Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Nationwide Series Sees Some Of Its Best Competition In Recent Years

Nationwide Series Sees Some Of Its Best Competition In Recent Years
Close competition is a must in NASCAR and this season bodes one of the closest points races in recent years. Only two points separate NASCAR Nationwide Series standings leader Sam Hornish Jr. and second-place Regan Smith, and the remaining top five are all within nine points of the standings lead after the first six races of the season. 
In comparison to the past two seasons, the 2013 NASCAR Nationwide Series season is ripe for anyone’s taking. After six races last season, only two drivers in the standings were within 50 points of the leader. In 2011, there were just seven drivers within 50 points of the lead. In 2013, after six races, the entire top 10 in the standings are within 40 points of the leader, and all of the top 15 are still within 100 points.
This season’s championship standout is the series standings leader Hornish, driving for Penske Racing. He is the only series championship contender this season to win a race (Las Vegas), and he leads the series in season-to-date Driver Rating (108.0) and all series contenders in top fives (four) to boot. His season-to-date average finish is 8.3.
 Hornish has not been flawless. His points lead dwindled this past weekend with a 34th-place finish in Texas, opening the door for JR Motorsports’ Smith in second, and Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon in third – each making significant gains in points. Hornish also has Turner Scott Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier and RCR’s Brian Scott just nine points back and closing.
Bonus points are crucial to the success of championship racing; through six races Hornish has accumulated the most in the series with seven.
The close competition continues when the NASCAR Nationwide Series returns to action at Richmond International Raceway on April 26 at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN News.

Dillon Holds His Own Against Dominant Cup Drivers
On a night when everyone was talking about Kyle Busch’s dominant showing at Texas, Austin Dillon was quietly putting together another solid performance.
Dillon, who finished third in Friday’s race, usually runs well against the NSCS drivers competing in Nationwide races. Six of the top-eight finishers in the Texas race were NSCS regulars: Busch (first), Brad Keselowski (second), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fourth), Kevin Harvick (fifth), Matt Kenseth (sixth) and Kasey Kahne (eighth). 
In Dillon’s first Nationwide win at Kentucky last year, he beat seven NSCS regulars to the finish line after dominating most of the race. In the six series races so far this season, an average of six NSCS regulars have competed.
Dillon, who is eight points behind leader Sam Hornish Jr., has performed admirably this season with two top fives and four top 10s (sixth place or better). Outside of Daytona, his lowest finish is an 11th (Bristol).

NASCAR Nationwide Series Etc.
Last weekend’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner, Kyle Larson (66), sits second in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings just two points behind Alex Bowman (68). Brazilian native and Turner Scott Motorsports driver Nelson Piquet Jr. is third in the rookie standings with 53 points; 15 back from Bowman. … Toyota has taken an early lead in the manufacturers’ standings with 46 points, nine points ahead of second-place Ford (37). Toyota has four wins thanks to driver Kyle Busch this season. Chevrolet is in third with 31 points after six races. … NNS points leader Sam Hornish Jr. participated in a gear test at Mid-Ohio on Monday and Tuesday of this week. The Ohio native will return to his home state on Aug. 17 for the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

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