Nationwide Series gets a boost from fresh blood in Victory Lane

Updated: March 24, 2008, 9:23 PM ET

Nationwide Series: Will Wimmer's Big Win Mean More Opportunity?

Jason Smith/Getty Images

Scott Wimmer, left, brought the No. 29 Nationwide Series entry he shares with Jeff Burton home a winner.

On the bright side, a driver focusing solely on the Nationwide Series wound up in Victory Lane on Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway. That's a good thing where the series is concerned, because it can grow old watching an endless procession of full-time Sprint Cup drivers leave with the trophy on a weekly basis.

The downside for the stand-alone Nationwide Series teams is that while Scott Wimmer earned the win, it was another strong day for Richard Childress Racing. Once Kyle Busch's spin opened the door, it was the RCR Chevrolets of Wimmer and Clint Bowyer battling for the win.

And while Bowyer didn't win for the second straight week, he did move into the points lead. Now the question is whether anyone besides Carl Edwards or David Reutimann has any chance of knocking him from that spot the rest of the season. More on that later.

Wimmer's win, though, was definitely a breath of fresh air for the series; the Wisconsin native needed the victory more than the series needed to see a different winner.

Talented to be sure, Wimmer's career stalled out after he was let go by Bill Davis Racing after the 2005 season. In two years with BDR, a team struggling without manufacturer support at the time, Wimmer had just two top-10 finishes and finished 27th and 32nd in points.

The '06 campaign was spent with Morgan-McClure Motorsports, a team lacking sufficient funding to compete with the top teams. A glimpse of his talent, though, was evident at season's end, when he qualified a fourth RCR Chevy for the Cup finale at Homestead and promptly finished 12th.

RCR, though, has yet to start a fourth full-time team, so Wimmer realizes his best chance for success is to continue sharing RCR's No. 29 Nationwide entry with Jeff Burton. The two combined to win the owner's championship last year, with Burton's five wins playing a major role.

Wimmer wasn't exactly chopped liver, with seven top-5 and 14 top-10 runs in 23 starts in 2007, but his two runner-up finishes [Milwaukee and Gateway] weren't exactly what he'd envisioned.

A proven Nationwide winner while with BDR, the strain of coming close with RCR was evident. Still just 32, Wimmer is far from over the hill, but in a sport predicated on results, you have to wonder how many more chances will come his way.

Winning a stand-alone Nationwide race certainly isn't a guarantee of another shot at Cup, but it certainly can't hurt Wimmer's chances of getting another full-time opportunity -- whether that's in Cup or the Nationwide Series.

-- Mark Ashenfelter is an associate editor at ESPN.

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Jayski Podcast

Jayski Podcast

Richard Childress Racing continues its hot streak as Scott Wimmer and Clint Bowyer finish first and second in the Nashville Nationwide race. Plus, news and notes for the week.
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Points Battle Defined?

Clint Bowyer

Bowyer

Six races does not a Nationwide Series season make, but it's a safe bet that the championship hopefuls have firmly established themselves at the top of the standings.

With Kevin Harvick skipping Nashville, Clint Bowyer leads Carl Edwards by 11 points, with David Reutimann 71 points behind Bowyer. It's a good bet one of those three will win the title.

David Ragan is fourth in points, just 106 back. Ragan, though, is in just his second full season in the series and is still searching for his first win. Given more seasoning, his day as a championship contender will come -- it's probably just not going to be in 2008.

Mike Bliss and Brad Keselowski are fifth and sixth in points and face different challenges. Bliss has the experience, and a Craftsman Truck Series championship on his resume, but Fitz Motorsports may not have the resources at this time to make a title bid.

Keselowski has fully funded JR Motorsports at his disposal, but is running the full schedule for the first time and, like Ragan, likely lacks the experience for a title run.

Busch Whacked At Nashville

Kyle Busch

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After the year's first two races, Kyle Busch said he was going to contemplate running the entire Nationwide Series schedule and going for the championship. Since then, he's blown a tire, broken a shock mount, been caught up by a spinning car and spun out on his own while leading.

Needless to say, that's not exactly the stuff championships are made of. Busch still sits 11th in points, 184 behind Clint Bowyer, so he's the one driver back in the pack you can't rule out.

First, though, Busch would have to commit to running the entire schedule, and it would be hard to blame him if that scenario's looking less appealing these days than it was a month ago.

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