Friday, March 31, 2006

Forum Linked To This Blog

I have started a discussion forum site to go along with this blog. I will run polls there and we can have more general or detailed conversations than are easily enabled by the "comments" section of this blog. At this time, it isn't fully set up the way I want it, but please stop by and leave a message. Also, please remember to register on the forums site, because, unfortunately, you can't vote in polls or post a message unless you are a registered user on the site.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Good Thing It Was Gordon

When I read this article I thought, if it were Stewart, Harvick, Robby Gordon, or Kurt Busch, the fine would have been bigger and there would have been a points deduction. Since I am totally against points deductions for non racing incidents, I'm glad it was Jeff Gordon who got penalized.
Although I'm not really against Jeffy, I am not for him, either, and I found this entry by tiredawg extremely amusing.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Bristol: A Far-Outer Limits Race Review

Note: I actually wrote this while watching and listening to Sunday's Race. Due to the fact that I am on a community phone system at home, I can't go on line from home, so I use a public computer, which means no on-line access on Sundays. I tried to post it Monday, but I ran out of time, because I was busy working on setting up a forum for my blogs. (More about the forum later) So, now I post it two days later, and, hopefully, you will still be able to find it entertaining.

Early in the race, it looks like tires may be an issue. But, even though it’s the right front tire on all these cars, Johnson’s problem (lap 3) wasn’t the same as Biffle’s, which wasn’t the same as Kurt “Leave My Ears Alone” Busch’s, which wasn’t the same as Schrader’s (broken valve stem). The various problems may be individual car set ups, rather than Goodyear’s tires. However, it is ironic that the race coverage on Performance Radio Network is sponsered by Cooper Tires. How fortunate is Cooper, if the Goodyears are suspect? You can’t buy advertising like that!

After all that nice stuff I said about Robby Gordon, he shoots himself in the foot once again. After working his way into the top 15, he has to pit, and gets caught for speeding on pit road. He voices his displeasure with the NASCAR officials, and deftly gets penalized a lap. I think he used a Reuger Blackhawk to remove his big toe, because he has a great car that could be in contention.

I wonder what the bashers have to say about Kevin Lepage after he spun Brent Sherman on lap 13? “That (expletive) is out of control! He’s going to kill somebody!” Probably not. It’s more fun to pick on Smoke.
I’m sure that they will pick on Smoke for not showing any sign of holding a grudge against Matt Kenseth, or on Kenseth for not retaliating against Stewart for what happened over a month ago at Daytona. There are certain “fans” who can’t stand the kind of racing that Kenseth and Stewart are doing, with a lot of give and take, as they exchange the lead. I’m loving it, myself--these two great drivers are teaching class on how gentlemen race at Bristol. When the race gets into the 150 lap range, Jeff Gordon comes into the picture, and it almost looks like the #17 and the #20 are tag teaming Gordon. The truth is that Kenseth’s car isn’t running well in clean air, so he has to give the lead back to Stewart. It certainly is a joy watching these three guys racing up front. This is why I love NASCAR.

Then Matt has trouble on the restart around lap 163, somehow getting into the back of Jimmy Johnson, who is lined up in the inside row, a lap down. The damage doesn’t seem too troubling, as Kenseth remains competitive. The Hendrick teams live by “BBB,” which doesn’t mean “Better Business Bureau.” For those who don’t read bumper stickers, it means “Bump, Brakecheck, Block.” That’s the credo of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s amazing how much TV misses during the commercials.
Oh boy! Kenseth and Newman are getting into it. Fight, fight, fight!!! This is really old school, and is a blast to watch. Look out Mark, these guys are out of control! They’re going to kill somebody! Not! It’s just Bristol, and that is what we come here for.

At least Hamlin picks the right guy to mess with. As long as you don’t wreck him, Jarrett knows what racing is, and he’ll race you like you race him. He’s not going to get out of the way just because you’re bumping him, though. PRN talked to him during the red flag, and he didn’t seem too upset.

They needed that red flag. The oil from Mikey Waltrip’s car was causing a lot of problems, and I’m sure a few drivers need to calm down. It’s still too early in the race for tempers to reach the boiling point.

