By admin | March 11, 2008
Is Kyle Busch going to ruin the Truck series?
By Richard Allen
There have been three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races this season. Kyle Busch has entered all three. He has won two and placed second in the other.
Is that impressive or immaterial?
For that matter, was it that impressive for Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick to have won Nationwide(Busch) Series titles at the same time they were competing full time in the Sprint Cup Series?
Some like to use the analogy of a Major League Baseball player such as Alex Rodriguez going down to AAA and winning a homerun crown. To some degree that is an accurate comparison. However, a baseball player can put up some impressive statistics mostly on his own abilities. Racing relies on so much more than just the ability of the driver.
With that being said, however, one has to wonder what impact Busch’s success will have on the truck series.
The current Nationwide Series has devolved into the Sprint Cup Lite Series. Every week there are numerous Cup drivers who invade the series with big budget organizations and highly skilled crews. This migration has rendered Nationwide regulars into mere field fillers.
In 2007, only three races were won by drivers who did not compete full time in NASCAR’s top division. Each of those three races was held at a time and place which conflicted with the Sprint Cup schedule and thus severely limited the number of Cup stars in those fields. Also, one of those three wins was credited to Aric Almirola because he started the race in Milwaukee but it was actually Denny Hamlin who drove the car across the finish line.
Throughout the 1980’s the Busch Series(I will allow myself to revert to the use of that term for the purpose of this article) served as a truly separate series. Drivers like Sam Ard, Jack Ingram, Tommy Ellis, Tommy Houston and Newport, Tennessee’s L.D. Ottinger raced and won on the circuit. They were Busch Series drivers and they were proud of it.
There would be the occasional invasion by a Waltrip, an Earnhardt or an Allison but for the most part, it was Busch Series racers racing in Busch Series races. The series seemed to stand very well on its own.
However, somewhere along the way, probably in the 1990’s, the occasional Cup invasion turned into a Cup occupation of NASCAR’s second series. Track promoters and sponsors decided the series simply offered an opportunity to increase the marketability of their tracks and drivers. Thus was born the NASCAR Sprint Cup Lite Series.
The Craftsman Truck Series then seemed to be the place to go for drivers who for whatever reason did not make it to or in the top division but still wanted to race and win. Ron Hornaday, Jack Sprague, Mike Skinner, Rick Crawford, Johnny Benson and others have found refuge in the trucks and have conducted some great racing in the meantime.
Now, Kyle Busch has won two races in three attempts. And as for the title of this column, Kyle Busch is not the enemy of the CTS, he is the symbol. Other drivers such as Kevin Harvick and Mark Martin have raced in the series of late.
What is of concern is that it will only be a matter of time before a sponsor who does not want to put up the kind of money in takes for Cup racing will want to sponsor a truck with one of those drivers in it.
How long will it be until every truck race comes down to a battle between Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth, etc…? How long will it be before an announcement is made that a Cup driver will run for the CTS championship? With the availability of jets and helicopters along with some scheduling ‘adjustments’ by NASCAR, do not think it is not a possibility.
Then, some Sprint Cup driver can claim to be the champion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Extra Lite Series.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
Topics: Articles |