The first off week of the season allowed our staff to take a look at the other racing series that NASCAR has to offer; as such, they did a little ranking of some other drivers that the fans love to follow. Whether they are seasoned veterans in the waning years of their career, or young drivers who are trying to prove themselves, they were all considered for this poll of the best stock car driver without a full-time ride in the Sprint Cup Series. Check below to see if your budding superstar — or old favorite — made our list!
While Sprint Cup and Craftsman Truck teams were home this Easter weekend — spending quality time with family and catching up on March Madness — the Nationwide Series spent Saturday afternoon roaring around Nashville Superspeedway, the series’ sixth stop this season. While this column is normally reserved for discussing the trends of the hottest and coldest teams in Sprint Cup, on this off week we’ll take a quick look at what’s going on in the other series; and considering who’s raced most recently, Nationwide plays a prominent role in the column to come. Come in and see who else is sharing that fire in this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not. At this point, we take a look at which non-Buschwackers, or Nationwhackers, or Insurance Adjusters, or whatever they’re called now, in NASCAR’s other two premier series.
Despite the rain washing the track clean on Saturday, Sunday’s race — the second on Bristol’s new surface — seemed more competitive than the fall race last year. Is Bristol back after a brief hiatus? Or do teams just have a better handle on the new car?
Considered a preseason favorite for the Nationwide Series championship, Clint Bowyer officially established himself as a contender on Saturday. With a little bit of luck and a whole lot of skill, the driver of the No. 2 Chevrolet led 122 of 171 laps run to score the win in the rain-shortened Sharpie Mini 300 at Bristol. A jubilant Bowyer said afterwards, “It feels awesome [to be in Victory Lane]. I’ll take it any way you can get it.”
Until Kyle Busch blew a right-front tire with less than 30 laps to go, Matt Kenseth and the rest of the Nationwide Series field were racing for second place behind Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Chevrolet. But Busch, who led over 150 laps, suffered his second tire failure in as many weeks — setting the stage for a late-race shootout among several other Cup drivers moonlighting in the series. In the end, Kenseth was able to hold off a hard-charging Kevin Harvick through a green/white/checker finish at Atlanta to score his 24th career Nationwide Series win.
After both California and Las Vegas, it seems that tire issues could be a problem with the new car on intermediate tracks. How can this be remedied before this safety issue gets out of hand?
The old adage that the front of the pack is the safest place on the track did not hold true on Saturday. Mark Martin, chasing down the leaders with five laps to go, got into the back of Carl Edwards, taking out both Edwards and then-race leader Brad Keselowski to win his 48th career Nationwide Series race. Martin was subdued in Victory Lane, stating “I’ve got to apologize before we do any celebrating. I hate for that to happen. I didn’t intend for it to turn out that way. But I couldn’t stop it, once it started. I feel real bad for Brad, because he was so close to getting his first victory.” Nonetheless, Martin proclaimed himself honored to drive for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and for giving JR Motorsports their first victory on the Nationwide Series tour.
The Nationwide Series played second fiddle to the Cup series on Monday afternoon, starting their race an hour after the big boys took the checkered flag. That meant that 12 drivers were running almost 700 miles thanks to the delay of the Cup race and the postponement of the Nationwide race. However, it didn’t make much difference to Tony Stewart, who ran away with much of the event.
Last week we talked about the new series sponsor, “buschwhacking,” and the future of the series. This week, we examine the champ, the contenders and the 2008 rookie class.
There were two races going on during the O’Reilly Challenge. The primary race, which was won by Kevin Harvick (who practically owns the Busch Series when he decides to run), and Carl Edwards’ race to finally finish off the series championship. Edwards had to finish 36th or better to seal the deal and, thanks to some attrition, Edwards sealed the championship before the end of the race.