Now the bashers get some ammo! My favorite driver, Tony Stewart, for those who haven’t figured it out, gets into the back of Brent Sherman. He’s out of control! He’s going to kill somebody! Of course, Sherman is one and a half seconds slower than Stewart, but you know the bashers will say that Smoke should have had more patience and slowed down to Sherman’s speed.

Okay, I’m going to fast forward to the last 100 or so laps. I’m trying to type while watching the race, but I’m not fast enough to keep up with everything.

I’ve got to hand it to Kurt “You Can’t Grab My Ears Anymore” Busch. After he was down two laps for tire problems early in the race, he has made it back among the leaders. Look out! Jeff Gordon is out of control! He’s going to kill somebody! Happy Harvick is Happy, it’s good to see that, as he cracks “That Gordon, he just doesn’t have any patience.” I like the old cocky Kevin Harvick who has seemed to reemerge for the first time since 2003. Now Martin Truex Jr’s out of control! He’s going to kill somebody! Now Tony Stewart’s out of control! He’s going to kill somebody! I’m out of control! I’m taking all the thunder away from the bashers!

Now for the end of a great race. I’m unhappy because Smoke ran out of tires and is falling back, but the stuff going on among the top 5 is great. I want Matt to win, but Jarrett wants to stay on the lead lap, and Harvick catches him. Busch is there! Harvick’s there! Kenseth’s there! Gordon’s there! Great save by Matt, as Jeffy does the BBB thing on him. I want Harvick to get this win, but that is Kurt “I’ve Got A New Image” Busch right behind him, and love him or hate him, Dirty Kurty really knows how to race on this track. And, as I mentioned before, Dale Jarrett isn’t going to move out of the way. There it is, a bump, Harvick gets loose, and I have to admit, it was a great race move on the part of Kurt “Just Because I Have A New Image Doesn’t Mean I Have Forgotten All The Tricks” Busch. And here we go, right down to the last lap. Jeff isn’t there anymore, because Matt did a great move on him. Matt spun Jeffy! Way to go! The battle between Harvick and Busch is fitting, considering how the gauntlet was thrown Friday. What more could you ask for (besides Stewart winning, I mean) ?

What a great finish to a great race. This is why I like Bristol. along with millions of other real race fans. And Kurt is showing some personality, making a “snow angel” on the start/finish line. That’s right! The new Kurt Busch has a personality! I never thought I’d see the day. Oooh fight! I think Matt was going to apologize to Jeffy. Come on Jeffy, be a man! Take of that darn helmet! He’ll probably get fined for that shove. NASCAR has made its bed in precedent, so they’ll probably deduct points, too, even though what happened post race has nothing to do with the outcome of the race or points standings.

Congrats to Bobby Labonte, getting a top five for Petty Enterprises! That team is on its way up. Congratulations to all the drivers for putting on such a great show.
I can’t wait for Martinsville!

Monday, March 27, 2006

View From the Far-Outer Limits

This is another of my pre-race stream of consciousness/random thought articles. “I Wonder” is already taken, as is “Is It Just Me Or...” so I’m still playing around with working titles.

The producers, cast and crew of NASCAR Race Day really seem to know what they are doing. The montage of Tony Stewart and Jimmy Spencer framed within the heart was hilarious, and set up an even funnier interview. I think Tony is the only driver with whom something like that would have worked.

Flipping around between the end of Race Day and the beginning of the Fox pre-race show, I found a feature on the TV Guide Channel, called NASCAR Drivers Off Track, with LeAnne Tweeden. I feel sorry for LeAnne, because she gave up a good gig with Fox to co-host the failed SpeedTV program NASCAR Nation, probably taken a cut in pay. The thing is, most fans, myself included, would have preferred a hard news program, such as Totally NASCAR or RPM 2-Night. Now she’s doing a one-shot deal for the TV Guide Channel. It’s not that she isn’t qualified to be a legitimate racing reporter--she grew up around racing, her dad drives modifieds. It’s too bad for her that NASCAR Nation was just so much fluff, and she couldn’t shake the image of being just another pretty face.


