It’s a sunny Saturday here in Memphis, Tenn., and you couldn’t possibly ask for better weather for the Kroger on Track for the Cure 250 from Memphis Motorsports Park.
Qualifying is long over, and we’re moments away from the start of the race.
Looking over the starting grid, none of the “huge” names who often cross over from the Sprint Cup Series—Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, and David Reutimann, for instance—were present for qualifying, sending replacement drivers instead.
It was a rookie, Justin Allgaier in the No. 12 Verizon Wireless Dodge, who captured the pole. He had the good fortune to make his run late in the session when temperatures on the track had elevated and several of the better laps were run.
Allgaier clocked a top speed of 118.100 miles per hour and completed his brisk, pole-winning lap in 22.862 seconds.
Allgaier, representing Team Penske, is leading the Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year Chase, 226-208, over Brendan Gaughan of Rick Ware Racing. Gaughan finished 15th last week and starts today’s race in the 13 spot, inside row seven.
NASCAR veteran Scott Wimmer sits on the outside of row one after qualifying second with a time of 22.932 seconds and a speed of 117.739.
Casey Atwood subbed for Kyle Busch and managed to put the FedEx Toyota in 11th place; Reutimann’s sub, Trevor Bayne, qualified 17th; Rickey Stenhouse, Jr. put Matt Kenseth’s No. 16 in 18th place on the grid; and Carl Edwards has to start in 35th after Auggie Vidovich could only get the Save A Lot Ford up to 114.591 mph.
There is drama aplenty at this year’s Memphis Nationwide race.
Busch returns after a five-year absence to a track that Carl Edwards has dominated recently. Busch has a 195-point lead over Edwards, and hopes to keep his nemesis in the rear-view mirror both on the track and in the points race.
Edwards won on the .75 mile oval last year, and another win today could see him slicing into the huge deficit he’s facing with only three races remaining on the schedule after today.
Busch enters the race with the momentum borne from winning last week’s Dollar General 300 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C.
Busch and Edwards both have 26 Top-10 finishes on the year; Busch has 22 Top-5s while Edwards has notched 21.
Two cars are sporting a pink color scheme, a nod to Breast Cancer Awareness month: Wimmer’s No. 40 and the No. 60 of Edwards.
The stands were awash with women (and even a few men) wearing pink, or at least a pink ribbon, in honor of the monumental cause that NASCAR has so enthusiastically supported.
Check back periodically for further race updates from Memphis.
Photo Credit: Copyright 2009 by Leroy Watson, Jr.