By Brian Citino
Special to Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

LEBANON, Tenn. (July 23, 2011) — Carl Edwards did not let a penalty for speeding on pit road slow him down Saturday night, as he regained position quickly and dominated the field en route to a victory at Nashville Superspeedway in the Federated Auto Parts 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race.

After leading from Laps 59 to 82, Edwards made a yellow flag pit stop but approached his stall a bit too fast, and was forced to restart in the 14th position. However, it took him only 39 laps to regain the lead and backflip his way into victory lane in Nashville for the sixth time in his career—five times in the Nationwide Series and once in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. came in second place, followed by the weekend’s truck series race winner, Austin Dillon, in third, Justin Allgaier in fourth and Aric Almirola in fifth.

Even though Brad Keselowski started the race on the pole and led for 89 of the first 116 laps, engine problems saw him fall to a 12th-place finish, allowing Edwards and his extremely fast No. 60 Ford to dominate the race despite the pit-road penalty.

Edwards, who led 124 laps, said he thought the penalty would be a problem for him in the race, but the speed of his Ford through traffic nullified the loss in position.

“I can’t believe I was leading and I sped on pit road,” he said. “That was really, really not smart. But in the end it made our night more fun. I probably learned more.”

Stenhouse, a teammate of Edwards’ at Roush Fenway Racing, noted Edwards’ fast car in the race. He added that his own Ford had a few slight problems, but that adjustments still might not have been enough to overtake his teammate.

“We were just too loose on that last run,” Stenhouse said. “We were tight in the middle part of the race. I never really got it exactly where I needed it. We were one adjustment away from being really fast, but Carl’s Fastenal Mustang has always been really good here.

“But at the end of the day it was a really good day for Roush Fenway.”

Edwards hit a milestone during the race, leading his 1,000th Nationwide lap of the season, a career high, which he said is all due to the team’s effort and willingness to listen to the drivers.

“It boils down to (team owner Jack Roush) and the guys listening to us complain and not ignoring us,” he said.

Edwards did say, however, that the fast car was not all that got him to victory lane, as the invocation from Pastor Joe Nelms, which featured “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” references, as well as a number of racing puns, and had the drivers laughing during prerace activities. The video of the invocation has already gone viral on YouTube.

“I turned to Jack after that and said if anything happens tonight, I’d like him to be at my funeral,” Edwards said, laughing. “That was one of the best invocations that I’ve ever heard.”

By Brian Citino
Special to Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

(July 22, 2011)

LEBANON, Tenn.—Austin Dillon passed Johnny Sauter with 23 laps to go and did not look back, winning Friday night’s Lucas Deep Clean 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Nashville Superspeedway for his first trip to victory lane this season.

Dillon, who won two races in 2010, picked up his third career win and his first since Sept. 2010 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Trailing Dillon and Sauter across the finish line were Timothy Peters in third, Nelson Piquet Jr. in fourth and Parker Kligerman in fifth.

Starting the race from the pole position, Dillon made a gutsy call with 46 laps to go, when on a yellow flag pit stop he opted to take two tires while much of the field changed all four, and pulled into the lead on the restart.

Three laps later, he was overtaken by Sauter, but pulled ahead again on Lap 128 and gained a wide margin of space to win by 3.981 seconds. He then attempted a celebratory slide through the grass to a loud and approving grandstand crowd, but comically couldn’t slide very far.

Dillon and crew chief Danny Stockman agreed on the two-tire pit stop, saying tires weren’t an issue during the race, but track position was.

“It was all about sticking with (Sauter) as long as I could, keep the pressure on,” Dillon said. “I knew he was getting looser and looser and I finally had to get up in there with him and loosen him up a little more, and when it happened we just went on.”

“I looked at all the tire wears all day and the tires weren’t wearing, and I knew if we had track position and clean air, we were gonna go,” Stockman said. “And we didn’t even have clean air and we still win. Tires weren’t an issue tonight.”

Sauter, who leads Dillon by 18 points in the standings, was looking for his second win of the season but said at the end of the day the victor’s truck was just better.

“He obviously knew that he had a fast truck, because before that pit stop he was dogging me lap after lap,” Sauter said. “I knew it was just going to be a matter of time before he got around me.”

With the win, Dillon claimed one of the most coveted trophies in the sport—a Sam Bass custom-painted Gibson Les Paul guitar.

“I’ve been talking about it all week,” he said. “They said in the driver’s meeting today that it was voted one of the 10 coolest trophies by Sports Illustrated. It’s just a beautiful trophy.”

Dillon also said the win boosted his confidence moving forward.

“It’s just so great to have a win,” he said. “When you get a win, everything just seems to be a lot easier.”