Happy Harvick’s stand up routine last Friday was very funny, even if it was at the expense of Kurt “Stop Talking About My Ears” Busch. As Meyers pointed out, he can say mean things with a smile on his face.

Two things that made me go “hmmm:” On a scale of one to ten, Happy only gave himself a “5” in being a romantic. A five?!? He’s with Delana, for crying out loud!
He gave the odds of staying with RCR a “7.” Hmmmm again.
The “waiting” video was pretty cool, too. From NASCAR Drivers 360, to the TV commercials, and in his stand up comedy act, if neither Toyota nor RCR wants him (fat chance), Harvick can always get a career in acting.

Diamond Rio does a great rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Bravo to the track promoters for always bringing them back

Time for the race. Let’s Go RACING!!!!!

There is a tragic note to the day. During final practice for the IRL race at Homestead, Rahal/Letterman driver Paul Dana was killed in an accident. I have always been a critic of the IRL in that the cars are way to fast for banked oval tracks. They belong on the two mile flat tracks, if they are going to race ovals, or on road courses. At any rate, there seemed to be plenty of time to throw a caution and slow the cars down after Ed Carpenter, who was also seriously injured, spun. But excuses aren’t going to bring Dana back. Sadly, this was to be his first full season in the IRL.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

I Really Shouldn't Like...But I Do

I really shouldn’t like Robby Gordon. In the fateful 2001 Daytona 500, early in the race, he tried to run over Ward Burton’s #22 car, which caused a chain reaction resulting in a very scary airborne ride for #20 Tony Stewart, in which he landed upside down on top of his teammate Bobby Labonte’s car. I forgave him for that, eventually. In 2003, he began racing full time with Richard Childress Racing, after ten years as a part time and specialty driver in NASCAR. During the 2003 and 2004 seasons, he continuously tangled with other drivers, demonstrating habitual practices of failing to throttle down after bumping the rear of other cars, and often cutting other drivers off, while trying to gain position. This often, as not, resulted in “Rubby,” as I started calling him, wrecking his own car and taking himself out of the race. It also resulted in him not having the respect of the other drivers, including his own teammate, Kevin Harvick. One would think that he would have learned something during his previous time in NASCAR rides, but it didn’t appear that he had.
Then, in 2004 at Louden, NH, during the first race of the inaugural NASCAR Nextel Cup “Chase for the Championship,” Robby Gordon did the unforgivable. While trying to retaliate against another driver, he caused an accident which took “chasers” Tony Stewart and Jeremy Mayfield out of the race and out of contention for the championship. Man-oh-man was I pissed at Gordon!
Yet, somehow, I did forgive him. Maybe it was the fact that I am somewhat drawn to aggressive drivers. After all, I was a fan of Dale Earnhardt, and have been a fan of Tony Stewart for several years.
But there are different kinds of aggression, and Robby’s doesn’t really fit into the “good” aggression category. Of course, Tony’s aggression isn’t always of the good srt, either. It could be Robby Gordon’s personality that keeps me watching him favorably. The man has charm--when he started his own racing team last year, as an owner/driver, I never doubted his ability to obtain and retain the all important big money sponsers necessary to keep his team going, for he has the ability to make people like him. I know that it is his status as an owner/driver that keeps me wanting to cheer for him in certain circumstances, because in the big-money corporate world of multiple car teams, the owner/driver is an automatic underdog, representative of the common man or woman. Plus, with his record so far this year, he could be the most successful owner/driver since the late Alan Kulwicki, 1992 NASCAR Cup points Champion, whose team carried the #7, Robby Gordon's number.
I have to like him just because he is a talented driver. Beginning with his career as an off-road racer, through his time in open wheel cars, and as a much sought after world rally driver, he has proven himself as an excellent all-around driver who can handle just about anything.
I'll just have to accept the fact that I like this guy, and wish him and his team the best of luck this season. I want to see them prove that there is still room in NASCAR for the owner/driver. Long live the memory of Alan Kulwicki!

