This season's NASCAR Nationwide Series title hunt is beginning to have a 2011 look and feel to it. This year's fight between current points leader Elliott Sadler and defending series champ Ricky Stenhouse Jr. might be a more evenly matched contest.
The heavyweight battle for Sadler and Stenhouse hits Richmond International Raceway for Friday night's Virginia 529 College Savings 250 (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). Just 12 points separate Sadler from second-place Stenhouse, with Sam Hornish Jr. 32 points off the lead in third.
How even is Sadler-Stenhouse matchup? Each driver has four wins, three pole positions and 18 top-10 finishes in 24 races this season.
"I think all of the race tracks that we have left are ones that we run really strong on, but the problem is the 2 (Sadler) runs really strong on them as well, so I don't think either one of us really has an advantage as far as the race tracks go," Stenhouse said after winning last Saturday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"They've got great equipment. We've got great equipment and it's just going to be who doesn't make as many mistakes. We've got to make sure we do our job on pit road. I've got to do my job on the track and we just have to keep everything together and double-check everything that we do because it's going to be a tough battle."
Neither Sadler nor Stenhouse has won at Richmond, but neither has a Nationwide series regular in the last 17 races on the .75-mile track. The last driver not doing double duty to win at Richmond was Johnny Sauter in September 2003.
Sprint Cup drivers Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick -- all former Richmond winners in the series -- are on the entry list for Friday's 250-lapper. Travis Pastrana, who led his first laps in the series last weekend at Atlanta, will make his first start for Roush Fenway Racing in the No. 60 Ford.