Nationwide Series -- Race No. 3 -- Sam's Town 300 Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval) – Las Vegas, Nev.
Fast Facts for February 27-28, 2009
Tire: Goodyear Eagle Speedway Radials
Number of Tires: Left-side – 575; Right-side – 575
Tire Codes: Left-side -- D-4226; Right-side -- D-4234
Tire Circumference: Left-side -- 87.4 in.; Right-side -- 88.3 in.
Technical Inspection Inflation: Left Front -- 34 psi; Left Rear -- 34 psi; Right Front -- 62 psi; Right Rear -- 58 psi
Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front -- 30 psi; Left Rear -- 30 psi; Right Front -- 58 psi; Right Rear -- 54 psi
Notes: Teams in the NASCAR Nationwide Series will be running the same right-side tire code (D-4234) as those in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Las Vegas this weekend, though they will be running a different left-side code (D-4226) . . . these are two brand new tire codes for Nationwide teams, with the most notable difference over last year's Las Vegas set-up being a different right-side construction for enhanced handling . . . as on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run inner liners in all four tire positions at Las Vegas . . . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire.
|1||3||16||Greg Biffle||citifinancial Ford||209||195||10||$94,870||Running||2||86|
|2||7||60||Carl Edwards||Save-a-lot Ford||209||175||5||$64,150||Running||3||35|
|3||10||32||Brian Vickers||Dollar General Stores Toyota||209||170||5||$48,900||Running||1||11|
|4||23||38||Jason Leffler||Great Clips Toyota||209||160||$46,518||Running|
|5||15||5||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Go Daddy Chevy||209||155||$32,275||Running|
|6||16||47||Michael McDowell #||Kingsford/Smith's Toyota||209||150||$42,693||Running|
|7||13||62||Brendan Gaughan #||South Point Hotel & Casino Chevy||209||151||5||$36,693||Running||1||3|
|8||11||12||Justin Allgaier #||Verizon Wireless Dodge||209||147||5||$35,043||Running||1||5|
|9||42||11||Scott Lagasse Jr. #||America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota||209||138||$34,953||Running|
|10||14||29||Jeff Burton||Holiday Inn Chevy||209||139||5||$28,075||Running||1||1|
|11||28||40||Scott Wimmer||Federated Auto Parts Chevy||208||130||$26,375||Running|
|12||35||42||Kenny Hendrick||Smith Ironworks Dodge||208||127||$32,293||Running|
|14||20||28||Kenny Wallace||US Border Patrol Chevy||207||121||$31,633||Running|
|15||39||34||Tony Raines||Long Johnn Silver's Chevy||207||118||$32,023||Running|
|16||33||24||Eric McClure||Hefty Ford||207||115||$30,763||Running|
|17||37||23||Ken Butler #||Aaron's Chevy||207||112||$30,578||Running|
|18||31||01||Danny O'Quinn Jr.||Station Casinos/Shaug Construction Chevy||206||109||$23,975||Running|
|19||32||26||Brian Keselowski||Schweitzer Title Dodge||205||106||$23,865||Running|
|21||4||20||Denny Hamlin||Interstate Batteries Toyota||196||105||5||$23,645||Accident||1||7|
|22||9||1||Mike Bliss||Miccosukee Indian Gaming & Resort Chevy||194||102||5||$32,478||Accident||1||16|
|23||27||02||Andy Ponstein||Corriestottracing.com Chevy||189||94||$23,375||Engine|
|25||26||27||Jason Keller||Scott Tissue Ford||177||88||$29,748||Accident|
|26||12||6||David Ragan||Discount Tire Ford||169||90||5||$23,020||Accident||1||1|