Monday, March 20, 2006

It Would Make A Great Movie

I have been thinking for a while, that if a movie were to made about a current, living NASCAR driver, that that driver should be Bobby Hamilton. He grew up as an orphan, and lived on the streets for most of his young adulthood. He hung around the local garages and learned all he could about cars and mechanics, and later, about racing. His path to success is truly an inspiring story.
As the 2004 NASCAR Craftsman Truck series Champion, he doesn't have the Superstar status of, say, a Jeff Gordon or a Tony Stewart, but he is a star in his own right. Any NASCAR fan recognizes his name. He is often outspoken on certain issues, and has been a critic of the NASCAR organization itself.
As a team owner, he pioneered his own drive for diversity, even before the idea caught on at NASCAR, giving rides to Willie T Ribbs and Deborah Renshaw.
Certainly, to win the 2004 championship, Hamilton had to overcome the odds against him. His team and equipment were not as well funded as many of the other CTS teams, but hard work and determination paid off.
Last Friday, March 17, Hamilton announced that he would be stepping out of racing while he got treatment for recently diagnosed cancer. His announcement was positive, and that he would be back after successful cancer treatment. I have to say, given his past trials, that he does have the will to succeed in his fight against cancer, and there will be another inspiring aspect to his life. Bobby Hamilton's life would indeed make a great movie, and it feels, to me, like it would have a happy ending.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

What Made Stewart Angry

I keep reading opinions from fans and even "professional" sports writers that Stewart was angry at Kyle Busch for not letting him pass. He was upset that he was being blocked at every turn with 80 laps to go, but he had a point: that was way too early in the race to be doing the kind of aggressive blocking Busch was doing. In an article, speaking to Mike Mulhern of the Winston-Salem Journal, he had this to say:

This weekend may also be a telling one for young Kyle Busch, whose exuberance has drawn the wrath of many veterans, including Tony Stewart twice already this year.

"I think it goes back to the Busch series," Stewart said, referring to Busch and a number of the new young drivers coming up.

"The worst thing that happened to that series was guys like Mark Martin, Bobby Labonte and Jeff Burton and some of the other veteran drivers that have been around a long time aren't running the series anymore, or not as much as they used to.

"So what's happened is that younger drivers who have come up through Busch haven't learned the respect of give and take.

"These Cup races are 400 and 500 mile races, and drivers have to work with each other. You're racing the whole race, but you have to race the race. You don't race each other until the end.

Stewart said that he learned from the examples set by drivers such as Martin.

"When I was in Busch, and even my first year in Cup, I watched Mark and paid attention to what he was doing," Stewart said.

"When he would let me go, I would sit there and think, 'Why is he letting me go?' Then you realize, after he drives back by you, that he was letting his car come to him while you were wearing your car out.

"Blocking and holding guys up when they're obviously faster and they've caught you, that's something you can't do. That's not give and take. And you end up making people mad."

Stewart has done his share of angering rivals this season, particularly Matt Kenseth, who comes here second in the standings after a first and second in his past two starts, and Stewart is 19th, 236 points down to tour leader Jimmie Johnson.

Stewart, the series' defending champion, said he's not down.

"We just have a better balance than what we had a year ago, and we're far ahead of where we were at this time last year," Stewart said, pleased by his runs the past two times out if not the finishes. "It's nice to come out of California and Las Vegas with the runs that we had, even if the results weren't what we would've liked."

Stewart won here in 2002, and he's generally had a top-five car at this lightning-fast track.

"Atlanta has more bumps (than California and Vegas), and it's one of those tracks that gives up a lot more grip, so the groove moves around quite a bit," he said. "The surface is more worn out than at California or Las Vegas.

"But Atlanta is just one of those fun tracks, because it's challenging, especially from the driver's standpoint, because you have to get a balance that's going to be good for the whole day, not just for a couple of laps. You have to constantly adjust your car."

• Mike Mulhern can be reached at mmulhern@wsjournal.com

This entire article may be read at The Journal On-Line

Monday, March 13, 2006

Las Vegas--Whew!

