Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Notes from the NASCAR Nation: It's Rise and Shine Time for The Nationwide Series
by Dave Grayson
NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series will be taking this weekend off. That means it's a golden opportunity for the NASCAR Nationwide Series to rise and shine to a well deserved center stage status by racing on a Sunday in the STP 300 at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet-Illinois.
There's two highly interesting story lines attached to Sunday's race that features the series' championship points picture and the series' very lucrative Dash 4 Cash Program.
The Nationwide Series' championship points profile is a tale of two drivers and one team owner. Richard Childress owns the teams driven by Elliot Sadler and Austin Dillon. One has to think Childress is thrilled over the prospect of his two drivers being rated one-two in the points. But, at the same time, one has to wonder if Childress isn't just slightly apprehensive over the fact his two drivers are only separated by three points and the Chicagoland race could turn out to be an intense battle of supremacy between his two teams.
However both of the Childress teams will have to keep a watchful eye on the points progress of Roush Fenway Racing's Ricky Stenhouse Jr who is only 16 points from the lead. Also, a resurgence from Penske Racing's Sam Hornish Jr, who is fourth in the standings and 32 points away, could make the Nationwide Series championship run even more interesting.
The same four drivers, involved in the series' championship profile, also has another very special reason to drive a little harder during Sunday's STP 300 at Chicagoland. In fact, they have 100 thousand reasons to push the limits. Sunday's race is round two of the Nationwide Insurance Dash 4 Cash Program. The quartet of Dillon, Sadler, Stenhouse and Hornish are the four drivers on the round two eligibility list. The highest finisher among them goes home with the program's $100,000 bonus. Ask Austin Dillon how wonderful that is: he won the bonus last week at New Hampshire.
THE RACE BREAKDOWN
The STP 300 is 200 laps/300 miles around the Chicagoland Speedway located in Joliet, Illinois.
The race has 43 entries vying for the 43 starting berths. That means the go or go home, knock out qualifying, concept will not apply here and all teams entered will get to race.
The speedway is a 1.5 mile, D shaped, tri oval often referred to on the NASCAR circuit as a "cookie cutter" track. The four turns are banked at 18 degrees each. The speedway has grandstand seating for 75,000 fans.
Fuel mileage could very likely play a major role in the outcome of the STP 300. Last year's race winner, Justin Allgaier, literally coasted under the checkers with no fuel in the tank.
The STP 300 will be broadcast live by the ESPN Network beginning at 2 pm eastern time.