Event: Las Vegas
Martin Returns To Series To Defend Wins Record
Mark Martin will make his return to the NASCAR Nationwide Series this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Martin is doing so on the cusp of Kyle Busch, a Las Vegas native, closing in on his all-time wins leads of 48.
Busch posted his 44th series victory at Phoenix last weekend and also his 13th series perfect Driver Rating (150.0). There have been a total of 26 Perfect Driver Rating performances in the NASCAR Nationwide Series since its inception in 2005, and Busch has posted half of those. Ironically, Martin posted the first perfect 150.0 in the series -- at Auto Club Speedway in 2005.
Martin will be running a limited schedule this season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for Turner Motorsports (Las Vegas, Auto Club Speedway, Michigan and Kentucky).
Some notes going into Saturday's Sam's Town 300:
Martin's last two series victories came at Las Vegas in 2005 and 2008.
Martin is tied with Jeff Burton for the most series wins at Las Vegas (three each).
Martin is tied with Matt Kenseth for the most series poles at Las Vegas (two each).
Martin has made five series starts at Las Vegas posting three wins, four top fives, five top 10s and two poles.
Busch has made seven series starts at Las Vegas posting one top-five finish.
Veteran Faces In Championship Contention
Reed Sorenson continues to be setting the pace, owning a five-point lead over second-place Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and seven points ahead of third-place, Jason Leffler. Sorenson has made three starts at Las Vegas, posting two top 10s.
Three veterans vying for the championship, Joe Nemechek, Mike Bliss and Kenny Wallace are all currently in the top 10 in points; fifth, seventh and ninth respectively. The three veterans have combined for 1,035 series starts, 27 wins and two NASCAR national series championships.
Nemechek, the 1992 series champion, won at Las Vegas in 2003. He is coming off back-to-back finishes of 15th at Daytona and Phoenix. Nemechek has made 12 starts at Las Vegas posting one win, five top fives and seven top 10s.
Bliss, the 2002 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, has posted a 13th-place finish at Daytona and a 20th-place finish at Phoenix. Bliss has made five starts at Las Vegas, scoring one top five and a pole (2004).
Wallace climbed 10 spots in the driver standings this past week after his 10th-place result at Phoenix. That's his best finish since last August at Iowa. When Wallace starts at Las Vegas, he'll be 10 away from becoming second driver to reach 500 NASCAR Nationwide Series starts. He heads to Las Vegas this weekend having made eight starts, posting one top-10 finish.
Stenhouse Sidesteps Sophomore Slump
Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the 2010 Sunoco Rookie of the Year, is five points back from standings leader, Reed Sorenson.
Stenhouse had a slow start to the 2010 season before rebounding to earn Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. The opposite is true in 2011, where he has opened up with two top-10 finishes, at Daytona (eighth) and Phoenix (seventh).
Stenhouse is looking to become the first driver since Greg Biffle to follow up a rookie of the year nod with a series championship. Biffle won the rookie honor in 2001 and series championship in 2002.
Owner standings update: 13 points separate first to fifth. Joe Gibbs' No. 18 driven by Kyle Busch is first with 86 points, one ahead of second-place DeLana Harvick's No. 33 driven by Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick. ... Danica Patrick is fourth in the series driver standings. She finished 36th at Vegas last season. ... This is the new car's first trip to Las Vegas, and teams will be going in a day early (Thurs., March 3) for additional practice time at 11 a.m. -- 1 p.m. and 3-5 p.m. The garage opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. Fans get in free and a NASCAR Nationwide Series driver autograph session will be held from 1:30-2:30 p.m. ... 300th Nationwide start for KHI: This weekend's race at Las Vegas will mark KHI's 300th start in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Since entering the series in 2004, KHI has collected 10 wins and 12 poles.