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Author’s Note: Before I get into this week's column, I would like to say thank you to everyone who took the time to comment on my article last week. Whether you agreed or disagreed, your opinion is very much appreciated, and I’m glad that you took the time to not only read my article, but comment on it.
This is a rare week in the world of NASCAR. For just the third time this year, the Busch Series is the only top level NASCAR circuit scheduled to run this weekend, as both Nextel Cup and the Truck Series are taking a hiatus. Gateway International Raceway will serve as Broadway, where the Busch boys will take center stage. This is a prime opportunity for the Busch Regulars to showcase their talents for those NASCAR fans who might not ordinarily watch the series.
What about the Cup drivers moonlighting in the Busch Series, you say? For one of the few times this year, they might struggle to keep up with the Busch veterans. One thing the Busch only drivers have working in their favor is that they are racing at a track that does not host a regular Cup event. Gateway hosts Truck and Busch races, but there has never been a Cup race there, meaning that many of the Cup regulars are more inexperienced than the drivers they are competing against. The Busch series has been running at Gateway since 1997, and the Trucks have competed there since 1998.
Gateway is a very tricky track, flat and shaped like an egg. Similar to last weekend's Pocono race, it is a track where compromise is necessary on the setup of your race car. If a car handles well in turns one and two, it will most likely be off in turns three and four. If three and four are a strong suit, then one and two will probably suffer. The veteran drivers will best understand how to make their car work the best in the turns that are not handling as well, and maximize their advantage in the turns that are working well. This weekend, those veterans will be the Busch regulars.
Look for Kenny Wallace, David Green or Mike Wallace to have a strong showing. The Wallace brothers are St. Louis natives, and a victory at their "home" race track would be exceptionally sweet. Green, meanwhile, is a former Busch Series champ who has had strong runs at St. Louis in the past, including a fourth place finish last year.
The biggest and perhaps only disadvantage for the Busch regulars is that the track is 1.25 miles long. That length means that aerodynamics will play at least a small role in the race. The Cup backed teams have the advantage when it comes to aero because they have more resources to put into wind tunnel research and body development to take full advantage of the benefits of the air.
Coming into this race, it’s no secret the Busch Regulars and the teams and sponsors who support them have had a difficult time with the Buschwhackers this year. Gateway is a chance to not only beat the Cup invaders, but do it on a national stage when a large NASCAR audience will be watching. Let's hope that they have done their homework and give the Cup boys a run for their money.
©2000 - 2008 Mike Neff and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
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Want to find out more about Mike Neff? Maybe see all the articles he's written here at the Frontstetch? Check out his article archive and bio page then!