|27||8||88||Brad Keselowski||Klondike Chevy||165||82||$29,353||Running|
|28||43||31||Stanton Barrett||Zona Health Chevy||151||79||$22,740||Running|
|29||2||33||Kevin Harvick||Rheem Chevy||146||81||5||$22,590||Running||4||41|
|30||6||66||Steve Wallace||US Fidelis Chevy||144||73||$29,248||Running|
|31||19||07||David Green||pmclife.com Toyota||104||70||$28,838||Accident|
|32||34||15||Michael Annett #||Pilot Travel Centers Toyota||90||67||$28,728||Accident|
|33||25||81||D J Kennington||Red Bank Outfitters/NPP Dodge||89||64||$28,618||Accident|
|34||30||0||Robert Richardson Jr.||Chevy||89||61||$22,040||Accident|
|35||17||05||Casey Atwood||31-W Insulation Ford||76||58||$28,398||Engine|
|36||38||52||Scott Gaylord||Hooters Casino Hotel Chevy||65||55||$28,363||Accident|
|38||41||09||John Wes Townley #||Zaxby's Ford||26||49||$28,288||Accident|
|39||5||18||Kyle Busch||Z-Line Designs Toyota||21||46||$21,765||Accident|
|40||1||99||Scott Speed||Red Bull Toyota||21||48||5||$31,298||Accident||1||2|
|42||40||90||Johnny Chapman||MSRP Motorsports Chevy||12||37||$28,093||Rear End|
|4.||Brendan Gaughan #||407||-108|
|10.||Michael McDowell #||326||-189|
|11.||Justin Allgaier #||311||-204|
|14.||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||301||-214|
|15.||Scott Lagasse Jr. #||299||-216|
|25.||D J Kennington||267||-248|
|29.||Danny O'quinn Jr.||242||-273|
|30.||Michael Annett #||240||-275|
|32.||Ken Butler #||215||-300|
|38.||John Wes Townley #||146||-369|
|42.||Robert Richardson Jr.||122||-393|
|55.||J C Stout||49||-466|
|60.||John Borneman III||0||-515|
|25||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||88||271||-244|
|34||Curtis Key Sr.||40||228||-287|
|47||Mary Louise Miller||70||109||-406|
|1||99||Scott Speed||Red Bull Toyota||29.597||182.451|
|2||33||Kevin Harvick||Rheem Chevy||29.609||182.377|
|3||16||Greg Biffle||citifinancial Ford||29.689||181.886|
|4||20||Denny Hamlin||Interstate Batteries Toyota||29.719||181.702|
|5||18||Kyle Busch||Z-Line Designs Toyota||29.746||181.537|
|6||66||Steve Wallace||US Fidelis Chevy||29.794||181.245|
|7||60||Carl Edwards||Save-a-lot Ford||29.820||181.087|
|8||88||Brad Keselowski||Klondike Chevy||29.844||180.941|
|9||1||Mike Bliss||Miccosukee Indian Gmng&Rsrt Chev||29.851||180.898|
|10||32||Brian Vickers||Dollar General Stores Toyota||29.876||180.747|
|11||12||Justin Allgaier #||Verizon Wireless Dodge||29.933||180.403|
|12||6||David Ragan||Discount Tire Ford||29.993||180.042|
|13||62||Brendan Gaughan #||South Point Hotel & Casino Chevy||30.042||179.748|
|14||29||Jeff Burton||Holiday Inn Chevy||30.045||179.730|
|15||5||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Go Daddy Chevy||30.064||179.617|
|16||47||Michael McDowell #||Kingsford/Smith's Toyota||30.089||179.468|
|17||05||Casey Atwood||31-W Insulation Ford||30.124||179.259|
|19||07||David Green||pmclife.com Toyota||30.207||178.767|
|20||28||Kenny Wallace||US Border Patrol Chevy||30.245||178.542|
|23||38||Jason Leffler||Great Clips Toyota||30.339||177.989|
|25||81||D J Kennington||Red Bank Outfitters/NPP Dodge||30.378||177.760|
|26||27||Jason Keller||Scott Tissue Ford||30.408||177.585|
|27||02||Andy Ponstein||Corriestottracing.com Chevy||30.451||177.334|
|28||40||Scott Wimmer||Federated Auto Parts Chevy||30.503||177.032|
