Sin City: Nationwide News and Notes

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IFebruary 24, 2009

Heading into Week Three of the Nationwide Series one thing is clear: The Cup regulars appear set to dominate the minor league yet again.

Not wanting to dwell on that—again—here is a look at some headlines heading into Sin City.


Home Sweet Home? Brendan Gaughan Doesn't Think So

Brendan Gaughan is a Las Vegan native. While many drivers clamour at the chance to return to their "home track" and perform well in front of a "home crowd" Gaughan—unlike the Busch brothers—has struggled.

On Saturday, Gaughan will make is Nationwide Series debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He has started 10 races in the Camping World Truck Series, including a win from the pole in 2003.

The win, however, was his one shining moment to date. In his other nine races, Gaughan has averaged a finish of 22.1.

Gaughan is coming off a ninth place showing at Auto Club Speedway last weekend and sits eighth in the rankings. He also is leading the standings for 2009 Raybestos Rookie of the year.

Fellow Las Vegas native Kyle Busch—by the way—leads the Nationwide standings after a win at ACS on Saturday.


Close Finishes Common in Sin City

It's become the norm when the Nationwide Series ventures to Las Vegas to have a close finish. In fact, four of the last five races have produced an average margin of victory of a half second or less.

During that stretch, the closest finish in the tracks history occurred in 2004 when Kevin Harvick edged Kasey Kahne by .119 seconds.

Others include:

2008: Mark Martin beats Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer to the line in a green-white-checkered restart by .586 seconds.

2007: Jeff Burton saves a near frontstrech wreck to win by .101 seconds while Kyle Busch spun across the finish line in second.

2006: Kahne managed to escape from Matt Kenseth and Harvick on a green-white-checkered restart to win by .316 second.

2005: Martin overtook David Stremme with eight laps to go and ended up beating Harvick to the line by 1.4 seconds.


It's Not About How Well You Run, But Where You Finish

Brad Keselowski probably remembers Las Vegas a year ago like it was yesterday. After challenging Carl Edwards for his first career victory with four laps to go, Mark Martin—on fresh tires—tapped Edwards, who then collected Keselowski.

Both spun out of contention with Martin took the checkered flag.

Rewind back to Daytona this year and Keselowski was again running in the top-five before cutting a tire on Lap 110 and falling out of contention.

Just this past weekend, Keselowski's bad karma continued when his night was ended after getting caught up in a Lap 96 incident—he was running seventh at the time.

Saturday night's race has both good news and bad. The good: Martin won't be in the race. The bad: Owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be, in the same No. 5 that won last year.


Rusty Wallace Racing Starts Strong in 2009

This team has struggled since it made it's debut in the Nationwide Series, but 2009 appears to be a different story.

Gaughan and Rusty's son Steve Wallace have both been racy in the first two events.

Gaughan—in his first season with RWR—stands ninth in the points after a 15th place showing at Daytona and his first top-10 finish in the Nationwide Series at ACS last weekend.

Wallace, on the other hand, was knocked out of the season-opener after an accident with Jason Leffer, but rebounded nicely to a 10th place showing at ACS—his first career top-10 finish at a track more than 1.5 miles (excluding road course wins).


Speed Demon Makes Debut, While Logano Bows Out

Scott "Speed Demon" Speed will make his Nationwide Series debut in the No. 99 Red Bull Michael Waltrip Toyota. Waltrip has driven the car for the first two weeks. He finished 24th at Daytona and 15th at ACS.

Speed now gets behind the wheel hoping to gain some much needed on-track time prior to Sunday's Cup Series event. Speed currently sits outside the top-35 in the Cup Series and nees to get things rolling.

Meanwhile, over at Joe Gibbs Racing, 18-year-old "phenom" Joey "Sliced-Bread" Logano takes some time off from the Nationwide Series.

After a 20th place finish at Daytona and a third at ACS, Logano turns the reigns of the No. 20 Toyota over to teammate Denny Hamlin. Logano, Hamlin and Brad Coleman are all scheduled to share the No. 20 this year.


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