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Keeping Pace

NASCAR Nationwide Series News & Notes - Kansas

The top 13 drivers in the points standings have started all 28 races this season, and are all entered at Kansas Speedway.


Courtesy: NASCAR Media Relations

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 29, 2009) - Reigning NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Clint Bowyer (No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet) comes to the Kansas Lottery 300 on a bit of a hot streak. He won the July race at Daytona International Speedway and last weekend’s Dover 200 at Dover International Speedway. He has only competed in nine races this season.

But if Bowyer – who has averaged an 8.6 finish this season and completed all but three laps in his nine starts – wants to keep atop the result sheets, he’ll have to do it at a place where there may be a little extra pressure to do well. Kansas Speedway is Bowyer’s home track. Bowyer is from Emporia, Kan., about 100 miles southwest of the track. Bowyer has never won at Kansas Speedway, but he did register a second-place finish last season, which was his third consecutive top-five finish at Kansas Speedway. His Richard Childress Racing team won there in 2006 with Kevin Harvick behind  the wheel.

“It’s my home track and I wanted to race everything there is to race there,” Bowyer said. “We’ve been close to winning the Nationwide race at Kansas before and it’s been one of my better tracks. We always run up front, in the top three at least, about every time we’ve run there. Kansas is the place where I want to put on a good show and try to win in front of my hometown crowd.”

If Bowyer does win at the 1.5-mile oval this weekend, however, he’ll join two drivers that already have home state victories this season. Brad Keselowski (No. 88 Delphi Chevrolet) won at Michigan International Speedway, while Denny Hamlin won at Richmond International Raceway. One potential hang-up – Bowyer has never earned back-to-back Nationwide Series victories.

Also calling the Kansas Lottery 300 a home race is Carl Edwards, who was born in Columbia, Mo., which is about a two-hour drive from the track. Kyle Davis, the car chief for the No. 15 Toyota driven by Michael Annett, is from Savannah, Mo., about an hour drive from Kansas Speedway.

Points Battles Still Close Heading To Kansas

Kyle Busch (No. 18 NOS Toyota) continues to show consistency in his run for his first NASCAR Nationwide Series title. Already with six victories – all on different track configurations – Busch looks to add to his point total and keep Carl Edwards (No. 60 Save A Lot Ford) from gaining any more ground. Edwards calls Kansas Speedway his home track, as he was born in Columbia, Mo., just under two hours away from the 1.5-mile track.

As Busch adds to his lead, others behind him continue to fight for position. Closest again this week are Steve Wallace (No. 66 US Fidelis Chevrolet) and Justin Allgaier (No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge), who swapped the fifth position after last weekend’s Dover 200 at Dover International Speedway. Only 19 points separate the two drivers as they battle to secure the final honorary position for December’s season-ending banquet.

Behind Wallace and Allgaier – two drivers relatively new to the NASCAR Nationwide Series – are two veterans fighting for seventh. Jason Keller (No. 27 Scott Tissue Ford), the series’ all-time leader in starts (485), has a five-point advantage over Mike Bliss (No. 40 StopRepairBills.com Chevrolet) for the seventh position.

Former Kansas Winners, Beware: Repeating Is Tough

It is never easy to win two consecutive races, be it in one season, or at one track. In the case of Kansas Speedway, it has yet to happen in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

In eight races at the 1.5-mile track, there have been eight different race winners. Jeff Green was the first to win, while drivers Jeff Burton, David Green, Joe Nemechek (No. 87 NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet), Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick (No. 33 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet), Kyle Busch (No. 18 NOS Toyota) and Denny Hamlin have followed suit. However, none have been able to score a second victory.

Harvick will have one of the best chances of any of the three entered drivers this weekend. Harvick is bringing the same car with which he won in early September at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Meanwhile, all six of Busch’s victories this season have come on different configurations. Busch’s only victory at a 1.5-mile track came in April at Texas Motor Speedway. He is driving the No. 18 Toyota, the same number that Denny Hamlin took to victory lane at Kansas a year ago.

Only two other tracks lack repeat winners: New Hampshire Motor Speedway (23 different winners) and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (three).

Youth Served In Top 10, Throughout Nationwide Series Field

The NASCAR Nationwide Series has always been a place where young drivers can showcase their talents. In Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300, youth is definitely served, as a third of the field is under the age of 25.