|30||0||Robert Richardson Jr.||Chevy||30.508||177.003|
|31||01||Danny O'Quinn Jr.||Station Casinos/Shaug Construction Chevy||30.519||176.939|
|32||26||Brian Keselowski||Schweitzer Title Dodge||30.534||176.852|
|33||24||Eric McClure||Hefty Ford||30.590||176.528|
|34||15||Michael Annett #||Pilot Travel Centers Toyota||30.637||176.257|
|35||42||Kenny Hendrick||Smith Ironworks Dodge||30.711||175.833|
|37||23||Ken Butler #||Aaron's Chevy||30.836||175.120|
|38||52||Scott Gaylord||Hooters Casino Hotel Chevy||30.944||174.509|
|39||34||Tony Raines||Long Johnn Silver's Chevy||Owner Points|
|40||90||Johnny Chapman||MSRP Motorsports Chevy||Owner Points|
|41||09||John Wes Townley #||Zaxby's Ford||Owner Points|
|42||11||Scott Lagasse Jr. #||America's Incredible Pizza Company Toyota||Owner Points|
|43||31||Stanton Barrett||Zona Health Chevy||30.650||176.183|
|1||1||Mike Bliss||Miccosukee Indian Gmng&Rsrt Chev||29.966||180.204||31|
|2||99||Scott Speed||Red Bull Toyota||30.050||179.700||29|
|3||*5||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Go Daddy Chevy||30.086||179.485||31|
|4||12||Justin Allgaier #||Verizon Wireless Dodge||30.169||178.992||31|
|5||33||Kevin Harvick||Rheem Chevy||30.206||178.772||36|
|6||20||Denny Hamlin||Interstate Batteries Toyota||30.237||178.589||36|
|7||*18||Kyle Busch||Z-Line Designs Toyota||30.239||178.577||30|
|8||60||Carl Edwards||Save-a-lot Ford||30.252||178.501||28|
|9||38||Jason Leffler||Great Clips Toyota||30.256||178.477||31|
|10||*16||Greg Biffle||citifinancial Ford||30.302||178.206||38|
|11||66||Steve Wallace||US Fidelis Chevy||30.314||178.136||39|
|12||32||Brian Vickers||Dollar General Stores Toyota||30.364||177.842||22|
|14||11||Scott Lagasse Jr. #||America's Incrdble Pizza Comp Toy||30.429||177.462||42|
|15||6||David Ragan||Discount Tire Ford||30.471||177.218||32|
|16||88||Brad Keselowski||Klondike Chevy||30.498||177.061||34|
|17||62||Brendan Gaughan #||South Point Hotel & Casino Chevy||30.583||176.569||40|
|18||29||Jeff Burton||Holiday Inn Chevy||30.593||176.511||51|
|19||47||Michael McDowell #||Kingsford/Smith's Toyota||30.605||176.442||33|
|20||15||Michael Annett #||Pilot Travel Centers Toyota||30.641||176.234||34|
|21||27||Jason Keller||Scott Tissue Ford||30.652||176.171||29|
|22||05||Casey Atwood||31-W Insulation Ford||30.746||175.633||41|
|23||28||Kenny Wallace||US Border Patrol Chevy||30.765||175.524||24|
|24||*40||Scott Wimmer||Federated Auto Parts Chevy||30.789||175.387||18|
|25||*22||John Borneman III||Twisted X Boots/Trail Motorsports Ford||30.796||175.347||19|
|26||*96||Dennis Setzer||Dusty's Collision Dodge||30.829||175.160||18|
|27||*31||Stanton Barrett||Zona Health Chevy||30.859||174.989||21|
|28||07||David Green||pmclife.com Toyota||30.889||174.820||25|
|30||*0||Robert Richardson Jr.||Chevy||31.010||174.137||28|
|31||*26||Brian Keselowski||Schweitzer Title Dodge||31.094||173.667||12|
|32||*01||Danny O'Quinn Jr.||Station Casinos/Shaug Cnstrctn Chev||31.105||173.606||19|
|33||81||D J Kennington||Red Bank Outfitters/NPP Dodge||31.170||173.244||24|
|34||23||Ken Butler #||Aaron's Chevy||31.176||173.210||32|
|37||*49||Kertus Davis||GetMoreVacations.com Chevy||31.251||172.794||17|
|38||89||Morgan Shepherd||Victory in Jesus-Eldora Spdwy Chev||31.266||172.712||11|
