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Nationwide Gateway race preview

by Dave Grayson
Friday, July 17, 2009


The hideous looking bastardized noses of the Nationwide cars will be no more in a year or so.
NASCAR's Nationwide Series gets a rare opportunity to rise to the forefront of the racing schedule this weekend. With the Sprint Cup Series taking the weekend off, the Nationwide teams will be the focal point this Saturday during the running of the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250, presented by Ventrico, held at Gateway International Raceway in St Louis.


A lot of observers will be paying attention to young Brad Coleman, the young development driver from Joe Gibbs Racing-JGR. That's because he will be making his third series start driving the team's famed #20 Toyota. This car has been piloted in the past by Joey Logano who has already won three races for JGR this season. Coleman's last appearance in this car was back on June 20th,at the Milwaukee Mile, where he finished 24th. However many will tell you that this finish was somewhat misleading because he actually led 35 laps of the race. But you've got to believe that the pressure will be felt by the young driver on Saturday.


Saturday's Nationwide Series race will be the first for the new technical alliance recently formed between RWI, Rusty Wallace Inc, and KHI, Kevin Harvick Inc. Steve Wallace, RWI driver of the #66 Chevrolet, will be campaigning a car this Saturday that was built by KHI. The new alliance also calls for the teams to share technical data and general racing information.

Meanwhile RWI is reported to be examining manufacturer options for the 2010 season. Like many of the Chevrolet teams, there is concern regarding General Motors' state of bankruptcy and whether or not they will be able to continue financial support of their racing teams. RWI began their operation with Dodge and then switched to General Motors back in 2007.

KHI spent last Thursday afternoon delivering a tasty surprise to a local St Louis area business on behalf of one of their sponsors: Jimmy John's Sandwiches. Kevin Harvick himself delivered lunch, prizes and race tickets to the promotion winner. The extra surprise was the delivery van which turned out to be Harvick's #33 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet.


Reed Sorenson will be making a return to the Nationwide Series at Gateway this Saturday and will be driving the #32 Dollar General Chevrolet. This is part of the recently initiated Nationwide Series alliance between Braun Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports-RPM. The alliance calls for five races with RPM drivers Elliot Sadler, Kasey Kahne and Sorenson. Sorenson is the perfect choice for the ride this Saturday. He's a two time Nationwide Series winner at Gateway International Raceway.


Carl Edwards will be arriving at the Gateway International Raceway Saturday via one of his favorite sources of transportation: his bicycle. Edwards and friends will be presenting the annual bike ride from his home town of Columbia-MO to St Louis. The first 15 miles, of the 190 mile trip, will be a pledge fundraiser for a friend of Edwards' who sadly was paralyzed following a biking accident.


From the intense heat, expected in the St Louis area this weekend, comes the idea for the second annual water balloon toss featuring eight teams of drivers and media members. Last year's event ended in a tie between the teams of Jason Keller/Lee Montgomery,("NASCAR Scene"), and Landon Kassil/Kyle Rickey from the "Motor Racing Network." A $100 check, on behalf of the winning team, will be donated to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, the recreational facility established by the Petty family for seriously ill children.



The Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250, presented by Ventrico, is 200 laps around the Gateway International Raceway's 1.25 mile oval. The first ever Nationwide Series race was held there back in 1997.

The race has 49 official entries. Only four of the entries are full time Sprint Cup drivers. They include Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards, who are running both series full time. Busch lead he Nationwide Series standings going into Saturday's race and holds a 192 point lead over Edwards. Cup drivers Kevin Harvick and Reed Sorenson are also entered in this race.

Of the 49 entries, 18 are on the "go or go home" list meaning they are not automatically guaranteed a starting berth because they are not within the top 30 in the Nationwide Series' owners points. From that group of 18, six of the teams will have to pack up and go home meaning Saturday afternoon's qualifying session is going to be very intense.

Carl Edwards is the defending race champion and is also a two time winner at this speedway. Other two time winners at Gateway include Kevin Harvick and Reed Sorenson. Dale Earnhardt Jr is a four time winner there. He will not be participating in Saturday's race but will be represented as a team owner. Brad Keselowski will be driving his #88 Chevrolet.

Currently one of the tightest competitions in the Nationwide Series is for the Raybestos Rookie Of The Year title. Justin Allgaier, representing Roger Penske Racing, is holding a slim eight point lead over Brendan Gaughan from Rusty Wallace Inc. Both drivers are having very consistent seasons and currently are ranked sixth and eighth in the championship point standings.

In the series' manufacturer's standings, Toyota holds the lead with 125 points followed by Chevrolet-112, Ford-102 and Dodge-57.

The ESPN2 Network will be providing the fans with plenty of live television coverage from Gateway International Raceway beginning with Nationwide Series practice on Friday beginning at 9pm eastern. Qualifying will be held Saturday afternoon at 5pm eastern. The pre race show will begin Saturday evening at 9 pm eastern.

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