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Nationwide Notes: They Going For The Bonus, Baby

Jeff Hood | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, June 11 2010

Nationwide drivers Justin Allgaier, Jason Leffler, Steve Wallace and Brian Scott met the press in Kentucky on Friday. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Sparta, Ky. – Saturday night’s Meijer 300 at Kentucky Speedway is the second of four Nationwide Insurance “Dash 4 Cash” bonus events that pays an extra $25,000 to the race winner.

Kevin Harvick captured a $25,000 bonus from Nationwide Insurance by winning at Nashville Superspeedway in April.

There’s a good chance the bonus will be distributed again this weekend.

Two-time defending race champion Joey Logano is the only driver ineligible for this weekend’s bonus bucks. But 42 other drivers are chomping at the bit to pick up the extra cash.

“That bonus is really something,” veteran driver Jason Leffler said Friday afternoon prior to opening practice. “But a win is a win. That’s the most important thing. An extra $25,000 adds a lot to the pot. I’m pretty excited it.

“Coming here to Kentucky, it’s an awesome track. They fill the stands and people are enthusiast about their NASCAR racing. We’ll put a good show on for them (Saturday night), for sure.”

The other two “Dash 4 Cash” bonus races are the Nationwide Series events at Iowa Speedway in July and Texas Motor Speedway in November.

Good debut: The nine previous Nationwide Series contested at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway have produced spectacular finishes and several first-time winners in NASCAR’s junior circuit.

David Gilliland shocked the NASCAR world in 2006 when he drove a non-Cup affiliated car to victory at Kentucky and become a first-time Nationwide Series winner.

Stephen Leicht joined that club a year later when he powered a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to the winner’s circle.

Logano joined the first-time winners group in 2008 when he wheeled a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to victory in just his third career start.

Logano snapped the first-timers streak in 2009 and, in the process, became the first repeat winner in Kentucky Nationwide Series history.

Steven Wallace is hoping to snap Logano’s Bluegrass state winning streak and join the first-timers club Saturday night.

“I’d like to think so,” said Wallace, who climbed to ninth in the series standings following his eight place finish in Nashville last weekend. “I came really close to winning this race in 2007. I was running second with 15 laps to go and got caught up with Carl (Edwards) there on a restart.

“This is definitely the race track it can happen at. A lot of the Nationwide guys’ first win will be at a non-Cup track. And there’s not a lot of Cup drivers here. I’m sure that we can do it.

“We feel like we finally got our cars handling pretty decent again. I’m trying to get the monkey off our back from all the wrecks we’ve had. I’m ready to go. We’ll see.”

Ready to sit: The two-race suspensions to be served by Braun Racing crew chiefs Trip Bruce and Stewart Cooper and two crewmembers who handle tires will go into effect next weekend.

The suspensions stem from the No. 10 and 38 teams swapping tires without permission from NASCAR during Saturday’s event in Nashville

The suspensions will be a double-whammy for Leffler, who leans on his crew chief, Bruce, and Cooper on a regular basis.

“Next weekend is when they start serving their suspension. At Road America and New Hampshire, they’ll be gone,” Leffler said. “The tough thing about that is when Trip’s not there, I rely a lot on Stewart. So now he’s not there. And our two tire guys are gone too.

“We have a strong group and this is temporary. So I’m pretty confident as a group that we’ll power right through it.”

Rookie news: With fellow rookie driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. parked by team owner Jack Roush this weekend, Brian Scott is poised to pad his lead in the Nationwide Series rookie standings on Saturday.

Scott has emerged as the leader of a rookie class that includes Stenhouse, Colin Braun, James Buescher and Parker Kligerman. Scott is the only driver in the group that has competed in each race this season.

“It’s a big goal to win the Raybestos Rookie of the Year title,” Scott said. “I really think that would help me in my career.

“Unfortunately, it’s almost been a battle of attrition. I was really looking forward, at the beginning of the year, thinking we were going to have a really good Raybestos Rookie of the Year battle.

“(They count) only 17 races (to determine the rookie champion) and there’s some shuffling going on. But I hope another rookie will come in there and have a good battle. I think it’s better for everybody in this sport to have some rookies going race-by-race to see who wins and having it go down to the wire.

“I’d appreciate a challenge like that more than just running away with it.”

– Jeff Hood can be reached at jhood@racintoday.com

Jeff Hood | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, June 11 2010
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