|39||*02||Andy Ponstein||Corriestottracing.com Chevy||31.271||172.684||13|
|40||90||Johnny Chapman||MSRP Motorsports Chevy||31.388||172.040||13|
|41||42||Kenny Hendrick||Smith Ironworks Dodge||31.408||171.931||33|
|42||34||Tony Raines||Long Johnn Silver's Chevy||31.426||171.832||11|
|43||*41||Derrike Cope||Rick Ware Racing Chevy||31.538||171.222||9|
|44||52||Scott Gaylord||Hooters Casino Hotel Chevy||31.566||171.070||5|
|45||09||John Wes Townley #||Zaxby's Ford||31.605||170.859||36|
|46||24||Eric McClure||Hefty Ford||31.648||170.627||49|
|1||62||Brendan Gaughan #||South Point Hotel & Casino Chevy||30.423||177.497||26|
|2||33||Kevin Harvick||Rheem Chevy||30.466||177.247||11|
|3||*16||Greg Biffle||citifinancial Ford||30.531||176.869||7|
|4||60||Carl Edwards||Save-a-lot Ford||30.576||176.609||15|
|5||1||Mike Bliss||Miccosukee Indian Gmng&Rsrt Chev||30.619||176.361||14|
|6||38||Jason Leffler||Great Clips Toyota||30.642||176.229||10|
|7||*18||Kyle Busch||Z-Line Designs Toyota||30.671||176.062||23|
|8||15||Michael Annett #||Pilot Travel Centers Toyota||30.765||175.524||21|
|9||66||Steve Wallace||US Fidelis Chevy||30.768||175.507||27|
|10||*5||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Go Daddy Chevy||30.783||175.421||17|
|11||27||Jason Keller||Scott Tissue Ford||30.784||175.416||15|
|12||20||Denny Hamlin||Interstate Batteries Toyota||30.802||175.313||13|
|13||29||Jeff Burton||Holiday Inn Chevy||30.847||175.058||15|
|14||6||David Ragan||Discount Tire Ford||30.883||174.853||12|
|15||11||Scott Lagasse Jr. #||America's IncrediblePizzaComp Toy||30.891||174.808||24|
|16||47||Michael McDowell #||Kingsford/Smith's Toyota||30.895||174.786||20|
|17||12||Justin Allgaier #||Verizon Wireless Dodge||30.933||174.571||17|
|18||32||Brian Vickers||Dollar General Stores Toyota||30.954||174.452||19|
|20||88||Brad Keselowski||Klondike Chevy||30.972||174.351||12|
|22||07||David Green||pmclife.com Toyota||31.066||173.823||13|
|23||*31||Stanton Barrett||Zona Health Chevy||31.153||173.338||15|
|24||99||Scott Speed||Red Bull Toyota||31.160||173.299||25|
|27||05||Casey Atwood||31-W Insulation Ford||31.386||172.051||15|
|29||28||Kenny Wallace||US Border Patrol Chevy||31.462||171.636||19|
|30||*01||Danny O'Quinn Jr.||Station Casinos/Shaug Cnstrctn Chev||31.496||171.450||9|
|31||81||D J Kennington||Red Bank Outfitters/NPP Dodge||31.531||171.260||14|
|32||*40||Scott Wimmer||Federated Auto Parts Chevy||31.548||171.168||7|
|33||*49||Kertus Davis||GetMoreVacations.com Chevy||31.565||171.076||2|
|34||23||Ken Butler #||Aaron's Chevy||31.575||171.021||27|
|35||*22||John Borneman III||Twisted X Boots/Trail Motorsports Ford||31.599||170.891||16|
|37||52||Scott Gaylord||Hooters Casino Hotel Chevy||31.707||170.309||3|
|38||42||Kenny Hendrick||Smith Ironworks Dodge||31.739||170.138||14|
|39||34||Tony Raines||Long Johnn Silver's Chevy||31.899||169.284||14|
|41||*02||Andy Ponstein||Corriestottracing.com Chevy||31.923||169.157||14|
|42||*26||Brian Keselowski||Schweitzer Title Dodge||32.017||168.660||7|
|43||*41||Derrike Cope||Rick Ware Racing Chevy||32.038||168.550||5|
|44||09||John Wes Townley #||Zaxby's Ford||32.042||168.529||30|
|45||24||Eric McClure||Hefty Ford||32.076||168.350||33|