I woke up Sunday morning, my day off, at the same time I would get up for a work day. I normally like to sleep in on my off days but not Sunday. It was the start of the Formula I racing season, in Bahrain.
Though NASCAR is my favorite form of auto racing, I am a fan of all motorsports. F1 is a lot of fun to watch, when the cars are allowed to race. Last year, with rules which included no tire changes from practice through qualifying and the race. The team had to use the same set of tires for the entire event. Needless to say, Formula I was boring last year. Except for two or three races, it was mostly a parade of very expensive, pretty cars driving around a road course.
If Bahrain was any indication, those days are gone. Once again, tire changes are allowed during the race. Also, in the interest of safety and competition, the ten cylinder engines previously used have been replaced by eight cylinder power plants, reducing the horsepower from 1000 to around 700 hp. So, the racing might be a little slower, but it is much more exciting than the first race of last season at Melbourne. It is definitely more fun to watch those beautiful high-tech cars race wheel to wheel all the way around the track. After all, these are supposed to be the best drivers in the world, why not let them race? Also new this year is the aptly named Scott "I wish I could change my name to 'Max'" Speed, who drives for the team formerly known as Menardi, now referred to as "Red Bull, Jr." The name of the team is Italian for "Red Bull," not to be confused with the Red Bull team. Scott Speed is the first American driver to race in Formula 1 since Michael Andretti in 1993. He finished 12th in his very first Formula 1 race, quite impressive, considering who he is up against.

Speaking of wheel to wheel racing, the NASCAR Nextel Cup race in Las Vegas, Sunday, was a great example of everything stock car racing should be. From the green flag to the very close finish, the racing was hard and competitive thoughout the field. There was three wide racing the entire race, and NASCAR didn't even have to have restricter plates to create it. Maybe NASCAR should look at what FIA, the sanctioning body for Formula 1 has done to make better racing, to apply to the restricter plate tracks (how's that for a segue?). If NASCAR could figure out a way to reduce the speed without reducing the torque at Daytona and Talledega, the racing at those tracks would likely be better as well as safer.

The racing in the Daimler-Chrysler UAW 400 at Las Vegas was the best NASCAR racing so far this season. I probably would have been happier if my driver had won, and I was rooting for Matt Kenseth to beat Jimmie Johnson at the very end of the race. But in the end, I felt very satisfied about the race. For many drivers, it must have seemed like Bristol or Martinsville. With the TV on mute, and listening to the PRN commentary on the radio, I heard about a lot of good racing that wasn't shown on television--for nearly the entire race, from 12th position on back, there was a constant tooth and nail battle for position among fouteen or fifteen cars. The only time we saw that on television was when the leaders began lapping traffic.
Love him or hate him, nobody gets the fans fired up like Tony Stewart. Watching the Speed TV program, Wind Tunnel, I saw that the anti-Stewart fans were already out in force. Somehow, it didn't matter that there was beating and banging going on thoughout the field. Tony, in the minds of many fans was driving rough and over aggressively. "I don't know what I did to get Tony mad at me," said Kyle Busch in a post-race interview, "In my mind, it was just good, hard, clean racing."
During nearly all of the last half of the race, Stewart and "Shrub" were indeed racing hard, side drafting and banging figurative doors all the way around the track. The rule is that, if you have a good car in which you can have a good finish, you don't pull over and let another guy pass just because he is being aggressive. The fans who complain about this type of racing don't seem to understand that stockcar racing, from the Saturday night circle burners to the NASCAR Cup level, is all about contact. No other form of auto racing has this extra dimension of competition. I would suggest to these fans that they go to a local track, and learn as much as they can about stock car racing, or, perhaps they might feel more comfortable watching OWCCS, IRL, or F1 racing.
"Kyle (Busch) should watch a tape of the race so he could see what he was doing wrong," commented Jimmy Spencer on Speed TV's Victory Lane. I would agree with Jimmy on that one. In addition, The Shrub should watch and study tapes of Mark Martin, so maybe he could learn the proper technique of side drafting. Also, he should wait a few days before he talks to Smoke, as he promised he would, so that Stewart could discuss the problem rationally, maybe even without slapping the kid around a bit.

