The Frontstretch: Signs Of Trouble For Both The Busch And Craftsman Truck Series by Mike Neff -- Monday February 26, 2007

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Signs Of Trouble For Both The Busch And Craftsman Truck Series

Full Throttle · Mike Neff · Monday February 26, 2007


California might have served as a wake up call for NASCAR. The Busch race and the Truck race did not have full fields. The second and third biggest racing series in the US didn't have full fields for their races this weekend. The influx of Cup drivers stealing the headlines, and the escalating costs of running teams are obviously taking a toll. What does the future hold?

The first thing that comes to mind when watching the races this weekend was why aren't there more teams in California? Sure, it's a long way from home. And the cost of exporting a car to the west coast the week before Mexico puts a strain on any team, but this is the Busch series. This is the big leagues. If 43 teams don't want to try and make a race at a major facility near the media capital of the world, something is seriously wrong. Not that long ago, there were 50 or more teams showing up for every Busch race. The cost of running a team was affordable and the exposure for sponsors was at a much lower price than a Cup car. Now, the sponsors are shying away because all of the attention is going to the Cup drivers who are moonlighting in the series. And the cost of fielding a team has become prohibitive for all but the most well capitalized teams.

NASCAR needs to take a hard look at the state of their feeder series. Even last year, there were local teams that would take a shot at making a race. They'd lease a car or build one just for the chance to qualify for a Busch race. Whenever the races were held out West, a local driver or three would show up and take a shot at qualifying. That was often how drivers were noticed. Look at David Gilliland last year. He was with an underfunded team and caught lightning in a bottle. Now he is a Cup driver. This week, there weren't any local drivers taking a shot at making the race. Two starting spots in the Busch race and two more in the Truck race went unfilled. That is just inexcusable and the blame has to be placed somewhere.

Part of the problem has to lie with the promoters and the purses that they are putting up for the support series. The purses in Busch and Truck races are a joke. Outside of the top three or four spots, teams lose money by showing up for a race. The amount of money that is pumped into these tracks that host the races should allow for them to pay some more respectable prize money. If the reward for making a race is higher, there will be more people who try and make a go of team ownership.

Look at Front Row Motorsports. They are attempting to make the Cup races this season. They could run Busch and be almost certain of making every race. However, making one out of three Cup races and finishing near the back of the pack, makes them more money and wears out less equipment, than making three Busch races. The economics of running the Busch series just don't make it feasible for a single car, stand alone team to try and run the series.

Blame can also be placed on the team owners. They've known for some time how much running a team costs. And for years they were not putting money back into their teams at a fast enough pace to keep up with technology. The end result is that most of the teams that are not owned by Cup owners do not have the technology to compete. Obviously that research costs money and the owners would have to work to get that kind of sponsorship money, but the poor me attitude has gone on long enough. Cup drivers have always been in Busch. And have usually dominated when they showed up. It has just become more prevalent lately since so many Cup teams are using the series for practice for their development drivers.

Finally, blame lies squarely with NASCAR. The cash cow that is the sanctioning body needs to support the series more and more. The Truck series is often left to run as a stand alone event. The Busch series has a large enough following that it would make much more sense for the Trucks to be paired up with the Cup series and let the Busch races stand alone. That would bring additional attention to the Trucks, and take away a lot of the benefit of Cup teams running Busch efforts. The sanctioning body should also be funneling more money to the teams through incentives or supplements to the tracks to encourage participation and better payouts. The folks in Daytona are turning a blind eye to what is happening in their support series, and it may be too late before they make a change.

The Truck series offers the best racing on the planet on pavement. If it was marketed more aggressively, shown on a better television network, and paired up with the Cup series, it would thrive and explode in popularity. If the Busch series was more economically plausible, more teams would run it and local drivers would be more tempted to try and make a race here and there.

The less than full fields this weekend are just one symptom of a major problem in Busch and Trucks. NASCAR needs to step up and make these series a priority before they fall by the wayside and become another footnote in the history books. C'mon NASCAR, you need to do the right thing and pay the price for teams and drivers that have earned their shot at the big time.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Swan Racing Announces Restructuring, No. 26 & No. 30 ‘Sold’ Off
Tech Talk with Tony Gibson: Taking Stock Of Danica Patrick In Year Two
Vexing Vito: Three Drivers In Need of a Role Reversal
Going By the Numbers: Top-10 NASCAR Variety Hard To Come By In…
Truckin’ Thursdays: Lessons Learned Just Two Races In
Fantasy Insider: Team Revelations For NASCAR’s Short Tracks



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02/27/2007 07:09 AM

Good article. NASCAR all but destroyed the Busch series when they took it away from short tracks like S. Boston, Myrtle Beach, Lanier, and others. It was a good stand alone series with regular drivers and the Cup drivers couldn’t make those races. Now its just warmed over Cup. The Truck series was the same way. They ran many small bull ring tracks with really good racing. Now it’s too much like Cup and run on the same cup tracks although the racing is still the best. Methinks the problems with both series’ are a foretaste of what is to come for Cup. They are already removing Cup from the traditionally good racing tracks like N. Wilkesboro, Rockingham and Darlington.

