Homestead: Season finale preview

NASCAR Nationwide Series News & Notes - Homestead-Miami *Series First As A Trio Of Titles Are On The Line At Homestead *Believe It Or Not: Kenny Wallace Quietly Hits Series Plateau *Kyle Busch Gets One Last Chance At Ard's Season Win Mark *NNS...

NASCAR Nationwide Series News & Notes - Homestead-Miami

*Series First As A Trio Of Titles Are On The Line At Homestead
*Believe It Or Not: Kenny Wallace Quietly Hits Series Plateau
*Kyle Busch Gets One Last Chance At Ard's Season Win Mark
*NNS Champions' Week Media Activities Nov. 20-21 In Orlando
*Drama Surrounds Driver, Owner Rookie Titles In Season's Final Race

Who said the days of the triple-feature were over?

Three NASCAR Nationwide Series titles will be decided Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, a series first.

For the first time since 2005, the driver championship comes down to the final race of the season. The driver and owner championships could be split for the second consecutive year. And the Raybestos Rookie of the Year race has its own drama.

Clint Bowyer (No. 2 BB&T Chevrolet) has held the driver standings lead for the last 29 weeks. He's got a 56-point advantage over reigning series champion Carl Edwards (No. 60 Save-A-Lot Ford).

Edwards has waged a spirited comeback from a 207-point deficit eight races ago to move to within 56 points of Bowyer. The margin is the closest since Brian Vickers led David Green (No. 0 sponsordavis.com Chevrolet) by 22 points heading to Homestead in 2003.

Edwards has won the last two races and registered top-five finishes in his last eight events to put the final-race pressure on Bowyer.

But regardless of Edwards' result, if Bowyer finishes eighth or better, he'll claim his first NASCAR national series championship. He leads the series with 28 top-10 finishes this season.

Edwards may be chasing Bowyer, but Bowyer is immersed in his own hunt to unify the owner championship should he hang on to win the driver crown.

Joey Logano will drive the No. 20 DLP HDTV Toyota, which has a 28-point lead over the No. 2 Chevrolet of Bowyer and Richard Childress Racing. A second-place finish for the No. 20 regardless of the outcome for the No. 2 would clinch the first NASCAR Nationwide title for JGR. RCR is chasing its fifth owner championship, which would be a series record.

Bryan Clauson (No. 40 Fastenal Dodge) has a final chance to overtake Landon Cassill in the rookie of the year race. Cassill isn't entered at Homestead -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in the No. 5 National Guard Chevrolet -- but has a six-point lead over Clauson. That's Cassill's biggest advantage of the year.

Wallace Prepares For Place Among NASCAR Nationwide Series Elite

For once, Kenny Wallace (No. 28 U.S. Border Patrol Chevrolet) may be at a loss for words.

The normally boisterous Wallace was unusually quiet at The Milwaukee Mile this summer when he reflected on his 400th NASCAR Nationwide Series start. He could be even more reserved as he realizes another major milestone in his NASCAR career.

With a start at Homestead, Wallace will surpass Tommy Houston for second on the all-time list with 418 starts. Jason Keller (No. 27 Kleenex Ford) holds the mark at 456 starts and counting.

"It's a feather in my cap and I'm very grateful that I've been able to race for so long in the Nationwide Series," Wallace said. "This series has always been there for me. It's been a wonderful time and I look forward to the next 82 races."

Wallace has 772 starts across each of NASCAR's national series, but his NASCAR Nationwide start resume is the longest.

In The Loop: Edwards A Bit Better Than Bowyer At Homestead

Over the last month, Carl Edwards has made things very interesting in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

And the statistics suggest the drama will continue at Homestead.

In winning two of the last three races, Edwards has slashed his championship deficit to 56 points with one race remaining. His statistics at Homestead are phenomenal, and he trumps driver standings leader Clint Bowyer in almost every key category.

Edwards has finished in the top five the last two Homestead races, including a runner-up finish in 2006. Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, he has a Driver Rating of 103.2, an Average Running Position of 8.2, 23 Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 87.3%. Those numbers would be even better if not for his 19th-place finish in 2005 where he scored a Driver Rating of 88.6.

Bowyer is solid at Homestead, just not as strong as Edwards. In the last three races there, he has a Driver Rating of 92.3, an Average Running Position of 13.3, two Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 67.0%.

But Bowyer needs only to look at his lead to feel a bit more comfortable. This season, Edwards has beaten Bowyer by 56 points only twice. He bettered Bowyer by 61 at Michigan and by 80 at Memphis. Edwards won and led the most laps in both those races.

But Bowyer is simultaneously being chased -- and chasing. His No. 2 Chevrolet is second in the owner championship battle, 28 points behind the No. 20 Toyota.

Bowyer has beaten Joey Logano -- who will drive the No. 20 this weekend -- by more than 28 points four times this season (Nashville-2, Bristol-2, Kansas and Lowe's Motor Speedway-2).

Do The Math: Scenarios For NASCAR Nationwide Driver And Owner Championships

What will it take for those involved to claim the NASCAR Nationwide Series driver and owner championships at Homestead?