It seems a shame that this was the last race at Vegas with the track in its current, nearly flat, configuration. Track owner Bruton Smith wants to repave the surface, and in doing so, reconfigure the track to have higher banking and narrower turns, making what he thinks will be better racing. It will make the track faster, but faster doesn't always mean better. One can only look at what happened at last year's Lowe's Motor Speedway, another Smith owned track, after it was "levigated" to make it faster. The fall race was a disaster, resulting in multiple tire problems and crashes from cars going too fast. The race at Las Vegas will be a completely different one from the one we saw Sunday.

Before I close, I have to give some recognition to Robby Gordon, the owner/driver of the #7 car. After a really bad and disappointing season last year, Robby has shown determination and is showing the world that there is still room in the top tier of stock car racing for an owner/driver team. If only because it is a great "underdog" story in the world of corperate racing team ownership, I wish Robby Gordon the best of luck in his endeavor.
So, it's on to Atlanta Motor Speedway, another fast d-shaped oval with a tradition of exciting races. Although I wasn't unhappy to see Jimmy Johnson win, I would really like to see someone else win next week. I know who I want that "someone else" to be.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Help A Driver

Here is a chance to have a say in who the next great NASCAR rookie may be. Check Vote for Dan Frazier (#96) for info. This guy seems like a good guy, and I have joined the forum.
This is Dan's introduction reprinted here from the Motorsport.com forums:

I am a police officer/firefighter in Kalamazoo, Michigan. In my off time, I pursue my passion of stock car racing, and have been trying to break into the higher levels of the sport for some time.

An exciting opportunity has presented itself, but I need YOUR help. A new television show is in the making, called “Racin’ for a Livin’”. At the end of the show, a driver will be selected to make his or her debut in NASCAR racing. Here’s how it works:

Fifty ‘rookie’ race drivers will be selected from the thousands of applications submitted via the show’s web site. The 50 are selected based on various criteria, including interest in the driver as expressed by visitors to the show’s web site, located at www.racinforalivin.com. The more people post to the show’s forum interested in a driver, the more likely he/she is to be accepted into the 50 ‘rookies’.

Once the 50 are selected, an online voting process begins. Only the 12 drivers with the most votes will be featured on the show. That’s where the fun really begins!

The 12 ‘rookies’ will compete both on and off the track, and the winner is determined through a process of elimination during the show, which will be an in-depth training and racing process, full of thrills!

Here’s how YOU can help: go to the show’s web site at www.racinforalivin.com, join the forum, and tell them that you want to see Dan Frazier (#96) on the show. My application is in; I’m just waiting to hear if I will be one of the 50 drivers selected for the voting process.

Should I be selected as one of the 50, I’ll REALLY need your help in order to make the show. I’ll need you to vote early and often. Get your friends involved too – the more votes, the better my chances are to be one of the 12 drivers who will be on the show.

If you’d like to learn a bit more about me, my web site is at www.frazierracing.com. Also, I distribute full-color autograph cards – if you would like one (or more), feel free to send a self addressed stamped envelope (sorry, can’t afford all that postage on my salary – you know how it is!) to:

Dan Frazier
220 Windsor Ln
Portage, MI 49002

If you include names, I’ll be happy to personalize them.

Thanks in advance to all my fans, friends, and fellow drivers. DRIVE FAST, TURN LEFT!!!!

P.S. Since I’m posting this to as many forums as I can find, I won’t be able to check this one much, due to time constraints. If you have a question for me, go to www.racinforalivin.com, pull up my profile or one of my posts, and send me a private message. I get an alert every time a message is left, so I’ll be sure to get it!

Dan Frazier #96

Friday, March 03, 2006

Another NASCAR Blog, But Bring Your Sense of Humor

Some visiters to this site may have noticed an item in the "comments" section under the article "I really want to like Greg Biffle," from "Green, Green, Green." He (or she) suggested I check out "Live from the Seneca Lodge Bar." I did, and I am impressed. Green Green Green is funny, and has talent as a writer. But, I feel the need to warn you, the humor is acerbic, that is, it may rub some the wrong way, and there is moderate use of what some may consider foul language. That being said, so far, I have enjoyed the posts on that site, and I am a fan of that type of humor. If you feel up to it, check it out.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Big Change

