Changing Of The Guard: Bayne, Scott Travel New Paths
It‘s an annual rite as each season winds down: Changes among teams.
This week, those changes seemed to come in bunches in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
First, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team Turner Motorsports announced that it had acquired select assets of Braun Racing. Turner‘s 2011 plans include fielding three entries in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The NASCAR Nationwide lineup will be announced in October.
That driver lineup will be minus Brian Scott, who currently leads the series Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings. Shortly after the Turner/Braun scenario was announced, Scott and the new Turner organiza-tion amicably parted ways, leaving Scott open to pursue other opportunities.
Scott indicated that he‘s attempting to find a ride to finish out this season and keep his exciting, one-point rookie of the year battle with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (#6 CitiFinancial Ford) intact. He also stated that he was in the discussion stage with multiple teams for the 2011 season.
Not long after Scott‘s news broke came another domino: The Truex brothers — two-time NASCAR Na-tionwide Series champion Martin Jr. and newly-crowned NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion Ryan — will share the #99 Diamond-Waltrip Racing Toyota for the remainder of the season.
The Truex brothers replace Trevor Bayne.
“I am very proud of the Diamond-Waltrip race team and the progress our team has made this year,‖ said majority owner Gary Bechtel. ―On the track, this has been a sensational season and I feel as if we can win a race before the end of the season. The root of the issue regarding Trevor and his future with DWR is simply economics. We had to make a business decision and Trevor had to make a business decision.‖
The Truex brothers will face each other for the first time Saturday at Kansas Speedway. Ryan will drive the # 99 OUT! Pet Care Toyota while Martin will be in the #00 OUT! Pet Care entry. Ryan also will drive the #99 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Gateway International Raceway, Phoenix International Race-way and Homestead-Miami Speedway; Martin at Auto Club Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway.
Logano Tries To Follow Busch As First-Time “Double-Dipper”
Kansas Speedway is one of four active tracks with a different NASCAR Nationwide Series winner in each of its races, including defending winner Joey Logano (#20 Sport Clips Toyota).
That nine-race streak is now the longest in the series after Kyle Busch (#18 NOS Energy Drink Toy-ota), Logano‘s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, became the first driver to win multiple races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Prior to Busch‘s June victory, there were 23 different winners at Loudon.
Logano, who has six second-place finishes this year and has finished second to Busch four times in series competition — three times this season — hopes his team can find an elixir to runner-up finishes at Kansas.
―If we were able to get this car going, (we‘d) have a chance to stay with Kyle and everyone else,‖ Logano said. ―But it just takes us too long to come around, and we have too much ground to make up when we do.
―The cars we are bringing to the track are good. We just need to get them that much better to beat Kyle and the #18 team. Kyle is a great driver, and you can‘t give him any sort of edge. If you do, he‘ll put a whip-ping on you.‖
In addition to Logano, four other former winners at Kansas are entered. They‘re all also former series champions: Jeff Green (#36 Tri-Star Motorsports Chevy), the inaugural Kansas winner in 2001; Joe Nemechek (#87 HostGator.com Chevy), the 2004 winner and only driver to sweep both the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races; Kevin Harvick (#33 Jimmy John’s Chevy), who won in 2006 and Busch in 2007.
The other active NASCAR Nationwide Series tracks with different winners are Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (four), Iowa Speedway (two) and Road America (one).
In The Loop: Busch’s Record-Breaker By The Numbers
It took a whopping two starts, but Kyle Busch finally owns a record-breaking season.
Last Saturday at Dover Internat ional Speedway, Busch won his 11th NASCAR Nationwide Series race of the season, breaking a record he previously shared with two-time series champion Sam Ard.
The record number of victories is one thing. How he captured them is entirely another.
Here‘s a ―By the Numbers‖ look at his his-toric season, one that‘s not even done yet:
1 – Busch led at least four laps in every race, but one: Michigan International Speedway in August. Still, he finished third in that event.
1 – Busch was also a master at qualifying, starting outside the top 10 just once this season – barely. He started 11th at Talladega Super-speedway in April.
2.5 – His Average Running Position in his 11 wins, meaning he rarely ran outside the top three.
3 – Busch‘s longest winless drought this season. He never went longer than three starts without a victory. That ―slump‖ occurred twice.
4 – Of his 11 victories, four were statistically perfect. Busch scored a perfect Driver Rating of 150.0 in four races this season (matching a high he set last season): at Texas Motor Speedway, Iowa and both Dover races.
97.8 – Busch‘s Laps in the Top 15 percent-age in his 11 victories. Of the 2,264 laps run in Busch‘s wins this season, only 48 of them were spent outside the top 15.
144.9 – That‘s Busch‘s average Driver Rat-ing in his 11 victories. In other words, there were no flukes in the bunch. His lowest rating in a win was 128.6 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May.