The following are the clinch scenarios for the final chance at title chases:

Driver Championship

*Bowyer needs to finish eighth or better without leading a lap regardless of what Carl Edwards does.

*Bowyer can finish ninth with one lap led and clinch regardless of what Edwards does.

*Bowyer can finish 11th and lead the most laps and clinch regardless of what Edwards does.

*Edwards needs to finish 24th or better in order to stay in contention until the end of the race assuming Bowyer starts.

Owner Championship

*The No. 20 can finish second with no laps led and clinch regardless of what the No. 2 does.

*The No. 20 can finish third with one lap led and clinch regardless of what the No. 2 does.

*The No. 20 can finish fourth and lead the most laps and clinch regardless of what the No. 2 does.

*The No. 2 needs to finish 33rd or better in order to stay in contention until the end of the race assuming the No. 20 starts.

NNS Etc.

Last Chance For Busch

Saturday's race is the final chance for Kyle Busch (No. 18 Line Designs Toyota) to pass Sam Ard for most series wins in a season.

Busch tied Ard's mark of 10 wins three weeks ago with his victory at Texas Motor Speedway.

Ard set the standard in 35 races in 1983.

Back Where He Belongs

This weekend at Homestead, David Green, the 1994 series champion, makes his first appearance in the NASCAR Nationwide Series since June 2007.

Green will drive for Johnny Davis and must qualify the No. 0 Chevrolet on time in order to compete in his 387th career start. Green is fourth on the all-time start list and is one of four former series champions entered.

Burton Back To Defend

Clint Bowyer may feel like the cavalry has arrived.

Jeff Burton (No. 21 Prilosec OTC Chevrolet), last year's race winner, will drive a third Richard Childress Racing entry at Homestead.

Burton won the 2007 event in the No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet; Scott Wimmer will be making his final start for RCR in the No. 29 this weekend. Both drivers shared the stage with owner Richard Childress last year as NASCAR Nationwide Series owner champion.

Catch 22 At Homestead

Michael Annett (No. 03 Germain Racing Toyota) will attempt to make his series debut for Germain Racing at Homestead. Annett, 22, has eight starts in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series with one top five and two top 10s.

Patrick Sheltra (No. Briggs & Case Construction Equipment/Quality Turf Dodge), 22, is also entered. A native of Indiantown, Fla., he made his series debut at Phoenix last week improving to 29th at the finish after starting 36th.

The Director's Take: Calling It A Wrap At Homestead

"Homestead is a crew chiefs' dream track as they set their cars up for the last race of the season," said Joe Balash, the NASCAR Nationwide Series director.

"Last week at Phoenix was a challenge with both ends of track being so dramatically different. This week offers less of a challenge, allowing the car to be set up without compromise.

"This is a wide racing surface with multiple groove options and room for the drivers to pick and choose their way around the 1.5-mile oval.

"With three teams vying for two top spots in the driver and owner championship scenarios, each crew chief will work on a different strategy based on whether they have a points lead or deficit.

"Carl (Edwards) has been on a roll the past few races, chipping away at the driver championship points lead. Drew (Blickensderfer) is going to have Carl prepared for a full court press to gain as many points as he can for the win. Dan's (Deeringhoff) position is to put a solid car underneath Clint (Bowyer) and it all goes into Clint's hands to run a great race."

Up Next: 2008 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champions' Week & Awards Banquet

Following the crowning of the series champion -- or champions -- at Homestead, the series will celebrate its inaugural season with title sponsor Nationwide Insurance during Champions' Week and the Awards Banquet the week of Nov. 17.

The driver champion will travel to Columbus, Ohio, the headquarters city for Nationwide, Tuesday, Nov. 18. There he will have a full day of activities including a meet and greet with company executives and associates, a visit to Nationwide Children's Hospital and meet with the local media, in addition to taking part in pre-game activities at the Columbus Blue Jackets-Edmonton Oilers NHL game at Nationwide Arena.

Thursday evening, Nov. 20, Nationwide Insurance will congratulate the driver and owner champion team (if split titles) with a celebratory dinner in Orlando, Fla.

Friday, Nov. 21 the driver champion, owner champion (if split titles), Top 10 drivers and Raybestos Rookie of the Year will attend Champions' Week Media Day at the ESPN Club at Disney's BoardWalk in Orlando. The 2008 Awards Banquet follows from the Portofino Bay Hotel on Saturday night, Nov. 22.

FAST FACTS

The Race: Ford 300
The Place: Homestead-Miami Speedway

The Date: Saturday, Nov. 15
The Time: 4:30 p.m. ET

The Distance: 300 miles / 200 laps
Track Size: 1.5-mile oval

TV: ESPN 2, 4 p.m. ET
Radio: Sirius NASCAR Radio / MRN

2007 Winner: Jeff Burton
2007 Pole: David Ragan

Schedule:
Friday--Practice 1:15-3 p.m.; Final Practice 6:45-7:25 p.m.
Saturday--Qualifying, 11:35 a.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Jason Keller , Kenny Wallace , David Green , Scott Wimmer , Brian Vickers , Carl Edwards , Clint Bowyer , David Ragan , Bryan Clauson , Joey Logano , Michael Annett , Patrick Sheltra , Kyle Busch
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Germain Racing