When Robin Pemberton uttered those now infamous words, “Boys, have at it” it was anyone’s guess what type of a season the sport was in for. Looking back at the 2010 Nationwide Series season, it became quite clear that the drivers lived by those words each weekend.
From Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch, to those like Jason Leffler, the season was nothing short of a success. There was the debut of Danica Patrick and the reemergence of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and rise of the sports next stars.
In the end it was Keselowski that took home the NNS championship, the first for both him and team owner Roger Penske. Here’s a recap of a season that was nothing short of history making.
Daytona: “You don’t want to flip one upside down and it not be spectacular. You don’t want to waste your opportunity, right?” — Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Running his self-owned No. 88 Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Jr. made a rare but welcomed appearance in the season opening race at Daytona. Like he does at most restrictor plate tracks he was running in the top three when Carl Edwards started another big wreck at a big track. Contact from Edwards sent Brad Keselowski into Earnhardt Jr.’s right rear quarter panel sending him flipping down the backstretch.
California: “I don’t know what his deal with me is, but for some reason, in California, he feels like putting me in the fence or hitting me toward the end.” — Joey Logano
Logano called it another necessary wreck. Greg Biffle called it a mistake on Logano’s part. The past history the two shares at California, coming last year when Biffle tagged Logano and sent him sliding along the wall, carried over into 2010 when the two made contact on a restart.
Las Vegas: “I get mad, and they [the crew] know how I am and what I expect of them. … But you can only gripe about it so long, and then you have to go back and drive the car.” — Kevin Harvick
There is one constant that can always get Harvick fired up on the radio and that’s his pit crew. Never one to mince words, Harvick will let them know how he feels about them when they don’t perform how he expects.
Bristol: “We had a great car and I screwed up qualifying and didn’t get the run we really needed and had to start 30th.” — Justin Allgaier
In order to win his first career race Allgaier not only had to start from the 30th position at the toughest track on the schedule, but he had to pass his teammate with 17 laps to go to get the lead. Mission accomplished on both ends and for Allgaier the win almost mirrored that of Keselowski’s at Bristol when he started 37th and won back in 2008.
Nashville: “I’m sure his girlfriend’s dad will write another check and he’ll be back next week.” — Jason Leffler
It may have been the first example of “boys, have at it” when Leffler and James Buescher got together in Nashville. Leffler returned to the race and paid back Buescher before being penalized by NASCAR for his actions. Afterwards he took at shot at Buescher, who drives for Turner Motorsports and is currently engaged to Kris Turner.
Phoenix: “All I know is I paid NASCAR back by winning.” — Kyle Busch
It might have been the first run in with NASCAR this year for Busch, but it certainly wouldn’t be the last. Busch had to serve a pass through penalty after NASCAR deemed that he didn’t restart in the designated areas on the track, which caused Brad Keselowski to beat him to the line and a 10-car crash to start behind him. Busch came roaring back through the field over the final 10 laps for his second win of the season.
Texas: “I don’t know, guess he’s got a lot to prove in this series.” — Clint Bowyer
When teammates get together on the racetrack it results in some of the best writing material of the year and Bowyer did not disappoint after having a run in with Kevin Harvick. The two made contact when Harvick made it three-wide and as a result Bowyer’s right front tire eventually blew and he ended up in the wall.
Talladega: “To go from that moment where I thought, ‘I just lost the championship; I’m not going to get to run,’ to getting in the car and winning the race – an exciting race – it’s just amazing.” — Brad Keselowski
Upon joining Penske Racing for the 2010 season, Keselowski was set to run the full NNS schedule and compete for the championship. When the Talladega race was pushed to Sunday afternoon, following the Sprint Cup race, Keselowski almost didn’t get in his car. His carbon monoxide levels were too high from a wreck in the Cup race but came down just in time for the Keselowski to get to pit road and his No. 22 Dodge.
Richmond: “Man, this is awesome to watch you, Brad.” — Roger Penske
Signing Brad Keselowski and luring him away from JR Motorsports proved to be the right move for team owner Roger Penske. The Captain saw both his drivers, Keselowski and Allgaier, win races in 2010 and Keselowski delivered his first championship in NASCAR. At Richmond, Penske complimented his driver after another victory.
Darlington: “My parents sacrificed a lot when I was growing up … now they get to live the life that they should.” — Denny Hamlin
When Hamlin won on Mother’s Day weekend, it was special not just for his mother Mary Lou, but also for his entire family. As Hamlin tells the story, his parents didn’t get to spend their hard earned money on fancy things because they were putting it all toward building him racecars. Now when that he’s racing in NASCAR they get to travel the circuit with him and enjoy all the victories.
