The Frontstretch: Second Fiddle: Around the Busch and Craftsman Truck Series by Toni Montgomery -- Thursday October 20, 2005

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Second Fiddle: Around the Busch and Craftsman Truck Series

Toni Montgomery · Thursday October 20, 2005


Long time readers will know that I don’t have a Busch guy. I haven’t had a Busch guy since Hank Parker Jr. lost his ride a few years ago. At times, I have given that situation quite a bit of thought. After all, having a favorite driver seems to be some sort of rule. If you are going to watch a series you must have a driver. It’s supposed to make watching much more fun.

I know as a writer I’m supposed to remain impartial so it would seem to conflict with the idea of having a favorite driver, but I can tell you that it doesn’t. At least not in my case. I have drivers in all of the other series and while I may try to include them at times, I don’t bash readers over the head with my drivers. If my drivers make a mistake, I call them on it.

When I’ve written about my lack of a Busch driver in the past, I’ve gotten notes from readers recommending what they think would be good choices for my favorite. Kenny Wallace has been a popular choice. One reader recommended David Green. There’s been some family influence in the directions of Jason Keller and Martin Truex Jr. All good recommendations but I still hadn’t made a choice.

The thing about choosing a driver, at least for me, is that I don’t consciously make the choice. Rather, it seems to choose me. It just comes to me for no rhyme or reason. I can’t necessarily give you one definitive reason for why I’ve chosen the other drivers I root for. I just do. Often I realize it sometime after the actual choice seems to have been made, when I just realize later that I’ve been pulling for someone in particular. Well readers, I made that realization watching last weekend’s Busch race.

So who is it? Some of you may not like this. You may think it’s a cop out, but the winner is"¦.the Busch drivers. That’s right. The Busch drivers. Hear me out on this and I think you might agree this is not a bad choice. Other than the stand alone events which are in the minority on the Busch Series schedule, we have been seeing from 13 to 19 Cup drivers running in the Busch Series this season. That figure of 19 is actually becoming a norm meaning that just over half of the drivers in the field every week are actual Busch competitors.

The first aspect of competition every week with that number of Cup drivers running, many in full time cars, is qualifying. It makes me angry to see four or five full time Busch drivers going home when there are too many Cup drivers so when I watch qualifying, I discovered I am rooting for the Busch regulars to have good laps. I am disappointed when they spin out or post slow speeds. I am happy to see a Cup driver who needed to get in on time make a mistake in qualifying and miss the show.

It really hit home to me during last Friday’s show at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. It started when the first Cup regular blew a tire and scraped the wall. I don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but I wasn’t upset to see a Cup driver behind the wall. Then I realized I’d happily see them all there and nothing but Busch drivers on the track. I realized it boiled my blood whenever a Cup driver would run over a Busch regular with seemingly little regard of the effect his carelessness would have on that Busch driver. I realized that has been happening just about every week and it makes me angry enough to spit nails each and every time, regardless of who the Busch driver was.

I realized that I rooted for several drivers throughout the race, all of them Busch regulars. Every time a Busch regular, be it Menard, Truex, or anyone else, got anywhere near the front of the pack, I would be rooting for him. I realized that it didn’t matter to me if it was a Busch driver I’d never shown much favor for in the past. Any Busch driver was better than any Cup driver. On the final restart I was hoping Sadler would run into Newman and they’d both spin out and open the door for Paul Menard.

I also realized I look forward to the stand alone Busch races like this weeks event at Memphis because then I’d really get a chance to see the Busch drivers shine. For all of these reasons, it became clear to me that rather than one driver, I had many of them. All of this time when I thought I had been watching the Busch races without anyone in particular to root for, that wasn’t the truth. Without knowing it was even happening I was rooting for particular drivers. I was rooting for Busch drivers. So whether it seems like a cop out to you, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. My favorite Busch driver is not any one driver, but rather all of them.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Did You Notice? … Breaking Down A Sprint Cup Season Eight Races In
Beyond the Cockpit: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on Growing Up Racing and Owner Loyalties
The Frontstretch Five: Flaws Exposed In the New Chase So Far
NASCAR Writer Power Rankings: Top 15 After Darlington
NASCAR Mailbox: Past Winners Aren’t Winning …. Yet
Open Wheel Wednesday: How Can IndyCar Stand Out?


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10/21/2005 02:16 PM
Hey Toni:

I enjoyed your thoughts on the Busch guys. I agree that it would be great to go back to the days when it really was the Busch guys racing each other instead of a testing ground for the Cup guys.

I’m a Johnny Sauter fan and he really got dropkicked by Carl Edwards at Lowe’s last week in the Busch race. It seems Carl can run anybody into the wall as long as he says he’s sorry. That hit was totally uncalled for, yet some of the TV guys made excuses for Edwards.

There certainly is a double standard but Johnny ended up with a totaled car and small payday.

Maybe someday Nascar will address the mess in Busch. Hope so.

10/22/2005 07:14 AM
The best thing NASCAR can do for the BUSCH series is put a foot down on the CUP interference. Here’s my idea. Any driver that is a past Cup champ is out of the Busch series until they decide to hang up their Cup booties, any driver that finishes in the top ten in Cup points in the previous season is out of the Busch series, for rookies in the cup series that choose to run the FULL Busch schedual, busch series has to be their first priority (if you have to run the Busch series to help out yourself in the cup race, you shouldn’t be in the cup series), and lastly, the only cup drivers aloud in the Busch cars are the drivers that have more than 50 races since their last cup win.


Contact Toni Montgomery

Recent articles from Toni Montgomery:

IndyCar Race Recap: MAVTV 500
Five Hundred Miles For All The Marbles
IndyCar Roundtable: Season Grades, Schedule Tweaks, And Possible Title Upsets
IndyCar Race Recap: Hunter-Reay Makes It A Repeat Performance
IndyCar Race Recap: Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by XYQ


IF you want to know more about Toni Montgomery or to see all of her Frontstretch articles, check out her archive and bio page.