Here‘s the kicker: Busch still has work to do, and stats to pad.
Up next is Kansas, a track he already has conquered. He almost did it twice, dominating last year, yet falling to Joey Loga#
Last season, Busch led 173 of the 200 laps and scored a near-perfect Driver Rating of 145.0 at Kansas. In his 2007 Kansas victory,
The “G.O.A.T” Begins Grazing In NASCAR Nationwide Series
Last year at Kansas, a new name made an immediate splash in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Parker Kligerman, then 18, captured the pole at the 1.5-mile track in his series debut.
This weekend, chalk up another big splash with a pretty big name.
Ricky Carmichael, the 15-time American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) champion affec-tionately known as the ―G.O.A.T.‖ (Greatest of all Time) in that sport, will make his series debut at Kansas.
Carmichael is in his first fulltime season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Turner Motorsports. He‘s 12th in the driver standings with two top fives and six top 10s.
He made his NASCAR national series de-but in 2009, running in 16 races for Kevin Har-vick Inc. and two for Turner, also in the trucks.
In 2008, he ran fulltime in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
In each series, fans voted Carmichael as the Most Popular Driver. He‘s currently ranked among the top-five vote-getters in this year‘s NASCAR Camping World Truck poll on NAS-CAR.com. (Fans also can vote for their favorite NASCAR Nationwide Series driver on NASCAR-NationwideSeries.com through Nov. 13).
When Turner announced its immediate acquisition of Braun Racing last week, Carmi-chael was tabbed to drive the #10 Monster Energy Toyota.
Carmichael, 31, also is scheduled to run in the NASCAR Nationwide Series events at Phoe-nix International Raceway and Homestead- Miami Speedway.
―I‘m excited. I really don‘t know what to expect,‖ Carmichael said. ―I‘m going to go out there, try not to overachieve, make all the laps and let the race come to me. If I do that, the end result will be good."
―Running a few races in the Nationwide Series this year was something we‘ve been thinking about since we started the team,‖ said Turner Motorsports owner Steve Turner.
―Our first priority for Ricky was in the Truck Series and making sure he had the equipment he needed to succeed. He‘s shown a great deal of improvement this year and we wanted to take this opportunity to give him a chance to grow in his career.
Relentless: Busch Pushes For More Records
Now that the NASCAR Nationwide Series mark for most wins in a season is his, Kyle Busch can aim at another NASCAR history target: becoming the first driver to be a part of three national series titles in the same year.
His 11th win of the season last Saturday at Dover not only was the record-breaker, moving him past two-time series champion Sam Ard. The victory also propelled his #18 Joe Gibbs Racing team to a 134-point owner standings lead over the #22 Penske Racing team of Brad Keselowski (#22 Discount Tire Dodge). Keselowski leads the driver rankings by 320 points over second-place Carl Edwards (#60 Fastenal Ford).
Busch is third in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ―Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.‖ There, his #18 Joe Gibbs Racing team is third, 45 points out of first place in the owner standings.
In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Se-ries, his Kyle Busch Motorsports team is sec-ond in the owner standings, 39 points behind the leader, Germain Racing.
In addition to his fulltime ride in NASCAR Sprint Cup, Busch is scheduled to run in six of the seven remaining NASCAR Nationwide Se-ries races and the final five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events.
It‘s a record well within his grasp.
―The Truck Series races, we're pretty confi-dent where we're at, being able to run well,‖ said Busch. ―With (crew chief) Eric Phillips and (general manager) Rick (Ren) doing the job they do for me, it's been fun to go out there and race as hard as we can, come out on top. It feels really good, especially in your own equipment.
―Racing in the Nationwide Series, we've got some stiff competition this year. I mean, Brad Keselowski is right on us. It's hard to lay low and think, ‗Okay, we got this deal.‘ He's good everywhere we've been. It‘s going to be a chal-lenge. It's not going to be easy there,‖ he said.
―Then of course the Cup Series, racing against the 11 best of the sport, being able to race for a championship there, fight it out till Homestead, it's going to be tough.
―I just go out and race every week the best I can,‖ he said.
NNS Etc.: Kansas Edition
►ML Motorsports Shows School Pride
A little college spirit will be on display this weekend at Kansas. But it won‘t be touting the ―big two,‖ the Kansas Jayhawks or the Kansas State Wildcats.
No, the same big-time backing will come in the form of a smaller school — Missouri Valley College.
Ed Mullen, team president of ML Motorsports, and Billy Hutchinson, the team‘s marketing director, are graduates of the Marshall, Mo.-based college. They both also played baseball for the Vikings.
