The season is winding down and the obvious statement is the Nationwide champion will be Kyle Busch if he doesn’t have a complete collapse in the final races.
Nothing though is guaranteed in racing so until the checkered flag at Homestead, nothing is determined. Following the last off weekend of the season, the series heads to Dover.
Check out the winners and losers.
This deal with Clint Bowyer's driving this weekend wasn’t decided until earlier this week. This team hadn’t won since July at Daytona and they admittedly had fallen behind since that win. They picked Bowyer and quite frankly he is their best driver for that team right now.
Bowyer had an early qualifying run he started 16th. It was only because of his starting position that he was not leading sooner.
Bowyer was in the top five before half way and was cutting into Busch lead, but still needed a caution to challenge Busch for the lead.
He was in the best car in the second half of the race and put on a show.
I was not surprised to see Bowyer not in the car more in recent months, with focus on the Chase in the Sprint Cup series. In case you forgot, Bowyer is the defending series champion, but decided to focus on the Sprint Cup championship instead.
Whenever he runs in the Nationwide series he is a contender, no matter how many weeks in between.
Well, if you are looking for a veteran driver who can run in the top 10, and given good equipment contend, then Mike Bliss might be the driver you are looking for. Bliss who has been able to maintain his position in the standings in the top 10 had a great run going today.
He was released from his contract with James Finch early this summer. Oddly, he has been driving Finch owned cars in recent months.
Bliss had a great car on Saturday and he backed that up with a solid qualifying run of third. When the green flag waved, Bliss was battling in the top five for most of the race.
Bliss said they had a solid car and expected to contend for a win on Saturday. After slipping back on the final restart of the race, Bliss quickly rebounded and moved forward passing Kyle Busch for second and set sail for Bowyer.
With teams racing the rain more than each other, solid pit stops and track position important to have a chance at winning this race. Bliss and his team were able to accomplish both and were challenging for a win.
They finished second on Saturday.
With many drivers scrambling for rides, including Bliss having runs like this only help his search for a ride.
Before the race, it didn’t seem like a top-15 run would even be a possibility for Michael Annett. They started last after having to go to a backup car, after wrecking coming to the green for qualifying. Even so they quickly moved through the field.
Before the first caution most of the field was a lap down Annett and his team continued to relay information to each other on what the car was doing. Annett ended up one lap down, but had a good race car and was able to capitalize on the cautions.
Annett was able to make good adjustments on the car and got his lap back and moved forward. He finished 13th. This was just the type of run he needed, after struggling at Richmond with a 25th place finish.
Annett though did a great job of giving feedback to his team and working to stay on the lead lap.
TV didn’t give him much credit or coverage for his run but as a strictly Nationwide series driver he had a good day.
I picked Justin Allgaier for the win today; I thought he would be a factor today. He has had some success on concrete tracks this year. Well things did not go as planned on Saturday.
A long green run had Allgaier getting lapped early and really his day was over from there.
The first round of pit stops was under green, and Allgaier stayed out as long as possible to catch a caution. They stayed out just a bit too long, and when they tried to re-fire the car, there was no pickup.
They lost multiple laps on pit road when the team was forced to push the car three stalls to get it re-fired. After numerous attempts and a penalty for pushing his car too far down pit road Allagier was six laps down.
They ended up finishing 25th.
Allgaier is not battling for a championship, but he is battling for a top five finish in the championship standings. Finishing in the top five is crucial as only the top five in the series go to the banquet. This finish knocked him out of the top five.
Allgaier has a handful of races left to get back into the top five, just can’t afford no more mistakes.
Matt Kenseth had a lot of hope for this race starting just outside the top 10 in 11th. Kenseth was driving today, but would not be driving the next two races. He will be back in this ride for the remaining races.
Kenseth was moving forward early he had a decent car, but was struggling as the run went on. After the green flag pit stop he was moving forward again, but the quick fall off of the tires meant getting as many positions as possible.
After a pit stop under caution they made an adjustment for a loose race car. He was battling Ryan Newman for position when the two got together. Newman went hard into the wall; Kenseth was forced to pit to repair damage to the car.
They were never able to recover and finished they finished 11th but he should have had a better finish.
I am not even sure what happened to this team. They started the year very strongly and were contenders each week. Then one bad race for Brendan Gaughan a combination of accidents and poor handling cars he has quickly became an afterthought.
So much so that owner Rusty Wallace changed his crew chief hoping to change the momentum for this team. Well, on Saturday it didn’t get any better. Gaughan was forced to make an early pit stop and was lapped. He finished 19th with two laps off the pace.
RWR wants to be a championship-contending organization they need to minimize the mistakes by each driver. The crews need to improve the race cars during the race so they are there at the end.
It seems that the post race incident between Brad Keselowski‘s team and Denny Hamlin that became the story. The day though started off a bit rough for the driver and his crew.
While Busch was pulling away Keselowski and his team gambled and tried to catch a caution during green flag pit stops.
Keselowski though had to stop under green but sped on pit road. He was forced to serve a penalty under green and went a lap down.
Soon after a caution came out and Keselowski and his team stayed out while everyone else pitted. He got his lap back and from then on marched through the field.
Keselowski and Denny Hamlin were battling for position when he tagged Hamlin’s bumper and sent Hamlin into inside wall. Keselowski finished third and gained little ground on the championship leader.
For all purpose the Nationwide championship is Busch’s to lose. But that doesn’t mean the racing isn’t good. There were some great battles throughout the field today even though there were not many battles for the lead.
The coverage was good today; better than the last couple weeks. ESPN did a good job covering the field and keeping us aware of the action going on around the track.
I like the Nationwide series—I think it gives many drivers a opportunity to show what they can do. The cost though to run a team and travel hurts this series and with sponsors dropping each week, this series needs a lifeline.
Cutting crew guys and testing helps but there has to be some influx of revenue to the struggling teams.
As many of you know not a fan of “start and parks” but I understand the reasoning behind it, they are trying to survive race to race. NASCAR needs to step in and do something or next year the field will not even have “start and parks” they just won’t show up.
Next week they head to Kansas.