Series off-week news 2009-09-15

NASCAR Nationwide Series News And Notes - Open Week Open Week; Next Race At Dover International Speedway Sept. 26 Dramatic Races Within The Race Unfold Over Final Eight Events 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Schedule Has A New Look For Spring Is Eight...

NASCAR Nationwide Series News And Notes - Open Week

Open Week; Next Race At Dover International Speedway Sept. 26
Dramatic Races Within The Race Unfold Over Final Eight Events
2010 NASCAR Nationwide Schedule Has A New Look For Spring

Is Eight Enough? It's A Crucial Time For Standings Battles

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 15, 2009) - Kyle Busch is honing in on his first NASCAR national series championship. But for some drivers in the top 10 in the standings -- especially those within the critical top-five range -- the last eight races of the season are bordering on crucial.

Busch has a 201-point advantage over second-place Carl Edwards. This scenario isn't new; with eight races left last year, Edwards was 207 points behind standings leader Clint Bowyer before an wild charge that left him just 21 points shy of catching Bowyer for the 2008 title.

But Edwards -- who could become the first driver to win championships in both the NASCAR Nationwide Series and in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in the same season -- is concerned with more than catching Busch. Third-place Brad Keselowski is within 96 points of Edwards' ranking and remembers last year all too well. Keselowski lost out on his chance to finish in the runner-up position due to Edwards' final push.

The battle for the all-important fifth position between Justin Allgaier and Steve Wallace is incredibly compelling. Allgaier, in fourth, leads Wallace, in fifth, by only 20 points. Allgaier is also working to hold on to the Raybestos Rookie lead where he's got a 16-point advantage over Brendan Gaughan.

Slots 7-10 also are in a state of flux. Jason Keller, in seventh, is clinging to a 34-point lead over eighth-place Gaughan, who must keep distance between him and Mike Bliss, just seven points back. Bliss continues to hold his top-10 position despite not having a full-time ride since the race at Watkins Glen International.

Michael McDowell is in that same category. He's in 10th, 48 points behind Bliss and also has fought his way into the top 10 without having a consistent ride since the July race at Daytona International Speedway.

Drivers who finish in the top 10 in the standings will be honored at the season-ending Awards Banquet in Miami, Fla. The top five will be recognized on stage.

2010 NASCAR Nationwide Schedule: A Spring Shift

The 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule shows no major changes, but there are a few different Spring dates for events on next year's calendar.

The series will compete 35 times for the sixth consecutive year, starting at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 13. The April schedule has changed somewhat with races at Nashville Superspeedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway on April 3, 9 and 17, respectively, instead of the Texas-Nashville-Phoenix spring run over the past four years.

Additionally, the first race at Dover International Speedway has been moved from late May to May 15 as a companion event with NASCAR Sprint Cup.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series will have six "stand-alone" events where it is the lone NASCAR national series race of the weekend. With the move of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Gateway International Raceway to July 16, there are now three weekends where the series will race in conjunction with the trucks -- at The Milwaukee Mile, at Gateway and at O'Reilly Raceway Park.

The series will race internationally for the sixth consecutive season -- and for the fourth straight year -- at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal (Aug. 29). That event follows the other road-course race on the schedule, Aug. 7 at Watkins Glen.

The season ends on Nov. 20 with its championship event at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

NNS Etc: Open Week Edition

Bires Joins JR Motorsports

JR Motorsports announced Tuesday that Kelly Bires will join the team on a full-time basis for the 2010-11 NASCAR Nationwide Series seasons.

Brad Keselowski, who has been with JRM for three seasons, will move to Penske Racing next year to pull double duty in NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide races.

In 66 career NASCAR Nationwide starts, Bires, 25, has three top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. Two of his top-fives came this season with a career-best finish of fourth at Nashville in April for Kevin Harvick Inc., and fifth at Iowa Speedway for Braun Racing.

Crew Chief Changes

Two teams have announced crew chief changes during this open week.

The No. 62 Rusty Wallace Racing Chevrolet driven by Brendan Gaughan will use a co-crew chief lineup for the remainder of the year. Wes Ward, who had served as the organization's director of competition, and Dale Ferguson previously the team's lead engineer, take over for Brian Berry.

