DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — The first of two races at Nashville Superspeedway traditionally marks the start of “stand-alone” season in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. That is, nine races on the 2009 schedule where the series has top billing.
This year, the first stand-alone event has a first-ever element attached to it: The “Dash 4 Cash” program, which puts a $25,000 bonus on the line for an eligible driver if he wins the race.
Translation: Tight racing gets tighter, especially during the final laps.
The Nationwide Insurance initiative was designed to build more awareness around the stand-alone events and put a premium on series-only competition.
“We wanted to provide some additional support for drivers on our series,” said John Aman, associate vice president of strategic sponsorships for Nationwide.
There are four “Dash 4 Cash” races this year — Nashville, Kentucky Speedway on June 13; Iowa Speedway on Aug. 1 and Memphis Motorsports Park on Oct. 24.
Here’s how the program works. It’s open to all NASCAR Nationwide Series-only regulars, up-and-comers and those series regulars who run limited schedules. Double-duty drivers must be full-time in both the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to be eligible for the bonus.
That means current standings leader Carl Edwards (No. 60 Save-a-Lot Ford) and second-place Kyle Busch (No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota) are eligible since they’re the only full-time double-duty drivers in the top two national series. Joey Logano (No. 20 GameStop Toyota; David Ragan (No. 6 Discount Tire Ford) and Michael Waltrip (No. 99 Best Western Toyota) aren’t in the mix since they’re full time on the NASCAR Sprint Cup side, but only compete on a limited basis as double-duty drivers in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Should a “Dash 4 Cash” race winner not be eligible, the $25,000 payout rolls over to the next Dash 4 Cash race at Kentucky.
At the end of the four-race Dash 4 Cash schedule, the eligible driver with the most cumulative points from the four events will be awarded an additional $50,000 at the season-ending awards banquet.