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XFINITY

Keselowski and Busch Exchange Fighting Words Following Kansas Wreck

By Unique Hiram (KANSAS CITY, Kan.) – Every week races are filled with high speed, strategies, unpredictable challenges, rivalries and hot tempers. Drivers are prone to have disagreements during competition and most do their best to solve their issues. However, what happens when you keep having issues with the same individual a number of times? Simply put – your patience can wear very thin.

One of those rivalries showed up in the form of Kyle Busch making contact with reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski. With 13 laps to go in the Kansas Lottery 300, these drivers were battling for second with Keselowski having the advantage. Busch was closing the gap but couldn’t get by the No. 22 in order to set sail and try to catch his teammate, eventual race winner Matt Kenseth. The two drivers made contact and Keselowski’s race car sustained heavy damage. “It was hard racing … I got too tight, got inside his wake and it just got too close to him and spun him out,” said Busch.

There were some very telling post-race comments made by both competitors about the on-track incident.

Keselowski said, “I got wrecked by a dirty driver. There is no other way of putting it. He is cool with that. I have raced him really cool over the last year to be respectful to him and try to repair our relationship. I’ve watched him wreck my trucks and cost him from winning races. He put me in the fence in Chicago, in the truck race and that Nationwide races he has been pulling this crap. It is not gonna last I can tell you that. I feel bad for the guys next to me tht are going to have to fix his stuff. That is going to be part of racing and they are going to have to deal with it.”

Kyle Busch did not mench words in his response to Keselowski’s comments. “Well, that just goes to show you the kind of person Brad Keselowski is and the class he doesn’t have. I got wrecked for the Chase spot at Watkins Glen by Brad Keselowski and then had an opportunity to wreck him a few times throughout the Chase and didn’t – let him and Jimmie (Johnson) batle it out on their own and ultimately he won the deal. If I wanted to, I could have cost Brad Keselowski a championship, but I’m a bigger person than that.”

Do you remember the childhood game “I declare war?” War has definitely been declared and a line has been drawn on the asphalt. Kyle Busch is competing in the Chase whereas Brad Keselowski is not this season. Will tempers subside by morning and cooler heads prevail before the green flag drops tomorrow?

The Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway will be broadcast on ESPN at 2:00 p.m. ET

*Video Courtesy of www.nascar.com

 

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XFINITY

Matt Kenseth Wins in Kansas

By Unique Hiram (KANSAS CITY, Kan.) – Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 18 Reser’s Toyota, claimed victory in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kansas Speedway. He crossed the start/finish line 0.952 seconds ahead of Paul Menard. This is his second victory and tenth top 10 finish this season.

In regards to being concerned about the damage to his front end, Kenseth said, “Well, I mean especially if you ask somebody that gets to work with me on a regular basis, patience is probably not my best quality. Yeah, we just had a lot of silly things go on and when that caution flew and it looked like we were about seven laps outside of our window, I knew that was the opportunity for us to get some tires on, pack some fuel in it and either hop for a caution or save a little bit until the end.”

“It all worked out, but, yeah, when I got the hole in the grille, it really affected my handling. It made the car really tight and I knew we needed to come and fix that and we had to spend the time to do it. It seemed like every time we got track position we kept getting int he back, but it all worked out in the end.”

Rounding out the top ten were Paul Menard, Regan Smith, Kyle Busch, Justin Allgaier, Austin Dillon, Parker Kligerman, Brad Sweet, Trevor Bayne and Elliott Sadler.

Race Highlights:

  • New points leader Austin Dillon, eight ahead of Sam Hornish Jr.
  • Kenseth is sixth on the all-time series wins list
  • Alex Bowman was the highest finishing rookie
  • 17 lead changes with 10 different leaders
  • 11 cautions for 50 laps which includes one competition caution, four spins, five accidents and one debris caution

For the complete unofficial finishing order, click here.

For the current points standings, click here.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series will be heading to Charlotte Motor Speedway (Oct. 11) for the Dollar General 300. It will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 7:00 p.m. ET.

 

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XFINITY

Austin Dillon Leads the Way at Kansas

Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 AdvoCare Spark Chevrolet, captured the Coors Light Pole Award at Kansas Speedway. He set a new track record speed of 184.420 in 29.281 seconds. This is his first pole at the speedway and 10th pole in 73 NASCAR Nationwide Series races.

