Kansas City, KS – Series: NASCAR Nationwide. Date: Saturday, mile oval. Start time: 3:30 p.m. (et). Laps: 200. Miles: 300. 2010 Winner: Joey Logano. Television: ESPN 2. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Satellite.
Following his fifth-place finish last Saturday at Dover, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is in command in the Nationwide Series championship points battle. Stenhouse holds a 22-point lead over Elliott Sadler with just five races to go.
The series now heads to Kansas Speedway, a track that became a turning point for Stenhouse during his rookie season last year. Stenhouse struggled for a majority of the season but a sixth-place finish at Kansas began his surge towards the rookie-of-the-year title.
Stenhouse has been atop the point standings since the July race in Indianapolis. Sadler moved to within five points of Stenhouse after the August event at Bristol, but the Roush Fenway Racing driver has put a distance between himself and Sadler since then.
"I'm really looking forward to Kansas," said Stenhouse, who turned 24 years old on October 2. "We got to do the Goodyear tire test there earlier this year, which will hopefully benefit us. Last year, that was one of the good races we really had heading down the homestretch."
While Stenhouse is contending for the driver's title, Roush Fenway's No.60 team is in a tight battle with Joe Gibbs Racing's No.18 team for the owner's championship. Carl Edwards won at Dover and moved the No.60 to within 13 points of the No.18.
Edwards, from nearby Columbia, MO, has 36 career Nationwide wins but has yet to score a victory at Kansas. He did win a Truck Series race at his home track in 2004.
"[Kansas] is not far from my hometown, and I will have several of my family and friends there," Edwards said. "It's a track I really want to win at. Our team has been on a roll, and we are coming off a strong win at Dover. I love the mile and a half speedways."
Edwards is scheduled to compete in each of the last five races. Kyle Busch has run 19 races in the No.18 car but is not entered in this event. Busch is slated for three more events this season -- Charlotte, Texas and Homestead.
Joey Logano, who has won the last two Nationwide races at Kansas, is back in the No.18 this week.
Earlier this week, Turner Motorsports announced that Vickers is replacing Reed Sorenson in the No.32 car for Kansas and Charlotte. Sorenson, who is presently third in Nationwide points (-27), has been released by the team.
"We are continuing to evaluate our racing program as we look to the 2012 season," team owner Steve Turner said in a statement. "Brian Vickers is a proven winner at NASCAR's highest level, in addition to being a driver at Turner Motorsports over the last four seasons. He has worked with [crew chief] Trent Owens in the past, which will allow us to immediately focus on the task at hand."
Turner Motorsports will announce its driver for Texas, Phoenix and Homestead at a later date.
Fifty teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Kansas Lottery 300.