*Border Battle Extraordinaire: Bowyer, Edwards Set For Kansas *RCR On JGR's Back Bumper In Owner Championship Race *Keselowski Shakes Slump; Announces NASCAR Sprint Cup Debut *In The Loop: Busch Seeks Fourth Career Perfect Driver Rating Bowyer,...
*Border Battle Extraordinaire: Bowyer, Edwards Set For Kansas
*RCR On JGR's Back Bumper In Owner Championship Race
*Keselowski Shakes Slump; Announces NASCAR Sprint Cup Debut
*In The Loop: Busch Seeks Fourth Career Perfect Driver Rating
Bowyer, Edwards Prepare for Kansas-Missouri Border Brawl
In this corner, from Emporia, Kan., Clint Bowyer (No. 2 BB&T Chevrolet). Current NASCAR Nationwide Series standings leader. One win, 10 top fives and a series-best 24 top 10s in 29 races this season.
In this corner, Carl Edwards (No. 60 Scotts Winterguard Ford), reigning series driver champion from Columbia, Mo. Second in the standings, 186 points out of first. Four wins, 13 top fives and 16 top-10 finishes in 2008.
Round One of the "Border Brawl" went to Edwards, who won at his home track at Gateway International Raceway in July.
Round Two comes Saturday in Bowyer's territory at Kansas Speedway.
The circumstances surrounding the race for both drivers have big implications, the biggest of which might just be border bragging rights.
Neither driver has won at Kansas but suffice it to say a victory -- and an extension of his points lead with six races left -- would be a major career highlight for Bowyer.
"Racing in that area is a big part of our lives and it's important for both of us to be racing at Kansas," Bowyer said of himself and his friendly rival.
"It's going to be a lot of fun to go back there and be racing against Carl for the championship. It's kind of a Kansas/Missouri border war. I remember going to the KU/MU game at Arrowhead Stadium last year and this kind of reminds me of that. It's the Kansas boy against the Missouri boy. Hopefully, we'll put it on them."
Both are also in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup; Edwards leads there with Bowyer sixth. No driver has won the title in both series in the same season; nor have two been eligible to do so.
RCR Making Move For Third Consecutive Owner Championship
The No. 2 BB&T Chevrolet team may have a different pep to its step this weekend in Kansas.
Its driver, Clint Bowyer, is a native Jayhawk and leads the series standings. And, the team has a third consecutive owner championship in its sights for Richard Childress Racing, chasing down the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
After Watkins Glen five races ago, the No. 20 -- which has had four different drivers this year -- had a lead of 282 points in the owner standings. A penalty to the team and a surge by the No. 2 -- driven exclusively by Bowyer -- has decreased that number to only 65 points with six races remaining.
The No. 20 team has led the owner standings since April, when Tony Stewart won at Talladega Superspeedway and wrestled the top spot from the No. 2, which had held the lead following the preceding three races. The No. 20 also led following the first three races of the season. The No. 33 Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick Inc. also led for a three-race stretch this year.
RCR has four series owner titles overall and hopes to defend the 2007 championship it won with the No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet, driven by Jeff Burton (who won at Kansas in 2002) and Scott Wimmer. That team is currently in fourth place behind the No. 60 Ford of Carl Edwards and Roush Fenway Racing (third).
Keselowski Back In Groove; Looks Toward October "Call Up"
It took three races, but Brad Keselowski (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet) finally got his groove back at Dover with a third-place finish.
The 24-year-old had gone through his first prolonged slump of the season, where finishes of 33rd and 21st at Auto Club Speedway and Richmond International Raceway, respectively, had dropped him from second in the standings -- he had been as close as 122 points behind Clint Bowyer -- to third behind Carl Edwards and in trouble as far as his championship hopes go.
He did manage to pick up 10 points on Edwards thanks to his finish at Dover, however.
Slump aside, Keselowski has had a tremendous season in his first full year with JR Motorsports. As a reward, he learned this week he will attempt to make his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start for Hendrick Motorsports Oct. 11 at Lowe's Motor Speedway. He will also get another opportunity at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 2.
"We've gotten a glimpse of what Brad is capable of in the Nationwide Series, and that's just scratching the surface," HMS team owner Rick Hendrick said. "He has a load of talent and potential, and we're excited to give him an opportunity at the next level."
Series Welcomes Back Mark Martin At Kansas
Mark Martin (No. 5 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet) returns to the NASCAR Nationwide Series this weekend at Kansas.
The series' all-time leader in wins (48) and poles (30) has competed in three other races this year. He won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and was fourth at Michigan International Speedway. An accident relegated him to a 23rd-place finish at Darlington Raceway, his worst series finish since the May race in Charlotte in 2006 when he was 32nd.
Kyle Busch (No. 32 Lifelock Toyota) won at Kansas last year driving for Hendrick Motorsports, which may bode well for Martin. He's competed in one other NASCAR Nationwide race at Kansas; he was 14th in 2005.
Busch Takes Aim At Series Season Win Record
With his victory at Dover, Kyle Busch recorded his series-leading eighth win of the year. The series record for wins in one season is 10 by Sam Ard in 1983. Kevin Harvick won nine races in his second championship season in 2006.
Busch's career total moved to 19 victories, now 12th on the all-time list. He's scheduled to compete in at least five more NASCAR Nationwide events this season.
KC Native Cobb Vies For Series Return This Weekend
Jennifer Jo Cobb (No. 78 Providence Medical Center Dodge), a Kansas City native, hopes to earn her third NASCAR Nationwide Series career start this weekend and first since 2006 when she finished 43rd at Kansas.