In fact, there are 19 drivers who are 25 years or younger entered, and five of those drivers are currently in the top 10 in the points standings. Kyle Busch (No. 18 NOS Toyota) leads, Brad Keselowski (No. 88 Delphi Chevrolet) is third, Steve Wallace (No. 66 US Fidelis Chevrolet) is fifth, Justin Allgaier (No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge) is sixth and Michael McDowell (No. 96 Dodge) is 10th.

The newest driver to the Nationwide Series entry list under the age of 25 is still a teenager. Penske Racing development driver Parker Kligerman (No. 22 Penske Truck Rental Dodge) is set to make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut Saturday as a teammate to Allgaier, also a Penske development driver. At 19 years of age, the Westport, Conn. native Kligerman is currently second in the ARCA Re/Max points standings. If he is to win the ARCA title, he will join Allgaier as a series champion.

Other drivers 25 years or younger are Brad Coleman (No. 1 Miccosukee Indian Gaming & Resort Chevrolet), John Wes Townley (No. 09 Zaxby’s Ford), Brian Scott (No. 11 Ridemakerz Toyota), Michael Annett (No. 15 Dodge), Joey Logano (No. 20 GameStop Toyota), Brian Vickers (No. 32 Dollar General Stores Toyota), Danny O’Quinn Jr. (No. 44 Dynamic Technology Inc. Chevrolet), Shelby Howard (No. 70 ForeTravel Motorcoach Chevrolet) and Patrick Sheltra (No. 81 Dodge).

IN THE LOOP

NASCAR Nationwide Success Has Harvick Looking At Bright Side

Though Kevin Harvick’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season hasn’t come close to expectations, his NASCAR Nationwide Series campaign must be considered a success.

What makes this season even more special for Harvick: Each triumph is in his own Kevin Harvick, Inc. equipment.

Harvick nabbed his first series win as a driver-owner at Bristol earlier this season, and  added another victory in Atlanta three races ago. His team had three previous victories, but none with Harvick behind the wheel.

This season, Harvick has run 18 of the 28 series races, and has finished in the top 10 in all but six of them.

The current streak he’s on makes him a certain favorite at Kansas this weekend.

Harvick has finished in the top five in each of his last five starts, racking up some impressive statistics during the streak. Over the last five races, he has an average finish of 3.2, a Driver Rating of 124.0, an Average Running Position of 5.5, 259 Laps Led, a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 98.3 and 184 Fastest Laps Run.

Count on another top-five run this weekend. Harvick is strong at Kansas, boasting some of the top statistics in the series.

In the four Kansas races since the inception of Loop Data in 2005, which includes a win in 2006, Harvick has a Driver Rating of 109.2, an Average Running Position of 8.4, a Laps in the top 15 percentage of 86.1, 85 Fastest Laps Run and 108 Laps Led.

On the other end of the Kansas success spectrum lies Brad Keselowski. Keselowski has uncharacteristic struggles at Kansas, owning a Driver Rating of 67.9 that makes Kansas his fourth-worst track.

In his Kansas career, Keselowski has an Average Running Position of 21.6, seven Fastest Laps Run, no Laps Led and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 33.8%.

His last visit there was a promising one, though. He scored a sixth-place finish with a Driver Rating of 95.9 and an Average Running Position of 11.6.

NNS Etc: Kansas Edition

  • Owners Seeking Second Win, Too

    Like the drivers, no car owner has ever won twice in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition at Kansas. Rick Hendrick has Scott Wimmer (No. 5 Fasternal Chevrolet) entered, Jack Roush has drivers Greg Biffle (No. 16 CitiFinancial Ford) and Carl Edwards (No. 60 Save A Lot Ford), Joe Gibbs has drivers Kyle Busch (No. 18 NOS Toyota) and Joey Logano (No. 20 GameStop Toyota) and Richard Childress has Clint Bowyer (No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet). Other Kansas owner winners are Clarence Brewer, Ray Evernham, Joe Nemechek and Greg Pollex.

