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Nationwiders Tell Stars To Bring It On

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, June 5 2009
Brad Keselowski had to beat some big boys to win his guitar at Nashville last year.

Brad Keselowski had to beat some big boys to win his guitar at Nashville last year.

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Nashville – A pair of NASCAR Nationwide Series rookies aren’t awed or intimidated by taking on two Sprint Cup stars in Saturday’s Federated Auto Parts 300 at Nashville Superspeedway.

The daunting Cup duo is Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards who are running both series this season. They are ranked 1-2 in the second-tier Nationwide standings and co-favorites going into the race.

“Personally I wish there were more Cup guys in the lineup,” Scott Lagasse Jr. said during a Thursday media luncheon when asked about the challenge posed by the Cup heavyweights.

“I’m a competitor and I like to race against the best. Racing against those guys makes me a better driver.”

“I don’t see a negative it in,” agreed fellow Nationwide rookie Brendan Gaughan. “Having the Cup drivers in the race draws fans, sponsors and media attention. I think it’s good for the series.”

What about the fact that the Cup double-dippers for several years have won most of the Nationwide races and all of the championships?

“I still believe you should race against the best,” Gaughan said. “Rusty (team owner Rusty Wallace) believes you don’t move up to the next level until you prove yourself on the current level. The best way to prove yourself is to race against the best drivers there are.”

Gaughan is a native of Las Vegas – his family has operated casinos there for three generations, dating back to 1948. But growing up he never heard of fellow Vegas residents Kyle and Kurt Busch, currently two of the more successful racers in NASCAR.

“They are younger than me,” said Gaughan, 33, “plus when I was younger I did most of my racing in the desert. I didn’t get involved with NASCAR until much later in my career.”

Lagasse, a native of St. Augustine, Fla., took over for veteran Jason Keller late last season as driver for CJM Racing. His father, Scott Sr., was a notable driver in lower-division racing.

“This is my first full season and it’s been a learning experience, especially the media demands,” Lagasse said. “I feel terrible when I can’t return all the phone calls and e-mails. I can only imagine what it must be like on the Cup level.”

Busch holds a 40-point lead over Edwards in the Nationwide standings going into Saturday’s 13th stop on the 35-race schedule.

Since they are running a full Nationwide schedule in addition to their Sprint Cup duties, Busch and Edwards face a Gladeville-Pocono, Pa., doubleheader this weekend. They are expected to be on hand for Saturday afternoon’s Nationwide qualifying, then immediately after the race fly to Pocono to rest up for Sunday’s race.

They will be the only Cup full-timers in the lineup, which means the door could be opened for a rare victory by a Nationwide-only driver.

One of those drivers with the potential for a breakthrough win is Keller, driver for the Nashville-based Baker Curb Racing. Keller is sixth in the standings.

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, June 5 2009
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