*Nashville's Second Race Signals Start Of Stand-Alone Season *Three Different Races, Tracks On Tap For Busch This Weekend *In The Loop: Can Wimmer Pull A Nashville Sweep? Stand-Alone Season Brings "Regular" Opportunities June not only signals...
*Nashville's Second Race Signals Start Of Stand-Alone Season
*Three Different Races, Tracks On Tap For Busch This Weekend
*In The Loop: Can Wimmer Pull A Nashville Sweep?
Stand-Alone Season Brings "Regular" Opportunities
June not only signals the start of summer but also the beginning of "stand-alone" season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
There are a total of nine races on the 2008 schedule that do not include companion events with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Three of those have taken place, but six of the next nine races will be of the stand-alone variety.
The second race of the year at Nashville Superspeedway marks the traditional launch of stand-alone events and opportunity for series-only regulars since most double-duty drivers will stick to their NASCAR Sprint Cup schedules.
Scott Wimmer (No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet) took full advantage of those chances in March when he won Nashville's spring event, breaking the three-race winning streak reigning series champion Carl Edwards (No. 60 World Financial Group Ford) had at the track.
So did Steve Wallace (No. 66 Atreus Homes & Communities Chevrolet), who is the defending pole winner of this race.
A series-only regular has won at Nashville in nine of the previous 14 races at the track. Former winners in this week's field, in addition to Wimmer and Edwards, include 2002 series champion Greg Biffle (No. 16 CitiFinancial Ford -- inaugural race in 2001); Jason Leffler (No. 32 Great Clips Toyota -- 2004); and standings leader Clint Bowyer (No. 2 BB&T Chevrolet -- 2005).
The wins for Biffle, Bowyer and Leffler were the first of their series career.
Busch Looks To Make NASCAR National Series History
No driver has ever attempted to compete in three different races at three different tracks on the same race weekend in NASCAR national series history.
Enter Kyle Busch (No. 32 Dollar General Stores Toyota), who will attempt to race in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night, at Nashville on Saturday night and at Pocono Raceway in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition on Sunday afternoon.
Busch, who is tied with Tony Stewart for the NASCAR Nationwide Series lead with four wins and is second in the standings, will attempt the triple after a fourth event, Stewart's "Old Spice Prelude to the Dream" charity race Wednesday at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
Willie Allen, who drives for fellow Nashville native Bobby Hamilton Jr.'s (No. 25 Smithfield Foods Ford) Sadler-Hamilton Racing team, will serve as the substitute driver for Busch at Nashville.
Busch leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings and has a series-best four wins. He will run for Billy Ballew Motorsports at Texas; he also leads that series in victories (two).
Logano Eyes Atwood's Record
Despite a sixth-place finish at Dover International Speedway in his series debut, 18-year-old Joey Logano (No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota) was disappointed he didn't win. That's just fine with Casey Atwood.
Atwood holds the record as the youngest driver to win a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at 18 years, 10 months, 9 days. Logano turned 18 on May 24.
After Atwood won at The Milwaukee Mile in 1999, he went on to win a second race that year. His success prompted a move to NASCAR Sprint Cup where he competed for two full seasons.
Now 27, Atwood is a valuable asset as a practice/qualifying driver for double-duty teams, and he will serve in that capacity this weekend at his home track; the Nashville native will substitute for Greg Biffle.
Strong Credentials For Substitute Drivers
Along with 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year Willie Allen and Casey Atwood, other substitute drivers this weekend include:
Stephen Leicht for Clint Bowyer. Leicht won his first career series race last year at Kentucky and finished seventh in the final standings. Jason Hedelsky for Carl Edwards. Hedelsky normally serves as Edwards' spotter. Josh Wise for David Reutimann (No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota). Wise is a developmental driver for Michael Waltrip Racing and has three series starts for Fitz Motorsports, two this year. Auggie Vidovich for David Ragan (No. 6 Discount Tire Ford). Vidovich ran in 21 series races in 2006; his second series start came in this race where he started 15th. Chad Blount for Jason Leffler. Leffler will attempt to qualify at Pocono; his last NASCAR Sprint Cup race was in 2005 at Indianapolis. Series-Only Regulars Standing Tall
Last month, the first since August 2007, half of the top 10 was made up of series-only regulars.
Brad Keselowski (No. 88 U.S. NAVY Chevrolet) leads the group in fifth place. Mike Bliss is sixth while Jason Leffler, Mike Wallace (No. 7 GEICO Toyota) and David Stremme (No. 64 Atreus Homes & Communities Chevrolet) are eighth through 10th, respectively. Leffler and Wallace were among those ranked in 2007 as well.
In The Loop: Wimmer Aims For Music City Sweep
Scott Wimmer took advantage of the last Nashville stand-alone, becoming the first NASCAR Nationwide Series-only regular to win this season.