Cobb made a splash in her series debut in 2004 at Homestead-Miami Speedway when she qualified 28th, at the time the best start for a female driver in the series since 2003 when Tammy Jo Kirk started 20th at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Erin Crocker has since bettered Cobb's effort when she started ninth at Dover in 2005.
ML Motorsports Carries School Spirit To Kansas
ML Motorsports team co-owner Stephany Mullen and her husband, team president Ed Mullen, are alumni of Missouri Valley College, located in Marshall, Mo., 80 miles northeast of Kansas City.
The No. 70 Green's Biomet/Foretravel Chevrolet driven by Mark Green will carry the school's logo this weekend at Kansas.
In The Loop: Whose Got Anything For Busch At Kansas?
Kyle Busch needs two victories to match Sam Ard's record of 10 wins in a season, set in 1983. The way he's running and the way he handles Kansas, Busch likely will need just one more after this weekend.
Busch has four wins in his last seven series races. In his win at Dover last weekend, he scored a perfect Driver Rating of 150.0, his second of the year. He also scored a perfect Driver Rating in his win at Auto Club Speedway in August. He now has three perfect ratings since the stats' inception in 2005, which is more than any other driver in the series.
This weekend could be more of the same for Busch. He's the defending race winner, and has finished in the top 10 in each of the last three races.
Over that span, Busch has a Driver Rating of 110.2, an Average Running Position of 8.5, 32 Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 514. He also has a solid Pass Differential (passes minus times passed) of 31 (128 passes compared to 97 times passed).
His chief competition will likely be Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Arby's Ford), who has run just six series races this season. Kenseth is strong at Kansas, working on two consecutive runner-up finishes and three top 10s in a row. He's also won the last two poles at the 1.5-mile track.
Since 2005, Kenseth has a Driver Rating of 124.5, an Average Running Position of 5.3, 85 Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 95.5.
This weekend's race could also be an opportunity for Clint Bowyer to add some cushion to his points lead over Carl Edwards -- and win the Kansas-Missouri border war in the process.
Bowyer has a Kansas Driver Rating of 105.7 and an Average Running Position of 6.6. Both numbers trump Edwards, who has a Driver Rating of 89.9 and an Average Running Position of 18.1 at Kansas.
The Crew Chief's Take: Driver At Home, Title Hunts Add Pressure For No. 2 Team At Kansas
It's a big weekend in Kansas for the No. 2 Chevrolet team. Driver Clint Bowyer, a Kansas native, leads the championship standings and is seeking his first win at his home track. The team has closed the gap on the owner championship to 65 points.
Any added pressure along with those scenarios, crew chief Dan Deeringhoff?
"Clint really wants to go to Kansas and have a good showing and because of that, we want to have a good showing too," he said. "The BB&T team tries to do that every weekend, but this weekend might have a little more pressure. But it's still going to be the same amount of work.
"Kansas is another mile-and-a-half but it's starting to age a little bit. The groove is going to move around so I'll try and set our car up for a medium-length run. We'll set the car up so Clint can run high or low.
"We'll also have a new tire this year at Kansas so everyone is working on figuring out what the grip levels will be with the tire and making the other adjustments on the car accordingly. That factors in to trying to come up with the balance between aerodynamics and mechanical grip on the car."
Series Veterans Can Hit Career Milestones At Kansas -- Mike Wallace (No. 7 GEICO Toyota) and Morgan Shepherd (No. 89 Victory in Jesus Dodge) can add to their impressive series resumes this weekend at Kansas.
Wallace, who is a regional native from St. Louis, Mo., is preparing to make his 325th series start, good for ninth all-time. Wallace (eighth) also is one of five series-only regulars in the top 10 in the point standings.
Shepherd, meanwhile, seeks his 225th career start. He'll have to qualify on time to do so, but the 66-year-old -- who has 15 career series wins -- has qualified for 24 of the 26 races he's entered this year.
He finished 22nd at Dover last week, which matched his second-best finish of the season. His best result was 13th at Talladega in April.
And one other driver reaching a series starts mark may elicit a reaction of surprise.
Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Ragu Dodge) is set to make his 150th start in the series at Kansas. He won this race in 2005.
His first series start was at Rockingham in 2002, and he was one of the first in the recent crop of "double duty" drivers who have used the series as a steppingstone to NASCAR Sprint Cup.
He made his full-time debut in the premier series in 2004 while also running 30 races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
2008 Manufacturer's Championship Standings
There may not yet be a driver to win more than one race at Kansas Speedway, but not so with series manufacturers.
Chevrolet leads all manufacturers with four wins at Kansas, including two in a row and three of the last four.
Ford's two wins came in consecutive years (2001-02) while Dodge won in 2005.
Most Popular Driver
Through the first 11 weeks of the NASCAR Nationwide Series' Most Popular Driver voting on NASCAR.com, more than 96,000 fans have cast on-line ballots for their favorite driver.
In total, voting for drivers in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and NASCAR's six regional touring series has exceeded 193,500 votes.
Fans may vote once per day. Voting ends this month for two of the regional series while voting for the remaining four regional series and both national series ends next month.
The Race: Kansas Lottery 300
The Place: Kansas Speedway
The Date: Saturday, September 27
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
The Distance: 300 miles / 200 laps
Track Size: 1.5-mile tri-oval
TV: ESPN2, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN (locally on KCSP AM 610); Sirius NASCAR Radio
2007 Winner: Kyle Busch
2007 Polesitter: Matt Kenseth
Schedule (all times local / CT):
Friday--Practice 1:30-3 p.m.; Final Practice 4:45 p.m. (one hour, time permitting).
Saturday--Qualifying, 9:35 a.m.