NNS Owners Battle Hits Phoenix with Busch, Keselowski
By Summer Bedgood – When you think of Kyle Busch vs. Brad Keselowski, you don’t necessarily think first of the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Despite the fact that both are incredibly successful in the NNS, both are still full-time championship caliber Sprint Cup drivers. And they have had their run-ins with one another.
Despite that, their respective teams have utilized their talents to help bolster their NNS programs, and to great success. The two of them have combined for a total of 17 victories in 31 races this season, and there are only two races remaining. As one can imagine, this would have quite an impact on the points.
Even though both Busch and Keselowski are ineligible for driver points, their wins and respective finishes can be used for owner points in their respective rides. For instance, the 54 car in the NNS has been driven by four different drivers this season: Busch, Joey Coulter, Drew Herring, and Owen Kelly. Though Busch is the only driver to have won any races, the total points accumulated from all of the drivers all go towards the No. 54 JGR car.
The same can be said for the No. 22 Penske Racing team. Four drivers have also shared time in that car, and three of them have gone to Victory Lane. Though none of them were eligible for driver points, owners receive points no matter who is in their car.
Enter Texas Motor Speedway, the third race from the end of the season. The No. 54 team entered the race with a four point advantage over the No. 22 team, and the teams’ main stars were both entered in the race. Keselowski and Busch both knew the stakes were high and had their sights set firmly on Victory Lane, something that shouldn’t have been too difficult on either of them.
Unfortunately for Busch and JGR, the spread between the No. 22 and the No. 54 would be much bigger at race’s end. Busch blew a right rear tire on lap 110 and would finish 26th with a four lap deficit. Meanwhile, Keselowski would go on to win the race, leading 106 of the 200 laps.
Those two opposite ends of the spectrum saw the four point advantage the No. 54 had over the 22 switch to a 26 point margin between the 22 and the 54 with the 22 back on top. With two races left in the season, it will take the same sort of bad luck from Keselowski for Busch to be able to make up the difference this weekend in Phoenix.
And, yes, both drivers are racing at Phoenix this weekend and both drivers know how to win. Busch has one win there in the NSCS and an astounding five in the NNS, including the spring race earlier this season. Keselowski has two top fives and three top 10s in eight starts in the NSCS and seven top fives and eight top 10s in the NASCAR NNS.
With those statistics, it appears Busch has the advantage. However, as last weekend in Texas proved, all it takes is an ill-timed error or a smidgen of bad luck for championship hopes to take a nosedive. Keselowski and Penske Racing might have the advantage heading into Phoenix, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy to keep Busch and JGR at bay.
EMAIL SUMMER AT firstname.lastname@example.org
FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @SummerBedgood