Three Race Dash to Crown a Champion: The O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge Preview

Kansas Speedway Oct. 8, 2011: NASCAR Nationwide Series driver points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the No. 6 Ford Mustang races the No. 18 owner championship-leading car, driven by Joey Logano, at Kansas Speedway. Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR via

We are getting down to it.  The next three races will determine the 2011 Nationwide Champion.  Ricky Stenhouse, who is guaranteed a ride for 2012 with or without a sponsor, will need to hold on for three more races to win his first ever NASCAR Championship.  But you cannot count out Elliott Sadler, Justin Allgaier, Aric Almirola or Reed Sorenson just yet. 

This week we head to Texas Motor Speedway.  Texas is a 1.5 mile cookie cutter race track.  This will be the second event at Texas this year.  Carl Edwards won the Spring Race.  This will be a very interesting race for the Championship since in the spring Sadler finished 5th, with Allgiaer 6th, Sorenson 7th and Stenhouse 8th.  When you have the top four Nationwide drivers all Championship contenders it makes for a great storyline. 

Entry List and More after the JUMP!

Ent. Car # Driver Sponsor Manu. Owner
1 01 Mike Wallace I Hate Steven Singer 11 Chevy JD Motorsports
2 2 Elliott Sadler OneMain Financial 11 Chevy Kevin Harvick Inc.
3 03 Scott Riggs * (S) McKinney Pipe & Steel 11 Chevy R3 Motorsports
4 04 Tim Andrews * (S) Fenton Motorsports 11 Ford Go Green Racing
5 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Blackwell/Sams Club 11 Ford Roush Fenway
6 7 Danica Patrick Dan 11 Chevy JR Motorsports
7 08 David Ragan(i) * Texas Tech University 11 Ford Randy Hill Racing
8 09 Kenny Wallace G-Oil 11 Toyota RAB Racing
9 11 Brian Scott Shore Lodge 11 Toyota Joe Gibbs
10 12 Sam Hornish Jr * AVIS 11 Dodge Roger Penske
11 14 Eric McClure Hefty Black Out / Reynolds 11 Chevy TriStar Motorsports
12 15 Timmy Hill 11 Ford Rick Ware
13 16 Trevor Bayne * Roush Fenway Racing 11 Ford Roush Fenway
14 18 Kyle Busch(i) Z-Line Designs 11 Toyota Joe Gibbs
15 19 Mike Bliss TBA 11 Chevy TriStar Motorsports
16 20 Joey Logano(i) * GameStop 11 Toyota Joe Gibbs
17 22 Brad Keselowski(i) Discount Tire 11 Dodge Roger Penske
18 23 Robert Richardson Jr Takis-TiaRosa-Barcel 11 Chevy R3 Motorsports
19 27 J J Yeley(i) * Certainteed 11 Ford Steve Meehan
20 28 Derrike Cope Maxelence 11 Dodge Jay Robinson
21 30 James Buescher(i) ABF 11 Chevy Turner Motorsports
22 31 Justin Allgaier Brandt 11 Chevy Turner Motorsports
23 32 Brian Vickers(i) Dollar General 11 Chevy Turner Motorsports
24 33 Clint Bowyer(i) Rheem Cooling & Water Heating 11 Chevy Kevin Harvick Inc.
25 38 Jason Leffler Great Clips 11 Chevy Turner Motorsports
26 39 Joey Gase Fenton Motorsports 11 Ford Roush Fenway
27 40 Josh Wise Curtis Key Plumbing 11 Chevy Key Motorsports
28 41 Johnny Chapman * (S) Rick Ware Racing 11 Chevy Rick Ware
29 42 Erik Darnell(i) * (S) Curtis Key Plumbing 11 Chevy Key Motorsports
30 44 Jeff Green (PC) (S) TBA 11 Chevy TriStar Motorsports
31 46 Chase Miller * (S) Curtis Key Plumbing 11 Chevy Key Motorsports
32 47 Scott Speed * (S) Curtis Key Plumbing 11 Chevy Key Motorsports
33 48 Dennis Setzer * (S) Acredale Vending 11 Chevy Jay Robinson
34 49 Mark Green * (S) Acredale Vending 11 Chevy Jay Robinson
35 50 T J Bell(i) * (S) Liberty Tire Recyclers 11 Chevy Mark Beaver
36 51 Jeremy Clements Clements Racing Engines 10 Chevy Jeremy Clements
37 52 Jamie Dick(i) TBA 11 Chevy Jimmy Means
38 60 Carl Edwards(i) Fastenal 11 Ford Roush Fenway
39 62 Michael Annett Pilot-Flying J 11 Toyota Rusty Wallace
40 66 Steve Wallace 5 Hour Energy 11 Toyota Rusty Wallace
41 70 David Stremme(i) Foretravel 11 Chevy ML Motorsports
42 71 Matthew Carter * (S) Rick Ware Racing 11 Chevy Rick Ware
43 75 Carl Long * (S) Rick Ware Racing 11 Ford Rick Ware
44 81 Blake Koch 11 Chevy MacDonald
45 82 Reed Sorenson * MacDonald Motorsports 10 Dodge MacDonald
46 87 Joe Nemechek TBD 11 Toyota NEMCO
47 88 Aric Almirola Grand Touring Vodka 11 Chevy JR Motorsports
48 89 Morgan Shepherd Victory in Jesus Racing 11 Chevy Faith Motorsports
(PC) Past Champion
(S) Known Start and Park
(i) Not Running for Championship

48 teams entered Texas this week, and 12 of those are locks to be Start and Park teams.  In case you're playing along at home, that's one in four teams that will not attempt 200 laps.

Just a few notes this week:

  • #01- I had to look up the sponsor for Mike Wallace this week.  I Hate Steven Singer is a marketing idea by Steven Singer jewlers.  Check out thier website to find the details out.
  • #7- Danica Patrick will carry a special Dan Wheldon Memorial scheme this week.
  • #08- David Ragan is going to be out of a job in 2012.  His team in the Sprint Cup Series is getting cut.  Ragan is open to returning to the Nationwide Series in 2012.  If he does, Ragan will be a Nationwide Championship contender for sure.
  • #12-Sam Hornish has been told he will be a full time driver in 2012.  Hornish joins the now crowded field of Nationwide Championship Contenders.
  • #47- Scott Speed will start and park this week.  My heart breaks for such a talented driver.  I was a big supporter for Scott Speed, and when he was released in favor of a one year rental I cried foul.  I never blame the drivers in the start and park teams, as they need to get paid and most cannot find a full time ride.  Most of the start and park teams have been hiring drivers like Speed, Darnell, and Chase Miller.  All of which were at one time promising rookie drivers who were never given the chance to prove themselves.
  • #82- Reed Sorenson will stay with MacDonald Motorsports for the final three races, but next year he will be a free agent.  All of us here at Nascar RnR do not want to see such a promising young star yet again without a ride.

Join us this Saturday at Noon on ESPN 2 for the live running of the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge.  Log into your SBNation account and head on over here for the open race thread during the race.  Enjoy!

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