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