Rounding out the top ten are Justin Allgaier (184.062), Elliott Sadler (183.530), Paul Menard (183.355), Regan Smith (183.337), Brian Scott (183.281), Parker Kligerman (183.206), Trevor Bayne (183.082), Brad Sweet (183.038) and Chris Buescher (182.989).

For the complete Coors Light Pole qualifying order, click here

The Kansas Lottery 300 will be broadcast on ESPN at 3:30 p.m. ET.

 

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XFINITY

Racing for a Cause

By Summer Bedgood – When it comes to NASCAR and charities, the combination is a match made in Heaven. Between the NASCAR Foundation, the Speedway Children’s Charities, and the various driver charities that this sport entails, there is no shortage of great causes to be found in NASCAR Nation.

However, charities related to NASCAR are not the only causes that this community supports. One cause that the sport is generally great about coming through for is breast cancer awareness. With October acting as breast cancer awareness month, the opportunity now arises for drivers and teams to help what is a cause that is close to many people’s hearts.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kansas this weekend is a great example of this. Several cars will feature pink paint schemes and wearing pink ribbons on their firesuits or cars.

For a team like JR Motorsports, though, they want to bring even more attention to the cause than that. The No. 7 Fire Alarm Services Chevrolet driven by Regan Smith and the No. 5 Great Chips Chevrolet driven by Brad Sweet will both feature pink paint schemes in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday at Kansas Speedway. As an added bonus to bring awareness to the cause, a portion of the proceeds generated by the diecasts will be donated to The National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Additionally, Parker Kligerman is running a somewhat humorous paint scheme this weekend in order to draw attention to another cause geared towards helping victims of breast cancer. Kligerman’s No. 77 Toyota is running a “Project Pink: Protect Your Pair” in association with the Kyle Busch Foundation. This organization, which is based in Raleigh, N.C., is to help insure uninsured or underinsured breast cancer patients.

Finally, Elliott Sadler, whose own mother suffered from breast cancer not very long ago, is running a special pink paint scheme on his No. 11 OneMain Financial Toyota, along with a special pink paint firesuit at Charlotte Motor Speedway next week.

However, it is not just drivers who are supporting the cause. Charlotte Motor Speedway is doing something special for breast cancer victims in the Dollar General 300 Nationwide Series race on October 11th. More than 100 breast cancer survivors along with Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers, and Sadler helped paint the pit wall and start/finish line pink for the race weekend that will also incorporate a breast cancer survivors parade filled with pink apparel, a pink and white pace car, and a pink trophy in Victory Lane.

With a disease that reaches so far and has touched so many people, the potential for assistance is almost limitless. Though NASCAR doesn’t solely contribute to the breast cancer awareness and assistance charities, it is obvious that this is something that is close to the hearts of NASCAR Nation.

As the NASCAR Nationwide Series begins to come to a close, and with only five races left in the season, there will certainly be a lot of pink on the track over the next few weeks. For those who have been touched by breast cancer, it is an important crusade that the Nationwide Series, and NASCAR as a whole, has wholly embraced.

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XFINITY

Logano Tames the Monster for Fourth Straight Time

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) DOVER, Del.—When Joey Logano sets a record, he does it in style.

Logano didn’t just win Saturday’s 5-hour Energy 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Dover International Speedway. He crushed the rest of the field in taking the checkered flag in a record four straight events at the Monster Mile.

No other driver has ever won four straight races at Dover in any of NASCAR’s top three national series, and Logano accomplished the feat decisively, finishing 14.590 seconds ahead of runner-up Kyle Larson.

Kevin Harvick ran third, more than 24 seconds back, and Brian Vickers came home fourth. Logano, Larson, Harvick and Vickers were the only drivers on the lead lap at the finish.

Arguably, Kyle Busch had the fastest car, but Busch stayed on the track under the first two cautions, both of which fell within the first 35 laps of the race. When a third caution failed to materialize, Busch was forced to pit under green on Lap 87, leaving him unable to complete the race without stopping again.

Logano, on the other hand, brought his No. 22 Ford to pit road on Lap 37, under the second caution, and made his second stop, under green, on Lap 116, on the borderline of finishing the race without another trip to pit road.

When the pit stops cycled out by Lap 124, Busch held a lead of almost 10 seconds, but Logano, on fresher tires, cut into the advantage in large chunks. On Lap 142, Logano caught and passed Busch’s No. 54 Toyota and pulled away to a lead of more than four seconds by Lap 175.

