NASCAR Kentucky 2013: Nationwide Series news and notes from Sparta

Todd Warshaw

A competitive championship battle and the Dash4Cash program highlighted pre-race discussion for the Nationwide Series on Friday afternoon.

SPARTA, Ky. -- Justin Allgaier is second place in the Nationwide Series standings entering tonight's Feed the Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway. He's been consistent but has yet to win this season - a task he believes he will have to accomplish during the summer in order to chase down championship leader Regan Smith.

But Allgaier, suddenly Turner Scott Motorsports' senior driver, believes his team is missing just one element preventing them from visiting victory lane this season.

He's just not sure what it is.

"We've made a lot of changes internally at Turner Scott Motorsports and everyone is working super hard," Allgaier said on Friday at Kentucky Speedway. "We're building better race cars than we've ever built.

"The thing for us is that we just need to put together a full race - not just one team but all three teams and I think we need just a little bit of speed. I don't know if that is chassis or aero or engines. I don't know what part of the piece we're missing."

Turner Scott Motorsports receives technical assistance from Hendrick Motorsports but still has struggled to topple the teams and drivers with full Sprint Cup Series backing like Joe Gibbs and Roush-Fenway Racing - even Smith's JR Motorsports team is a Hendrick offshoot.

Smith is leading the Nationwide Series regulars with two wins and has a crew chief, Greg Ives, who was the car chief for all five of Jimmie Johnson's consecutive Sprint Cup Series titles.

But Allgaier (and Smith) will have some extra incentive to compete for every position over the summer months as NASCAR and Nationwide Insurance has brought back the Dash4Cash program that could award up to $1 million to a driver after the Indiana 250 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway next month.

Nationwide Series Dash4Cash program returns this summer

Friday's event at Kentucky will serve as the qualifying race with the four-highest finishing Nationwide Series points-eligible drivers making the cut for the first Dash4Cash event, next weekend at Daytona International Speedway.

The highest finisher of those four at Daytona will win the $100,000 bonus and automatically qualify for the next Dash4Cash event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13.

The next three highest-finishing Nationwide Series drivers will also qualify for the event at New Hampshire, with the same for format being repeated for Chicagoland and Indianapolis.

But there's one more bonus.

Any eligible driver that wins the program at Daytona, New Hampshire, Chicagoland and then wins the Indianapolis race itself will be awarded $1 million after the Indiana 250.

With so much on the line, Allgaier says he can't help but to think about where his Dash4Cash rivals are during the race when trying to qualify for the program on Friday night, because a chance to win $1 million is a big deal to both the driver and his crew members.

"It helps that all the drivers eligible for the program have blue spoilers," Allgaier said. "And let me tell you, blue really fits with a lot of paint schemes but not all of them. And the guys that it doesn't fit, sticks out and you know exactly where they are on the race track at all times.

"We pay attention to a lot of guys because we're looking at the championship battle too...but I think we're going to push ourselves harder and take some chances beyond the championship battle to win these bonuses."

Cup Series regulars return to Nationwide after week off

Following the stand-alone event at Road America last weekend, several Sprint Cup Series drivers are returning to the Nationwide Series this weekend at Kentucky Speedway. Of note, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski are entered in all three races this weekend and will drive the No. 54 and 22 entries for Gibbs and Penske Racing respectively.

Brad Sweet will also return to the No. 5 entry for JR Motorsports. The race will air on ESPN with the broadcast starting at 7 p.m. ET.

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