Dover: “We’ve been really lucky in this car though, everything has just gone our way and I’ve been involved in racing a long time and have had things all go the opposite way.” — Jamie McMurray
It might be hard to make a case against the 2010 season being the year of McMurray. After have less than stellar seasons in the Sprint Cup Series and leaving Roush-Fenway, McMurray landed back at Ganassi where he won the season opening Daytona 500. Then Dale Earnhardt Jr. came calling for McMurray’s services in a few NNS races. McMurray became a weekly contender and would win a race later in the season after noting that he’s suffered through a lot in his career.
Charlotte: “I’m going to miss him not running next week. We bring out the best in each other – and sometimes the worst.” — Brad Keselowski
The best battles in the NNS in 2010 either came between Keselowski and Carl Edwards or Keselowski and Kyle Busch. Charlotte was another great example where Busch got the best of Keselowski who afterward talked about how much he enjoys the competition.
Nashville: “The people around here of middle Tennessee, they don’t give up when adversity strikes so we got two laps down and we fought all night long … top 15, tickled to death.” — Willie Allen.
A career best finish had Allen over the moon in his native Tennessee track and when talking about his efforts made sure to give praise to the citizens of the state that were fighting hard to recover from flooding in April.
Kentucky: “I would never have thought 2-for-2 or 3-for-3, poles and wins, it’s impressive. I’m pretty stoked right now.” — Joey Logano
If Martinsville in the Cup Series is Denny Hamlin or Jimmie Johnson and if Daytona was Dale Earnhardt, then Kentucky is quickly becoming Joey Logano. Since debuting in the series in 2008, Logano is undefeated at the track and all of his wins have come from the pole.
Road America: “I’m trying not to cry right now because I’m really heartbroken, but it’s tough.” — Brad Coleman
Road course racing has never been Brad Keselowski’s strong suit and it was painfully obvious at Road America where he tangled with Coleman late in the race. Keselowski said he didn’t do it intentionally, he just doesn’t know what to do on road courses. Coleman said Keselowski cost him a victory.
Loudon: “It was a bummer to get lapped so many times.” — Danica Patrick
Kyle Busch may have won the most races in 2010 but he was still overshadowed in the media by Patrick who was making her first starts in the NASCAR world. It was a tough learning curve for the open-wheel driver who felt more frustration this season than she had her entire racing career.
Daytona: “Man, you know we lost everything here and to come back with that number and do this, it means everything.” — Tony Eury Jr.
The Earnhardt family will always be synonymous with the Daytona International Speedway so when Dale Earnhardt Jr. wins at the track it’s emotional. But when he wins at the track in his father’s number and paint scheme, there’s no keeping back the tears as crew chief Tony Eury Jr. didn’t hide when he talked about the victory.
Chicago: “Apparently those Dodges make good horsepower but they suck a lot of fuel.” — Kyle Busch
He still needed to beat teammate Joey Logano on a green-white-checkered finish but Busch benefited from Brad Keselowski, who was leading, running out of fuel on the caution lap. Busch said had that not happened he probably would have finished second.
Gateway: “He ain’t gonna kill my boy.” — Bob Keselowski
It was another page of the Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards history book and this time it didn’t have a pretty ending. When racing for the win on the last lap, Keselowski rubbed Edwards in turns one and two. Coming off turn four Edwards turned right and put Keselowski in the fence, who was hit by a few more cars coming to the finish line. Interviewed afterwards, father Bob Keselowski said he was going to get his old driving gloves out and take care of Edwards himself.
Indianapolis: “It was a fun night and I can’t wait to do it again.” — Aric Almirola
In his first race with JR Motorsports, Camping World Truck Series driver Aric Almirola led laps and finished third. Impressed with his performance, crew chief Tony Eury Sr. and owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. decided to give Almirola a few more shots behind the wheel. It then turned into a full-time ride for 2011.
Iowa: “We’ve got the trophy in the plane but the wrong’s guys got it … We beat Kyle’s [Busch] truck today but he got us this afternoon.” — Kevin Harvick
Harvick and Kyle Busch not only race against each other, they pit their own teams against each other. Before the race in Iowa it was Elliott Sadler winning the truck race driving for Harvick’s team over Kasey Kahne who was the Busch owned truck. Later that day in the Nationwide race it was Busch going to victory lane and Harvick finishing second.
Watkins Glen: “We’ve got another job to do [Sunday], so I won’t have too many beers tonight.” — Marcos Ambrose
For the third consecutive year it was Ambrose celebrating in victory lane at Watkins Glen. The big prize though, the Sprint Cup race, has always seemed to get away and even though Ambrose didn’t drink it away this season, he still finished second to Juan Pablo Montoya the following day.
Michigan: “I don’t need no stinking clutch,” and “The cake didn’t bake.” — Brad Keselowski
In winning his second consecutive race at his home track, Keselowski did so without a clutch. In fact, it didn’t affect him at all on the racetrack, just pit road, as he dominated the event. Afterwards he was asked about racing his rival Carl Edwards so closely but without incident and Keselowski noted that they both were well behaved.
