMS last season finishing 23rd in the spring event and 24th in the fall, and qualified fifth for that race. He's becoming known as a great starter -- in his 18 career starts, he has a 10.9 average starting position.

Bayne heads a list of area natives that will be in the garage this weekend including Eric McClure (No. 24 Hefty Ford) from Abington, Va.; Willie Allen (No. 05 31W Insulation Chevrolet) from Bon Aqua, Tenn., Danny O'Quinn Jr. (No. 90 Eddie D'Hondt Chevrolet) from Coeburn, Va., and veteran Brad Teague (No. 04 Gene Vess Chevrolet), the hometown favorite from Johnson City.

NNS Etc.: Bristol Edition

Defending Coors Light Pole winner Brendan Gaughan is the most recent of five consecutive series-only regulars to claim the pole at Bristol Motor Speedway. That's the longest current streak at any NASCAR Nationwide Series track.

Other members of the "fantastic five" include Gaughan's Rusty Wallace Racing teammate Steve Wallace (No. 66 5 Hour Energy Toyota) (spring 2007), Jason Leffler (No. 10 ABF Toyota) (fall '07) and Cale Gale (fall 2008) and Brad Keselowski (fall 2009).

During the pole run of the "regular guys," an average of 13.4 double-duty drivers competed in those races.

Gaughan is looking to rebound from last year's performance where he finished 21st.

Nemechek Set To Hit 300 Starts

Joe Nemechek (No. 87 NEMCO Chevrolet) is aiming for his 300th NASCAR Nationwide Series start this weekend at Bristol.

"Front Row Joe," the 1992 series champion, made his first series start on Oct. 21, 1989 at North Carolina Speedway. Over a 20-year series career, he's accumulated 16 wins, 73 top fives, 121 top 10s and 18 Coors Light Poles. He's the 14th driver in series history to reach 300 career starts.

Wimmer Gets Lucky In No. 7 For JRM

On the heels of Danica Patrick competing in her first three NASCAR races in the No. 7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports comes veteran Scott Wimmer to jump in the vacant seat this weekend at Bristol.

Wimmer has made 13 series starts at Bristol with three top fives, six top 10s and one pole.

JR Motorsports is planning to run a full schedule for the No. 7 car this season with Wimmer scheduled also to be behind the wheel at Nashville Superspeedway. The driver of the No. 7 for the remaining races before Patrick's return at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at the end of June is still to be determined.

Six Drivers Make Season Debuts

Six drivers will be making their 2010 debuts this weekend at Bristol. Scott Wimmer's first race of the year will be a memorable one -- he'll make the 200th start of his NASCAR Nationwide Series career.

Additionally, the 2009 NASCAR K&N Series West champion, Jason Bowles (No. 39 Blow Bros. Ford), will be attempting to make his second career series start this weekend.

Also count Reed Sorenson (No. 32 Dollar General Toyota), Coleman Pressley (No. R3 Motorsports Chevrolet), Chris Lawson (No. 52 Jimmy Means Ford) and David Gilliland (No. 91 MSRP Chevrolet) among those vying for their 2010 series debuts.

Bristol Brings Memories For Baker

Baker Curb Racing co-owner Gary Baker owned Bristol Motor Speedway from 1978-83 and presented Dale Earnhardt the trophy for his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup win in 1979. This weekend at Bristol, it's Baker who hopes to be the one receiving a trophy.

"It always brings back great memories going to Bristol and it would be extraspecial for Baker Curb Racing to get our first win as a team there," he said.

"We have two competitive teams with two great drivers that are capable of winning each week. We were so close to our first win in California and I think it's only a matter of time before you see us in Victory Lane."

Up Next: Nashville Superspeedway

Following one more open week, the NASCAR Nationwide Series moves to Nashville Superspeedway for a first-time doubleheader weekend with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The Nationwide Series races on Saturday, April 3.

Joey Logano is the defending race winner. Carl Edwards won the pole one year ago. He also won three consecutive races at the track from 2006-07.

Fast Facts

Next Race: Scotts Turf Builder 300
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)

The Date: Saturday, March 20
The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET

The Distance: 300 laps / 159.9 miles

TV: ABC, 2 p.m. ET

2009 Winner: Kevin Harvick
2009 Polesitter: Brendan Gaughan

Schedule prior to race day (all times ET):
Friday--Practice, 1:40-3:15 p.m. and 4:45-5:45 p.m..;
Saturday--Qualifying, 9:40 a.m.

-source: nascar

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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Jason Keller , Jason Leffler , Kevin Harvick , Joe Nemechek , Greg Biffle , Trevor Bayne , Scott Wimmer , Brendan Gaughan , Brian Vickers , Paul Menard , Brad Teague , Carl Edwards , David Gilliland , Jack Roush , Eric McClure , Brad Keselowski , Reed Sorenson , Justin Allgaier , Jason Bowles , Willie Allen , Danny O'Quinn , Cale Gale , Joey Logano , Steve Wallace , Chris Lawson , Danica Patrick , Kyle Busch
Teams Team Penske , Michael Waltrip Racing , Yates Racing , JRM Racing , JR Motorsports