Originally written on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 9/5/12


Battle For Points Lead Comes Down to Sadler And Stenhouse … Again

It’s déjà vu all over again, only the positions have reversed.

Last year, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led Elliott Sadler down the homestretch in the hunt for the NASCAR Nationwide Series title. Fueled by two victories at Iowa, Stenhouse went on to capture the 2011 NNS championship by 45 points over Sadler.

In 2011, Stenhouse was able to hang onto the title despite not winning a race in the final 12 events. Although Sadler did not find his way to Victory Lane in 2011, he consistently had strong finishes that placed him the runner up.

In 2012, as the series heads into its 25th race of the season at Richmond International Raceway for the Virginia 529 College Savings 250, Sadler leads Stenhouse by 12 points. Richmond is Sadler’s home track.

Last weekend, Stenhouse won his fourth race of the season when he beat Brad Keselowski to the checkers by 0.157 seconds in the NRA American Warrior 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Stenhouse’s triumph tied Sadler’s victory count this season.

Stenhouse has also won at Las Vegas, Texas and Iowa, while Sadler has found Victory Lane at Phoenix, Bristol, Chicagoland and Iowa.

Neither Sadler nor Stenhouse has won a NASCAR national series event at Richmond. In the Sept. 9, 2011, race, Stenhouse finished third and Sadler placed sixth. Neither led a lap. This year’s April 27 affair saw Stenhouse and Sadler come in fourth and sixth, respectively.

Both drivers have separated themselves from third-place Sam Hornish Jr., who sits 32 points outside of first. Austin Dillon (-37) and Justin Allgaier (-94) round out the top five.

Dillon To Achieve Boyhood Dream On The Baseball Field

On Wednesday, Sept. 5, Austin Dillon will get the opportunity to live out one of his boyhood dreams when he’ll participate in pre-game activities at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

Dillon, who was a member of the Clemmons, N.C., Little League team that reached the 2002 Little League World Series, will switch roles with Washington Nationals reliever Drew Storen.

Dillon will take batting practice, play catch and participate in pre-game drills with Storen. Then later that day, Dillon will throw the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Nationals game against the Chicago Cubs.

The following day, Storen will get his turn at trying out a different job and living out a dream of his own when he visits Richmond International Raceway. He will take hot laps around the short track in a pace car with Dillon behind the steering wheel.

Heading into Friday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Richmond, Dillon has only made two other series starts at the track. In his previous performances, he finished 26th in 2008 and ninth earlier this year.

Nemechek Looking To Jump Into Top 10

Joe Nemechek is turning a lot of heads this year with his consistency.

Nemechek (569 points) currently sits 11th in the standings, just one point behind Danica Patrick (570); a point away from cracking the top 10. Considering his recent success at Richmond, it is possible that Nemechek could propel himself into the top 10 by the end of the week.

In last year’s September race at Richmond, Nemechek finished 10th, and followed that up with a 13th-place showing this April. Nemechek arrives in Richmond for the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 fresh off back-to-back top-15 finishes at Bristol (11th) and Atlanta (14th).

After 23 races (of a possible 24) this season, he has had 16 finishes in the top 20.

What makes Nemechek’s top-10 bid even more impressive is that his small team has reached this position after not entering June’s race at Road America. The 1992 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion won at Richmond in 1994. In 21 NNS appearances at Richmond, Nemechek has 17 top-20 finishes.

NASCAR Nationwide Series, Etc.

 Travis Pastrana returns to the site of his NNS debut earlier this season at Richmond, where he finished 22nd. However, he will be driving for a different organization this time around. Pastrana will pilot the No. 60 Ford EcoBoost Ford for Roush Fenway Racing. … NSCS regulars Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Hornish and Kurt Busch, who won the NNS race in April will pull double-duty. Harvick has won five times in the series at Richmond. Hamlin has won twice at this home track. … Ryan Blaney (Penske Racing), Ty Dillon (Richard Childress Racing) and Darrell Wallace Jr. (Joe Gibbs Racing) all return to the NNS with powerhouse teams. … This weekend’s NNS race at Richmond will mark Patrick’s 50th start in the series.


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