|46||*0||Robert Richardson Jr.||Chevy||32.291||167.229||23|
|1||0||Robert Richardson Jr||www.sponsordavis.com||09 Chevy||Johnny Davis|
|2||01||Danny O'Quinn Jr||www.sponsordavis.com||09 Chevy||Lori Morgan|
|3||1||Mike Bliss||Miccosukee Indian Gaming & Resort||09 Chevy||James Finch|
|4||02||Andy Ponstein||Corriestottracing.com||08 Chevy||Corrie Stott|
|5||05||Casey Atwood||31W Insulation||07 Chevy||Wayne Day|
|6||5||Dale Earnhardt Jr [PC2]||Go Daddy||09 Chevy||Rick Hendrick|
|7||6||David Ragan||Discount Tire||09 Ford||Jack Roush|
|8||07||David Green||SK Motorsports||09 Toyota||Armando Fitz|
|9||09||John Wes Townley||Zaxby's||09 Ford||Jay Robinson|
|10||10||Kelly Bires||TBA||08 Toyota||Todd Braun|
|11||11||Scott Lagasse Jr||America's Incredible Pizza Company||09 Toyota||Bryan Mullet|
|12||12||Justin Allgaier||Verizon Wireless||09 Dodge||Tad Geschickter|
|13||15||Michael Annett||Pilot Travel Centers||09 Toyota||Bob Germain|
|14||16||Greg Biffle [PC1]||CitiFinancial||09 Ford||Jack Roush|
|15||18||Kyle Busch||Z-Line Designs||09 Toyota||Joe Gibbs|
|16||20||Denny Hamlin||Interstate Batteries||09 Toyota||Joe Gibbs|
|17||22||John Borneman III||Trail Motorsports||09 Ford||Arthur Shelton|
|18||23||Ken Butler||Aaron's||08 Chevy||Johnny Davis|
|19||24||Eric McClure||Hefty||09 Ford||Ed Rensi|
|20||26||Brian Keselowski||Schweitzer Title||09 Dodge||Dusty Whitney|
|21||27||Jason Keller||Scott Tissue||09 Ford||Mike Curb|
|22||28||Kenny Wallace||US Border Patrol||06 Chevy||Jay Robinson|
|23||29||Jeff Burton||HOLIDAY INN||09 Chevy||Richard Childress|
|24||31||Stanton Barrett||Interush.net||09 Chevy||Stanton Barrett|
|25||32||Brian Vickers||Dollar General Stores||08 Toyota||Todd Braun|
|26||33||Kevin Harvick||TBA||08 Chevy||Delana Harvick|
|27||34||Tony Raines||Long Johnn Silver's||09 Chevy||Bob Jenkins|
|28||38||Jason Leffler||Great Clips||08 Toyota||Ralph Braun|
|29||40||Scott Wimmer||TBA||09 Chevy||Curtis Key Sr|
|30||41||Derrike Cope||Rick Ware Racing||08 Chevy||Rick Ware|
|31||42||Kenny Hendrick||Smith Ironworks||08 Dodge||Chip Ganassi|
|32||47||Michael McDowell||Kingsford & Smith||09 Toyota||Jodi Geschickter|
|33||49||Kertus Davis||TBA||06 Chevy||Jay Robinson|
|34||52||Scott Gaylord||Hooters Casino Hotel||08 Chevy||Jimmy Means|
|35||60||Carl Edwards||Scotts||09 Ford||Jack Roush|
|36||61||Brandon Whitt||TBD||09 Ford||Charlie Shoffner|
|37||62||Brendan Gaughan||South Point Hotel & Casino||09 Chevy||Rusty Wallace|
|38||66||Steve Wallace||US Fidelis||09 Chevy||Rusty Wallace|
|39||81||D J Kennington||TBA||09 Dodge||Pat MacDonald|
|40||84||Mike Harmon||TBA||08 Chevy||Mike Harmon|
|41||87||Joe Nemechek [PC3]||TBA||08 Chevy||Andrea Nemechek|
|42||88||Brad Keselowski||Klondike||09 Chevy||Dale Earnhardt Jr|
|43||89||Morgan Shepherd||TBA||09 Chevy||Cindy Shepherd|
|44||90||Johnny Chapman||MSRP Motorsports||08 Chevy||Marcia Parsons|
|45||91||Terry Cook||TBA||09 Chevy||Randy Humphrey|
|46||96||Dennis Setzer||TBA||09 Dodge||Kay Keselowski|
|47||99||Scott Speed||Red Bull||09 Toyota||Michael Waltrip|
Las Vegas Finishes: One Thriller Reputation
Daytona Beach, Fla. (Feb. 23, 2008) - You either have “it” or you don’t. Las Vegas Motor Speedway – especially in the case of the NASCAR Nationwide Series over the last five years – definitely has “it.”