02/27/2007 09:19 AM

GREAT ARTICLE!!!! I totally agree with everything you said. Nascar Racing is now a “business”, and certainly not as much fun as it use to be. Money has taken over so many of our sports that it takes away from what the actual sport is for; families, friends, young and old, suave and debonair and “rednecks”, just having fun and fellowship. It is so expensive to buy tickets and camp and you have to pay a year in advance for almost all this now that the common people cannot afford it. Please Nascar don’t forget the little people!!!! That includes the Truck and Busch drivers and teams that cannot afford your to participate because the Cup drivers have taken over.

02/27/2007 09:34 AM

Agreed 110%. NASCAR is not only killing its lower series, but it’s doing virtually everything it can to prevent new teams from entering the sport. Take a look at the inspection/qualifying fiasco this week, where two guys who missed the race got a grand total of 11 laps of practice. One of the things NASCAR needs to do is disallow any driver who’s won a Cup championship in any of the ten past seasons and/or won more than $5,000,000 in NASCAR in the past 2 seasons. That would be a start.

02/27/2007 10:37 AM

The problem lies in that NASCAR is taking alot of their sponsors as “Offical” sponsors of NASCAR. Why would a compnay that sells say ice cream want to pay 5 million to say Brewco Motorsports and then compete with another ice cream maker sponsor in the series when they could give that moeny to NASCAR and become the “official” ice cream of NASCAR and have exclusive rights and have a contract that states that no other ice cream maker can sponsor a car or truck in NASCAR. Thats what happened with NEXTEL and Sunoco….Why would Sprint want to stay on a car when they can limit competition by sponsoring the whole deal. NASCAR should funnel some of those “offical” sponsors to the teams that need the financial help. I hear NASCAR wants 30 million and year for a corporate sponsor for the “Busch” series which is three(3) times what Busch was paying. Think the purses are going to triple? I dont think so…I think a dark day is coming for NASCAR...

Dan O'Keefe
02/27/2007 12:21 PM

Maybe there are more “fans” out there like me, i.e., I would not waste one minute of my time watching a parade of Toyota trucks dominating every race with drivers who have had no form of longstanding success in Busch or Nextel. Doesn’t that tell you someting about the capabilities that MONEY has in any level of JA$CAR. I have far too much pride in the AMERICAN workforce than to let the Japanese manufacturers come in, wrap themselves in an American flag, and try to convince us that they are an AMERICAN company. They even have the biggest SELLOUT of them all, Dale Jarrett, convinced that they are an American company. Dale Jarrett has turned his back on a now struggling company that has made him a millionaire and allowed him to forge a quality reputation- I have absolutely no respect for that guy. I do not miss the truck series one iota, and I presume that I will not miss JA$CAR one iota when Toyota takes over that series with their money and inferior drivers (although I gaurantee that there will more Dale Jarrett’s on board with Toyota when that day comes).

Danny Bye
02/27/2007 01:14 PM

Six years ago while sitting in the motorhome at Bristol we decided that we would not attend another Busch race as long as Cup drivers were participating & we would do our best to boycott the products of a sponsor of the cup driver. I know we haven’t been to sucessful as it was only three of us. We had some years earlier quit going to Winn Dixie while at Daytona for speed weeks even though I had been a Martin fan from ASA days.Nascar has lost one of their greatest assets, as you would watch the Busch race & have a few laughs at the crew & drivers mistakes, then on Sunday it made the cup drivers look like superstars.

02/27/2007 01:34 PM

Another point to look at may be that in the past a driver would move from ASA to Busch and then to the Cup level..say by around 25 or so. Now you have drivers that are just about graduating high school that are taking a part-time season in the Busch series and then right to Cup. This cuts out alot of what the Busch series is all about..learning your craft for the big show. Now its turned into a big test session with half the field being Cup drivers/supported teams. With the lack of exposure that Busch drivers/teams get within their own series its a wonder that anyone would run a Busch team. It only takes watching one Busch race to see that the only drivers getting coverage are actually Cup drivers. The guys up in the booth covering the race will only parrot the NASCAR mission statement so don’t expect any of them to say, “Man, this situation sucks..”. If you haven’t already you may want to give Vito’s article a read, “Busch Whacked. Again”, from a few days ago. Its pretty much right on the mark like Mike’s article..I would guess that sadly we will see many articles just like these two throughout the season on Frontstretch…

02/28/2007 02:40 PM


Mr O’keefe. You do realize that of the 4 cars in Cup racing, only the Toyota Camry is currently made inside the united states.

Chargers, Fusions, and MCSS’s are made either in mexico or canadia

02/28/2007 11:15 PM

Tim has a vailid point. This is an ever changing world. Toyota has a right. But, we all know that it will be years before they get the secrets from the real guys. Not one thing about any car out there anymore is AMERICAN. America imports and exports everything. So is Nascar. Just remember…
Money, Money, Money.


Contact Mike Neff

Recent articles from Mike Neff:

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