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Nationwide Breakdown: Kansas Lottery 300

A championship comeback if there ever was one, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. saw his championship hopes vanish then reappear again over the course of a race due to some patience, strategy, and a little bit of luck. Around lap 100, Stenhouse made contact with Joey Logano and in the process severely damaged his No. 6 machine. After getting trapped a few laps down to repair the damage, Stenhouse fought tooth and nail to get back on the lead lap and finally received the free pass on lap 163. From there, Stenhouse worked his way up through the field and on the final caution found himself right back in contention. Read More »

40 Cars to Freedom: Change is Coming for the 2013 Nationwide Series

40 Cars to Freedom: Change is Coming for the 2013 Nationwide Series

It’d take an act of God to get this writer to declare that NASCAR has left the state of denial, but they did take a step in the right direction on the Nationwide Series front this week with the announcement that the field will be cut from 43 to 40 cars for the 2013 season. It’s been a change long overdue; though NASCAR’s AAA series has largely dodged short fields over the last eight months, the start-and-park entries filling the starting grids week after week have accounted for nearly 30% of those “full” fields. Coupled with the return of testing, this week’s announced competition changes are absolutely radical alterations for the Nationwide Series, as 43-car fields have been the norm for a decade-plus. And even at only a three-car reduction, it will have an impact across the series. While it’s impossible to tell just how much of an impact this will have until the entry list for Daytona is released in February, it’s never too early to play a little fact or fiction. Read More »

Nationwide Breakdown: Dollar General 300

Nationwide Breakdown: Dollar General 300

Joey Logano proved once again that the Nationwide series is his world and the rest of the Nationwide drivers are just squirrels trying to get a nut. Logano led a race high six times for 62 laps. Logano beat Kevin Harvick to the line for the win. Elliott Sadler, the series point leader came home in third. Kyle Busch drove the No. 54 to a fourth place finish with Denny Hamlin finishing up the top 5. Logano has not run all of the races on the Nationwide schedule this season but, when he has climbed behind the wheel in the junior series, he's won almost half of the races. This victory is number eight for the year for Logano in Nationwide competition, far and away the most in the series. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is second in season wins with five while Sadler has four. The race was slowed by five cautions, four of them for on track incidents. There were nine leaders who participated in a total of 21 lead changes. Sadler played it conservatively because he is the leader in the point battle, and in the end added to his point lead by not opening himself up to potential pit road pitfalls. Read More »

Looking Forward on a Bye Weekend: The 2013 Nationwide Series

Looking Forward on a Bye Weekend: The 2013 Nationwide Series

For all intents and purposes, the 2012 season has been a pleasant surprise for the Nationwide Series. A razor-thin title fight, series regulars capable of winning races and doing it, its been at least on paper the best season the Nationwide ranks have enjoyed since 2003. But all good things come to an end, and this cast of characters is no different. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has been promoted to Cup, and will be doing his best Matt Kenseth impression in 2013. Sam Hornish Jr. remains without a contract, even in the Penske Racing camp that has stuck behind him so loyally. And through the rest of the top 10 in points, uncertainty is abound; Justin Allgaier, Cole Whitt, Mike Bliss and Brian Scott all aren’t guaranteed to return to their respective cockpits next season. Read More »

Nationwide Series Breakdown: OneMain Financial 200

Nationwide Series Breakdown: OneMain Financial 200

Just like the spring, Joey Logano emerged victorious in Nationwide competition at Dover. The only difference was this race was devoid of the close battle to the finish between he and teammate Ryan Truex. This one was never in doubt, with the No. 18 team leading 184 of the 200 laps run en route to his seventh victory of the 2012 season. Paul Menard, Michael Annett, Elliott Sadler, and Kyle Busch rounded out the top 5. Read More »

Title Fight Better the Second Time Between Stenhouse, Sadler

Title Fight Better the Second Time Between Stenhouse, Sadler

Last year’s battle between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Elliott Sadler was about as much entertainment as Nationwide Series fans had gotten in a decade. After five consecutive years of having the trophy bestowed upon a double dipping all-star with premier equipment, Cup pit crews and talent that had long proven ready to graduate to the Sprint Cup Series, finally the points battle had some suspense…and some fresh blood to boot. This year, it’s only gotten better. With Cup involvement down, leading title contenders Stenhouse and Sadler have combined for nine race wins and proven among the class of the field for the vast majority of the season’s 27 events thus far. Not only is the battle for top of the charts close, it’s among drivers that are viable threats to win every weekend. Read More »

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Kentucky 300

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Kentucky 300

Austin Dillon must wish the Nationwide Series tackled the Kentucky Speedway 30 times a season after Saturday. Cruising unmolested in the latter parts of the race, Dillon had no trouble scoring his second win of the 2012 season and sweeping the 2012 campaign’s races in Sparta, KY. Sam Hornish Jr., Brendan Gaughan, Drew Herring and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top 5. The championship chase took a dramatic turn in this one after a red-hot start by incoming points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Having led the first 32 laps, a trip down pit road turned treacherous for the No. 6, which had its right front fender caved in after contact with Eric McClure’s car exiting his stall. Ensuing work to repair the damage mired Stenhouse in traffic, and led to handling woes that saw the defending champ pound the turn 4 wall on lap 48. Cutting down a tire, the No. 6 team was forced down pit road under green and limped around the rest of the afternoon, eventually coming home 17th, three laps down. Read More »

The End of the Eury Era at JR Motorsports

The End of the Eury Era at JR Motorsports

For a team that is the de facto Hendrick Motorsports entrant in the Nationwide Series, JR Motorsports’ results of late can’t be described as anything other than underwhelming. No wins since 2010, with only two poles in that same span. In 59 starts for the operation in 2012, only 20 top 10 finishes have been scored. And with the team’s leading full-timer Cole Whitt a distant seventh in points, JRM is poised to have its worst finish in team history in terms of fielding a regular driver. Considering this is one of the rare teams in the Nationwide garage with full sponsorship on its race cars, that their driver stable includes the most hyped open-wheel convert since Juan Pablo Montoya and the hottest prospect the Truck Series had at the end of the 2011 campaign, that they carry the name Earnhardt, the status quo does not meet any expectations. The status quo is not acceptable. Read More »

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Dollar General 300

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Dollar General 300

It’s hard to believe that Roush Fenway Racing entered the weekend without a win to their credit at the Chicagoland Speedway, but Ricky Stenhouse Jr. took care of that on Saturday. Running down Kyle Busch in the closing laps with a car that was unstoppable on the high side of the track, the defending Nationwide Series champion scored his fifth win of the 2012 season… and took the points lead back for his troubles. Busch, Austin Dillon, Brad Keselowski, and Paul Menard rounded out the top 5. Read More »

ESPN Reintroduces Fans to Johanna Long; Hypes Wild Cards Repeatedly

ESPN Reintroduces Fans to Johanna Long; Hypes Wild Cards Repeatedly

Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where race telecast criticism and praise is our goal. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series raced at Richmond International Raceway, and in the case of Sprint Cup, dealt with rain. Before we start, there are two things I must note. ESPN confirmed Jamie Little will be back on pit road this weekend in Joliet. I'm happy to have Little back on the telecasts. Read More »