Bristol: “I just told him he’s going to be around here a long time not to make a tool out of himself.” — Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Before Brad Keselowski became the Nationwide Series champion with Penske Racing he was a no-name driver that was given a shot by Dale Earnhardt Jr. It ended up putting Keselowski on the map and in 2008-2009 he finished third in points. At Bristol, Keselowski was racing Kyle Busch for the lead when Busch spun him out. Earnhardt Jr. went over to offer Keselowski a little advice on dealing with the situation.
Montreal: “This is what I can do in a good car and I’m really proud.” — Max Papis
NASCAR fans were given a special treat when two of the best in road racing had the win come down to a duel between them. Boris Said and Max Papis came to the checkered flag in a photo finish, with Said getting the win. For Papis, getting to drive a Kevin Harvick Inc. car was a victory in itself.
Atlanta: “I think Jamie is showing everybody how good he is this year.” — Carl Edwards
Besides making the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, it’s hard to imagine what else Jamie McMurray could have wanted this season. He wins two of the biggest races of the season in Cup and then gets to drive for the most popular driver in the sport, Dale Earnhardt Jr. In his eighth start with the team, he drove to victory lane in Atlanta.
Richmond: “I was making fun of Kyle (Busch) and he said he was going to fix me up and make sure I was going to get one. I told him I was not getting a pink fire suit, but unfortunately I’m getting a pink fire suit.” — Jason Ratcliff
Kevin Harvick may have won the race in Richmond, but NASCAR fans may not remember it. That’s because all eyes were on Kyle Busch and his No. 18 Toyota as he drove the Kittens, Bunnies, and Little Baby Seals car from a Toyota commercial. Along with the pink car came the pink firesuit that he dawned as well as his crew chief.
Dover: “Six second place finishes this year, I want to win one of these things eventually.” — Joey Logano
Once upon a time it was Kyle Busch asking what it would have been like if all his second place finishes were wins. At Dover, after finishing second to Busch, it was teammate Logano who was asking the same question. On this day it was poor restarts that kept him out of victory lane.
Kansas: “Really happy, went to the back and went to the front … Just really happy, I think I proved myself today.” — Ricky Carmichael
Coming to NASCAR and four wheels compared to the two that were on his motocross bike, has been a transition for Carmichael. However, he’s adjusted well as he competes in both the Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide Series. At Kansas, Carmichael’s big task was learning what getting his lap back meant and how he had to pass all the same drivers he had previously done so in the race.
California: “If they can’t stand the pressure they’re going to have to go find something else to do.” — Kevin Harvick
Another race, another dominate car and another win given away on pit road by the pit crew. Frustrated, Harvick made it clear that the following week there would be a new team jumping over the wall.
Charlotte: “I want to win again and I’m going to win again, just came up short tonight.” — Martin Truex Jr.
Second is the first loser and Martin Truex Jr. was the man in that position to Brad Keselowski at Charlotte. What made it hard was how good Truex Jr. said his car was and how badly he wants to get back to victory lane, whether it’s in the Nationwide or Sprint Cup Series.
Gateway: “It was nice, they’ve got really nice equipment.” — Mike Bliss
He was another driver that had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a KHI car and take advantage of it. For Bliss it resulted in a second place finish to Brad Keselowski at Gateway.
Texas: “Does it f**king matter?” — Kyle Busch
To say that Kyle Busch was unhappy in Texas during both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup events would be an understatement. In the Nationwide race he was livid that Carl Edwards jumped the restart and won the race and wasn’t penalized by NASCAR. In his radio interviews he dropped a few “F” bombs before saying that it didn’t matter if NASCAR reviewed the tape now because the race was already over and Edwards was in victory lane.
Phoenix: “After three of four laps, I could do whatever I wanted with it.” — Carl Edwards
Having fast racecars makes a driver’s job a lot easier. Edwards’ car was so fast that he sat out the final practice session for the Wypall 200 at Phoenix. The following day he was in victory lane and couldn’t believe how fast his car actually was.
Homestead: “To end up with a top five here with Roush-Fenway is exciting and it’s kind of a milestone because now we know we can do it again and we go into the offseason knowing that. We’re just going to work toward next year and be really excited to get there.” — Trevor Bayne
When Bayne signed with Roush Fenway Racing, many didn’t think it would benefit the young driver that had impressed so many with Michael Waltrip Racing. However, the team finished no worse than 17th in seven of the eight races they ran with Bayne behind the wheel. The best finish came at Homestead, a fifth, and Bayne spoke about looking ahead to the 2011 season.
Next week will be final installment of the quotes review, a look back on the 2010 Sprint Cup Series.