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Nuts For Nationwide

Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler

Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler

Elliott Sadler was half a lap from reminding everyone of his relevance in the Nationwide Series, or at the very least, bolstering his relevance to Joe Gibbs Racing. The story instead goes that he was the poor soul passed by Chase Elliott at Darlington for the victory, something that quickly became a footnote in the Elliott narrative. Second is the first loser, and no one remembers who was the runner-up, so when the 2014 Nationwide race at Darlington is talked ... Read More »

Nuts for Nationwide: A Day in the Life of an Underdog Team

Nuts for Nationwide: A Day in the Life of an Underdog Team

Racing, like any professional sport, builds a season around the successes and the failures. The unsurprising joys from the headliners and the scratching and clawing for every inch from the underdogs. Comers and goers, contenders and pretenders, the have and the have nots. Take your pick; you’ve most likely heard them all. Rarely is there any middle ground, drivers will be categorized to either end of the spectrum based on their performance any given weekend. It’s easy to get lost ... Read More »

Nuts for Nationwide: Is Trevor Bayne Becoming a Career Underachiever?

Nuts for Nationwide: Is Trevor Bayne Becoming a Career Underachiever?

It’s easy to say that the novelty of Trevor Bayne has worn off and that the hype and excitement following the 23-year-old Daytona 500 champion is now unwarranted and for some, almost regretted. But looking further, in a day and age where we now compare Nationwide Series drivers against each other while trying to pretend Cup drivers aren’t there, Bayne is right on par. Cup drivers stand above the rest every weekend as they demolish the field, repeatedly exasperating fans. ... Read More »

Nuts for Nationwide: New Blood Highlights JR Motorsports’ Return to Form

Nuts for Nationwide: New Blood Highlights JR Motorsports’ Return to Form

It was long believed the glory days for JR Motorsports were when Brad Keselowski was going toe-to-toe with the likes of Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. Keselowski was a fresh-faced and brash kid discovered by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who was looking to make a change to his organization. The pairing came close to winning the Nationwide Series championship in both 2008 and ’09. Turns out we were wrong; the real JRM era had yet to begin. Five races into the ... Read More »

Nuts for Nationwide: 2014 Brings Rough Start for Many Rookies

Nuts for Nationwide: 2014 Brings Rough Start for Many Rookies

Rookies. Those young guys who just don’t know any better. They’re the ones who tear stuff up and get in the way, yet everyone jumps to talk about how they’re the future of the sport. This year, the top two tiers of NASCAR are stacked with such talented drivers who are at the start of what, hopefully, will be long and successful careers. The good news for the Nationwide Series is that it is once again grooming a full field of drivers ... Read More »

Nuts For Nationwide: Young Drivers Looking To Bust Out At Bristol

Nuts For Nationwide: Young Drivers Looking To Bust Out At Bristol

Much has been written, to the point you can almost recite word-for-word, about how much Cup drivers have “taken over” the Nationwide Series. But if past races at Bristol are any indication, this Saturday should offer a sigh of relief. Two of the past four Spring events in NASCAR’s second-tier division were won by Nationwide Series regulars. And last year? Young Kyle Larson came within a whisker of unseating Kyle Busch. While second place was indeed the first loser, the ... Read More »

Nuts For Nationwide: Judging Your 2014 Title Contenders

Nuts For Nationwide: Judging Your 2014 Title Contenders

As the Nationwide Series gets into the heart of its regular season, there’s another big piece missing from its 2014 resume: a handful of regulars that ran up front and contended for last year’s title. Gone are reigning champion Austin Dillon, Sam Hornish, Jr. (banished to a limited schedule with Joe Gibbs Racing) and Parker Kligerman, among others. Car count has declined across the board, meaning one of the challenges within the next couple of weeks will be simply filling ... Read More »

Nuts for Nationwide: Forget the Circumstances, Underdog Wins Always Possible

Nuts for Nationwide: Forget the Circumstances, Underdog Wins Always Possible

When David Ragan crossed the finish line first during last weekend's Aaron's 499 at Talladega in the Sprint Cup Series, I immediately thought of another race. The date was June 17, 2006; the place, Kentucky Speedway. Most of the players are different, save for one. On that day, another David slayed the Goliaths of NASCAR, this time in the then-Busch Series. Piloting a low-budget, all-black No. 84 Chevrolet, David Gilliland defeated J.J. Yeley en route to his first win, shocking a sport that had become so used to the big guns on top. Read More »

