By Lee Montgomery
Special to Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
When Brian Scott won the pole and finished third in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway two weeks ago, there was a sense of achievement among his entire Joe Gibbs Racing team.
And Scott also wondered, where has this been all year?
"We've had performances that were in that range," Scott said. "There's been a handful of finishes like that that we should've had already. We've had bizarre things happen, stupid things happen. ... For us, it was a feeling of relief: 'Gosh, we finally have a whole race where nothing stupid happens.'
"And, too, it was a feeling of accomplishment that we marked down the finish where we wanted it."The finish was his best of the season, his first with the powerhouse Gibbs team, and matched his best career result.
But it's come after a bit of a disappointing season, as he's had only five top-10 finishes with the team that has dominated the series in recent years. Scott and the No. 11 Toyota team will look to continue that momentum this weekend at Dover International Speedway, which hosts the OneMain Financial 200 this weekend.
And could there be a better place for Scott? He has a victory in the Camping World Truck Series at Dover, in addition to having one of his 10 career top-10 finishes in the Nationwide Series at the 1-mile track.
"The next couple of race tracks we're going to, I have a lot of confidence at," Scott said. "I obviously have a very high level at Dover because I've won there and had good runs in both Nationwide and trucks there. And also, Kansas the week after that is a good track for me.
"To come off a race like Chicago and have a couple of good tracks in a row, I think we can really validate ourselves and our performance. We can make the whole team and everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing feel better about our program going into next year."
Scott and the team, led by crew chief Kevin Kidd, have already begun working on 2012, knowing they're out of this year's title hunt. Scott is ninth in the points standings-and has been ninth or 10th since May.
"We started doing that about halfway through the season, knowing how disastrous our first half was," Scott said. "We said, 'OK, at a certain point we've got to realize we're out of the championship hunt. There's only a certain amount of good we can do this year, regardless of what happens. We need to start focusing on 2012 now.'
"We've tried to R&D stuff in practice, stuff we might not do in the championship battle because you give up practice time. It's really paid off. We've hit on some things that have been really exciting to drive here lately."
What: OneMain Financial 200
Where: Dover International Speedway; Dover, Del.
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. Eastern
TV: ESPN2, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Ch. 90
Track layout: 1-mile oval
Race distance: 200 miles/200 laps
Qualifying: Saturday, 12:05 p.m. Eastern
2010 winner: Kyle Busch
2010 polesitter: Joey Logano
Points leaders: 1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 986; 2. Elliott Sadler, 972; 3. Reed Sorenson, 939; 4. Aric Almirola, 922; 5. Justin Allgaier, 905; 6. Jason Leffler, 859; 7. Kenny Wallace, 813; 8. Steve Wallace, 791; 9. Brian Scott, 778; 10. Michael Annett, 772.