NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES
Kyle Nears Mark’s Mark
He’s got five wins in nine NASCAR Nationwide Series starts this year, and is tied for the most series wins at Dover with three after sweeping the races there last season. And after a victory last week at Darlington, Kyle Busch now has 48 wins in 211 career starts, one shy of Mark Martin’s series record.
In a four-race limited schedule with Turner Motorsports this year, Martin has two races left – at Michigan and Kentucky – to keep Busch from his long-held record of 49. Martin has 233 career series starts, and one win at Dover.
Busch began his NASCAR Nationwide Series career in 2003, running seven races for Rick Hendrick. He competed in the first of his three full seasons in 2004, earning Rookie of the Year honors, a second-place finish in the championship standings (highest finish ever for a rookie) and the first five wins of his career. Martin made his series debut in 1982 (three years before Busch was born) for Ed Whitaker. He ran only one full season in the series – in 1987 – and collected his first three wins while finishing a career-best eighth in the standings.
Busch, who won the series championship in 2009, has had at least one win each season since 2004 with a high (and series record) of 13 in 2010. Martin’s high-water mark for wins was seven in 1993 when he ran 14 races for Jack Roush.
Change Has Been The Early-Season Norm
Justin Allgaier comes to Dover after posting consecutive top-five finishes at Richmond and Darlington to maintain his standings lead. But veteran Elliott Sadler – arguably the hottest series-only regular this side of Kyle Busch, with six top-fives in his last seven races – is sitting in Allgaier’s back pocket just five points behind in second.
Those two have created a bit of separation between themselves and the field, which had seven drivers within seven points of the leaders prior to Richmond. Jason Leffler is third, 15 points behind his first-place Turner Motorsports teammate, while the current seventh-place driver, Kenny Wallace, is 66 points behind the leader.
But changes throughout the leaderboard have been the norm through the season’s first 10 races. To date, there have been five different driver standings leaders and 16 different drivers ranked in the top 10 in the standings. Also, four different teams have led the owner standings after 10 races. The No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota is first, leading the No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet by 34 points.
Kenny Wallace: Series’ Next – And Last – 500-Start Driver?
Last May at Dover, Jason Keller reached a milestone that no other NASCAR Nationwide Series driver had attained – his 500th career start. Keller had to qualify on time, making the historic start a question mark until he was able to settle his car into the field. Keller, who currently isn’t racing in the series, has 519 career starts to date.
Saturday at Dover, Kenny Wallace will start his 499th series race. He’s set to reach 500 on May 22 at Iowa Speedway.
Not only can Wallace become just the second series driver to reach 500 starts, but odds are he may be the last. Tommy Houston is third on the all-time start list with 417. David Green, the 1994 series champion (398) and Elton Sawyer (392) are fourth and fifth, respectively. The closest active full-time drivers to Keller and Kenny Wallace are Kenny’s brother, Mike Wallace, who is eight starts shy of his 400th and 1992 series champion Joe Nemechek,who has 338.
In addition to closing in on the milestone start, Kenny Wallace is having one of the best seasons of his 22-year series career. He has been ranked in top 10 in points for the last nine weeks and also has two top-10 finishes.
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