With the race still under green on Lap 176—and six other cars on the lead lap-Busch was forced to pit and dropped to 14th, one lap down. He finished eighth.

A pit road speeding penalty incurred on Lap 117 cost Sam Hornish Jr. most of his series lead. Hornish finished 17th and left Dover four points ahead of sixth-place finisher Austin Dillon, who trimmed 11 points from Hornish’s advantage entering the race.

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XFINITY

Blaney Eager to Keep Moving Through NASCAR Ranks

By Kelly Crandall – Ryan Blaney isn’t sure what his plans are for the 2014 NASCAR season and he doesn’t plan on figuring it out until the end of this year.

One thing he does know though, he wants to race as much as he can. Blaney currently runs full-time in the Camping World Truck Series for Brad Keselowski Racing, scoring his first win earlier this season. On Saturday driving the No. 22 Penske Racing Mustang in the Nationwide Series, Blaney scored his first win in 15th series start.

“I think to really progress, I’d obviously like to do more Nationwide races than I got this year. I only got about two this year,” Blaney said on Tuesday during a teleconference with the media. “I’d like to do a lot more of that, especially with how relaxed the Truck schedule is, only running 22 times a year. You have a lot of down time.”

For Blaney it’s about rhythm and with how many weeks there are between CWTS races, it’s easy to get rusty. He’s fifth in the CWTS standings after 16 races.

“Wish I had more Nationwide races to get me more experience in those cars. So that’s really what I’d like, but it’s not my decision to make,” Blaney continued. “It’s the guys over there at Penske and knowing what they can do and what they think I’m ready for. Yeah, I always like to try to move fast, but there’s a point where you’ve got to kind of sit back and stop yourself before you start moving too fast and make a mistake of jumping up too early and kind of making yourself look bad when you do that.”

His name has been mentioned numerous times over the last few weeks in terms of moving. Regardless Blaney says he’s loyal to Penske, whom he’s under contract with for the immediate future, but where that lands him is unknown. There’s potential he’ll stay in the CWTS with BKR or move possibly to the NNS in some capacity. Sam Hornish Jr. might not return as Penske has told the current point leader to look at his options. Sponsorship might force him out of the No. 12 at season’s end.

Blaney’s even been mentioned in conversation about the Sprint Cup Series and the 78 of Furniture Row. Indication of how the 19-year-old has become a popular figure since his arrival on the national series circuit. Following in father Dave’s footsteps the youngster has a laid back and calm personality and has quickly shown what he’s capable of doing behind the wheel. And things have been quickly snowballing for him since then.

“When you get some time and you’re able to sit back and kind of see what all is happening – I’ve been very fortunate to be able to get hooked up with such a great organization like Penske Racing and get to know someone like Brad and really learn from him, and with Joey Logano coming on board, really learn from Joey also and Sam Hornish too,” Blaney acknowledged.

His win on Saturday put Blaney in the company of Keselowski and Logano of those who have won in the 22 this year. As well as AJ Allmendinger who swept the road course events. And Hornish has won this season, too. While the NNS and NSCS head to Dover this weekend, Blaney is back behind the wheel of the No. 29 in the CWTS at Las Vegas, another stop on his continuing progression forward.

“I’ve been incredibly fortunate here over the past year and a half to be with such a great organization with great people around there and Mr. Penske, and Tim Cindric has really taken care of me,” said Blaney. “Just all the people that have gotten me here, I make sure they know that after every big thing that happens.

“Just really lucky to be where I am, and just keep growing in the sport, and hopefully it pays off for us here at the end.”

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XFINITY

Richmond Still a Sore Point for Brian Scott

By Summer Bedgood – Richmond was nearly three weeks ago, yet it still continues to dominate the headlines with 5-Hour ENERGY and NAPA now acting as the stars of the show. Point changes, rules rewritten, opinions, departures … it’s all too much.

And amazingly enough, it took the focus off one driver who was just as angry as everyone else. Though no race manipulation or accusations played out during the Sept. 6 Nationwide Series race, there was one call that, by NASCAR’s own admission, was butchered.

Brian Scott had led almost the entire race, an amount that would eventually even out to 239 of 250 laps. It was a pretty impressive run for a driver who normally flies well under the radar, despite the fact that he has competed full-time in NASCAR in some capacity since 2008. To say his incredibly dominant performance came as a surprise to most people would be an understatement.

Except maybe, to Scott. According to Scott, the weekend looked promising right from the get go.

