The Frontstretch: Where has the real Busch Series gone? by Nikki Krone -- Monday February 27, 2006

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Where has the real Busch Series gone?

Nikki Krone · Monday February 27, 2006

 

It is really hard to get excited about the Busch Series this season. With seven full-time NEXTEL Cup drivers also planning to run the entire Busch Series schedule, and many more running ten to 20 plus races, it's no longer a feeder series… it's a NEXTEL Cup practice session.

You can argue that the cars aren't the same and there is only so much that you can transfer from one to the other. However, I have to believe that if it didn't help the drivers on the track or the teams with the car's setups on Sunday, most of the Cup owners would not allow their drivers to risk themselves on Saturday.
The “regular” Busch Series drivers can claim that they like it when the Cup drivers race with them because it makes them better, but you know that they really would prefer to have a chance to actually win a race in their series.

It's been an annoying trend every season, but this year it's even worse. They're called “Buschwhackers”, but many are rethinking that name, since so many of these drivers are actually running both series full-time. Cup drivers Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, J.J. Yeley, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Reed Sorenson, and Carl Edwards will run the entire Busch Series 35-race schedule. Drivers like Michael Waltrip, Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray, Scott Wimmer, Ken Schrader, Casey Mears, Jeremy Mayfield, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Jeff Burton, and others are also running in several races this season. With only 43 available spots each weekend, that drastically reduces the opportunity for those non-Cup drivers to compete.

Saturday's Stater Bros. 300 is a perfect example. Eighteen Cup drivers took part in that race, with the Top 11 finishing positions going to Cup drivers, and Biffle earning the victory. With his 12th-place run, Todd Kluever, driving a Roush Ford, was the first non-Cup driver to cross the finish line. John Andretti, driving the No. 10 ppc Racing Ford, finished 19th in one of the few cars in Saturday's field that doesn't have Cup affiliation.

And it's not just that I get annoyed watching the Cup drivers generally dominating the races (usually because they drive for big time Cup owners/teams that like to “dabble” in the Busch Series), but the television broadcasts tend to ignore the smaller “regular” Busch Series drivers. Take the recent race at California Speedway. If someone had just turned on the television mid-race and not known what day it was, they would probably think they were watching a Cup race. They also might have thought that Biffle, Newman, Edwards, Burton, Harvick, Sorenson, and Hamlin were the only drivers in the race. For instance, Kenny Wallace finished 24th after qualifying 11th. Why did he slip so far back? Jason Keller qualified 30th and fought his way to a 15th place finish. Why didn't we hear much about that? Rookie Burney Lamar impressed everyone by finishing second to Tony Stewart at Daytona, however, 21st was the best he could muster on Saturday. What happened?

I know a lot of people are going to argue that even in the NEXTEL Cup Series broadcasts, they generally only focus on the drivers who are at the top of the heap, or drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson no matter where they are. It's one of the television networks' biggest faults and the complaint of fans whose drivers aren't always running up front. However, these are the Busch Series races, and they are totally ignoring the drivers whose only racing outlet is that Series… those who put their heart, souls, and often their financial stability on the line just to compete. They are also ignoring those of us who love the Busch Series because of the dedication that these “little” drivers and teams have; the ones who aren't funded by NEXTEL Cup owners.

There was recently a story on BGNRacing.com about Kertus Davis, and how every next race could be his last. The team is funded by his father, who has gone into debt trying to make their dreams come true. They made every race last year except for five, with only three full-time employees including his father. They did not finish in the top 30 in the point standings, therefore, they do not have a guaranteed spot in the field every weekend. This means that they, like several others in the Series, have to focus almost all of their energy on qualifying just to make the field. But when it's an impound race, it means they can't do a thing to their cars after qualifying. If it weren't for so many of those 43 spots being taken up by Cup drivers on a weekly basis, there would be more open spots for the regular Busch guys, meaning they'd have to concentrate less on qualifying setup and could concentrate a little more on making the car race-ready. But they can't. So instead, if they make the race, chances are very good they won't be very competitive, and they will usually have to settle for just riding around in circles.

But most drivers don't race just to ride around in circles; they race to win. If they can't win, they at least want to believe they have a chance and be competitive. When they have to compete against all of these Cup drivers and all this Cup money and equipment, there is little more they can do then just ride around. It's not fun for them, and it's not fun for many of us Busch Series fans.

So, I will continue to watch the Busch Series every weekend and cheer for the drivers who really are Busch Series drivers. However, it's going to be real hard to get excited knowing that the likely outcome is one of the many Cup Series teams in victory lane. I hope NASCAR does do something before they destroy a great racing series with so much history… if it's not already too late.