“It” is the whisker-thin finish that fans at the 1.5-mile track north of the Strip are accustomed to.
In four of the last five years, the Margin of Victory in races at Las Vegas has been half a second or less.
The stage was set five years ago in 2004 when two-time series champion Kevin Harvick (#33 KHI Chevy) withstood the charge from Kasey Kahne and set the MOV record at the track – .119 seconds.
It wouldn't be the last time in that span those two drivers were involved in close LVMS finishes.
In 2005, Mark Martin, the series’ all-time leader in wins (48) and poles (30), passed David Stremme with eight laps to go. Harvick managed to work his way into the mix but couldn’t catch Martin, who beat him by 1.4 seconds.
Kahne entered the picture again in 2006 when he managed to pull away from Matt Kenseth and Harvick on a green-white-checkered restart to win by .316 seconds.
The 2007 race was one that still stands as one of the wildest finishes in recent series memory. Las Vegas’ own Kyle Busch (#18 Z-Line Designs Toyota) had dominated the race but Jeff Burton (#29 Holiday Inn Chevy) ran him down on the final lap. The two drivers made side-by-side contact down the frontstretch toward the finish line but it was Burton who held on for the win while Busch spun across the line in second, .101 seconds behind.
Last year, Brad Keselowski (#88 Klondike Chevy) was in the hunt for his first series win, challenging Carl Edwards (#60 Scotts Ford). But Martin, his JR Motorsports teammate who had just taken fresh tires, nudged Edwards, whose resulting spin collected Keselowski. The two drivers were taken out of contention while Martin was able to escape the challenges of former series champions Greg Biffle (#16 CitiFinancial Ford) and Clint Bowyer following the green-white-checkered restart and win by .586 second.
Biffle, Busch, Burton, Edwards, Harvick and Keselowski return to continue the trend on Saturday.
Kyle Busch, Gaughan Look For Better Luck In Vegas
So much for home-court advantage.
Las Vegas natives Kyle Busch and Brendan Gaughan (#62 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevy) haven’t had the success they’d hoped for at their home track throughout their NASCAR national series careers.
They have had high points, no doubt. Busch finished second two years ago in a thrilling last-lap dash to the checkers with Jeff Burton. He’d led a race-high 81 laps before surrendering his lead as he spun across the finish line an instant behind Burton.
But in his four other races at Las Vegas, Busch has an uncharacteristic average finish of 19th.
Gaughan will be starting at his home track in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for the first time. Before making the move to a new series, he had 10 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts there and accomplished the ultimate by winning from the pole in 2003.
But in his other nine races at LVMS, Gaughan hasn’t fared well, posting an average finish of 22.1.
However, the native sons are coming home with some momentum that might swing their recent slumps back to the plus side.
Busch had a day for the ages last Saturday at Auto Club Speedway, becoming the first driver in NASCAR’s top three series to win two races on the same day when he swept the NASCAR Camping World and NASCAR Nationwide Series doubleheader events. He also moved into the lead in the series standings this week .
Gaughan, meanwhile, finished 15th at Daytona International Speedway in only his second series start and followed up with a ninth-place result last week at Auto Club. He’s eighth in the standings and also leads the Raybestos Rookie rankings.
