* Childress, Gibbs In Four-Race Sprint For Owner Championship * Marc Davis In Line To Join List Of Future Star Debuts At Memphis * In The Loop: Perfect Might Not Be Enough For Reutimann Repeat * Bowyer Setting The Stage For First Title Titans Of...
* Childress, Gibbs In Four-Race Sprint For Owner Championship
* Marc Davis In Line To Join List Of Future Star Debuts At Memphis
* In The Loop: Perfect Might Not Be Enough For Reutimann Repeat
* Bowyer Setting The Stage For First Title
Titans Of The Sport Battle For Owner Championship
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (October 21, 2008) - When discussing battles, a line from Napoleon fits well -- "Victory belongs to the most persevering."
Over the last 21 weeks, the No. 2 Chevrolet of Richard Childress has indeed persevered. And heading to Memphis, it is now locked in a battle with the No. 20 Joe Gibbs RacingToyota for the owner championship in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
The No. 2 leads the No. 20 by one point following the Oct. 10 race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, giving the RCR flagship car its first advantage since the series departed Mexico City in late April.
Both owners are looking to make history. Childress is after his third consecutive title -- only William Baumgardner (1995-97) has accomplished the feat -- and his record-breaking fifth overall.
Gibbs, meanwhile, is chasing his first owner crown in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition and his first with Toyota as the team's manufacturer.
The two owners have reached the top of the standings in different ways. Childress has used only driver standings leader Clint Bowyer (No. 2 BB&T Chevrolet) while Gibbs has had four drivers: Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Joey Logano (No. 20 Game StopToyota) -- each have at least one win this season.
Memphis Again A Main Stage Future Of NASCAR
Memphis Motorsports Park, celebrating its 10th season as host to NASCAR Nationwide Series events, is known as a NASCAR career launching pad.
Over that span, drivers like Steve Wallace (No. 66 5-Hour Energy Chevrolet); Scott Wimmer (No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet); Juan Pablo Montoya; Dario Franchitti, Stephen Leicht and Jamie McMurray made their NASCAR Nationwide or NASCAR national series debuts there.
This year is no different. A handful of drivers, including Marc Davis (No. 18 DLP HDTV Toyota) and Jarit Johnson (No. 22 Fitz Motorsports Dodge), brother of two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, are vying to join that list.
Davis, 18, finished fifth in the NASCAR Camping World Series East this year and was 16th at Gateway International Raceway last month in his national series debut in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
He'll team with fellow 18-year-old Joey Logano for Joe Gibbs Racing at Memphis as one of four drivers age 19 or under. As many as 10 drivers entered are 23 or younger.
Davis has to make the race on time and has the added pressure of driving one of the top cars in the series. His No. 18 is tied with Logano's No. 20 with nine wins.
"When you get in that car you expect to run well," he said. "The most pressure I'll feel is from myself to perform well. That's something I think I need to do."
In the Loop
David Reutimann (No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota), has fond memories of Memphis, 2007. It was the spot of his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory.
He posted a perfect Driver Rating of 150.0, led 194 laps, had an Average Running Position of 2.2, 66 Fastest Laps Run and spent 251 of the 253 laps in the top 15.
He will try to duplicate perfection this weekend, a tough job considering the competition he'll face.
Chief among them is Clint Bowyer, who did not race at Memphis during Reutimann's 2007 triumph. Bowyer has three starts at Memphis, all resulting in top fives.
Since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, Bowyer has run two Memphis races, with tremendous results. Over the two races (2005 and '06), he has a Driver Rating of 134.3, an Average Running Position of 5.5, 108 Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 88.9%.
Also watch for a strong run from Mike Bliss (No. 1 Miccosukee Resort Chevrolet), who finished second to Reutimann last season. Though overshadowed, Bliss also had strong statistics with a Driver Rating of 118.8, an Average Running Position of 5.7 and ran 245 of the 253 laps in the top 15.
If Carl Edwards (No. 60 CitiFinancial Ford); wants to catch Bowyer and repeat as series champion, he'll have to bounce back from last year's Memphis performance. When he finished 25th, posting a Driver Rating of just 68.9.
In his three career Memphis races, Edwards has a Driver Rating of 94.1, an Average Running Position of 13.8, 36 Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 68.2%.
Jason Keller (No. 27 Cottonelle Ford), also has had past Memphis success. He has finished in the top 10 in six of the last seven Memphis races. Over the last three, he has a Driver Rating of 92.8 and an Average Running Position of 13.2.
Tick-Tock: Bowyer's Countdown Clock Running On Edwards, Keselowski
Coming off the last open week of the season, driver standings leader Clint Bowyer is 196 points ahead of Carl Edwards and 286 in front of third-place Brad Keselowski (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet).
As if time to catch Bowyer isn't short enough, Edwards and Keselowski have to overcome history and Bowyer's success at the remaining tracks on the schedule.
He owns wins at three of the last four stops -- two in NASCAR Nationwide competition (Memphis, 2005; Phoenix, 2007) and his only career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory (Texas, 2006).
Bowyer also has experienced the pressure of a close championship chase. He challenged Martin Truex Jr. for the series title in 2005, the last time the standings lead was under 200 points with four races left.
Catching Bowyer isn't out of the question but it would set a new precedent if accomplished.
The largest deficit overcome to claim the driver's championship with four races to go is 127 points by Rob Moroso in 1989. He was fifth in the standings at that stage before overtaking Tommy Ellis.
Keselowski is going for a "Tennessee Trifecta" at Memphis. His two wins this year came at Nashville Superspeedway (June) and Bristol Motor Speedway (August).
