NASCAR’s Nationwide Series will be taking on the Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 1.5 mile oval for Friday night’s Dollar General 300. This race will feature the series’ new Car of Tomorrow, (COT) making its fourth and final appearance of the season. Meanwhile series teams will searching for a way to slow down the domination of Joe Gibbs Racing and Danica Patrick continues her Indy Car to NASCAR transition.
THE STORY BREAKDOWN
The Nationwide Series COT will be making its final appearance for the 2010 season Friday night following three previous races that netted the new car high praise from the drivers, team owners, officials and the fans. This car was, of course, about placing modern day driver safety innovations, developed by the Sprint Cup COT cars, into the Nationwide vehicles.
But a bonus came from the invention of this new Nationwide Series COT. From the very beginning the new car was very fast and very drivable and that translated to very close and exciting racing. The new car was gradually integrated into the Nationwide Series this year via four carefully picked races to allow for any fine tuning that may have been needed. The new COT will race the series full time in 2011 beginning in February.
There’s only one more change that would make this COT program complete: Chevrolet caves in to the wishes of the Nationwide Series fans and puts their hot looking Camaro on the race track.
If you had to use one word to describe the Nationwide Series performance of Joe Gibbs Racing and Kyle Busch awesome would be a good choice. So far in 2010 their #18 team has amassed 12 wins, 20 top five finishes and 22 top ten finishes. The Charlotte Motor Speedway is yet another stopping point that has felt the Kyle Busch domination. In 14 previous starts there he has a series high six wins and has won at Charlotte four times in his last five starts.
Busch is third in the series’ points standings but that’s only because he’s not running the full schedule this year. However, his efforts have placed Joe Gibbs Racing on top of the coveted owner’s points championship. Going into Friday night’s race, JGR holds a 149 point advantage over Jodi Geshickter the owner of record for the Penske Racing Dodge driven by Brad Keselowski.
It’s hard to imagine that such a prolific team owner as Roger Penske has never won a championship in a NASCAR national touring series. This is especially true in light of the accomplishments he has enjoyed in other forms of racing.
But it looks like the elusive NASCAR championship is finally coming his way. His Nationwide Series team, led by driver Brad Keselowski, is coming into the Charlotte race with a 384 point lead over season rival Carl Edwards.
With five races left in the season, it appears that it’s time to notify the official engraver of NASCAR to start the engraving process on the championship trophy. He may need the extra time to figure out how to space all those letters in the driver’s name.
Danica Patrick will be continuing her transition from Indy car to NASCAR this Friday night. She will once again be participating in the NASCAR learning curve behind the wheel of the #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. She will also be making her first ever start at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Patrick looked strong during the Nationwide Series race last Saturday at the Auto Club Speedway. She practiced and qualified well there. She was also well on her way to achieving her pre race goal of a top 15 finish before she got caught up in a late race crash not of her making with only seven laps left. Her 30th place finish in California is no where indicative of the job she did before the crash.
THE RACE BREAKDOWN
The Dollar General 300 is 200 laps/300 miles around the Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 1.5 mile quad oval.
The race has 45 entries vying for the 43 starting berths.
14 of those entries are double duty drivers or those who also compete full time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
15 entries are on the go or go home list meaning they are not guaranteed a starting berth in the race because they are currently outside of the top 30 in NASCAR Nationwide Series owner’s points. These teams will have to earn a berth in the race based on their qualifying speeds.
The Dollar General 300 will be broadcast live by the ESPN2 Network beginning at 730 pm eastern time.