NASCAR really needs to limit Cup drivers in the amount of races they can compete in every year, before the Busch Series guys (and girls) get pushed out of their own series. I say, if a driver competes full-time in the NEXTEL Cup Series, they should only be allowed to run no more than 15 Busch Series races. This way, they still get to come out and race “for fun,” while allowing the Busch Series drivers more of a chance to win their own races and their own championship. Unfortunately, I don't see NASCAR doing anything. I think they are happy with the money the Cup guys bring to the series, both through sponsorship and ticket sales, and as we know, money does make NASCAR go round.

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Colin Baird
02/28/2006 04:44 AM
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Nikki:

I’m going to go you one better. If a driver is driving full time in the Cup Series, he should not be allowed to participate in the Busch Series at all. If he drives full time in the Busch Series, he can only run a maximum of 5 races in the Cup Series. Sponsors for Busch Drivers are very hard to find due to so many Cup Series Drivers racing in the Busch Series. Sponsors for Cup Drivers are getting hard to find due to the stupid Chase For The Championship playoff. Busch is Busch, and Cup is Cup, and needs to be kept in that perspective.
M. B. Voelker
02/28/2006 07:06 AM
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IMO, any Cup driver who runs all or most (at least 2/3—3/4) of the Busch races is a Double-Dipper and his effort, which brings in money and fans all year, is as legitimate as anyone else’s.

IMO, any Cup driver whose name is bringing a sponsor to a car shared with a developmental driver is as legitimate as anyone else. Regardless of what complainers whine about Cup teams taking sponsors from Busch-only teams the fact is that Reeses wouldn’t have sponsored Clint Bowyer a couple years ago without Kevin Harvick as the main draw and the same for David Stremme sharing with Jamie McMurray in his rookie year.

IMO, any Cup driver who owns his own team, no matter how often or rarely he runs is in Busch legitimately.

I have no problem with Cup rookies and sophomores running selected Busch races to help them out with tricky tracks.

I have no problem with the drivers who run around the middle or back of the pack both Saturday and Sunday in pursuit of the goal of making a living in racing.

I have no problem with using Cup drivers in a start-up team so that you have the quality feedback from a veteran to help get up to speed.

The only thing I have a problem with is when Cup stars cherrypick a few, high-purse Busch races where they have a good shot at winning. But you can’t keep those guys out without being unfair to all the others so we just have to live with it.

In the end, the well-run, quality teams who think creatively and make good use of their resources will prevail no matter what. Look at KHI—a team only a few years old but bursting with potential in trucks and Busch and with excellent prospects to succeed in Cup in due time. You can’t look at the success Kevin and Delana have had in only a few years as teamowners and whine that you’d be doing just fine if only those big bullies weren’t stealing your sponsors, your points, and your purse money.

b-zero
02/28/2006 07:29 AM
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I think if a cup driver is to compete in the busch series, he must do so in every busch series race. It is unfair to the regular Busch series drivers for these cup teams to just “practice” for certain Nextel Cup events, and driving in every race shows true dedication to the sport.

Nate
02/28/2006 07:54 AM
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well here we go again. All I hear is that the cup drivers bring fans and money. This is all well and good but the regulars, who are trying to make their living in Busch are being starved. If you keep stealing their income, they may have to leave the series. The Busch series at one time was the breeding ground for new talent. With so many cup stars, there is little opportunity for a kid with talent and no bucks to get a decent ride, as the smaller teams aren’t earning enough to get top equipment so even a good driver in a mediochre car cannot shine. Nascar today has forgotten its roots and it has forgotten that if you make it impossible for the great majority of talented drivers to move up, then ultimately you will have four or five big teams who will dominate the sport to the point where it will stifle the sport. Leave the Busch series to the Busch regulars so that they can survive

Samuel
02/28/2006 01:31 PM
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I think a good idea is to allow a limited number of cup racers race in busch. Lets say 7 spots per race the 7 best qualifiers, that are not busch regulars qualify on Saturday.

JLoder
02/28/2006 03:22 PM
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I agree with that. Let the cup drivers race the cup drivers for a limited number of spots. I speak as a former Busch fan driven AWAY from the series to the trucks because it’s no FUN watching the same drivers Saturday and Sunday and knowing that some Sunday guy’s going to take that trophy in most cases. and you can’t even pretend the Cup and Busch drivers are on remotely even footing. that’s the worst. It’s not equals competing against equals. It’s generally rich teams with high-profile crews and lots of experience against the Busch guys.

Funny, NASCAR never talks about us.

I fully predict Cup drivers will kill the Busch series. Man, I miss the good racing that series used to have back before the Cup follow-the-leader style infected it. And now there’s, what, half the field coming from cup? I can’t even understand a point of view that thinks that’s okay. People say these sponsors wouldn’t try a young driver without a cup name there as well but it seems to me rookie Busch drivers were getting sponsors LONG before Kevin Harvick decided to run the 21… Woah, I rambled.

