On Your Side: Nationwide Series Takes Second Weekend Off

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IMarch 11, 2009

For the second week in a row, the Nationwide Series will take a break before jumping into the bull-ring known as as Bristol Motor Speedway.

While the cars weren't on the track this past weekend, the news didn't take a break.

It's an Odd Year, So Carl Edwards Will Do Well

Edwards debuted in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2005. Since that season, Edwards has led the driver standings during each of the odd-numbered years, but hasn't fared as well in the even-numbered seasons—he's been solid, but has never been first.

This year, being 2009, Edwards now leads the Nationwide Series points after his second-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Feb. 28. The runner-up finish was enough to jump Kyle Busch in the standings, and is the first time he's led the points since claiming the series' championship in Nov. 2007 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

In 2007, Edwards never dropped from the top spot after taking the lead three races in. In 2005, he led the points for 10 consecutive weeks, but ultimately finished third in the standings.

During his two even years of full-time competition (2006 and 2008), Edwards failed to lead the standings, but did finish second in the championship.

Kevin Harvick won the series championship in 2006, while Clint Bowyer did so last year.

Brian Vickers' Part-Time Ride, Turning into Full-Time Success

Vickers has been making the most of his NASCAR Nationwide Series starts in the No. 32 Braun Racing Toyota.

Prior to the season, many pointed at full-time double-duty drivers Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch or part-timers Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton to dominate the series, but Vickers has proven he will be a contender each weekend he races as well.

Vickers won the series championship in 2003, and currently sits in second-place in the standings. He also is at the top of a number of statistical categories according to NASCAR's Loop Data.

Vickers ranks first in average running position (6.7), second in driver rating (111.3), fourth in fastest laps run (20), third in average green flag speed rank (5.333), and first in laps in the top 15 (468, 97.7 percent).

In three races, Vickers has compiled three top 10 finishes, including his first top-five of the year, a third-place finish two weeks ago at Las Vegas.

Vickers has 15 career races for Braun—dating back to last year—in which he has two poles, seven top-fives and 11 top-10 finishes.

In those races, Vickers has posted a driver rating of 101.3, an average running position of 11.5, 149 fastest laps run, a laps in the top 15 percentage of 76.3 and a pass differential of plus 118 (passes minus times passed).

Vickers will run 17 races this year for Braun Racing, sharing the driving duties with Burney Lamar in the No. 32 Dollar General Toyota.

Busch Brothers Had Back-to-Back Wins in Nationwide Series First

Kurt Busch visited Victory Lane in Atlanta this past weekend, giving the Busch family back-to-back wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

The performance marked the third time the Busch brothers have accomplished that feat, the first of which came in 2006, in the Nationwide Series.

Kyle was the first to win, visiting Victory Lane at Bristol Motor Speedway in March. After a week off, Kurt took the checkered flat at Texas Motor Speedway in his first career Nationwide Series start.

Kurt's win at Texas was only the fifth time a driver has registered a victory in their first start. The win also made the Busches the first brothers to win consecutive series races since Terry and Bobby Labonte did so at Atlanta and Nashville in 1996.

More Series "Rookies" — There Must Be Something in the Garage

Three Nationwide Series families have welcome new additions in the last few weeks.

Dan Deeringhoff, the 2008 driver champion crew chief for Clint Bowyer, and his wife Sandy are the proud parents of Addison Lynne, born Feb. 18 (seven pounds, five ounces).

Jami McDowell, wife of Michael, delivered son Trace Christopher on Feb. 25 (seven pounds, seven ounces).

Burney Lamar and his wife, model Niki Taylor, welcomed daughter Ciel Taylor on March 4 (seven pounds, eight ounces).

Each of the babies were the couple's firsts. Taylor, however, does have 14-year-old twin sons.

Future drivers and/or crew members in NASCAR?

Up Next—Bristol

For the first time since 1996, the Nationwide Series took consecutive weeks off. Teams will return to the track on Saturday, March 21 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The Scotts Turf Builder 300 will be broadcast on ABC, beginning with the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show at 2 PM. It's the first of four NASCAR Nationwide Series races to be broadcast on ABC.

Bowyer won last year's rain-shortened event, his only win en route to the series driver championship. Harvick, the two-time series champion, is tied with Morgan Shepherd for the most wins at Bristol (four).

Fast Facts

Next Race: Scotts Turf Builder 300
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, March 21
The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
The Distance: 159.9 miles / 300 laps
TV: ABC, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: Sirius NASCAR Radio / PRN
2008 Winner: Clint Bowyer
2008 Polesitter: Scott Wimmer (via final 2007 points; qualifying rained out)

Top 10 Driver Standings

   Driver                       Points
1 Carl Edwards                515
2 Brian Vickers                467
3 Greg Biffle                    416
4 Brendan Gaughan         407
5 Kyle Busch                  406
6 David Ragan                 387
7 Kevin Harvick                386
8 Jason Leffler                 354
9 Jason Keller                 343
10 Michael McDowell       326

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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