NASCAR Kansas Nationwide Preview
The elite teams, along with the not so elite, from NASCAR's Nationwide Series will take center stage, at the beautiful Kansas Speedway's 1.5 mile quad oval, Saturday afternoon for the running of the Kansas Lottery 300.
SOME PRE RACE NOTES OF INTEREST
Keep a close watch on the Nationwide Series debut of rookie driver Parker Klingerman. There's a lot more than just another youngster looking to launch a NASCAR career going on with this effort. This is the latest phase of veteran NASCAR team owner Roger Penske paving the road to his organization's racing future.
Penske just signed future up and comer Brad Keselowski to become Kurt Busch's team mate in the Sprint Cup Series. Keselowski will also play a large role in Penske Nationwide Series efforts in 2010 as well.
The rookie season of Penske's Nationwide Series driver Justin Allgaier has already exceeded normal expectations. Allgaier is currently sixth, and very close to fifth, in the championship standings and has an excellent chance of delivering a Rookie Of The Year title to Penske Racing.
Now add Parker Klingerman to all of this racing potential. The 19 year old driver, from Westport-Connecticut, is currently driving in the ARCA ReMax Series for Penske this year. If you've been watching the ARCA Series at all, and believe me it's well worth your weekend television time, then you're already familiar with Klingerman. The young driver is second in the ARCA points standings with a solid chance at winning the championship just like his brand new NASCAR team mate Allgaier did last year.
The Kansas race will be the first of two Nationwide Series events on Klingerman's schedule. Again, keep an eye on this young driver he's going to be a big part of the future for Penske Racing
Also keep an eye out for the presence of Reed Sorenson in this race who will be driving the #10 Toyota for Braun Racing.
Sorenson has been driving the #43 Dodge for Richard Petty Motorsports this year in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series this season. However the potential merger between RPM and Yates Racing has put Sorenson in the position of being the odd man out and he will not be returning to that ride in 2010. In recent days it was revealed that Sorenson has been driving the Petty Dodge salary free. This move was said to be an effort to keep his presence in the NASCAR spotlight while seeking another ride for next year.
One of Sorenson's options has been reported to be a Nationwide Series ride with Braun Racing next year. No deal has been signed yet so that means Sorenson's presence in the Braun Toyota on Saturday could turn out to be the audition of a NASCAR life time.
Not to be overlooked in Saturday's Nationwide Series race will be the presence of Sprint Cup driver Clint Bowyer who won the series' race in Dover last week for Richard Childress Racing. Bowyer has nine Nationwide Series starts this season in the #29 Holiday Inn Express Chevrolet. He's won two of them and has a Nationwide Series average finish ratio of 8.6.
But there's another important reason why Bowyer wants to win Saturday's race. His home town of Emporia-Kansas is approximately 100 miles away and he now considers the Kansas Speedway as his home track. Look for a lot of Bowyer fans in the stands Saturday.
While the top ten in points will be honored at the Nationwide Series awards banquet in December, only the top five will get stage time during the live television broadcast of the ceremony. This is a huge opportunity for drivers to say thank you to the sponsors who helped them get to that stage as well as an opportunity to perhaps entice new sponsors to join their teams.
The battle for fifth in the Nationwide standings has been more intense than who's on top of the points list. Steve Wallace, driver of the #66 U.S. Fidelis Chevrolet for Rusty Wallace Racing currently holds the fifth place. But Wallace only has a 19 point lead over Justin Allgaier, driver of the #12 Verizon Wireless Dodge for Penske Racing. This will be one of the big story lines to follow during the Kansas race.
So will the Raybestos Rookie Of The Year standings because that also involves the Penske and Wallace racing organizations. Penske's Justin Allgaier goes into Saturday with a 16 point lead over Wallace's Brendan Gaughan.
The honor of being the best in the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series' freshman class is huge for any racing organization. It could also strengthen the chances of acquiring additional sponsorship for future races.
THE RACE BREAKDOWN.
The Kansas Lottery 300 is 200 laps-300 miles around the Kansas Speedway's 1.5 mile quad oval.
The race has a very healthy 53 entries vying for the 43 starting position so qualifying could become a very intense affair. A whopping 22 of those entries are on the "go or go home" list meaning they do not have a guaranteed start in the race because they are outside of the Nationwide Series' top 30 in owner's points. 11 of the race entries are teams from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series who are often referred to as "Insurance Whackers." (Seriously, we have to come up with a new name for these guys).
Chevrolet has three wins at Kansas. But Toyota, based on the performances of Joe Gibbs Racing, continues to lead the series' manufacturer's standings with 187 points. However Clint Bowyer's win at Dover last week has helped second place Chevrolet trim that lead to a mere 11 points. Ford is in third with 166 points followed by Dodge at 87.
THE TELEVISION BREAKDOWN (ALL TIMES ARE EASTERN)
Friday. 3 pm. Nationwide Series practice. ESPN2
Friday. 6 pm. Final "happy hour" practice. ESPN2
Saturday. 10 am. Qualifying. Speed
Saturday. 3 pm. Kansas Lottery 300. ESPN2
Sunday. 130 am. race re broadcast. ESPN2
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