2011-07-28 / Sports

Edwards Wins Nashville Nationwide Race

By Gerald Hodges

Carl Edwards Carl Edwards LEBANON, Tenn. – Carl Edwards overcame a midrace pit road speeding penalty at Nashville Superspeedway to give Roush Fenway its fourth one-two finish of the season in the Nationwide Series.

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.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. came in second, moving up one spot to second in the NNS point standings – five points outside of first. Trevor Bayne finished ninth, giving Roush Fenway three teams inside the top 10 on the night.

“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 has always been really good here.”

Austin Dillon, Justin Allgaier, Aric Almirola, Sam Hornish, Drew Herring, Reed Sorenson, Trevor Bayne, and Kenny Wallace rounded out the top-10 finishers.

Top-10 leaders after 20 of 34: 1. Sorenson-702, 2. Stenhouse 697, 3. Sadler-688, 4. Allgaier-672, 5. Almirola-631, 6. Leffler-608, 7. K. Wallace- 605, 8. S. Wallace-558, 9. Annett 550, 10. Scott-537

Dillon takes Nashville truck race

Austin Dillon passed Johnny Sauter with 23 laps to go and did not look back, winning Friday night’s 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.

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

Todd Bodine, James Buescher, David Starr, Elliott Sadler, and Joey Coulter rounded out the top 10.

Top-10 leaders after 12 of 25; 1. Sauter-431, 2. Dillon- 413, 3. Buescher-389, 4. Whitt- 388, 5. Peters-384, 6. Crafton- 377, 7. Kligerman-373, 8. Coulter-366, 9. Hornaday-362, 10. Bodine-350

NASCAR: the good and not so good

Attendance at most NASCAR tracks has declined this year. But on the other hand, the number of fans watching it on television has remained steady, or shown a slight increase.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway sent out a memo last week that said ticket sales for next week’s Brickyard 400 were again off-pace from last season.

Since sales have been dramatically down at every race since teams encountered tire problems in 2008 at the track, another decline would be significant.

Last year’s reported attendance of 140,000 was only slightly more than half what had been “listed” (270,000) three years earlier. In 2003, the listed attendance was 300,000.

Attendance has declined at almost all tracks, but not to that extent. The warnings from Indy should be taken seriously. Apparently the track and NASCAR are bracing for a further decline.

NASCAR will move the 2012 Nationwide race from the smaller Indianapolis Raceway Park to the big IMS. It will also add a NASCAR- owned Rolex Grand Am series race the same weekend in an attempt to bolster the attendance.

This past Saturday night the “official attendance” at the Nationwide race outside Nashville was listed at 11,000 but most estimates put the crowd at no more than 4,000.

The Dover-owned track is winding up its 11th season and has struggled with attendance since its inception. After its first race, some 20,000 temporary bleachers were dismantled, leaving the track with approximately 25,000 permanent seats. It has yet to sell out.

Meanwhile the summer television ratings have shown an improvement over last season. TNT saw overall growth in total viewers, ratings and households in its six-race coverage of the 2011 Sprint Cup Series increase by three per cent.

I receive two or three emails a week from fans that tell me they have given up going to the races and watch it on TV. Most are from longtime fans that have followed NASCAR for many years.

J.B. of Steubenville, Kentucky said: “NASCAR has been my family’s passion for years, but something has gone out of the sport in recent years. My wife and I feel like it’s not worth the effort or cost it takes to attend in person. Watching it on TV is not like being there, but it’s a less frustrating than spending several hours getting in and out of traffic at Bristol or Martinsville.”

New fans appear more likely to attend races, while those who have attended many NASCAR events are content to stay home and watch it on TV.

Weekend racing: NASCAR’s three major series will be at two different tracks this weekend. The Cup teams are at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Brickyard, with the Nationwide and Truck teams racing at the nearby 0.686-mile Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Fri., July 29, Camping World Trucks, race 13 of 25, starting time: 7:30 p.m.; TV: SPEED. Sat., July 30, Nationwide Series, race 20 of 34, starting time: 7:30 p.m.; TV: ESPN2.

Sun., July 31, Sprint Cup Brickyard 400, race 20 of 36, starting time: 1 p.m.; TV: ESPN.

Racing trivia question: Who is Kasey Kahne’s teammate at Red Bull Racing?

Last week’s question: Mark Martin has said he will continue to race in the Cup Series until at least the end of the 2012 season. Where is his hometown? Answer. It is Batesville, Ark.

Contact the Racing Reporter at hodges@race500.com.

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