The team‘s # 70 Chevy driven by Shelby Howard will sport the school‘s orange and purple color scheme, in addition to displaying the Missouri Valley College logo on its hood.
Along with the team‘s representation on track, nearly 200 Missouri Valley College student-athletes will take part in their annual NASCAR fundraiser. This is the 10th year MVC student-athletes will make the two-hour trip west to work the three-day event at Kansas Speedway.
Kansas Speedway has been a wide-open track in terms of manufacturer wins in the NAS-CAR Nationwide Series.
Since the inaugural win in 2001 by Ford, each of the current manufacturers has at least one victory, but none has more than two con-secutive wins.
Toyota could change that stat Saturday, and in the process, also can clinch its third straight Bill France Performance Cup.
If Toyota finishes first or second, it will clinch the title. Toyota also would clinch if it fin-ishes third or fourth, but Chevy does not win.
Dodge and Ford continue to wage a spirited battle for third place in the standings.
►Stenhouse’s Birthday Bash
Saturday could prove to be a very happy birthday for Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (#6 CitiFinancial Ford).
Stenhouse will celebrate his 23rd birthday on Oct. 2, race day. He also could celebrate a first-place takeover.
He‘s made huge gains in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings over the last three months, and comes to Kansas one point behind rookie points leader Brian Scott, who leads 199-198 with seven races to go.
James Buescher (#11 Great Clips Toyota) returns to the series and to the rookie battle. He‘s replacing Brian Scott in the #11 as part of the Turner acquisition of Braun.
Buescher competed in six races for Braun in 2008, including his NASCAR Nationwide Se-ries debut. He also collected his first pole and first top-10 finish with the team.
►Keller Nationwide “Driver Of Week”
Jason Keller, the NASCAR Nationwide Series ―Iron Man,‖ also is the Nationwide Insur-ance ―Driver of the Week‖ at Kansas.
Keller (# 35 Tri-Star Motorsports Chevy), will make his series-leading 514th career start on Satur-day. Earlier this sea-son, he became the first series driver to reach 500 starts.
The program, an initiative by series sponsor Nationwide Insurance, is de-signed to increase driver awareness, with emphasis on NASCAR Nationwide Series-only regulars.
Keller will participate in a live web chat on NASCARNationwideSeries.com at noon on Wednesday, Sept. 29 and also is featured this week in an in-depth story on that site.
Keller has two top fives and three top 10s in eight starts at Kansas. He was 13th last year.
►Up Next: Auto Club Speedway
The NASCAR Nationwide Series will travel from America‘s heartland to ―SoCal‖ for the-CampingWorld.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 9. ESPN will carry the race beginning at 4 p.m. ET. The series has raced at ACS since 1997, with Todd Bodine winning the first event. Jack Roush-owned cars have dominated overall, winning six times at the fast, flat 2-mile oval.
Last season, Joey Logano spoiled Kyle Busch’s quest for three consecutive victories at the track. However, Busch charged back this spring and recorded his third ACS win, and the third straight for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Next Race: Kansas Lottery 300
The Place: Kansas Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
The Date: Saturday, October 2
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
The Distance: 300 miles / 200 laps
TV: ESPN2, 3:00 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio (Local-KMBZ-AM 980)
2009 Winner: Joey Logano
2009 Polesitter: Parker Kligerman
Schedule prior to race day (times CT): Friday: Practice, 2-3:30 p.m.; Final Practice, 5–6 p.m. Saturday: Qualifying, 9:05 a.m.
Tire: Goodyear Eagle Speedway Radials
Number of Tires:
Left-side – 1,400; Right-side – 1,400
Left-side -- D-4382; Right-side -- D-4386
Left-side -- 87.2 in.; Right-side -- 88.3 in.
Technical Inspection Inflation:
Left Front -- 30 psi; Left Rear -- 30 psi;
Right Front -- 48 psi; Right Rear -- 45 psi
Minimum Recommended Inflation:
Left Front -- 22 psi; Left Rear -- 20 psi;
Right Front -- 47 psi; Right Rear -- 43 psi
Notes: While teams in both NASCAR series in action at Kansas this weekend will be running the same right-side tire code (D-4386), they will be running distinct left-side codes . . . the Sprint Cup Series'
left-side code is D-4382 . . . teams in both series ran their same exact tire combination at California earlier this season (same right-side, distinct left-sides) . . . . they will also run the same tire codes at California again next weekend . . . this is the first time either of these two tire codes will be run at Kansas . . .
compared to what was run at the track last year, this tire set-up features a construction change on both sides to enhance the cars' grip level, and a compound change on the right-side to help "rubber in" the track . . . as on all NASCAR ovals greater than one mile in length, teams are required to run liners in all four tire positions at Kansas .
. . air pressure in those inner liners should be 12-25 psi greater than that of the outer tire.