“We just unloaded off the trailer and our balance was really close,” he said recently. “Our car handled and drove the way I wanted. So throughout practice, we were able to make really fine tweaks, almost like race adjustments to figure out how our car was going to respond with a little bit of this or a little bit of that, that are easy things to do during the race. And we started the race with our balance well, with the track changing and our car handling going away on the long runs, we felt like we knew exactly what we needed to do to keep up with the racetrack and keep our car dialed in.”

Still though, as Scott took the green flag for the race no one thought that he’d be able to hold off the likes of Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch, who are indomitable anytime they so much as show up at NNS race.

Where the controversy kicks in is on the last restart, where Keselowski appeared to jump ahead while lined up alongside Scott. Scott, since he was the leader, was supposed to control the restart but Keselowski got the obvious advantage on him.

Unable to get back around Keselowski in the remaining 11 laps of the race, Keselowski cruised to victory with Scott in second. Obviously none too pleased, Scott expressed his aggravation with NASCAR after the race with a controversy that seems to constantly rear its ugly head across all three series.

Scott has since changed his tone about the incident though, following a conversation with NASCAR about what happened. Perhaps because NASCAR admitted that they were wrong.

“The way it was represented to me was that it was referred to as a ball and strike call like they make in baseball,” Scott said, recalling the conversation. “And they called it a ball and after they had ample to review all the video and everything, the race was over, they agreed with our assessment on they got the call wrong.”

So why not give the win to Scott and penalize Keselowski? After all, if NASCAR says he jumped the restart, maybe he shouldn’t benefit from that jump by going to Victory Lane.

“I don’t feel like that’s the right course of action,” said Scott. “Once the checkered flag falls, I feel like the fans deserve to leave the racetrack knowing who won the race. I feel like they do review their procedures, especially with calls on exactly how they are going to enforce them and when they’re gonna make decisions. There’s a lot of times that there’s restarts with a lot less than 10 laps to go, which I think is what ours was, and they felt like they couldn’t review it and make the right decision within 10 laps. So in the future of restarts towards the end of the race, I hope that they can figure out a way to make sure they get the calls right.”

Though they would again falter on a call the following evening, NASCAR would later change the rule to say the leader no longer has to make it to the line first. If the second place driver beats the first place driver to the line, then so be it.

However for Scott, that wasn’t the issue and the solution isn’t necessarily meaningful unless something changes.

“It doesn’t matter what they put in the rulebook,” he said. “If it’s not enforced or it’s enforced in different ways than it’s wrote or it’s intended, that’s all that really matters. It doesn’t really matter how it’s wrote. It just matters which rules are enforced and which ones aren’t.”

In this case, it doesn’t appear that NASCAR enforced them correctly, though Scott has said that he feels like he has a better understanding of what NASCAR is looking for on the restarts.

“When people watch the race and when they know what’s going on, they see how NASCAR reacts or doesn’t react, I think it gives everybody a better clarity with the rules and enforcement of them,” he said.

It’s hard to imagine, though, that Scott and his race team don’t look back at Richmond and feel some frustration. Not only were they close to winning their first race of the season, and Scott’s first career NNS win, but he was close to having a perfect race by leading every lap.

But if NASCAR admits that they made the wrong call, would he do anything differently?

“If I were to go back and do it again, naturally I would try to do something different,” Scott said. “I would try to have the final two restarts go more in my favor. And who knows? NASCAR did say they got the call wrong. I would hope in that same situation, if it was us again that they would get it right the next time.”

Since that race, the series has raced at Chicago and Kentucky, where he finished 19th and fourth, respectively. Though Scott admitted that Chicago was surprisingly unproductive following such a dominant weekend, he has his eye on the prize for the rest of the year.

“I feel like this race team right now, especially with how we’re meshing and how we’re communicating, if you throw Chicago out of it, there’s been a lot of good weekends, and this race team, I think, really showed its strength and its potential at Richmond,” he said. “And I feel like any of the races that we have, starting with Kentucky all the way to the end of the year, we’re capable of doing that same type of thing if we can just hit on everything just right.”

As far as Richmond, the team has since moved on. Of course, every driver after a tough race says they’ve moved on and are focused on the future, but Scott doesn’t deny that Richmond is still a race this team thinks about.

“When I say we’re moving on, I’m not saying we’re forgetting Richmond,” he said emphatically. “I’m saying that we’re choosing to not hold our heads down or to continue to fly the flag of ‘we got screwed up on a call’ or things got messed up and it’s everybody else’s fault but ours and all of that. I’m saying we’re moving on. We’re focusing on how to be more dominant week in and week out, and have those Richmond type races and focus on getting that hardware from the next week and the next week and the next week.”

