Without any Cup action this weekend (next race is at Phoenix in two weeks), the focus of NASCAR fans will be at Nashville for the Nationwide and Truck Series races.
Probably the most interesting part about the Nationwide Series's two visits to Nashville Speedway each season is how likely it is that there's going to be a first time winner. 7 times in 17 races has a driver gotten their first career Nationwide win there (only once in 9 Truck races).
Greg Biffle in the first NNS race at Nashville in 2001, Scott Riggs and Jack Sprague in 2002 making it the first 3 Nashville races with first time winners, Jason Leffler in 2004, Reed Sorenson and Clint Bowyer in 2005 and the last one being Brad Keselowski in 2008.
It's going to be tough for anyone to join that list this season for the same reasons nobody could last season: Joey Logano and Kyle Busch took the wins in their dominate JGR Toyota Camry's and could easily do it again this season. And you can't forget about Carl Edwards who's the only multiple time winner at Nashville after winning 3 straight races there.
Justin Allgaier was going to be the best bet, despite not running very well there last season, but he had to ruin it by winning at Bristol. So it's going to fall on the shoulders of this year's ROTY contenders, sophomore upstarts and guys needing a break to get their career going. Here's the drivers to look out for:
JR Motorsports has 6 top tens in 10 Nashville starts but Keselowski carried the significant success here with a win and 4 top fives in 4 starts. But Bires is hardly a slouch at Nashville either with 2 top fives, 3 top tens and a 15th in 4 non-S&P starts. On paper he has the best chance going into the weekend.
He's been off to a great start to 2010 so far and Nashville's been good to him lately with 2 straight top tens. He also won a pole in 2007 and has an average finish of 14.2 in 8 starts. If he keeps the car going in the right direction for the whole race he might have the best shot of the potential first timers.
Colin Braun & Ricky Stenhouse Jr.:
The Roush rookies have each raced at Nashville before. Colin made 1 start in 2008, starting 9th and finishing 15th, while Stenhouse ran both races last season and qualified 5th in his first career NNS start but finished 23rd and then crashed in the 2nd race to end up 32nd. It's been a tough season for the both of them so far and Nashville will be a great chance to get things on track.
Brian Scott & James Buescher:
The top 2 drivers in the ROTY standings, Scott made his first NNS start here last season but only finished 25th. Buescher is making his first start at Nashville in Nationwide. But they've both raced here in the Trucks; in the Truck race last season Scott started 3rd and finished 2nd while Buescher started 16th and finished 17th. Scott's been the most impressive of the rookies so far and has the best chance of any of them to win.
Bayne made his 2nd career start at Nashville last season, starting outside pole but eventually crashing and finishing 28th. Bayne went on to start in the top 10 in 9 of his next 10 races including a pole. Bayne's another young driver who's run well this year but hasn't had the results but the odds of a good finish this weekend are great for him.
The long-time Truck Series driver finished 17th in the first race last year, qualified 7th in the 2nd race but pit road contact ruined his day. It's been a tough season for him so far but he's capable of breaking out with a good finish.
Scott Lagasse Jr.:
I don't know if the equipment is good enough but he finished 10th and 11th in the two races last season and he's put in some gutty results so far this year.
John Wes Townley:
Yeah I know, but he had one of his better races here last season; he started and finished 18th. He started 14th in the 2nd race but crashed just 2 laps into the race and finished 42nd. So expect him to repeat one of those results. BTW RCR has 3 wins here.
I'd say Bires, Wallace, Scott and Bayne have the best chances of getting their first career win this weekend or at the 2nd Nashville race in just 2 months. If they do win then it'll be the first time that there's been back-to-back first time winners in Nationwide since Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano won at Nashville and Kentucky respectively in 2008.
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