Off-week news 2008-09-30

*Playing Second Fiddle Finally Has Good Tune For Bowyer *Open Week Opportunities For Three Series Drivers At 'Dega *In The Loop: Regulars Have Held Their Own In '08 *Owner, Rookie Title Races Slowed Only By Open Week Second Hard To Handle, But...

*Playing Second Fiddle Finally Has Good Tune For Bowyer
*Open Week Opportunities For Three Series Drivers At 'Dega
*In The Loop: Regulars Have Held Their Own In '08
*Owner, Rookie Title Races Slowed Only By Open Week

Second Hard To Handle, But Bowyer Gets The Grand Scheme

Daytona Beach, Fla. (September 30, 2008) - Ask NASCAR Nationwide Series leader Clint Bowyer and he'd probably say second-place finishes have been the bane of his existence this year.

Bowyer has one win and four runner-up results. The first three -- at Nashville Superspeedway in March; at Darlington Raceway in May and at Bristol Motor Speedway in August -- caused him great angst because he led each race and arguably should have won two of them.

But last Saturday at Kansas Speedway, a second-place finish in front of his home crowd may have actually been a bright spot for the Emporia, Kan., native.

Bowyer didn't lead a lap but came home second after starting 17th, one of only eight times he's started outside the top 10 this year.

He also increased his standings lead by 10 over Carl Edwards and heads into the series' fourth open week of the year 196 points ahead the reigning series champion with five races left.

"You can't ask for much more -- obviously a win -- but to beat the 60 car (Edwards) is what we've got to do," Bowyer said following the Kansas race.

"We want to win more races, but we want to win a championship. If I don't win another race and I have that championship trophy on my mantle, I won't be a bit sorry; I won't feel bad about it.

"In the grand scheme of things, (we need to) put cars in between us so we can gain points on (Edwards)."

Open Week Leads To Open Doors For Series Drivers At Talladega

The ladder system through NASCAR's national series usually has steps for drivers from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series to the NASCAR Nationwide Series and ultimately to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Joey Logano has done an unconventional two-step on that ladder to debut in a third national series this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

With the open week in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, Logano, 18, is taking the opportunity to get big-league experience on a superspeedway and will make his NASCAR Craftsman Truck debut Saturday.

He made his highly-anticipated debut in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in May followed by his first NASCAR Sprint Cup start in September.

Logano also is entered in the ARCA event at Talladega set for Friday.

Ditto for Landon Cassill, 19, who will run the ARCA race for JR Motorsports before competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck race. Cassill has one top five and two top 10s in six series events this year.

Mike Wallace, who is eighth in the NASCAR Nationwide standings, is pulling double duty as well this weekend in Talladega.

Known for his restrictor-plate prowess, he's entered in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck race and also is entered in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race in a third car for Richard Childress Racing. Wallace last ran in both series at Talladega one year ago.

In The Loop: Series-Only Regulars Maintain Strong Stats Throughout The Year

Just two races ago, Brad Keselowski's season suddenly looked in shambles.

He had come off two consecutive finishes outside the top 20, had fallen out of second place in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings and looked as if he were in a 2008 free fall.

In actuality, the mini-slump was a minor blip in what has been an extraordinary season for Keselowski. He followed up those two poor runs at Auto Club Speedway and Richmond International Raceway with finishes of third and sixth at Dover International Speedway and Kansas, respectively.

Keselowski is still in third, and has some of the top Loop Data statistics in the series this season. He has a Driver Rating of 95.6, an Average Running Position of 12.1, 250 Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 73.8%.

His passing numbers are phenomenal. He leads the series in Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green) with 820, and has the best Pass Differential (passes minus times passed) with 187.

He heads a list of series-only regulars enjoying strong years. Another is Joey Logano, who has made his transition into the NASCAR Nationwide Series with ease. In 14 races, Logano has a win, three poles and 10 top 10s. He also has racked up some impressive Loop Data statistics.

Logano has a Driver Rating of 103.9, an Average Running Position of 10.1, 150 Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 82.0%. His Pass Differential is a strong 48.

Another series-only regular quietly having a strong year is Mike Bliss. The veteran -- who is fourth in the standings -- has 13 top 10s on the year, and finished second two races ago at Dover.

Bliss has a Driver Rating of 91.5, an Average Running Position of 13.0, 184 Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 75.2%.

He also claimed his only series win to date in October 2004 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, the site of next week's race.

NNS Etc.

Owner, Rookie Chase Slowed Only By Open Week: The open week is about the only thing to slow down the momentum of the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet team and that of Bryan Clauson (No. 40 Fastenal Dodge).

The No. 2 Chevy has drawn to within 33 points of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the series owner standings, while Clauson has closed the gap to one point on his good friend Landon Cassill (No. 5 National Guard Chevrolet), 175-174, in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year chase.

Joey Logano will be in the No. 20 Toyota for the remainder of the year and will have to fend off the charge of Clint Bowyer, who is attempting to bring the series driver and owner titles together after last season's split between Carl Edwards' driver championship and RCR's fourth owner crown.

Clauson ran at Kansas and has three more races left, including at LMS in two weeks. Cassill deferred to Mark Martin at Kansas and has two more races to go, but won't be competing next week.

2008 Manufacturer's Championship Standings

Denny Hamlin's win at Kansas secured the 2009 Bill France Performance Cup for Toyota, its first manufacturers' championship in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Chevrolet holds the series record with 24 wins set in 1999. That mark will stand for at least another season -- Toyota has won 18 races this year; five remain.

Toyota is the fourth manufacturer to win the Bill France Performance Cup since the inception of the award in 1991.

Up Next: Lowe's Motor Speedway

This is the fourth open week of five on the 2008 NASCAR Nationwide schedule. The series resumes racing at Lowe's Motor Speedway, the home track for many teams, Oct. 10.

The week of Oct. 13 will be the final open slot on the schedule this year, but will be a work week nonetheless.

The second and final test for the series' new car will be at LMS Oct. 13-14.


Next Race: Dollar General 300
The Place: Lowe's Motor Speedway

The Date: Friday, Oct. 10
The Time: 8 p.m. ET

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

TV: ESPN2, 7:30 p.m. ET
Radio: Sirius NASCAR Radio; PRN

2007 Winner: Jeff Burton
2007 Pole: Greg Biffle

Lowe's Motor Speedway NNS Schedule (Oct. 9-10):
Thursday -- Practice, 1:15-2:20 p.m.
Final Practice, 6-7 p.m.
Friday -- Qualifying, 3:05 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Drivers Jeff Burton , Greg Biffle , Mike Wallace , Mike Bliss , Carl Edwards , Landon Cassill , Clint Bowyer , Brad Keselowski , Denny Hamlin , Bryan Clauson , Joey Logano , Mark Martin
Teams Richard Childress Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing , JR Motorsports