By Lee Montgomery
Special to Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
Josh Wise cringes when he talks about his goals for the 2011 Nationwide Series season. The thought of setting a goal that doesn't include first place goes against any racecar driver's nature.
But Wise was realistic about the season, given he doesn't have a full-time ride. He would drive the races in JR Motorsports' No. 7 Chevrolet that Danica Patrick doesn't (except for Talladega, when Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove the car), and then pick up rides as he could.
That's why his one of his two objectives-the other is to win a race-is to finish 10th in the points standings. Heading to this weekend's Royal Purple 200 at Darlington Raceway, that's just where Wise is.
"That's huge to me," Wise said of finishing 10th in points. "I set two goals for myself at the beginning of the year. With all these part-time schedules and everything, I really hate setting a goal for 10th, but realistically with what I'm doing, that would be a pretty amazing feat. I'm ahead of a lot of guys in full-time cars and full-time rides. I'm just bouncing around, and I'm in the top 10 now."
Wise, 28, has driven four races in JRM's No. 7, finishing better in each successive race. He was ninth in Nashville two weeks ago and sixth at Richmond last weekend to crawl up to 10th in points.
His other five starts have been with the fledgling Go Green Racing team, with a best finish of 18th in two races.
"It's challenging," Wise said of driving for different teams. "But at the same time, it's a great opportunity (at JRM). The equipment's there and is capable, and everything is capable. I really put a lot on my shoulders as far as being prepared and in the best shape I can be and being on the same page as (crew chief) Tony Eury Jr., because it's really up to me, I feel like, to try and make the most out of the opportunity. Whether I'm in and out of the car or in it for consecutive races, it's important to get in there and go get them the finish they deserve."
Wise has one start at Darlington, but it was a start-and-park last year, retiring after 81 of 147 laps. He's prepared by iRacing and watching video of past races, and he'll lean on the momentum the team has built in the last two races.
"I'm just really comfortable where we're at," Wise said. "We're getting some good direction with these new cars and a good idea where to start when we go to these tracks. Everyone's starting to feel good about where we're at."
What: Royal Purple 200
Where: Darlington Raceway; Darlington, S.C.
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m. Eastern
TV: ESPN2, 7 p.m.
Radio: MRN/Sirius Satellite Ch. 128
Track layout: 1.366-mile oval
Race distance: 147 laps/200.8 miles
Qualifying: Friday, 3:35 p.m. Eastern
2010 winner: Denny Hamlin
2010 polesitter: Denny Hamlin