In case you missed it, Patrick Reynolds wrote an interesting article about “Cup Snobs.” I may spend 90 percent of my time writing pieces about Cup competition, but I do follow, with great interest, what’s going on in the Nationwide Series. With the Cup boys taking Sunday off for Easter, it will cast a greater spotlight on what is going on in the Nationwide Series.
I am glad to see Justin Allgaier pick up a win at Bristol. The young Penske driver appears to have taken the baton from Brad Keselowski as the next big thing to come out of the Nationwide Series. In the third place for the season, Allgaier is the highest ranking non-Cup driver, making his accomplishments (a top ten in every race so far) all the more noteworthy.
Keep your eye on him. It’s just a matter of time before Allgaier is racing in Cup. He’s already got a Cup connection- racing for Roger Penske- and he’s building a very solid resume and argument to be racing for the big boys. Heck, he’s practically doing that now any way, just in a different car. I hope he does well. I find the combination of his skill and attitude refreshing.
I continue to watch the career of young Steve Wallace with great interest. I’ll admit I’ve done my share of hacking on Rusty’s son. Week in and week out, it always seemed he was in the middle of some big on-track mess, and exacerbated with a pugilistic attitude not radically different from his dad. Problem is, Rusty earned the right, Steven has not had the resume to justify it.
Having said that, I get the feeling I’m watching Wallace begin to mature over the last several months. Steve has three top tens in four races, and there’s just a little less attitude coming from him. Wallace’s story reminds me a bit of my own. I can remember working in the same mill as my dad between high school and college. A millwright, my outspoken father was alternately respected, and also reviled as one very outspoken and sometimes controversial in what he saw going on in the workplace. I knew I had to work harder and be better than the average greenhorn, and making matters worse was the fact that, at times, I didn’t measure up. For me, I strove to make up for it by working harder AND by keeping a lower profile where my mouth was concerned.
How Steve’s story plays out remains to be seen. You know it can’t be easy to follow in the footsteps of a legend, and yet Wallace hsa to be given credit for not backing down and not giving up.
It’s always interesting to watch how the other young guys are fairing. To hear the talking heads tell it, other neophytes such as Trevor Bayne, Scott Lagasse, Jr., Michael Annett and Kelly Bires are ones to watch. You always wonder where the next big thing will come from, and as a fan, it’s always interesting to ponder what it is owners are watching for as they size up talent for future Cup rides. I always wonder why it is some guys pass through so quickly, and seemingly struggle, while others show real promise and never seem to get an honest shake.
To me, that the difficulty of assessing racing talent. Unlike the “stick and ball” sports, you can’t always point to measurables like 40-yard dash times, vertical leap, or even statistics from competition. I mean, a part of what has to make it harder is the fact that these guys are racing against Cup drivers, and their presence often waters down win totals. Of four NNS races run, three have been won by full-time Cup drivers.
I also watch some of the Nationwide “old timers.” Jason Leffler, Morgan Shepherd and Eric Mc Clure are personal favorites. I also see where Mike Wallace is 9th in the standings. to me, drivers who made a career of competing in Nationwide like Sam Ard, Jack Ingram, and Larry Pearson always added flavor to the competition. It’s kind of like they’re the “Crash Davis’s” of NASCAR.
Of course, there’s nothing like winning a guitar trophy for winning a race in Music City. Kyle Busch obviously called much attention to the Sam Bass creations for smashing his a la Pete Townshend. On the other side of the coin, I can remember Carl Edwards grinning from ear to ear when he won his.
It will be fun. These drivers don’t always get their due, but for a weekend, they will benefit from a little extra attention as we NASCAR fans get our fix from NASCAR’s so-called “Junior Varsity.”