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Kelly Bires to drive No. 18 in Richmond Nationwide race

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Kyle Busch may be better than teammate Denny Hamlin at Richmond, but we'll go out on a sturdy limb and say that he won't win Friday's Nationwide race.

Why? He's not racing in it.

Instead, Kelly Bires will be behind the wheel of the No. 18 car for Joe Gibbs Racing for the first of two races this season. Remember him?

The 26 year-old Bires has been racing in the Nationwide Series since 2007 and showed enough promise to get a ride with JR Motorsports in 2010, but parted ways with the team after the first six races, posting a highest finish of seventh. Since then, he's driven for four teams, and has start-and-parked four times for Team Rensi in 2011.

He's not the only 20something getting a chance this year in Gibbs' great Nationwide equipment either. Michael McDowell, who drives for PRISM Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series, is also scheduled to drive in both Iowa races for JGR.

While sponsorship played a role in the deals to add Bires (International Comfort Products) and McDowell (Pizza Ranch), JGR has to be applauded for giving guys who have bounced around in recent memory a chance to run well in good stuff. It may not happen at Gibbs, but it could lead to a good ride down the road.

Just look what beating a Gibbs car at Kentucky did for David Gilliland.

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