  • NNS Raybestos Rookie Standings

    Driver                    Team        Points
1. Justin Allgaier          Penske      216
2. Brendan Gaughan    RWR         200
3. Michael McDowell   K-A            187
4. Michael Annett        Germain     172
5. Scott Lagasse Jr.    N/A            154
6. Erik Darnell             RFR           133
7. John Wes Townley  RAB           166
8. Ken Butler III           R3              82

  • On The Entry List

    There are 48 cars entered for this Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 – 26 Chevrolets, nine Toyotas, seven Fords and six Dodges.

    Eight of the 12 drivers that have won at least one NASCAR Nationwide Series race this season are entered. Those eight account for 23 victories in 28 races this season.

    The top 13 drivers in the points standings have started all 28 races this season, and are all entered at Kansas Speedway.

    Jason Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips-Comcast Toyota) is the highest running driver in the point standings – fourth – without a victory this season. He does have six top fives and 18 top 10s.

    Thirteen NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers are also scheduled to compete in Sunday’s Price Chopper “400” presented by Kraft Foods.

    Patrick Sheltra (No. 81 Dodge) is making his first NNS start at Kansas, though he does have three previous ARCA starts there.

    Kyle Davis is the lone Missouri or Kansas native on a NASCAR Nationwide Series crew this weekend. Davis, from Savannah, Mo., is the car chief for the No. 15 Toyota, driven by Michael Annett.

  • Kansas Speedway Statistics

    No driver has ever won from the pole position at Kansas Speedway. Jeff Burton started the highest of any Kansas winner – second, en route to his win in 2002. Two drivers have come from 19th to win, including last year’s winner, Denny Hamlin.

    Burton’s 2002 win provided other track records. It marked the most leaders, 15, and the most lead changes, 19.

    The closest margin of victory was 0.030 seconds in 2005, when Kasey Kahne won.

  • Manufacturers’ Standings

    With his victory Sunday at Dover, Clint Bowyer (No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet) brought Chevrolet back to within 11 points of Toyota in the manufacturer points standings with seven races remaining. Chevrolet leads all manufacturers in Kansas wins with three. Toyota won its first and only Kansas race last season.

2009 Manufacturers’ Championship Standings

Toyota       187
Chevrolet   176
Ford           166
Dodge        87
Follwing Race 28 of 35 at Dover International Speedway

Up Next: NASCAR Nationwide Series Right At Home In Golden State

NASCAR has a rich Southern California tradition and the NASCAR Nationwide Series has played a significant role. Aside from the actual on-track competition, for a number of years, the series’ postseason banquet was held in the Los Angeles area at the prestigious Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

Next week’s (Saturday, Oct. 10) Camping World RV Service 300 presented by Coleman will be the series’ 19th event at Auto Club Speedway, in Fontana, Calif. The series has raced at ACS since 1997, with Todd Bodine winning the first event. Jack Roush-owned cars have dominated overall, winning six times at the fast, flat 2-mile oval.

That’s obviously impressive but so is the fact that Kyle Busch will try not only for a season sweep next week, but also for a third-straight ACS victory. No one has ever won three straight NNS race at the track. Matt Kenseth has the most series victories  there, with four.

There has been one previous NNS season sweep at Auto Club Speedway. That happened in 2004 – the first season there were two of the series’ races at the track – with Roush driver Greg Biffle winning twice.

FAST FACTS

The Race: Kansas Lottery 300
The Place: Kansas Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
The Date: Saturday, Oct. 3
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
The Distance: 200 laps / 300 miles
TV: ESPN2, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: SIRIUS NASCAR Radio / MRN
2008 Winner: Denny Hamlin
2008 Polesitter: Kevin Harvick

Event Schedule (all times CT):
Friday – Practice, 2-3:30 p.m.; Final Practice, 5-6 p.m.; Saturday – Qualifying, 9:05 a.m.

2009 STANDINGS

     Driver                    Points
1   Kyle Busch             4,549
2   Carl Edwards           4,338
3   Brad Keselowski      4,252
4   Jason Leffler            3,749
5   Steve Wallace         3,259
6   Justin Allgaier          3,240
7   Jason Keller            3,125
8   Mike Bliss              3,120
9   Brendan Gaughan   3,063
10 Michael McDowell   2,978


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Motorsports correspondent Doug Pace keeps up with motorsports news and notes from around the region.

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