It’s Early, But There’s Unfinished Business For Keselowski
Last year at Las Vegas, Brad Keselowski was on the verge of winning his first career NASCAR Nationwide race.
He was leading with four laps to go when his JR Motorsports teammate, Mark Martin, triggered a spin involving Keselowski and Carl Edwards that took them out as Martin went on to the victory.
Couple that memory with his current results following the first two races of 2009, and you’d think Keselowski would be as frustrated as a blackjack player holding 20 when the dealer turns 21. Not so.
“The race last year at Las Vegas was a good morale booster for the team, despite the wreck,” he said. “I felt like that race we all got on the same page and were able to believe in each other from there on. Even though the day didn’t end how we had hoped, everyone was still happy with the effort because it was the first time we were running up front and were considered a contender.”
Two weeks ago at Daytona he led six laps in the last quarter of the event and was fifth when a cut tire and resulting accident on Lap 110 ended his bid for a win.
Last week at California – a track where he’s been snake-bitten – he was running seventh on Lap 96 when he was caught in an accident not of his doing.
A pre-season favorite to challenge for the series championship, Keselowski is 17th in the standings. He was 18th one year ago after California and managed to turn his season around despite his Las Vegas woes.
“These first two races have been frustrating and encouraging at the same time,” he said. “Encouraging because we’ve been competitive and had a shot at the win but frustrating, because we don’t have the finishes to back that up. It’s just a good thing that the season is 35 races long because we have 33 races to get past the disappointment of these past two weeks, and I feel like Las Vegas is a good place to do that.”
Rookies Cooking On – And Off – Track At Season’s Start
The 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series Raybestos Rookie class – now totaling eight strong with the addition of Ken Butler III (#23 Aaron’s Chevy) to the mix – has opened to good reviews in the early going.
Two rookie drivers finished in the top 15 at Daytona led by Michael McDowell (#47 Kingsford & Smith Ford) in 14th.
Last week at Auto Club Speedway, McDowell started a career-best third and was running well until his engine gave way causing a fiery halt to his night.
Five rookies placed in the top 20 at ACS lead by Brendan Gaughan (ninth). All but McDowell were running at the finish, an improvement over Daytona where two drivers failed to finish.
Justin Allgaier (#12 Verizon Wireless Dodge); Scott Lagasse Jr. (#11 America’s Incredible Pizza Co. Toyota) and John Wes Townley (No. 09 Zaxby’s Ford) will be part of the annual Raybestos Rookie Cooking Challenge in Las Vegas on Thursday from 2-4 p.m. PT at the ESPN Zone located on the Strip in the New York New York Hotel Casino.
The drivers will be divided into two teams and prepare dishes with the guidance of ESPN Zone chefs. Members of the local Boys & Girls Clubs will act as judges for the contest.
NASCAR Nationwide Series Raybestos Rookie Standings
Driver Team Points
1. Brendan Gaughan RWR 23
2. Michael McDowell JTG-D 16
3. Michael Annett Germain 16
4. Justin Allgaier Penske 16
5. Scott Lagasse Jr. CJM 16
6. John West Townley RAB 15
7. Ken Butler III R3 7
8. Erik Darnell* RFR 0
*First race scheduled for Richmond, 5/1.
In The Loop: Bet On Kyle, Carl Or Jeff At Vegas
The pre-season prognosticators have nailed it – so far.
The favorites to win the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship were Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch. Currently, they sit 1-2 in the series standings.
That front-running battle should continue – and possibly bubble over – at Las Vegas.
Clearly, both want the win. Edwards has gone 0-for-2 in Victory Lane appearances, and Las Vegas is one of his best tracks. Busch is likewise strong here, and looking for his first national series victory at his home track.
The pre-race Loop Data statistics favor Edwards. In four Vegas races since Loop Data’s inception in 2005, Edwards has a Driver Rating of 111.6, an Average Running Position of 7.3, a Pass Differential of plus-34 (passes minus times passed), a series-high 107 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), a series-high Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 94.7% and a series-high 78 Fastest Laps Run. He has also been passed fewer times than any other driver – 89.