Bowyer does have wins at all three Tennessee tracks in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition.
Last Stand-Alone Of Season For Double-Duty Drivers
The race at Memphis represents the last of nine stand-alone events for the NASCAR Nationwide Series this year.
Six drivers will pull double duty this weekend, traveling between Memphis and Atlanta Motor Speedway, site of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
Clint Bowyer; Carl Edwards, David Ragan (No. 6 Discount Tire Ford) and defending race winner David Reutimann, who run full-time in both series, will be joined by NASCAR Nationwide-only regulars Marcos Ambrose (No. 59 Kingsford Tailgate at Home Ford), who won his first career pole last year at Memphis, and Joey Logano in Atlanta.
Substitute drivers on hand to practice and qualify the cars at Memphis due to probable schedule conflicts at both tracks are Stephen Leicht for Bowyer; Bobby East for Edwards; Auggie Vidovich for Ragan; Josh Wise for Reutimann and veteran Robert Pressley for Ambrose.
Logano's substitute drivers had yet to be announced by the team as of Tuesday.
Advantage Cassill: Clauson's Absence Presents Big Opportunity In Rookie Race
Two weeks ago at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Landon Cassill (No. 5 National Guard Chevrolet) was on the outside looking in.
As the Raybestos Rookie standings leader, he wasn't entered in that race but his closest challenger, Bryan Clauson, was. Clauson took advantage and claimed the lead by two points over Cassill.
However the tables are turned this weekend. Cassill will compete at Memphis while Clauson will not. Kevin Hamlin will be in the No. 40 Fastenal Dodge as Clauson attempts to make his NASCAR Sprint Cup debut at Atlanta .
Cassill and Clauson, both 19 and close friends to boot, will compete in two of the season's four final races. They may provide the closest battle for the rookie title since 2006 when Danny O'Quinn Jr. (No. 35 Team Rensi Motorsports Ford) bettered John Andretti by one point.
The Director's Take: Things Can Get "All Shook Up" In Memphis
The last stand-alone race of the season might well be called the "last stand."
Memphis produces closed-quarters racing, and that could be a formula that doesn't bode well for drivers in the running for the championship.
"This is one of those old-school NASCAR tracks," said Joe Balash, the NASCAR Nationwide Series director.
"You've got to stay up on the wheel for every lap. Cars are going to run nose-to-tail, side-by-side. Everybody's going to be digging for every inch of track position they can get.
"It has the potential for affecting our driver and owner points races based upon not getting caught up in any of the events that may happen during the race.
"This is truly where we're going to have a mix of our young guns versus our series veterans."
That scenario looms large, especially as the six double-duty drivers will most likely have to race their way to the front after starting in the back of the field.
Pre-Race Promotion: Drivers Landon Cassill and Cale Gale (No. 33 KHI Chevrolet), along with Memphis Motorsports Park and Kroger will join forces to hold a media event to promote the race.
The event will be held Wednesday from 3-5 p.m. at the Kroger located at 2835 Kirby Parkway in Memphis.
Cassill and Gale, who is fourth in the rookie standings, will also be making stops at different local TV and radio stations Thursday morning before they head to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to pay a visit to the young patients.
"Design A Dream" Back At Memphis: For the second consecutive year, patients at St. Jude's took part in the "Design-a-Dream" contest where their ideas for paint schemes would be judged and the winners' schemes displayed on select cars.
Drivers carrying the schemes during the race will be led by Stanton Barrett (No. 30 St. Jude Chevrolet) and D.J. Kennington (No. 81 Joe Michael/St. Jude Children's Hospital Dodge).
Also participating include Carl Edwards, David Reutimann, Jason Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips Toyota); Scott Wimmer, Scott Lagasse Jr. (No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Co. Chevrolet), Mike Wallace (No. 7 GEICO Toyota) and Kevin Hamlin .
Crew Chiefs On The Move: Todd Gordon, who has served as crew chief for Jason Keller on and off since 2002, has been reunited with the series' all-time starts leader. Gordon had worked with Keller at CJM Racing over the last two seasons, but Keller moved to Baker Curb Racing three weeks ago and Gordon has now followed.
Shane Wilson, the 2006 series champion crew chief is currently working with Austin Dillon (No. 21 RCR Chevrolet) and will move up to NASCAR Sprint Cup next season to lead Clint Bowyer's new No. 33 Chevrolet team.
"(Clint) and I have worked some in the Nationwide Series and we've tested together so there's already a comfort level established," Wilson said. "I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to the chance to prove myself."
Up Next: O'Reilly Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway
The next stop on the NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule is Texas Motor Speedway, site of the O'Reilly Challenge on Nov. 1.
ESPN2 will carry the race live beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
Two-time series champion Kevin Harvick won at Texas last November, his record fourth victory at the track. In nine starts at the 1.5-mile speedway, Harvick owns four top fives, seven top 10s and one pole, which he captured in April.
David Reutimann is the defending pole sitter for this event while Jeff Green is the only driver to win multiple poles at Texas.
The Race: Kroger On Track For The Cure 250 presented by the Southern Dodge
The Place: Memphis Motorsports Park
The Date: Saturday, October 25
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
The Distance: 250 laps / 187.5 miles
Track Size: .75-mile oval
TV Simulcast: ESPN Classic and SPEED ( NASCAR Countdown prerace show on ESPN Classic only, 3 p.m. ET)
2007 Winner: David Reutimann
2007 Pole: Marcos Ambrose
Thursday--Practice 1:30-3 p.m.; Final Practice 3:30-5 p.m.
Saturday--Qualifying, 9:35 a.m.