Bestwick, Briscoe to Expand Roles in ESPN’s NASCAR Coverage

Allen Bestwick and Nicole Briscoe, two veterans of ESPN’s NASCAR coverage team, will have expanded roles as ESPN’s telecasts of the final 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races of the season begin next week.

Bestwick, who has filled a variety of positions since ESPN returned to live NASCAR event coverage in 2007, will move into the booth as the lap-by-lap announcer for all ESPN NASCAR Sprint Cup telecasts, including races, practices and qualifying. He will be joined by analysts Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree when ESPN starts its NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage with the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 31.

Briscoe, who has been a host and reporter for ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program NASCAR Now since joining ESPN in 2008, and a fill-in host for the pre-race NASCAR Countdown show since 2010, will become the regular NASCAR Countdown host for all NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series telecasts on ESPN. Briscoe will work with analysts Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty in the ESPN Pit Studio at racetracks. Bestwick has been in the NASCAR Countdown host role since midway through the 2007 season.

Marty Reid, who has been primary lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN’s coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series since 2009, and for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since 2010, will continue to call NASCAR Nationwide Series race telecasts on ESPN as well as practice and qualifying telecasts. In addition, Reid also will continue as lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN’s coverage of five races in the IZOD IndyCar Series, including the Indianapolis 500, with the next event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Aug. 14.

“We are blessed with a talented and versatile group of NASCAR commentators,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, production. “We believe this arrangement best plays to our individual and collective strengths.”

Since joining ESPN in 2007, Bestwick has worked as a pit reporter and host and has called some races in the lap-by-lap announcer position. In addition to his new duties in the booth, he will continue as the main host and moderator for the Monday roundtable discussion edition of NASCAR Now. The program features a panel of three racing experts who discuss and debate the latest NASCAR news in a one-hour format.

Bestwick has extensive experience in both radio and television, having started his NASCAR career in 1986 as a turn announcer for MRN Radio. He worked for MRN for nearly 15 years and was the lap-by-lap announcer from 1988-2000, as well as host of the network’s daily news program. He made his television debut in 1995 on the original NASCAR Today program on ESPN and joined SPEED in 1996 as the host of a weekly NASCAR show, a post he held for 10 years. He started pit reporting for TBS and TNT in 1997 and was part of NBC and TNT’s NASCAR coverage from 2001-2006, both as a pit reporter and lap-by-lap announcer.

Before joining ESPN, Briscoe worked for two years as co-host of a motorsports news program on SPEED. Previously, she was a sports reporter at a TV station in Indianapolis, where she was first exposed to auto racing through covering the Indianapolis 500. She later worked as a pit reporter for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network on the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 as well as IZOD IndyCar Series race broadcasts before joining SPEED in 2006. She started her TV career as a general assignment reporter in Rockford, Ill., and also worked in TV in Fort Wayne, Ind., before moving to Indianapolis in 2004. With her new duties, she will continue as a NASCAR Now host on a limited basis.

SHOW #166 – Guests joining us for this week are Miss Sprint Cup Kim Coon talking about The Sprint Summer Showdown for $3 Million Dollars, and Nationwide Series Rookie of Year contender Blake Koch

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Crew Chief Shuffles
Richard Petty Motorsports has grabbed Greg Erwin from Roush/Fenway Racing to replace Mike Shiplett to crew chief their famous #43 car and AJ Allmendinger.

Brian Pattie is out and Jim Pohlman is in as crew chief for Juan Pablo Montoya and their #42 team which is 17th in point standings, 59 back of 10th place.

Are drivers athletes? You and I both know they are, but a firestorm of comments on Twitter and Facebook consumed this past weekend after Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate said via twitter “Driving a car does not show athleticism” during the ESPN ESPY awards.  Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and others responded essentially by challenging anyone to try it.

Kyle Bush winning the Nationwide Series race on Saturday is not exactly big news, but this particular win was his 100th across all 3 of NASCAR’S top series. But wait there’s more! It’s also his 49th in the Nationwide Series which ties Mark Martin on top of the all time wins list.

POINT STANDINGS | CUP SERIES
The Top 10 are all within 82 points
10 Denny Hamlin
9 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
8 Ryan Newman
7 Jeff Gordon
6 Matt Kenseth
5 Kyle Busch drops from the points lead
4 Kevin Harvick
3 Kurt Busch
2 Jimmie Johnson
1 Carl Edwards regains the points lead by 7

POINT STANDINGS | NATIONWIDE SERIES
Heading into Nashville
5 Aric Almirola
4 Justin Allgaier
3 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2 Reed Sorenson
1 Elliott Sadler leads by 7 points

POINT STANDINGS | TRUCK SERIES
5 Matt Crafton rockets up 3 spots with his win
4 James Buscher
3 Cole Whitt
2 Austin Dillon
1 Johnny Sauter is up by 22