Busch is likewise solid at Vegas. He has a Driver Rating of 99.7, an Average Running Position of 12.0, a Pass Differential of plus-49, 50 Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 68.4. Busch has also made more passes than any other driver – 159.
Jeff Burton will start his second consecutive series race in the #29 Chevy, and with good reason.
Statistically, he’s the best at Vegas. In his last two Vegas races, which includes a win in 2007, Burton has a Driver Rating of 114.3, an Average Running Position of 8.5, 64 Fastest Laps Run and a Laps in the Top 15 percentage of 79.1%. He has three career series wins at Las Vegas in eight starts, which is tied with Mark Martin for the all-time lead at the track.
Gaughan, Steve Wallace Bolster RWR Early Results
Now it its sixth year, Rusty Wallace Racing looks prepared to assert itself in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and challenge for top-10 positions in the driver and owner championships.
Drivers Steve Wallace (#66 USfidelis Chevy) and Brendan Gaughan are meshing well, and it’s showing in their early results.
Gaughan, who will start just his fourth series race Saturday, is eighth in the driver standings and has his #62 Chevy ranked ninth in the owner standings.
Wallace was running well in the season-opener at Daytona before being relegated to 42nd after an incident on Lap 72 ignited by Jason Leffler (No. 38 Great Clips Toyota).
But Wallace, 21, who had been streaky in his consistency during his first two full-time seasons, has settled in over the last year. He rebounded with a 10th-place finish at Auto Club Speedway, finishing one spot behind Gaughan. The finish was his first top 10 on a track longer than 1.5 miles and the fifth in his last 16 races. He’d had only three top 10s in the 73 races before this current run.
Gaughan understands the team’s improvement and the expectations that come with it.
“My goal is to go out there, try to win the Raybestos Rookie title, and also to compete for the championship,” Gaughan said.
“Rusty Wallace has a great race team. David Stremme finished in the top 10 with this team last year. Steven finished 12th in points last year so it’s two great race teams.
“It’s not like I’m jumping into a start up, not like I’m jumping into a third car. (There are) a very mature, very powerful bunch of guys at the shop.
“For the year, I like what I see.”
Update: Bill France Performance Cup
Chevy is the leading manufacturer at Las Vegas with seven wins, including the last two races in succession.
Jack Roush leads all owners with four wins in Ford but hasn’t won since 2005. Dodge won in 2006 with driver Kasey Kahne.
Toyota has won four times in NASCAR Camping World Truck competition but has yet to win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series or in NASCAR Sprint Cup.
However, Kyle Busch – who will pull double duty this weekend and comes off his historic dual wins last Saturday at Auto Club Speedway – could certainly be a favorite to break that winless streak for Toyota.
Up Next: A Double-Dose Of Open Weeks
Following its second of two West Coast races, the NASCAR Nationwide Series will take two weeks off before resuming March 21 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The series has six open weekends on the schedule overall:
March 7 (NCWTS, NSCS at Atlanta)
March 14 (Open Week for Top 3 Series)
March 28 (NCWTS, NSCS at Martinsville)
May 15 (NCWTS, Sprint All-Star at LMS)
Sept. 19 (NCWTS, NSCS at New Hampshire)
Oct. 31 (NCWTS, NSCS at Talladega)
The Race: Sam’s Town 300
The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway; 1.5-mile oval
The Date: Saturday, Feb. 28
The Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
The Distance: 300 miles / 200 laps
TV: ESPN 2, 4 p.m. ET
Radio: Sirius NASCAR Radio / PRN
2008 Winner: Mark Martin
2008 Pole: Brian Vickers
Event Schedule: Friday-Practice 10:30-11:50 a.m.; Final Practice 1:45-3:30 p.m.; Saturday-Qualifying-9 a.m.
Top 10 Driver Standings
1. Kyle Busch 360
2. Carl Edwards 340
3. Kevin Harvick 305
4. David Ragan 297
5. Brian Vickers 297
6. David Reutimann 273
7. Joey Logano 268
8. Brendan Gaughan 256
9. Jason Keller 255
10. Greg Biffle 221