We NASCAR fans really are a conservative bunch. I don’t mean politically; there we are as diverse as any cross section of America. I’m using the term “conservative” as meaning “resistant to change.”
Somewhere along the line we completely missed the change that has come over the NASCAR Busch Series. We can’t even pinpoint when it happened, because, except for the addition of Mexico City as a points race last year, there was no hoopla, no big press releases, no press conference announcing the change.
But, the fact is that the Busch Series has become a separate top tier form of stock car racing from the Cup series. It is no longer the “minor league” for the Cup, and the term “Buschwhacker” is no longer relevant. For most, it is no longer the developmental “feeder” series, but a final polishing step for those headed to Cup. The true feeder series are the Elite and the Grand National weekly series, The ARCA series, and, for a few, such as Erin Crocker, Joey Miller, and Kraig Kinser, the Craftsman Truck series.
Certainly, there are still those drivers who use the NBS as a way station to get into a Cup ride, to get some seat time, and to get used to some of the tracks, but most of these were hired to be Cup drivers. In fact, the only true “full-time” Busch series drivers I can think of, right off hand, are David Green, Jason Leffler, Stanton Barrett, John Andretti, Jason Keller, Hermie Sadler, Kevin Lepaige, Randy LaJoie. Kenny Wallace, and Stacey Compton. Everyone else racing in the NBS this year is either headed to Cup, borrowed from the Craftsman Truck series, or borrowed from the Cup series. Not that the drivers I mentioned would pass up a chance to race in a Cup race, in fact, some of them occasionally qualify for the Cup races, but for this discussion, they should be considered the only strictly NBS drivers.
Also, this year, there are an unprecedented seven drivers who are full-time in both the Cup and the NBS: Clint Bowyer, Reid Sorenson, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, JJ Yeley, Kevin Harvick, and one more I’m forgetting, I think it’s David Stremme. These are guys who will be driving in 72 NASCAR races this year--you can hardly call them “Buschwhackers.”
So why do drivers like Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, Elliott Sadler, and Matt Kenseth occasionally race in the Busch series? Not to get extra practice for the Cup race. The aerodynamics of the Busch cars are different from that of the Cup cars, the center of gravity is different, and the handling characteristics are different. What good would it do to practice in a car that does not resemble the car in which they would be racing the next day? The fans don’t get it. These guys race for the love of racing. They love the competition, and the challenge of driving different cars and racing different drivers. It is the car owners who want these guys to drive their cars. There are not enough drivers in the Busch series to fill the field. Some fans could argue that the Cup drivers prevent up an coming drivers from making the race. But what if there are no up and coming drivers who are certified for the track? And, it has happened, a Busch series driver could bump a Cup regular out of a Cup race. Think of Robby Gordon last year and Scott Riggs this year at the Daytona 500. My point is that it shouldn’t, and doesn’t, make any difference who races in the Cup series or the Busch series as long as they qualify.
One may wonder if the presence of non-Busch drivers may affect the championship points of the Busch points regulars. Think about this: if David Green, for example, is the series points leader, and finishes tenth, with no one but “Buschwhackers” in front of him, the points difference between him and the points regulars behind him is no different than if he had finished first and the next NBS regular finished second.
The drivers from outside the NBS enhance the race. The rookies get a chance to race against drivers they idolized while growing up, perhaps even getting a chance to beat their heros in a race. Anthony Foyt IV or Kraig Kinser may not ever get a chance to race against Mark Martin or Dale Jarrett in Cup, but they do get that experience in the Busch series. Most of the drivers enjoy the challenge of racing the “Big Boys.”
What I am trying to say is that the Busch Series should no longer be considered “second string” to Cup.
The Cup drivers might be better known to the general public, but NBS has reached a point where the majority of the drivers are just as skilled and race just as hard as the Cup drivers. The tracks might be the same, but the cars and the style of racing are different.
The change in status may have been planned. The phase in of the “Car of Tomorrow” will begin in the Cup series in 2007. The Busch Series will still be using the cars we are familiar with. As the single template cars become prevalent in the Cup, the manufacturers’ nose and tails will still be used in the Busch cars. This will be a big difference, because then, the two series will be totally unique. When that happens, we can probably expect even more of the same drivers being full time in both Cup and Busch.