Printer Friendly

AUTO CLUB 500 NOTEBOOK: Busch is the one to watch.

Byline: J.P. Hoornstra, Staff Writer

FONTANA - When Kyle Busch is in the starting lineup for a NASCAR trucks race, the fans creep a bit closer to the edge of their seats.

So do the other drivers.

The reason is simple: The always unpredictable Busch is expected to defend his title at the re-christened Camping World Truck Series race at noon today, the first of three races the 24-year-old will enter this weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

Love him or hate him, a win by anyone other than Busch in the field of 36 would be an upset. Busch reinforced that expectation Friday by running the fastest qualifying lap, 174 mph on a cool, clear day in the No. 51 Toyota.

Defending Truck series champion Johnny Benson and former motocross champion Ricky Carmichael rounded out the top three, and both declared Busch the favorite before qualifying even began.

"As an outsider up until this year looking in, I thought ... if (a regular trucks driver) goes out and beats Kyle, it makes him look like a hero," Carmichael said. "Those (Cup) guys are supposed to win."

Carmichael, attempting to run a full Truck series schedule after leaving the American Motorcyclist Association, didn't do his homework.

Outside of Busch's three wins, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick were the only non-regulars to win a single Truck race in 2008. No outsider won in 2007. Mark Martin won a series-high six races in 2006 running a partial schedule, but Busch and Clint Bowyer were the only other Cup drivers to post a single win that year.

"The last two years, they haven't dominated as much," Benson said. "(Busch) is one of the few that's somewhat put a hurt on us."

The definition of "domination" is different for Busch, who remembers his four second-place finishes last season at least as clearly as the three wins.

"Any second place is a huge disappointment," said Busch, who doesn't even consider himself the favorite.

No restrictors

A year ago, Michael Waltrip floated the idea of using restrictor plates at Auto Club Speedway in an effort to spice up the racing.

Bad idea, said Elliott Sadler, who won the inaugural Labor Day Sunday race at the two-mile track.

"It would be the worse race you've ever seen. It would be like New Hampshire was in 2001," said Sadler, who finished fifth in the season opening Daytona 500. "We have a hard time passing now. If you cut our horsepower in half, nobody would be able to pass. We'd have an aero push and we wouldn't have enough motor and everybody would be tight.

"I see what you're saying, but I think that you would have to adjust the track with it."

Sadler, who once spent an afternoon in the speedway's ticket office, had another thought on how to draw fans to the facility.

"I don't think it's the racing part; we just have to do a better job of getting fans to this particular race track," he said. "If I had anything to do with this race track, I would go to every single middle school within 50 miles of this place and give away free tickets. What's the difference in an empty seat and a free ticket? You might sell a Coca-Cola to them in the stands.

"Give them a chance to come to this race that might not have come before. You might make a fan; you might not. If you don't make a fan, what have you lost?"
COPYRIGHT 2009 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 21, 2009
Words:582
Previous Article:NORTHERN TRUST OPEN NOTEBOOK: Chappell's PGA career is in limbo.
Next Article:Vickers goes from front to the back NASCAR: Engine work negates his fast lap Johnson will assume the prime starting spot.
Topics:


Related Articles
Busch races his way to history MOTORSPORTS: NASCAR driver captures pair of checkered flags in the same day.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters