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Nationwide Series Breakdown: Ford EcoBoost 300

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Ford EcoBoost 300

It’s been nearly 14 years since Elliott Sadler won a Nationwide Series race at Bristol. Not anymore. A decade removed from the site of his first career Cup win, Sadler drove away from the field on a Lap 272 restart with old tires, scoring his second victory and fourth consecutive top-5 finish of the 2012 season. Sadler held off a bevy of Cup regulars behind him, with Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski, polesitter Joey Logano and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rounding out the top 5. Read More »

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Sam’s Town 300

Just one week after 2011 championship runner-up Elliott Sadler sent a message with a return to victory lane at Phoenix, the defending title holder Ricky Stenhouse Jr. returned the favor. Holding off Mark Martin on the final two restarts of the afternoon, Stenhouse’s No. 6 proved to be the class of the field, and the driver delivered with his third career Nationwide Series win. Martin, polesitter Sadler, Trevor Bayne and Brendan Gaughan rounded out the top 5. Weathering asphalt and bumps growing more pronounced in the lower groove of turns 1 and 2 made the high line an active route around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, which when combined with a softer tire allowed for side-by-side racing and passing throughout much of the field. Still, even with the additional grip, the high speeds on the reconfigured high banks still proved treacherous, with a number of entries proving able to loosen cars significantly by taking air off the spoilers. Read More »

Subtraction by Addition for JR Motorsports’ No. 88 Team

Subtraction by Addition for JR Motorsports’ No. 88 Team

For just about every organization out there, there’s a magic number of cars that just seems to work. For all its tradition and talent, Richard Childress Racing has never been able to make a four-car stable work as well as it has with three teams. Penske Racing dropped Sam Hornish’s Cup team last season, and ended up batting a thousand in terms of putting cars in the Chase. And over in the Nationwide Series, that magic number for JR Motorsports is apparently one. Because 2012 has perpetuated a stretch going on for years now, one that has seen the de facto Hendrick Motorsports Nationwide program struggle even to be a consistent top 10 presence in NASCAR’s AAA. Ever since bringing the No. 7 car back unexpectedly to full-timer status in the spring of 2010, JR Motorsports has gone from title contender to series regular. Read More »

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Bashas’ Supermarkets 200

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Bashas’ Supermarkets 200

Track position was king at the Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday, and it proved to be the nemesis of a dominant Kevin Harvick. Despite leading 107 circuits, Harvick’s decision to take four tires during the final cycle of pit stops on lap 164 left him behind too many cars. That left Elliott Sadler, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski to fight it out, with Sadler holding off Keselowski to score his first Nationwide Series win since 1999. Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Austin Dillon and Harvick rounded out the top 5. Read More »

More of the Same for Jeremy Clements, No. 51 Team in 2012

More of the Same for Jeremy Clements, No. 51 Team in 2012

There are few drivers in the Nationwide Series garage that can stake more claim to the title “hard luck driver” than Jeremy Clements. The driver who for a brief moment in time was a Joe Gibbs Racing driver to support Kyle Busch was one of many development drivers whose big ride never came. Instead, Clements has spent the last few seasons behind the wheel of the family ride, living the life of a NASCAR underdog. The hard luck continued into Daytona. Clements started off strong in the 300-mile season opener, hooking up with Josh Wise in what proved to be a successful tandem, as the two managed to crack the top 10 under green and ran inside the top 20 for much of the afternoon. Read More »

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Drive4COPD 300

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Drive4COPD 300

After a Truck Series race Friday night that went down as one of the most destructive, unpredictable endings the sport has ever seen, the Nationwide Series came in and one-upped John King’s unlikely win. Over the course of the race’s final 17 laps, three wrecks collecting 23 cars devastated the field. And when an ill-timed block pinched Tony Stewart into the fence, setting off a melee coming to the checkered flag, James Buescher came from 11th place entering turn 4 only to emerge unscathed down the frontstretch, taking his first career NASCAR victory less than 18 hours after his Turner Motorsports Truck team saw a dominant evening go sour late. Brad Keselowski, Elliott Sadler, Cole Whitt and Austin Dillon rounded out the top 5. Read More »

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Ford 300

For the first time since 2005, a Nationwide Series regular was crowned a Nationwide Series champion...and he nearly won the race as well. Racing as aggressively as he has for much of the 2011 season, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. made a hard charge past Carl Edwards late, but fell a car length short of catching Brad Keselowski in a spirited dash to the checkered flag. Keselowski scored his fifth win of the 2011 season Saturday, with Stenhouse, Edwards, Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin rounding out the top 5. Stenhouse entered Saturday needing only to finish 37th or better to clinch his first NASCAR championship, which came early courtesy of the usual fleet of start-and-parks at the back of the field. Stenhouse ended up leading a Roush Fenway Racing assault on the field which saw the Mustangs occupying three of the top 5 positions for much of the afternoon, until Bayne found trouble with the wall while rim-riding and losing a tire. Still, the three RFR drivers combined to lead 111 of the 200 circuits run. Elliott Sadler finished sixth in a strong conclusion to his 2011 campaign. Read More »

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Wypall 200

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Wypall 200

Short of Tony Stewart, it's hard to think of a more talented open-wheel transplant to the stock car racing realm than Sam Hornish Jr. So it should come as no surprise that, racing in the Nationwide Series and getting a chance to actually take part in driver development after being rushed to Cup racing in 2008, that the former IndyCar champion finally broke through, driving away from Brad Keselowski late in the going to win at Phoenix on Saturday. Keselowski completed a 1-2 finish for Penske Racing, with Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounding out the top 5. The newly-configured Phoenix International Raceway proved to be as treacherous as expected, with a rash of ugly wrecks dotting the 200-mile run. Read More »

Nationwide Series Breakdown: O’Reilly Challenge

Nationwide Series Breakdown: O’Reilly Challenge

When all was was said and done Saturday, Roush Fenway Racing had clinched the manufacturer's championship in the Nationwide ranks for Ford. Just as expected. The only difference is...it wasn't Carl Edwards who did the clinching. Despite leading a race-high 157 laps, Edwards couldn't close the deal for the final six. Trevor Bayne came out of nowhere on a late-race restart, stormed past Edwards, and held off a hard-charging Denny Hamlin to score a long-awaited first NNS win. Hamlin, Edwards, Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top 5. Read More »