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Tough challenge ahead for Busch in Bristol Nationwide race

Kyle Busch knows how to win at Bristol Motor Speedway, no matter which NASCAR race he competes in there. But that might not be the case for him in Saturday's Nationwide Series event.

Busch is a four-time Nationwide race winner at Bristol. He has won the last three races there while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch's first Nationwide victory at this track came in the spring 2006 race when he drove for Hendrick Motorsports.

He is now in his first year as driver and owner of the No. 54 Toyota.

Busch's team is currently 15th in the Nationwide owner point standings. He began the season with an 18th-place finish at Daytona due to an accident on the final lap. Busch placed 11th at Phoenix before finishing 33rd at his home track in Las Vegas.

"I expect us to keep building our program," he said. "We are learning every week. I've had a lot of success at this Bristol track, and I enjoy racing here. So to do that in one of our own cars is going to be cool. We just need to keep working together and working better, myself as the driver and for the crew. We know what we have to do."

Busch is one of the six Sprint Cup Series regulars competing in this race. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne are the others. Harvick has the most Nationwide race wins at Bristol with five.

Elliott Sadler is the current points leader. He holds a 15-point advantage over rookie and Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon. Sadler has finished no worse than third so far this season. He won at Phoenix earlier this month.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the defending Nationwide champion, picked up his first win of the season last Saturday at Las Vegas. He moved up to third in points, trailing Sadler by 17 markers.

Trevor Bayne, who is Stenhouse's teammate at Roush Fenway Racing, has been entered for this race. Bayne's No. 60 team competed without sponsorship at Daytona, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Roush Fenway had planned on not entering the No. 60 car at Bristol, but the team did secure sponsorship just before the entry deadline.

"I just hope we can keep it going," Bayne said. "I really want to contend for this championship this season. We've got an 11th and a seventh and a fourth, so we're getting better every week, and that's all you can hope for. We'll see what happens here in the future."

Bayne is currently fourth in points (-19).

Danica Patrick has some catching up to do in points. Patrick, in her first full season in Nationwide competition, has finished no better than 12th so far.

She raced at Bristol for the first time last year, finishing 33rd.

"I really enjoyed my first trip to Bristol," Patrick said. "I enjoyed the racing and the track. My day ended a little early, but I still got quite a bit of racing in...I won't ever forget walking onto the track for the first time on unloading day, just looking at it and seeing the banking that is just on the straightaway."

Forty-six teams are on the preliminary entry list for the Ford EcoBoost 300.

Series: NASCAR Nationwide. Date: Saturday, March 17. Race: Ford EcoBoost 300. Site: Bristol Motor Speedway. Track: 0.533-mile oval. Start time: 2:00 p.m. (et). Laps: 300. Miles: 159.9. 2011 Winner: Kyle Busch. Television: ESPN. Radio: Performance Racing Network (PRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Satellite.