In that race, Wimmer notched a Driver Rating of 129.2, an Average Running Position of 4.5, 45 Fastest Laps Run and spent all but five of his Laps in the Top 15.
He could very well pull the Nashville sweep -- his stats there are among the best in the series.
Over his last three Nashville races, Wimmer has an average Driver Rating of 122.2, an Average Running Position of 4.5, 117 Fastest Laps Run and has run 99.3% of the Laps in the Top 15. All those statistics rank in the top five in the series.
Of course, any time NASCAR races at a concrete track, Carl Edwards' name has to be mentioned. He won three straight at Nashville -- the second race in 2006 and a sweep in 2007 -- and has earned some of the series' top stats.
In his six career races at Nashville, Edwards has an average finish of 2.5, an average Driver Rating of 123.3, an Average Running Position of 5.1, a series-high 214 Fastest Laps Run and has a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 96.0.
Standings leader Clint Bowyer is also stout at Nashville. He won there in 2005 and has finished second in each of the last four Nashville races. Over his last six races there, Bowyer owns series-highs in Driver Rating (130.4), Average Running Position (3.6) and Laps in the Top 15 (1,308/96.9%). He also ranks third in Fastest Laps Run with 181.
Triple threat Kyle Busch also will be the talk of the weekend, although his Nashville results haven't been outstanding. He's cracked the top 10 only once in five starts and in his last three appearances there, Busch has a Driver Rating of 87.3.
The Director's Take: Second Time Around At Nashville
"This is our second trip to Nashville this year in a short time span," said Joe Balash, NASCAR Nationwide Series director. "The teams should have great notes from the first race in March.
"That race almost acted like a test session and should allow teams to start with better setups. The crew chiefs will have a lot more to work with to fine-tune the cars for the event."
"It's also the second week in a row we're racing on a concrete surface and drivers should have a good feel for the track.
"We're also at the true start of the stand-alone season with Nashville, Kentucky and Milwaukee in succession.
"Summer is go-time. It's a chance for regulars to gain some spots on double duty drivers.
"It's much more difficult for a double-duty driver to participate, especially if there's anything that affects the timing of the event due to the weather at this time of year -- similar to what happened to Carl Edwards at this race three years ago. Rain forced us to move from Saturday to Sunday; Carl missed the race and ultimately lost a shot at the championship."
Jason Keller's No. 11 America's Incredible Pizza Company Chevrolet will have a new look heading into Nashville this weekend. Another Jason, award-winning country music artist Jason Aldean and his new album "Relentless," will be displayed on the hood of the No. 11 entry for Saturday night's race.
Aldean first hit the country music charts with his hit single 'Hicktown' in 2006. Since then, every single he has released has gone top-10 on the radio airplay charts. The Academy of Country Music recognized Aldean that same year when he was awarded the Top New Male Artist award. His self-titled debut album is certified platinum (1 million in sales) and "Relentless" is already certified gold heading toward platinum status.
Series veteran Mark Green (No. 70 Foretravel Chevrolet) is driving a part-time schedule for ML Motorsports this season. He hasn't been on track since registering an organization-best fifth-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway last April (his second career top-five finish and first since 1997) and another team-best, fourth-place qualifying effort at Richmond International Raceway last month.
But Green and the lone mother/daughter-owned team in NASCAR national series competition will run more like a full-time schedule over the next eight weeks, entering seven races over that span starting at Nashville.
Green, with 237 series starts, will have to qualify on time for those seven races. Next week, the Owensboro, Ky., native will race in his home state and in August, he will attempt to put the No. 70 in the field at O'Reilly Raceway Park.
The team headed by Mary Louise Miller and her daughter Stephany Mullen are based in Warsaw, Ind.
Bill France Performance Cup
Although Toyota won on concrete for the first time in its series history last week at Dover, Chevrolet and Ford may have the last word Saturday night at Nashville.
Scott Wimmer and Chevrolet won two months ago at Nashville, breaking the three-race winning streak of Carl Edwards and Ford at the track. Edwards was second at Dover.
Four Toyotas were in the top 10 at Dover, however, setting up a battle in the Music City.
Up Next: Meijer 300 presented by Oreo at Kentucky Speedway
Kentucky Speedway, the track that has become known as a star-builder, is up next for the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Over the last two years, a series-only driver has won the Meijer 300 presented by Oreo. Last year it was Stephen Leicht while David Gilliland's career was launched following his storybook win in 2006.
The track has yet to produce a repeat winner, polesitter or winning car owner in seven series races there.
The Race: Federated Auto Parts 300 presented by Dollar General
The Place: Nashville Superspeedway
The Date: Saturday, June 7
The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
The Distance: 300 miles / 225 laps
Track Size: 1.33-mile concrete
TV: ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET
2007 Winner: Carl Edwards
2007 Pole: Steve Wallace
Schedule (Times local--CT)
Friday--Practice 5-6:15 p.m.; Final Practice 6:45-8 p.m. Saturday--Qualifying 2:35 p.m.