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Raceday: Your guide to Sunday night’s Irwin Night Race

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Friday, Aug. 23, 2013

Notebook

Vickers loses crew chief: When Brian Vickers was recently announced as the fulltime driver of Michael Waltrip Racing's No. 55 Toyota for the 2014 season, one of things he said he looked forward to was working more with the team's crew chief, Rodney Childers. The past two seasons, Vickers has shared the No. 55 ride with veteran Mark Martin.

As it turns out, Vickers won't be working with Childers beyond this season. MWR officials confirmed Friday that Childers would not be returning to the organization next season and Vickers would get a new crew chief.

In an interview with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Childers confirmed he is headed to Stewart-Haas Racing where he will be paired next season with new driver Kevin Harvick.

Bayne returns to Nationwide Former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne will run fulltime again next season in the Nationwide Series with Roush Fenway Racing. He is also expected to run several Cup races with Wood Brothers Racing, as he has this season.

The No. 6 Ford team, led by crew chief Mike Kelley, is currently competing for its third consecutive Nationwide championship. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won the title the past two seasons with the team.

Wile named track president: International Speedway Corporation named Chip Wile as the new president of Darlington Raceway this week. Wile most recently served as director of business development for the Motor Racing Network.

Three things to watch

1. Mark Martin begins his tenure as driver of Tony Stewart's No. 14 team for the remainder of the season. Martin has two Cup wins at Bristol.

2. At least three drivers - Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne - can clinch at least a wild card berth in the Chase with a win this weekend.

3. Ryan Truex, the younger brother of Cup driver Martin Truex Jr., will make his series debut, driving with Phoenix Racing.

Observations

• Mark Martin is probably the best back-up plan Stewart-Haas Racing could have this season. Let's face it, with Tony Stewart out for the season, the outlook of the people who work on that team probably was dim. Besides the fact Martin is a very talented driver, he is also a very good motivator. There is no driver who appreciates having the opportunity to compete and win individual races more than Martin. Sure, the No. 14 has a chance to make the Chase on owner's points. But making a trip to Victory Lane would be a huge shot in the arm for that team.

• There's no sign of a sellout for Saturday night's race at Bristol. That's not necessarily surprising these days in NASCAR. But it must be a disappointing reality to face for the crowd who thought "fixing the track" was the answer to the attendance woes that had befallen the track of late. The problems at Bristol had little to do with the racing and everything to do with the economy.

• It's been four races since either Kyle or Kurt Busch won at Bristol. That seems nearly impossible. In fact, that hasn't happened since either started their respective Cup series careers.

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy team:

Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano

Race facts<

Where: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway

Track type: .533-mile banked, concrete oval

Race distance: 500 laps or 266.5 miles

Weather: Partly cloudy with high in the low 80s.

TV: Coverage begins at 7 p.m. on ABC. Green flag is 7:47 p.m.

Radio: Performance Racing Network



Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter
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