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Who's Where for 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series: Sadler, Patrick, Edwards, Etc.

Russell SchmidtContributor IJanuary 23, 2011

Aric Almirola speaks with fellow Nationwide driver Danica Patrick during the final race of the 2010 season as Patrick's crew cheif Tony Eury Jr looks on.
Aric Almirola speaks with fellow Nationwide driver Danica Patrick during the final race of the 2010 season as Patrick's crew cheif Tony Eury Jr looks on.Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

Racin’ with Russ

After spending six weeks discussing who’s where among the 2011 NASCAR Cup scene, here is a one shot brief synopsis of the Nationwide side. There are lots of changes and a new points rule set up, so look closely.

No.’s 01, 05 & 09 - Mike Wallace, Willie Allen and Kenny Wallace respectively will pilot these Nat rides for 2011. I bunched them together for several reasons, but mostly because their prior and future performances should only result in middle-of-the-pack results. The Wallace boys need to think about hanging it up.

No. 2 - Ex-Cupper Elliott Sadler has been tapped to drive this KHI Nat ride full-time with Citifinancial as the backer of this rapid Chevy. Some people say this car will wind up at the top of the heap by season’s end. While I feel there are some wins in store, a title won’t happen.

No. 6 - Ricky Stenhouse returns to this Roush-Fenway ride with his best shot yet at a full-season top shelf result.

No. 7 - Danica Patrick is slated for 11 races this year with GoDaddy as the major backer under the JR Motorsports banner. Look for Josh Wise among others to fill in the gaps. Results for Manica? More of the same laps down, sub-25th place runs.

No.’s 10, 11 & 12 - Ex-motocrosser Ricky Carmichael and Sam Hornish Jr will wheel the No.'s 10 & 12 respectively this year on a part-time basis. Carmichael continues to show improvement and Hornish is down to showing what he can do here before hanging up his taxi-cab helmet. Brian Scott was recently hired by Gibb Racing to drive the No.11 on a full-time basis with the rest of the details up in the air. He should run well however, especially with some of the top shelf stuff out there.

No. 16 - Trevor Bayne is set to drive this Roush-Fenway ride full-time and I’d expect several top 10’s and don’t rule out a win or two.

No. 18 - Kyle Busch and Michael McDowell will share this Gibbs ride for most of the season. Checkered flags for this car are almost a given.

No. 20 - Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin will also share this Gibbs ride and checkers are more than likely in their future as well.

No. 22 - Reigning Nat Champ Brad Keselowski returns to this Dodge ride with wins on his mind, but will have to leave the idea of a repeat title behind as drivers will have to choose what series titles they will contend for.

No.’s 31 & 32 - Justin Allgaier and Reed Sorenson have the driving duties for these two Turner Motorsports Toyotas. Both are full-time with Mark Martin picking up a couple of dates in the No. 32. All around good driver combos are here with good results expected.

No. 33 - Team owner/driver Kevin Harvick will campaign this Chevy full-time with the help of Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard and Austin Dillon splitting up the driving duties. Yet another car quite capable of pulling into the winner’s circle by day’s end.

No. 38 - Jason Leffler and Kasey Kahne will combine driving talents in this Turner Toyota. Top 10’s and possibly wins are in their future.

No. 60 - Carl Edwards will contend a full-season in this Roush-Fenway Ford and why not? His numerous wins and single title make him a threat on any given Saturday.

No.’s 62 & 66 - These two Rusty Wallace Racing Toyotas will be driven by Michael Annett and Steven Wallace. There are possibilities for good results here as long as Steven keeps the wrecks to a minimum.

No. 88 - Aric Almirola will pilot this JR Motorsports Chevy full-time with TaxSlayer and Unilever as the major backers. This talented young man can and will get the job done.

No. 99 - Motocross and X-Games star Travis Pastrana will make his NASCAR Nat series debut mid-season under the Michael Waltrip Toyota tent in this ride. Boost Mobile is the major backer and I look for this talented biker to wind up with better stats than Manica during his first outings.

Note: I have not listed every single driver on the 2011 roster, but hit the highlights.

From Rumorville - New NASCAR points system? There are numerous reports indicating NASCAR is finally about to change their overall points system that dates back to 1975. Instead of the complicated 180 points to win, then five less each spot until they reach three points less, etc; it may be a very simple 43 points for a win, then one point less as the spots wind down.

Throw in a point to lead a lap, the most laps and perhaps three points extra for a win and it sounds like a much more fan friendly system for all to understand. What do you think? Drop me a line.

That’s it for this week. Next week’s RWR will review the results of the Rolex 24 race run at Daytona along with more racing news from around the globe.

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