Justin Allgaier went into the last year’s ARCA Re/Max Series finale at Toledo third in series points, well behind points leader Scott Speed and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. In a strange series of events, Stenhouse got into the back of the series leader and forced him into the wall, only to have Speed get back on the track and return the favor. Allgaier steered clear of the wreckage and went on to win the event, his third win in a row, to claim the ARCA Re/Max championship by a mere 50 points over Frank Kimmel. 2009 sees Allgaier jump from ARCA to the NASCAR Nationwide Series where he will compete with the likes of Brendan Gaughan, Erik Darnell and Michael Annett for the Rookie of the Year title with Penske Racing. Frontstretch caught up with the young driver at NASCAR Media Day to discuss his ARCA Re/Max championship and his expectations for the upcoming season.
As bad as the economy may get, and as much as it may cripple the sport we love, for four hours every Sunday afternoon drivers will drive, crew chiefs will lead their crews, and fans will enjoy their favorite form of entertainment. So, for this year’s first edition of Points to Ponder, let’s take a look at some of the (almost) non-economy related stories heading into 2009 all across NASCAR.
Carl Edwards talked all week about how his No. 60 team had to be perfect the next two weekends if they had any shot of scoring a second consecutive Nationwide title. And while there were minor hiccups, the No. 60 group did everything they could, leading the most laps and dominating the second half of Saturday’s event to score Edwards his sixth win of the season.
Joey Logano made a strong bid early, but Kyle Busch again dominated the Nationwide Series field, leading 137 laps to score a relatively easy win in Friday’s Dollar General 300 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Busch was briefly challenged in the race’s final laps by Jeff Burton, who, unlike the other leaders, opted for four tires on his final pit stop. Burton, however, was unable to make up enough ground on the high side to clear Busch’s No. 18.
While Silly Season has been a hot topic on the Cup side for months at a time, RCR’s choice to release Scott Wimmer in favor of Stephen Leicht for 2009 may well mark the start of driver shuffling in the Nationwide Series. As the season begins to wind down and the series finds itself in the heat of a points chase for the first time in years, development drivers and other young talents may find themselves lost in the mix as Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, and Brad Keselowski duke it out for a championship. That’s a shame, because there are plenty of able-bodied individuals out there just willing to get here — five future stars that should be gracing the Nationwide Series with a full-time presence next year.
With the off week in full swing, it presented an opportunity for the Frontstretch experts to do something a little different. Instead of grading the Cup guys, we took a look at those drivers who often get shunned from the spotlight these days… the drivers exclusive to the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series desperate to make a name for themselves. These divisions are filled with established veterans and young guns mixed together to provide a cornucopia of driving talent. And since you never know when a Cup ride will become available… we thought it’s high time to figure out who’s proved himself most worthy of filling the spot as of late. Read on to see if your favorite non-Cup driver made the list in this special edition of the Top 15.