NASCAR Nationwide: Driver Stenhouse Jr Leads the Way to Series Revival

Sandra MacWattersCorrespondent IAugust 7, 2011

NEWTON, IA - AUGUST 06:  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #6 Ford is hit by Carl Edwards, driver of the #60 Fastenal Ford, on the final lap during the NASCAR Nationwide Series U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway on August 6, 2011 in Newton, Iowa.  (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jason Smith/Getty Images

It was not all that long ago that fans complained about the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers ruining the second-tier series because of their domination. For Ricky Stenhouse Jr it was a Cup driver beneath his car as he crossed the finish line for a win at Iowa.

NASCAR Nationwide series point leader Stenhouse snatched his second win of the season at Iowa Speedway as he out ran veteran Cup driver and teammate Carl Edwards.

The two Roush Fenway Racing drivers had a couple of encounters during the race, but Stenhouse rallied back to charge past Edwards even as his engine failed coming to the checkered flag.

Edwards was closing fast on the injured car and he thought the No. 6 of Stenhouse would slide out of the way, but it didn't. Edwards plowed into his teammate and pushed him to a win.

Stenhouse looks to be the hottest driver in the Nationwide series now. Elliott Sadler dropped out of the Cup series to run in the second layer of NASCAR and at the start of the season he was thought to be a sure bet for the title.

Sadler drives for Kevin Harvick Inc. and currently sits third in the point standings. It is no secret he wants to do well in Nationwide and get back to the Cup series.

The new policy of having drivers pick a series eliminated the Cup drivers from winning the Nationwide championship even if they dominated with wins.

Change is coming to the Nationwide series, as the high level of competition in Cup racing is forcing those drivers to run fewer races in the second-tier series and devote their efforts to the premier series.

Carl Edwards has already made the decision not to run a full Nationwide schedule in 2012 and you will see other Cup drivers do the same though they do have some sponsorship commitments that require them to run in Nationwide.

The Nationwide series is beginning to take on new life with Stenhouse at the helm. He and drivers like Sadler, Reed Sorenson, Justin Allgaier and Aric Almirola are ready to give the Cup drivers a run for their money.

Adding to the strength of the regulars in the Nationwide series we will have Danica Patrick and Travis Pastrana expected to add some big time interest in 2012.

The decision is not official, but Patrick will likely announce her contractual agreement to run full time in the Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports next year and Pastrana is expected to run 20 races.

Drivers like Austin Dillon are showing a presence in Nationwide and that will only add to the strength of the regulars in the series as they gain seat time.

Many discount the second-tier series as a training ground for up and coming Cup drivers and a play ground for the Cup drivers.

There are rumblings of a revival in the Nationwide series and if the racing and eventual finish at the Iowa Speedway is an indicator, fans need to watch for some great racing during the balance of this season and in 2012.