Second Fiddle: Around the Busch and Craftsman Truck Series · Toni Montgomery · Thursday August 17, 2006
Thank goodness for the Craftsman Truck Series. Yes, once again, it falls upon the Trucks to save the day and give the fans a show. If you don't like the Chase, you need to turn to either the Busch or the Craftsman Truck Series for your championship battles where they still use the old system and pick their champion the old fashioned way. In both series, the champion is still simply the guy who scored the most points. There is no arbitrary setting of margins. No drivers are cut out of the hunt after a certain number of races. It’s amazingly simple; the guy that racks up the most top finishes and, therefore, the most points is the winner.
Sometimes under that system one guy just dominates everything. With no Chase to tighten those point margins up, it can be a runaway. For an example of what a runaway looks like, see the Busch Series this year. Kevin Harvick has put himself in an entirely different zip code than the rest of his competitors, and appears to be trying to get to the point where he can take the rest of the season off and still be champion.
Fortunately, if you don't like the Chase and you don't like to see championship blowouts, there is still hope for you. There is always the Craftsman Truck Series, where the margins are much closer, and it looks like there might still be a chance for a battle to the finish. Todd Bodine leads things by 144 points over second place Johnny Benson for the moment. That might sound like a handy margin, and if the leader were just going to "points race" maybe it is. Bodine, however, is not taking anything for granted and he's still trying to win as many races as he can on his way to what might be his first title in any series. And, well, after all, this is Todd Bodine. One thing you can count on with a Bodine is that nothing is certain.
Seriously, all kidding of Bodine beside, 144 points isn't really the kind of margin that would allow any driver to sit back and take it easy. All it would take is a bad run or two to use up a margin of that size and put everyone right back into contention. Maybe the end of the race last week was a sign of things to come for Todd. In case you missed it, Bodine was heading for the win when he tangled with Mike Skinner. While the two wrecked, it was none other than Johnny Benson who slipped by to take the win. If he can do it in a race, it makes you think Benson just might be able to do the same thing with the championship picture. Bodine knows it. That's why he's still racing for wins.
Realistically, it's not just Benson that's waiting to pounce. There are still nine races to go, and most of the Top 10 could still have a shot if things went just right. To put things in perspective with the Busch Series, Kevin Harvick has a lead of 443 points over second place Carl Edwards on that side of the fence. In the Truck Series, Todd Bodine leads tenth place Dennis Setzer by 391 points. In case that stat wasn't absolutely clear, the entire Top 10 is closer to the leader in the Truck Series than the second place guy is to the leader in the Busch Series. Yes, I think if there is a championship battle to be had anywhere without the use of contrived measures to make it happen, I think the Truck Series is the best bet. If nothing else, it would have to be entertaining to watch the Onion, Todd Bodine, try to hold Skinner off. I'm not even sure a Bodine knows HOW to points race.
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