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Surprise! Nationwide Leader Likes New System

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, April 6 2011

Thanks, in part, to NASCAR tinkering, Rick Stenhouse Jr. is on top of the Nationwide Series point standings. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Christa L Thomas)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer

Nashville, Tenn. – You figure you already know the answer when you ask Ricky Stenhouse Jr. the question:

How does he like the new NASCAR rule that prevents full-time Sprint Cup drivers from competing for the second-tier Nationwide Series championship?

“It’s cool,” said Stenhouse. “I like it just fine.”

No wonder; thanks to the new rule, Stenhouse is on top of the standings and has a legitimate shot at the title.

Stenhouse joined Reed Sorenson and Travis Kvapil at Nashville Superspeedway last week for a media lunch to promote the track’s 11th season.

Stenhouse and Sorenson (5th in the standings) will compete in the Superspeedway’s two Nationwide races, April 23 and July 23. Kvapil will race in the two NASCAR Camping World truck series races that are part of the two weekends’ doubleheaders. The first truck race will be the Bully Hill Vineyards 200, introducing a new sponsorship.

Stenhouse, a 23-year-old driver from Olive Branch, Miss., said the elimination of Cup drivers from Nationwide title consideration has perked up the Nationwide-only drivers who in the past have scrambled for leftovers.

“It seems like it has stepped up the level of Nationwide racing,” he said. “Everybody has stepped up

Rick Stenhouse Jr., your Nationwide leader. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Christa L Thomas)

their game. When I’m on the track and glance at the leader board, I look for the other Nationwide drivers because I know I’m not racing the Cup guys for points.”

Stenhouse said he understands why tracks like to have some Cup drivers in their lineup: “The fans like to see guys like Kyle Busch Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards. We need them to sell tickets and they’re good for the series up to a point.”

Sorenson, 25, competed full-time in the premier Cup Series from 2006-09 before losing his ride. He said he is not demoralized by returning to the second-tier Nationwide Series.

“The competition is good,” he said. “I’m with a great team and I enjoy running up front and having a chance to compete for a championship.”

But, he admitted:

“My goal is to make it back to Cup eventually. I don’t want to be in the Nationwide Series forever.”

Kvapil is competing in a limited number of Cup races in addition to running the full truck schedule. He won the truck championship in 2003 but this season has gotten off to a rocky start. He is tied for 25th in the point standings.

“It’s frustrating because I know I’m capable of winning races,” he said. “All you can do is keep your head up and keep trying. Things will get better.”

Kvapil drives for Randy Moss Motorsports. Moss, one of the NFL’s top receivers, joined the Titans last season.

“He’s a hands-on owner and he attracts a lot of attention to our team,” Kvapil said. “During the off-season he visited the team several times and he’s been to two of the three races this season. He grew up watching racing and he’s really into it. He’s a competitor and he wants to win, whether it’s racing or football.”

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, April 6 2011
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