Nuts for Nationwide: Time To Retire Those JWT Jokes

Three years ago, John Wes Townley got what has thus far been his only shot in great equipment at the upper levels of NASCAR. After a 2009 rookie season in the Nationwide Series during which he crashed out of many of the events he made, the much maligned driver hitched a ride with Richard Childress Racing via sponsor Zaxby's – his father's business. A practice crash at Phoenix nixed that almost immediately, and Townley disappeared from the circuit, reappeared with former team RAB Racing, disappeared again, got a DUI and competed full-time in the Camping World Truck Series in 2012 for RAB, with a few one-off Nationwide races. Along the way, his chronic crashing earned him quite a few detractors, who said he was only there on his dad's money. There were even comments of 'worst NASCAR driver ever.' Now, to 2013. JWT is entered in one of the biggest races of the ARCA season, the year-opening Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona. He's entered in a car owned by Venturini Motorsports, arguably the top team in the series. He's come close to victory at the track in the past. This time, he wins it, after Bobby Gerhart runs out of fuel. The Chicken Man triumphs! <div style=\"float:right; width:275px; margin: 20px; border: black solid 1px; padding: 3px;\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/15383.jpg\" width=\"275\" height=\"184\"/><p style=\"margin: 3px; text-align: left; font-weight:bold;\">Jon Wes Townley and his frequent crashes were the butt of many jokes but now he's won in ARCA and started finishing races in NASCAR, making him…just another driver on the track. Which is actually an improvement.</p></div> Is it finally time to stop the jeers? The naysaying? The laughs at his expense? This weekend, Townley makes his first 2013 Nationwide Series start, driving a Venturini Toyota at Bristol. He's running a limited schedule for the team this year, marking the return to NASCAR for the longtime ARCA competitors. He also has a full-time gig in Red Horse Racing's No. 7 in the Camping World Truck Series. He won't light the racing world on fire at Bristol. He may never, unless he pulls a Montoya into a jet dryer. But it just might be time to take Townley more seriously – or, at least as seriously as you might take another so-so competitor in a given series. Granted, while a win is a win no matter how you look at it, JWT still won at a restrictor plate track, which are famous for evening the playing field and allowing unexpected victors. He did it for a team that's strong wherever it goes, not an organization like his former RAB team, which is solid but unspectacular the majority of the time. But it's not just that. The year off in 2011 seems to have done wonders for the guy. In 2012, he scored two top-10 finishes running in the trucks. More importantly, he did it with a mere two DNFs. What's more, he was either on or near the lead lap for most of the races. In a five-race Nationwide schedule? He didn't wreck out of any. Going forward, Townley may still wreck out of races – heck, expect it, because everyone does at some point. It may even happen this weekend at Bristol, if he can get his No. 25 in the show. But it's time to stop seeing John Wes Townley as a driver who can't hold a line without crashing. Instead, look at him as just another NASCAR driver. It's not a very flattering distinction, but it's certainly a step up. <b><u>Quick Hits</u></b> -Do people still have paper calendars? If Michael Annett does, chances are May 4 is circled on his. That's the date the Nationwide Series travels to Talladega, and it's the day Annett hopes to return to the series following the season-opening crash at Daytona that left him with a fractured and dislocated sternum. He had surgery Feb. 28, where doctors repaired the injury with screws and a metal plate. Annett actually hopes he can return a week earlier, at Richmond. Until then, Reed Sorenson is in the No. 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports. -NASCAR reinstated Jeremy Clements just in time for the Bristol race this weekend. According to NASCAR, Clements completed a program with Dr. Richard Lapchick at the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports in order to be reinstated. Said Clements in a statement: \"I would like to thank NASCAR for their support throughout this entire process. I would like to also thank Dr. Lapchick and his team for their time and the opportunity to help me grow. I have learned a lot and am looking ahead, to getting back in the car at Bristol and having a fresh start to the season. I am truly grateful to my sponsors who have stood by me, to my fans for their tremendous outpouring of support and to my family and team for their unwavering love and support.\" Ryan Sieg drove Clements's No. 51 during his absence. -Just a few days after the close of its last sponsored event, Sam's Town renewed its sponsorship of the March Nationwide race at Las Vegas. The agreement extends the sponsorship another four years. <b>Looking forward: Bristol</b> <b>Stats (entered drivers)</b> <b>Most wins:</b> Kevin Harvick (5) <b>Top average finish:</b> Kevin Harvick (7.8, 23 races), Austin Dillon (8.0, 2), Parker Kligerman (9.0, 2), Kyle Busch (9.9, 17), Brad Keselowski (11.6, 11) <b>Bristol Nationwide debuts:</b> Brad Sweet, Juan Carlos Blum, Chris Buescher, Kyle Larson, Hal Martin, Travis Pastrana, Dexter Stacey, Alex Bowman *Connect with Kevin!* <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/surfwax83\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/6502.jpg\"></a><a href=\"http://facebook.com/surfwaxamerica\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/6501.jpg\"></a><br> \"Contact Kevin Rutherford\":http://www.frontstretch.com/contact/37802/ Read More »