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Sunday, January 2, 2011

New faces like Sadler, Allgaier, Bayne and Wallace should compete for Nationwide title

It could be a whole new ballgame this year in the Nationwide series, if expected rules changes go into place before the season begins. Cup regulars Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski are planning to run full Nationwide seasons as of right now, but if the expected rules changes go into place, they won’t be eligible for the title.

So if the speculation is accurate, who will compete for the Nationwide title in 2011? A few names are early standouts before the first green flag even drops.

The Turner Motorsports team (formerly Braun Racing) will attempt to turn some heads this year, and take advantage of the move to crown a Nationwide-only regular as champ. Justin Allgaier and Reed Sorenson will run full-time, while Jason Leffler will drive most of the year (giving his ride to Kasey Kahne for 8 races). This team has some legitimate talents, especially Allgaier – who showed a lot of promise in 2010 and should run up front in 2011 if he gets the proper equipment.

Also trying to make a title run will be Trevor Bayne, the young driver who put on a great run while at Diamond Waltrip Racing in 2010, but was snatched up by Jack Roush when they couldn’t guarantee sponsorship for him. I’m not sure if Roush has the full year sponsored for him yet, but after he puts on a few good runs – which he should do, given the considerable talent he has shown in his short career so far – the sponsors will come, and Roush may end up battling for the title with Bayne. Another outside shot to compete up front regularly is Ricky Stenhouse Jr., another Roush driver who ended up 2010 on a strong note, though I don’t see him doing as well as Bayne.

A newcomer (or more accurately, a returner) to the Nationwide series in 2011 will be Elliott Sadler, who will drive for Kevin Harvick, Inc. This car has won races in the past, and Sadler is capable of winning races and competing for the title without a doubt. And Sadler is smart to do this rather than waste his time in a backmarker Cup car like he’s been doing recently.

One more outside shot for title contention, if he can quit wrecking his cars so often, is Steven Wallace. Sure, Rusty’s kid likes to bend up cars, but he’s getting a new crew chief that knows how to win. Doug Randolph has worked for RCR, Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing and Petty Enterprises and won two Nationwide races in 2009 with Clint Bowyer.

This, of course, hinges on the rules change being announced, but I expect that announcement very shortly. It would be great for the series, which would finally get its own identity and not be Cup-lite. Keselowski, Edwards and other Cup drivers could compete for wins and money, and the guys making their way through the ranks in NASCAR could compete for a title – the way it used to be and the way it should be. I’m quite looking forward to it.

Robby running 8th at Dakar Rally
Robby Gordon is one of those drivers who loves racing so much, he can’t take a break. He’s currently in South America, racing his Hummer in the Dakar Rally, and is off to a decent start. Gordon finished the first stage Sunday in 8th position (407 drivers are competing). He completed a 138-mile course in just under two-and-a-half hours, about 11 minutes behind leader Carlos Sainz. If you want to keep an eye on Gordon as he completes the rally, visit, and, or check his Facebook or Twitter pages for daily recaps, photos and videos. A half-hour TV with highlights from the rally each day airs on Versus at 3:30 p.m. ET daily.

Congratulations to Kyle Busch
Sorry ladies, but Kyle Busch is officially taken.
He and girlfriend Samantha Sarcinella officially tied the knot on New Year’s Eve. Photos from the wedding were leaked to on Saturday, if you want to see the happy couple.

Will marriage calm him down and make him a more pleasant person and less aggressive driver? Well, I don’t really care if his personality changes, but I hope his driving style doesn’t. He’s one of the more fun drivers to watch in the sport.

I don’t think I have anything to worry about though; he’s still Kyle Busch and he still wants to win races … and I’m pretty confident he’ll continue to do that in 2011.

Congratulations to the newlyweds.

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