Tony Stewart worked his restrictor-plate magic once more this year. Although he seeks his third NASCAR Cup title, Stewart started the year on a high note in the Nationwide ranks. He won the season-opening series race at Daytona International Speedway.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series underwent a change for 2011, with drivers having to declare whether to run for the Sprint Cup or Nationwide title. While that may have altered the championship, it didn't impact the races much. Sprint Cup stars still ran in the races — and in the early events, still ended up hoisting a lot of the trophies. Here's a look at the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series race winners:
Carl Edwards, eight wins
Edwards earned his first win of the 2011 season at April's O'Reilly 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. He led 169 of the 200 laps. His second win of 2011 came at the Nashville 300 where he led 148 of 225 laps. Edward passed Kyle Busch in lap 191 to take the lead for good. The win marked Edwards' fifth victory at Nashville Superspeedway, where he has won four Nationwide events and one Trucks Series race. He picked up his third win at Dover after escaping a wreck-filled final lap. Edwards moved into fourth place on the Nationwide wins list with 32. He then followed that up the next week with a victory in the Nationwide race at Michigan. Then he added the Nationwide victory at Nashville Superspeedway on an off racing weekend for Cup teams and won again at Atlanta Motor Speedway in September. Edwards wasn't done, though, winning again at Dover International Speedway in October. And again at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October, for his eighth season win.
Kyle Busch, eight wins
A Sprint Cup championship contender and a Camping World Truck Series team owner, Kyle Busch still has made his presence felt in the Nationwide ranks. He opened the season with some trademark dominating performances in the series. Busch already has six wins to his credit, with victories at Phoenix International Raceway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, Darlington Raceway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He then set a new win record in the series, earning his seventh win of the season, and the 50th Nationwide victory of his career, at Bristol Motor Speedway. He continued to add to that tally at Richmond, where he won his eighth Nationwide race of the year.
Brad Keselowski, five wins
Brad Keselowski continued his part-time role in the Nationwide Series and went to Victory Lane after winning the Feed the Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway. He earned his second win of the season in late July at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. After missing some Nationwide races while recovering from a broken ankle and focusing on his Cup run, Keselowski returned to the series and then added his third win of the year, in September. He continued his winning ways in October, winning at Kansas Speedway after a dominating performance. Then he closed the season with the victory in the season finale, at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Getty Images for NASCARGeoff Burke
Marcos Ambrose, one win
Ambrose added his name to the list of winners with a stellar run on the road course at Watkins Glen International.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. , two wins
Stenhouse became the first Nationwide-only driver to win a race in the series when he claimed the victory in the race at Iowa Speedway on May 22. It was the first career win for the Roush Fenway Racing driver. He followed that up with a wild win at Iowa Speedway on the series second visit to the track, winning despite his engine failing on the final lap after contact from teammate Carl Edwards sent him flying across the finish line first for the victory.
Getty Images for NASCARDavid Purdy
Justin Allgaier, one win
Justin Allgaier became the second Nationwide-only driver to win in the series this season. He took the trophy in the STP 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Getty ImagesJonathan Daniel
Kurt Busch, one win
Kurt Busch stepped in for teammate Brad Keselowski at Watkins Glen International, then held off fellow Cup champion Jimmie Johnson for the Nationwide win at the track.
Trevor Bayne, one win
Bayne may have won the season-opening Daytona 500 on the NASCAR Sprint Cup side, but he waited until November to get his initial win in the Nationwide ranks. Bayne held off teammate Carl Edwards to win the Nationwide showdown at Texas Motor Speedway.
Getty ImagesChris Graythen
Sam Hornish Jr., one win
Sam Hornish Jr. finally went to Victory Lane in NASCAR, taking the Nationwide Series win at Phoenix International Raceway.
Getty Images for NASCARGeoff Burke
Denny Hamlin, one win
Denny Hamlin continued his success while running a limited schedule in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet. Hamlin took the team to victory at his hometown track, Richmond International Raceway.
Getty Images for NASCARTodd Warshaw
Matt Kenseth, one win
Matt Kenseth filled in for Trevor Bayne at Charlotte Motor Speedway and won the Top Gear 300 for his lone Nationwide victory of the season.
Joey Logano, one win
Joey Logano survived late-race chaos at Daytona International Speedway in July to snare his first Nationwide win of the year.
Getty ImagesJared C. Tilton
Mark Martin, one win
Mark Martin happily conceded his victory record in the NASCAR Nationwide Series could, and probably would, fall to Kyle Busch this season. And then he went out and added to it. Martin's win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway pushed his career Nationwide total to 49.
Reed Sorenson, one win
Sorenaon gambled on fuel mileage and took the victory at Road America for his first Nationwide win of the season.