Dana L. Jackson
02/28/2006 06:23 PM
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let them race, “But” they get no money let the busch teams have it. they bring all the sponsors and all the money let them get back for ranning for the wins and the hardware not money

Ken Black
02/28/2006 06:40 PM
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Seeing the commercial of Sam Ard morphing into Dale Earnhardt morphing into Jack Ingram morphing into Tommy Houston, etc etc, makes me mourn for my lost Busch Series. They should have NEVER left the 3/8 mile ovals like Hickory, Rougemont, Lanier, etc. It was the death knell of what the Busch Series SHOULD be.

KATZ
03/01/2006 03:51 AM
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THEY SHOULD NOT ALLOW THE FULL TIME CUP DRIVERS TO GET ANY POINTS IN THE BUSCH SERIES, THE FIRST PLACE POINTS SHOULD GO TO THE HIGHEST PLACED FINISH OF A “BUSCH” DRIVER, AND SO BACK THROUGH THE FIELD. IT IS POSSIBLE FOR A CHAMPION IN THE BUSCH SERIES TO BE A CHAMPION IN THE CUP SERIES ALSO. I DO BELIEVE THAT SOME OF THE CUP DRIVERS MAY BE IN THE BUSCH CARS FOR THE FUN, BUT, MORE ARE IN IT FOR THE $$$, AND TRACK TIME.

Charlie D.
03/01/2006 04:47 AM
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People it’s NASCAR… They could care less what we think. NA$CAR is interested in one thing… $$$$

Lets face it, Stock Car racing as we knew it is dead.

James
03/01/2006 07:39 AM
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I don’t like the NEXTEL drivers taking over the Busch series, but what’s the alternative? If we excluded NEXTEL drivers from the Busch field at Daytona and California, we wouldn’t have anything near a 43 car field. I doubt NASCAR could rustle up enough cars to fill a field.

JLoder
03/01/2006 09:48 AM
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Seems like not running a full field is a viable option. Trucks manage to somehow hold a race every week without 43. And if there were less cup drivers, I think there’d be MORE busch teams – because who wants to put the money into a team that’s going to be sent home by the Cup drivers?

Billy Mc
03/01/2006 12:55 PM
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I am a firm believer that NASCAR doesn’t care about what anyone thinks as long as they are at the end of the money cycle. Someone on this site said that there aren’t enough teams in the Busch series to have a race. Well, if some of the Busch teams had a chance to win, instead of Cup drivers most of the time there might be more Busch teams in this series. With the Cup teams taking the top money every week
it doesn’t leave much developement money left for smaller Busch teams to grow with. You can’t expect sponsors to keep putting money into a team that has a very small chance of winning or coming in up front somewhere to pick up some of the top money. What incentive has a sponsor got to enter a team under these conditions. I don’t even watch the Busch races any more because the Cup drives are winning almost every race. NASCAR should make a rule that once you move up to Cup, you can’t go back

Tim
03/01/2006 02:01 PM
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Cup drivers need to get thier butts OUT OF Busch racing. If not totally then there MUST be a limit placed on the number of races they run. I say, if they are FULL TIME CUP drivers then limit them to 6 Busch races while placing a developmental driver in the car for the rest of the races. With the new testing policy on the CUP side it is making it unfair for most of the CUP teams that dont have CUP drivers running in the Busch races. NA$CAR has been on this “level-playing field” agenda for a long time now, but they allow CUP drivers to run the BGN races which gives them an advantage over those that dont with the new testing rules..Either LIMIT them or GET THEM OUT TOTALLY !!!

John D Wyckoff
03/01/2006 04:40 PM
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If the Nextel boys want to run in Busch series this what NASCAR should do. The first thirty six starting spots are open to the Busch series drivers only and only the Busch series drivers then the cup drivers fight it out for the last seven spots. No Nextel cup driver can qualify higher the 37th. This should keep the number of cup drivers from invading so to speak on a regular basis. In all honesty though I feel the drivers need to commit themselves to on series or the other not both.

jim cunningham
03/01/2006 10:51 PM
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the dictatorship will do as it wishes. the fans drivers or owners have very little to say on any matter anymore.

Bonkrr
03/02/2006 09:56 AM
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While it is all well and good to pontificate about keeping the Harvicks, Biffles, etc out of the BGN series, what most don’t seem to realize is that a sweeping rule to eliminate NNC drivers would also sweep up the Kirk Shelmerdines, Kenny Wallaces, Carl Longs etc, that while attempting Cup racing also like to race some in the BGN series. The last time I checked, anyone could enter a race anywhere provided their equipment was legal. The best, if not only way to fairly cut back on the NNC drivers stinking up the BGN is to change the cars significantly. If the BGN guys were racing V-6 power (as I believe they used to??) in cars with different wheel bases with a handful of different rules, I suspect a lot of Cup owners and drivers would lose interest. As mentioned by Ken Black above, racing at different tracks like they used to could go a long way to helping the BGN stand on its own as well. Being smaller might not necessarily be a bad thing for this series. Although being a support show for the NNC races might bring in more fans, being a stand alone show is likely to bring in “Your” fans.

 

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