This weekend, the NNS heads to Dover International Speedway where Scott has one top five, three top 10s, and an average finish of 12th over the course of seven starts. If no one took notice of Scott before, they sure do now. If you listen to him talk, you should definitely continue to watch that team from 2013 and into next season.

“When we go into 2014, I’m sure we’re going to be a stronger, better, more competitive race team than we were in 2013,” he said.

“I feel like the top five [in points] is easily achievable,” he added. “I think that if we can really capitalize and be strong and just put together a lot of top five finishes between now and the end of the year, that even a championship run isn’t out of the question.”

Seventh in points, 79 points out of the lead sure does sound like a long road to hoe. But if Richmond is any indication, this team sure does have a lot of horsepower up their sleeve. Or, more appropriately, under the hood.

EMAIL SUMMER AT summer.bedgood@popularspeed.com

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XFINITY

Blaney’s Victory Popular Among Fans

By Summer Bedgood – Saturday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway left little to be desired for those fans who tune into races for wrecks. Cautions slowed the field a total of nine times for 44 laps, which felt like a lot for a race that was only 200 laps. Attribute that to no Sprint Cup Series drivers in the field or racing under the night sky, wrecks were a big part of the night.

Speaking of those no Sprint Cup Series drivers, though, you would think a Nationwide Series regular would finally get to Victory Lane, right? It’s not as if there would be any other possibilities now that all of those pesky Sprint Cup Series regulars were busy in New Hampshire.

However, that assumption would not be right. A Nationwide Series driver was not in Victory Lane at the night’s end.

It would be, in fact, a Camping World Truck Series regular and, more specifically, Ryan Blaney. 19-year-old Blaney drove the No. 22 to Victory Lane for his first career victory and the fourth time for the No. 22 team. The No. 22 team has won with four drivers this season: Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and A.J. Allmendinger.

Blaney’s win at Kentucky was a popular one, though. There was no resistance met by the fans, no complaining that there wasn’t a Nationwide Series driver in Victory Lane, and no assertions that this crossing across series lanes was wrong in any way shape or form.

Blaney was hardly the only non-Nationwide Series driver in the field. Matt Crafton, Jeb Burton, Dakoda Armstrong, and Joey Coulter were also in the race, all of whom are NCWTS regulars. With an off week for the Trucks, it was fair game for any of those drivers to get behind the wheel of any ride they could get a hold of.

They all did pretty well, too. Blaney, of course, went to Victory Lane. Crafton finished third, Burton was eighth, Armstrong was 13th, and Coulter wound up 18th.

Now, say that it was Kyle Busch who won, Logano who finished third, Kevin Harvick eighth, Keselowski 13th, and Matt Kenseth in 18th.

Does that change things?

Though the points distribution to the Nationwide Series regulars would be absolutely no different, the reaction from fans when those names are reversed is usually more hostile. Gone is the feel good story of Blaney and instead are a bunch of rabid tweeters wreaking havoc on NASCAR’s problem because of this oh so prevalent problem. Though no Nationwide Series regulars were in Victory Lane this year, the 23rd of 27 races this season where that was the case, there wasn’t the same visceral reaction there is when one of the more successful NSCS drivers decides to give it a whirl.

There is no doubt that Blaney deserved that win and there will likely be more to come. However, had he come down from the Cup Series, would people be as happy about his win?

Probably not, but who says consistency is a strong point for either NASCAR or its fans?

For now, Blaney is busy celebrating what is sure to be the first of many more wins. Watch for either of his NSCS teammates to do the same later this year.

 

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XFINITY

Herring Returns to Nationwide Action

By Summer Bedgood – An unfamiliar and unheralded name in the sport returns to the seat this weekend at Kentucky Speedway for the NASCAR Nationwide Series for Joe Gibbs Racing, and one has to wonder what the guy has to do to get some attention.

26-year-old Drew Herring returns to the seat of the No. 54 Toyota for his fourth race of the season and second at the mile-and-a-half track. Herring has been in the No. 54 twice this year and once in the 18, with an average finish of 17.7.

Here’s why you should care about Herring. He’s actually a relatively good driver for someone who has been in a NASCAR stock car so few times. This year alone in his three starts, Herring has finished 11th, sixth, and 36th, though that 36th was a result of crash and didn’t reflect Herring’s racing ability. He had run in the top 10 during parts of the night at Bristol and was in no way a back-runner.