Meanwhile, Morgan Shepherd's Faith Motorsports team will also use this time to secure a new crew chief to replace Morris Vanvleet. Nathan McGuire served in that capacity for the team last week at Richmond International Raceway, however Shepherd didn't qualify.

In order to regroup, the No. 89 Chevrolet will test at Motor Mile Speedway this week.

Baker Curb Gets 'Predatory'

On Tuesday, as part of the marketing partnership formed this season between Baker Curb Racing and the Nashville Predators of the National Hockey League, the Nashville-based race team hosted the Predators' 2009-10 Partner Appreciation Event.

Partners of the Predators were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the state-of-the-art race shop and experienced live pit crew demonstrations.

As part of the link between the two organizations, the Preds' logo appeared on Jason Keller's No. 27 Ford at the Nashville race in June, and Predators' defenseman Ryan Suter was the team's Honorary Crew Chief for the NorthernTool.com 250 at The Milwaukee Mile.

McClure Takes A Vegas Visit

Eric McClure will spend his off weekend in Las Vegas, touring the town with his best friend and representatives from his sponsor, Hefty.

The group will take in the sights and hopefully, according to McClure, also will take in some winnings.

IN THE LOOP

Driver Standings, Loop Data One In The Same

Through 27 races, the statistics show exactly what the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings show: The best performances have garnered the best finishes.

In other words, bad luck hasn't ruined many seasons.

In the Driver Rating category (which is a formula that takes into account a number of statistics to show a driver's true performance), the top six drivers exactly match the top six in the NASCAR Nationwide standings.

Kyle Busch ranks first in Driver Rating, with a 124.9 -- which isn't at all surprising considering he has scored two perfect ratings of 150.0 this season (at Auto Club Speedway and Texas).

Also not surprising, Busch also leads in a number of other Loop Data categories: Average Running Position (6.0), Fastest Laps Run (907), Laps in the Top 15 percentage (88.1), Laps Led (1,944) and Pass Differential (passes minus times passed) with a plus 280.

The five drivers right behind Busch in Driver Rating are also directly behind him in the standings: Carl Edwards (112.6), Brad Keselowski (104.8), Jason Leffler (95.8), Justin Allgaier (85.5) and Steve Wallace (82.6).

But Busch's statistics aren't the only numbers that stand out this season. Here are a few others:

12 -- Number of different race winners this season. There were 12 total in 2008.

14 -- Number of races with a margin of victory under one second. There were 16 all of last year.

.988 Seconds -- Average margin of victory.

1,344 -- The number of green flag passes by both Allgaier, the Raybestos Rookie of the Year leader, and Steve Wallace. They're tied for the lead in that category.

865 -- The number of times Edwards has been passed this season, fewest in the series.

922 -- Brad Keselowski's series-leading Quality Pass (passes of cars in the top 15 under green) number.

79.8 -- Mike Bliss' Driver Rating. That ranks eighth-best. Impressive for a driver without a consistent ride.

72.9 -- Michael McDowell's Driver Rating, which is ninth-best. Ditto on the above, for the rookie McDowell, who also doesn't have a consistent ride.

112.9 -- Joey Logano's Driver Rating. Logano doesn't qualify for a ranking in the Driver Rating category because he hasn't run 75% of the races. But if he did, this number would be ranked second.

FAST FACTS

Next Race: Dover 200
The Place: Dover International Speedway (1-mile concrete oval)

The Date: Saturday, Sept. 26
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

The Distance: 200 laps / 200 miles

TV: ESPN2, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: SIRIUS NASCAR Radio / MRN (Local, WDOV-AM 1410)

2008 Winner: Kyle Busch
2008 Polesitter: Kyle Busch

Event Schedule (all times ET):
Friday, Sept. 25 -- Practice, 9:30-10:50 a.m.; Final Practice, 1:50-3 p.m.;
Saturday, Sept. 26 -- Qualifying, 10:35 a.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Rusty Wallace , Jason Keller , Jason Leffler , Kevin Harvick , Michael McDowell , Gilles Villeneuve , Brendan Gaughan , Mike Bliss , Morgan Shepherd , Carl Edwards , Clint Bowyer , Eric McClure , Brad Keselowski , Justin Allgaier , Kelly Bires , Joey Logano , Steve Wallace , Kyle Busch
Teams Team Penske , JRM Racing , JR Motorsports