NASCAR NATIONWIDE SERIES
Series Set For Summertime StreakIt may be summer break for some, but for the drivers and teams in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, this time of year signals a season-long stretch of 14 consecutive race weeks, starting Saturday at Michigan.
Off since June 4 at Chicagoland, the series resumes with a close points race – 11 points separate leader Reed Sorenson from his fourth-place Turner Motorsports teammate (and Chicago winner) Justin Allgaier. Elliott Sadler is second, two points out of first, while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is in third, six points back.
Stenhouse won at Iowa, giving driver championship contenders victories in two of the last three races.
Better Results On Horizon For BK?
Brad Keselowski, the reigning series champion, has hardly looked the part this year. Following the 2010 season finale at Homestead-Miami, Keselowski had been running at the finish in a series-record 102 consecutive races. But through this season’s first 14 races, Keselowski has had four did not finish (DNF) results. He was saddled with two straight out of the gate at Daytona and Phoenix. It was more of the same two weeks ago at Chicagoland where an expired engine ended his night.
This week may bring the remedy, however. Keselowski is a “Michigan man” from Rochester Hills, and returns to his home track where he has won the last two races. His consecutive wins have come in two different cars and with two different manufacturers. His 2009 win was in a JR Motorsports Chevrolet. Last year he won from the pole for Penske Racing in a Dodge Challenger, one of four races for the series’ new car before its full-time introduction this year. He also posted a perfect 150.0 Driver Rating in that race.\
Keselowski can join Tony Stewart (Daytona) and 2009 series champion Kyle Busch (Auto Club) as drivers who have won three consecutive races at the same track over the last three seasons (Stewart has won the last four at DIS). A third straight victory also would make Keselowski the series’ all-time wins leader at MIS. He and four other drivers have two.
Roush Fenway Marches Into Michigan
Roush Fenway Racing has experienced a resurgence in 2011 (not that four wins, three poles and a second-place driver championship finish by Carl Edwards last year was a slouch). But this year, the wealth is being spread around the organization. Through 14 races, Edwards has three wins while Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has one and also has been at the top of the points standings. The duo has combined for six poles. And now, RFR brings its high-flying season “home” to Michigan.
Jack Roush’s racing success was built in Michigan, not far from the two-mile speedway. Racing at MIS always carries special meaning for Roush’s teams. Saturday, his three-team NASCAR Nationwide Series stable looks to add to his series-leading four owner wins at the track. Edwards and Stenhouse are joined by Trevor Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner, who returned to NASCAR Nationwide Series racing after a five-race hiatus due to illness two weeks ago at Chicago to finish third. Bayne will make his return to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this weekend in his part-time ride with Wood Brothers Racing.
Busch vs. Martin – Round 3
It’s a competition that can’t get much closer. Mark Martin, the all-time series leader in wins with 49 in 233 starts, has two more races left this season to try and fend off Kyle Busch from matching – and perhaps surpassing – that mark. Saturday at Michigan is one of those events.
A major series milestone is hanging in the balance: who will be the first driver to 50 wins?
Martin added to his total earlier this season with a victory at Las Vegas. Busch finished 30th at LVMS due to an accident. Busch, with 48 victories in 213 starts, took Round 2 at Auto Club with a win while Martin finished eighth.
Neither seems to have an edge over the other at Michigan. Martin is tied with four other drivers for the all-time lead in wins with two, but hasn’t won since 1995. Busch won at MIS in his rookie year in 2004, but hasn’t won since. Martin has an average finish of 5.1 in 11 series races at MIS; Busch’s average finish is 5.2 in four races.
Martin is scheduled to race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series once more this year for Turner Motorsports, next month at Kentucky. Busch is expected to compete in that event as well.