During the last race at Iowa in early August, Herring even won the pole and led 26 laps before that 11th place run.

The strange thing about Herring is that he only has 12 starts in his entire Nationwide Series career, beginning in 2010. The only other NASCAR national series he has competed in is the Camping World Truck Series, with one start at Iowa in 2012 for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He finished seventh.

In those 12 career NNS starts, Herring has one top five, four top 10s, and an average finish of 17th.

So who is Herring? Digging back even further to his career, his professional stock car appearances still seem to be far and few between considering Joe Gibbs’ Racing’s interest in him. He only still has two ARCA Racing Series starts and neither finish was inside the top 15.

However, this driver is no slouch. In 2008, Herring ran all but five races in the X-1R Pro Cup Series, with two top fives and seven top 10s and earning rookie of the year honors. In 2009, he ran the full schedule, earning one win, seven top fives, and nine top 10s in 14 races, finishing third in the championship standings and fifth in the overall driver standings.

Still, this ride doesn’t come without pressure. Herring’s ride in the No. 54 comes into Kentucky with ten trips to Victory Lane in 26 races, all of them with Kyle Busch behind the wheel. Owen Kelly has also been in the car twice this year—at the road courses at Road America and Mid-Ohio—and has finished fourth and 23rd, respectively. Joey Coulter, the only other driver to drive the 54 car, finished 21st in his one start.

For Herring, there are no excuses. He is driving with arguably the best team in the Nationwide Series and is expected to perform with this opportunity.

So far, he has, though this weekend will represent a challenge that Herring has rarely faced in his career. Herring has only twice raced at tracks over a mile in his career: once at Kansas and once in Kentucky. He finished 28th at Kansas in 2010 and fourth at Kentucky last year.

Though Herring is not yet a superstar, he has shown huge potential in his limited experience. While you’re watching the race in Kentucky this Saturday night, keep an eye on Herring. You might just be surprised at what you see.

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XFINITY

Championship Hopes Fade Following Chicagoland

By Summer Bedgood – Elliott Sadler came into the weekend needing a good run in order to get back into championship contention in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Sadler came into the Chicago weekend 28 points behind points leader Sam Hornish Jr., and was quickly losing site of the points lead with the number of races winding down on the schedule.

It wasn’t to be. As Sadler began to head to pit road for a green flag pitstop with around 40 to go, he slowed his No. 11 Toyota as he exited turn four and drove closer to the entrance to pit road. As he slowed, Sadler says he stuck his hand out the window, but it appears that Brett Butler didn’t see him because he ran right into the back of Sadler. Sadler, as a result, sustained heavy rear end damage as a result. Though Sadler would finish the race, he would do so in the 19th position one lap down.

“I had my hands stuck way out the window, and I wear white gloves so you can seem them,” said Sadler. “I don’t even know who drives the 24 this week. They just run in the back of us and tore our car all to pieces and put us in a hole.”

Indeed. Though Sadler didn’t lose any actual positions in the standings, he went from 28 points out to 44. Though it is not an insurmountable amount, especially with seven races still left to play out, there will have to be some bad luck from Hornish as well as second place Austin Dillon for Sadler to have a legitimate shot at the championship.

If Chicago was any indication, though, it doesn’t look like that will happen. Both Dillon and Hornish were outrunning Sadler leaps and bounds on Saturday, with Hornish running in the top three for most of the race. Dillon wasn’t usually far behind, and finished fourth with Hornish right in front of him at third.

In fact, both Hornish and Dillon have outrun Sadler for most of this season, with Hornish having an average finish of 9.2, Dillon with an average finish of 9.8, and Sadler with an average finish of 10.6. Though he is not far off of either driver by any means, it is the recent loss of momentum that has worked to Sadler’s detriment. Neither Dillon nor Hornish have finished worse than 12th in the last four races. Meanwhile, Sadler has finished outside of the top 15 twice in the last four events.

And what about Regan Smith? The third place driver has a role in this, too, and even he finished a measly 13th. With a 36 point gap between himself and the leader, his standing in this series championship is no better than Sadler’s.

With just a handful of races left, it appears that Dillon and Hornish are making this a two man race, and it will take a resurgence in consistency from both Sadler and Smith to change.

E-MAIL SUMMER AT summer.bedgood@popularspeed.com

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