Second Fiddle: Around the Busch and Craftsman Truck Series · Cami Starr · Thursday April 27, 2006
With all three of NASCAR’s top divisions back in action for the first time since Atlanta over a month ago, I thought it would be a good time to compare each of the three races going on this weekend to show some of the big differences going on in the Busch and Trucks compared to NASCAR’s top series. While each race will have something unique to offer and should be a thrill for the fans, a bunch of simple statistics can reveal the problems as well as the progress for the sport in 2006, especially when it comes to their two lower series.
Cup: Aaron’s 499 at Talladega
Busch: Aaron’s 312 at Talladega
Trucks: Missouri/Illinois Dodge Dealers Ram Tough 200 at Gateway
Advantage: Trucks. Despite the high speed chess match known as Talladega, with the new bumpdrafting rules the Cup race could very well be a snoozer or a wreckfest. The Busch race, meanwhile, will be dominated by Cup guys as usual, with 15 entered in this weekend’s event. That leaves the Truck race to put on a great Saturday short track show over at Gateway.
Cup: 49 drivers attempting to fill 43 spots
Busch: Only 43 drivers are attempting to race at Talladega, with the final spot added at the last minute by a low-budget team who will likely start and park. 15 of the drivers in the field are Cup regulars.
Trucks: 39 drivers will attempt to fill 36 positions. No current Cup drivers are in the field, but 10 former Cup drivers are on the list.
Advantage: Cup. It will be interesting to see if one of the non-regulars can steal away a starting spot from a series regular. Of course, many people will be on “Michael Waltrip” watch after he fell out of the Top 35 last week. On the other hand, the poor turnout for the Busch Series on a weekend the Cup boys are also in town should be a sure sign of how unhealthy that Series is becoming.
Advantage: Cup. Just looking at those numbers shows how lopsided NASCAR’s top three series are. Most people will agree that the Trucks put on the best show, but yet their purse is 10% the size of the Cup purse. The Busch Series payout is decent, but we know that most of that will go to Cup teams and not the Busch teams that really need it.
Cup: 77 points separate the Top 5
Busch: 341 points separate the Top 5
Trucks: 164 points separate the Top 5
Advantage: Trucks. With Mark Martin, the current series point leader, missing this race, the points will tighten up. With no Chase format to worry about, either, it should be competitive in the Truck Series all the way from here to Homestead. Meanwhile, Harvick is making a joke of the Busch Series standings, with possibly the biggest joke that the Top 5 are all full-time Cup drivers.
Biggest Story Heading Into This Weekend
Cup: The softer bumpers being used for the first time at a restrictor plate race. It will be interesting to see if it really does cut down on the amount of bumpdrafting done during the race, or if it will just cause more problems.
Busch: Despite a few team changes, the Busch Series is pretty quiet other than the common discussion of the domination of the Cup drivers. With no remedy in sight, why keep harping on it? It’s becoming a tired subject.
Trucks: The trucks are coming off a month long break, so things have been slow in the news department. Just seeing them back on the track is newsworthy.
Advantage: Trucks. It’s great to see them back in action!
Tidbit to Impress Your Friends With
Cup: Dave Marcis was the last driver to win at Talladega in a Dodge. Marcis won the Talladega 500 in August 1976.
Busch: David Green has the most Talladega starts, 11, without leading a race there.
Trucks: Ted Musgrave is the only driver that has won at Gateway during his championship season. If he can win Saturday night, he will become the first driver in series history to win three times at two different tracks.
Advantage: You! That is, if you can remember any of those during the race and actually have friends around that would be impressed with such a thing.
So, is there a clear winner this weekend between any of the three series? Yes…the fans! For the first time in weeks, all three series will be running, giving the fans plenty of opportunities to get in their racing fix.
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