Race Weekend Central

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Alliance Truck Parts 250

There wasn’t a soul in the garage or the stands coming into Michigan race weekend that would dare question just how stout the powerplants in Roush Fenway Racing’s Ford Mustangs were, and that strength was on display in the Big Three’s backyard. As expected, Carl Edwards strolled to victory in his fifth consecutive top-2 finish, with teammates Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne also bringing home top-5 results. Kyle Busch and polesitter Paul Menard were the other top-5 finishers.

The Roush Fords combined to lead 101 of the 125 laps run Saturday during a race that, typical of Michigan, was short on caution flags. What was different on the track this Saturday was both the importance and efficacy of drafting down the tracks sweeping straightaways, as two car pairs could be seen working on the straights throughout the race. The event was also devoid of the tire failures that plagued the ARCA Racing Series event run at the facility the day before.

Say No to the Brickyard

It’s back. The Indianapolis Star is “reporting”:http://www.indystar.com/article/20110615/SPORTS01/106150321/IMS-may-add-Rolex-NASCAR-weekend that while talks have primarily centered around bringing a Grand-Am race to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course, talk has also sparked about moving the Nationwide Series race currently run the evening before the Brickyard 400 on the IRP short track to the big track itself. With attendance on the wane at the famed speedway, track executives are reportedly considering means to increase revenues, as well as Sunday attendance, for a date that until less than 20 years ago was a pipe dream for stock car racers.

RaceDaySponsor.com: The Future of the Nationwide Series?

The story of Tim Viens, President and CEO of RaceDaySponsor.com, begins as so many’s involvement in racing before him. He was a race fan.

“I was friends with Kevin Lepage up in Vermont for many years, and just through conversations at the track, I met with him, hung out, jumped over the wall a few times, and just helped him out whenever I could” recalls Viens. “A couple years ago, we had a chat at Daytona, he was looking for sponsorship, asked if I knew anyone that would be interested. I started asking questions about what it would cost, if you could do a single race…I didn’t realize you could do a single race. About a week later, I was thinking how cool would it be if a guy like me that has a small business could get involved in this sport?”

Nationwide Series Breakdown: STP 300

With 25 laps to go, Carl Edwards stormed past race leader Elliott Sadler, seemingly poised to steal another Nationwide Series trophy on a standalone weekend. This time, the regulars were having none of that. Edwards ran out of gas on the backstretch coming to the checkered flag, allowing a hard-charging Justin Allgaier to pass him…only to run out of gas himself exiting turn 3. But with third-place driver Trevor Bayne having to nurse a nearly-empty fuel tank home himself, Allgaier was able to limp his Chevrolet across the stripe to score his second career Nationwide Series victory. Edwards, Bayne, polesitter Aric Almirola and Jason Leffler rounded out the top 5.

Allgaier’s victory marked the first race a Nationwide Series regular has won on a 1.5 mile oval since Mike Bliss won a rain-shortened event at Charlotte back in the spring of 2009, and also snapped a three-race win streak for Roush Fenway Racing. The event was largely without incident, slowed for only 18 laps on four cautions, three of which did not involve contact of any kind.

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Top Gear 300

It seems that Kyle Busch has found his Nationwide nemesis at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and thy name is Kenseth. Driving his first Nationwide Series race since Atlanta last September and his first at CMS since the fall of 2009, Kenseth stormed past Carl Edwards with XX laps to go to win his 26th career Nationwide trophy, a triumphant return for Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 16 team after skipping the previous weekend’s race at Iowa. Edwards, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Reed Sorenson rounded out the top 5.

Despite being run in heated sunlight during the peak of the afternoon in Charlotte, the tire package provided ample grip, which led to the race being slowed only five times for the yellow flag, the fewest any Nationwide event at Charlotte has seen since 2009. A combination of both the surprisingly grippy tire and a field that from 20th on back was racing simply to make laps led to a race that was low on both incidents and, to a larger degree, side-by-side racing.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2011 Top Gear 300 at Charlotte

After winning in Iowa last week, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. probably wasn’t thrilled with a fourth-place run, but Stenhouse has a lot to celebrate. He’s just one point off the series lead, and he was the highest-finishing Nationwide regular in the race. Considering that just a year ago, Stenhouse’s job looked to be in jeopardy after a horrendous start and a string of wrecked racecars, and now he could be putting the pressure on David Ragan for the No. 6 Cup seat, life must be a lot more fun for Stenhouse in 2011.

The Future of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. On the Line at Charlotte

The story leaving Iowa this past Sunday was bigger than Ricky Stenhouse Jr. It was the breakthrough that an entire series worth of competitors had been waiting months for; a Nationwide Series regular took the checkered flag for the first time in 2011.

That being said, the story now shifts to Stenhouse himself. Heading into race weekend at Charlotte, the Nationwide Series’ newest winner not only comes into Saturday riding a wave of momentum that has his No. 6 team in prime position to win Roush Fenway Racing their first NASCAR championship since 2007…he also has earned his shot at the big time. With fellow prospect Trevor Bayne out of the seat for another week, Stenhouse will take the wheel of the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford for another of NASCAR’s most prestigious races…the 600 miler.

Nationwide Series Breakdown: John Deere Dealers 250

To call Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s first career win this Sunday at Iowa poetic would be understating it. To win, the 2010 Rookie of the Year held off teammate and full-time Buschwhacker Carl Edwards scarcely 12 hours removed from his win in the Sprint All-Star Race. What’s more, the win came at a track that short of Nashville was the home of Stenhouse’s worst effort from his tumultuous rookie season; the driver of the No. 6 car wrecked both of his team’s machines the last time the series tackled Iowa Speedway, then crashed the third car during the race.

But the 2011 edition out in corn country was a time to put those demons to rest. Stenhouse’s win marked the first of the season for a Nationwide Series regular, making Stenhouse the first non-Cup driver to win an NNS race since Boris Said took the checkers at Montreal last summer. Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Reed Sorenson and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top 5. Sorenson was among the class of the field for much of the afternoon, but a mid-race run with a slow leak in a tire left the No. 32 mired back in traffic as the race was decided.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2011 FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover

Nothing about racing is easy, but Dover can really throw teams and drivers for a loop. Toss into that mix one of the most difficult pit-road entrances on the circuit and it makes for an interesting day. Both David Ragan and Andy Lally had trouble navigating the sharp turn off turn 3, spinning out right at the top of pit road. Ragan didn’t hit anything, but was lucky he wasn’t hit by Jamie McMurray as McMurray made his own approach to pit road during a round of green-flag stops. They don’t call it “The Monster Mile” for nothing.

Nationwide Series Breakdown: 5 Hour Energy 200

Carl Edwards held on to win the 5 Hour Energy 200 at Dover on a rain-soaked Saturday afternoon, wrestling the lead from Joey Logano on lap 187, surviving three late race restarts and getting through a harrowing last lap crash unscathed that destroyed over a half dozen cars and sent Clint Bowyer airborne down the frontstretch, so high that his No. 33 machine nearly cleared the interior pit wall. Kyle Busch, Reed Sorenson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and David Reutimann rounded out the top 5.

The race, which started nearly an hour late after rain canceled the series’ qualifying session earlier Saturday morning, saw the Roush Fenway Fords as the class of the field, with Edwards and Stenhouse combining to lead 120 of the 209 laps run. Two of the stouter cars in the field, the No. 18 of Busch and the No. 32 of Sorenson, were both damaged in an accordion accident entering pit road, leaving them unable to challenge the Mustangs and Logano, who proved to be Edwards’ stoutest competition as the laps wound down.

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