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‘In the Loop’ at Nashville Superspeedway

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 19, 2008) – The NASCAR Nationwide Series is the “only game in town” this weekend, as both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series have off weekends.

The series heads to Nashville Superspeedway, the site of a likely showdown between two double-duty drivers battling for the series title: Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer.

Edwards has won the last three races at Nashville, while Bowyer won there in 2005, has three consecutive runner-up finishes and has finished inside the top five in all seven of his Nashville starts.

The stage is set for an all-out duel.

The two have faced each other at Nashville four times, with Bowyer holding a slight statistical edge in their head-to-head matchups. But, as shown below, it doesn’t get much closer than this:

Edwards vs. Bowyer at Nashville (Head-to-Head)
                                  Avg.      Avg.       Avg.           
Driver            Races  Start   Mid-Race  Finish  ARP    DR       QP     FLR     LT15    Led    Pts.
Clint Bowyer       4       2.5          5.3         2.8      4.2    127.7      48      108       859     216     685
Carl Edwards      4       8.0          5.5         2.8      5.6    120.9      69       145      847     173     695
ARP: Average Running Position
DR: Driver Rating
QP: Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green)
# FL: No. of Fastest Laps
 LT15: Laps in the Top 15

The stats beg the question – what’s more amazing, that Edwards and Bowyer have the exact same average finish in the Nashville races they’ve shared, or that their average finish is that low to begin with?

Edwards and Bowyer won’t be on an island, though. Kyle Busch has run strong in every series he’s competed – though his Nashville Driver Rating is just 66.7 and his last two starts (both in 2006) resulted in finishes of 30th and 31st.

Denny Hamlin should battle for the lead all day. In four starts, Hamlin has four top-10 finishes, a Driver Rating of 112.5 and an Average Running Position of 6.0.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup off-weekend offers an opportunity to reflect on some storylines coming out of the first five races of the season.

For instance:

• Kyle Busch sits in first place with a win at Atlanta – and the 10 potential Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup bonus points that go with it. But as strong as he’s been, it could be better. His average mid-race position this season is a series-best 2.8, but his average finish is only 7.4. In three of the five races this season, Busch has fallen off at the end:

Kyle Busch’s 2008
Race              Mid-Race Finish

Daytona              1            4
Auto Club             4            4
Las Vegas           3          11
Atlanta                 2            2
Bristol                 4           17

• Greg Biffle’s 2008 resurgence is due to his ability to improve his starting position, as well as make key passes when they count the most. In four of the five races, Biffle has improved on his starting position, and leads the series in Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green) by a healthy margin:

Greg Biffle’s 2008
Race            Start    Finish
Daytona         18        10

Auto Club        14        15
Las Vegas        6         3
Atlanta           13         4
Bristol            14         4

Quality Passes – 2008
1. Greg Biffle  312
2. Kyle Busch  283
3. Ryan Newman  276
4. Kasey Kahne  266
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 256

• With 213 Fastest Laps Run, Carl Edwards leads second-place Kyle Busch by a hefty 88 laps. Denny Hamlin is the only other driver with a triple-digit figure in the stat – 107.

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