Amy Henderson · Thursday April 21, 2005
They say variety is the spice of life. Now, I’m not exactly sure who “they” are, but in this case, anyway, they were right. I like variety. I especially like variety in racing. Races with a zillion lead changes, cars grabbing the lead on pit road, cautions that change the status quo, lots of different winners (especially first-time winners!) in a season, different grooves on a track, you name it. I like variety a lot.
Which is a good thing heading into Friday night’s Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. In six NASCAR Busch Series races at PIR, no driver has ever seen victory lane twice. Besides the trophy girl, the only person who has is car owner Jack Roush, who has made two trips there with two different drivers, Jeff Burton and Greg Biffle. Other than that, nobody has been back. Personally I’m hoping that continues ad infinitum.
PIR isn’t the only Busch Series track where nobody has made winning a habit. All told, six other tracks can also stake that claim. True, three of them-Chicagoland Speedway, Kansas Speedway, and Kentucky Speedway-have held only four races. Whether the trend continues still remains to be seen. Chicagoland does have the added distinction of boasting two winners who got their only Busch Series victory to date at the speedway, Jimmie Johnson and Justin Labonte.
Next on the list, sharing six different winners with Phoenix, is Memphis Motorsports Park. No car owner has even seen a repeat at MMP. Second place in the all-time races without a repeat winner category goes to Pikes Peak International Raceway, with seven winners in as many races. Once again, Andy Santerre garnered his lone Busch Series victory at Pikes Peak. As an added bonus, Santerre’s victory came in his first race back in a Busch car after a horrific crash at Daytona.
To get to the top of the list, add together the number of races at Phoenix, Memphis, and Pikes Peak, and you get exactly one more race without a repeat winner than the track at the top of the list. That title goes to my home track, New Hampshire International Speedway, which has hosted eighteen Busch races without seeing the same guy in victory lane twice. (Having sat through the restrictor plate fiasco that produced zero lead changes, I can safely say that this is possibly the only area in which “NHIS” and “variety” go hand in hand) From Tommy Ellis back in 1990 to defending champion Matt Kenseth, each can lay claim to but one victory. In addition, no car owner has more than one victory, and only two drivers, hometown favorite Ricky Craven and Jimmy Hensley, have ever nabbed more than one pole. Craven and Tim Fedewa have each won from the pole at NHIS, and the only other race winners at the Magic Mile to have ever sat on the pole are Mike “Magic Shoes” McLaughlin and Kenny Wallace, whose poles did not come on the same weekends as their race wins. In addition, back in 1991, the lead changed hands eighteen times before Craven took the checkers. Wow, the things you learn about your “boring” home track sometimes…
When the green flag flies at Phoenix Friday night, only two former winners, Greg Biffle and Jamie McMurray, will be in the field. This leaves the door wide open for a seventh different race winner. Will it be a rookie? A crafty veteran? Or will Phoenix drop of this list altogether with a familiar face in the winner’s circle? Only time will tell, as it will tell if a record nineteenth different victor will take the spoils in Loudon. Whatever happens to the records, they’re history.
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