On Your Side: Nationwide Two Steps Into Texas

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On Your Side: Nationwide Two Steps Into Texas
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

On three of the past four weekends, the NASCAR Nationwide Series cars have been parked in the shops.

This weekend, NASCAR's minor league returns to the 1.5-mile "Cookie Cutter" track known as Texas Motor Speedway.

Bleacher Report is "On Your Side," with news and notes heading into the Texas weekend.

 

Finally, some consistency

Anyone else tired of seeing the series take weekends off?

I'm sure the drivers are ready to get into the thick of the schedule and begin inching their way toward that championship.

After three open weekends, the series doesn't take another break until mid-May, which is the traditional open week during the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race weekend activities.

In case you forgot, Cup regular Carl Edwards is currently leading the Nationwide standings by 114 points over second-place (another Cup regular) Kevin Harvick.

Harvick, who won at Bristol the last time the series raced, heads to Texas feeling good. In fact, he is the series leader with four wins at the 1.5-mile oval, but he won't be piloting his No. 33 KHI Chevy this weekend.

Instead, Cup regular Tony Stewart will get behind the wheel of the Chevy.

The two-time series champion isn't scheduled to run for the championship this year, but did say, "never say never," when asked if he may reconsider that, being as he sits second in the points.

Harvick is set to share the No. 33 with Stewart, Ryan Newman, and Cale Gale this year.

 

Finally, 2009 owner points will be set

The Cup Series will use 2009 owner points for the second weekend this Sunday at Texas, while the Nationwide Series will still be on 2008 points.

The Series finally hits race No. 5 this weekend, which is the cut-off for 2008 owner points.

Following this weekend's event in Texas, the top 30 cars in 2009 owner points will be guaranteed a starting spot in each week's event.

The drivers currently on the bubble include: Brandon Whitt, Danny O'Quinn, Jr., DJ Kennington, Morgan Shepherd, Michael Annett, and the duo of Robert Richardson, Jr./Ken Butler III.

On their heels are: Scott Wimmer (31st), Kenny Hendrick (32nd), and Brian Keselowski (34th)—all are within 36 points of 30th.

 

Once, twice, three times an Earnhardt

I know it's been mentioned on here already, but this weekend will mark the first time since last summer at Daytona that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kerry Earnhardt will run against each other in NASCAR Nationwide competition.

Earnhardt, Jr. will pilot his No. 5 Chevy for JR Motorsports, while Kerry will take to the wheel of the No. 31 Chevy for Rick Ware Racing.

Two Earnhardts in one race weren't enough, however.

Last week, RWR brought on Kerry's son Jeffrey, 19, to share a few races when Stanton Barrett is unavailable, as he concentrates on his full-time IRL schedule.

Jeffrey's schedule will be limited to seven races, to keep his rookie status for an expected full-time season in 2010.

In September, all three Earnhardts will compete against each other for the first time in a national series of NASCAR in the Nationwide race at Atlanta.

 

Tidbits of Texas

  • Someone forgot to tell the 2009 Nationwide Series rookie class that they are supposed to pull over and let the Cup regulars dominate the top-10 in points. Three rookies—Brendan Gaughan, Justin Allgaier, and Scott Lagasse, Jr.—currently reside in the top-10 in points for the first time since 2006.
  • Series veteran Kenny Wallace also sits in the top-10 for the first time since 2006. Wallace is the first Jay Robinson Racing driver to hold a top-10 ranking and is hoping to give the team its first ever top-20 finish in the owner points.
  • In four races, the series has had four different race winners and four different drivers lead the field to the green flag.
  • Last season, two full-time, double-duty drivers swept the races down south. Kyle Busch won both Nationwide races, while Edwards won both Sprint Cup races.
  • Shelby Howard, 23, will attempt to make the race for ML Motorsports at Texas. Howard was named by the Indiana-based organization to replace Mark Green last week. Howard is a native of Greenwood, Ind.
  • Robert Richardson Jr., a native of McKinney, Tex., will compete in his fourth career NASCAR Nationwide Series race at his  home track.

 

Editor's note: Come join the newest NASCAR Community on Bleacher Report—The Nationwide Series Community, a place where we talk about everything Nationwide. The good, the bad, and everything in between. Any comments or questions about the Series? Feel free to let me know.

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