Beating Around The Busch: Chapter Twenty-seven, Atlanta
By: Thomas Chemris
With three races remains, and forty-nine points separating the top five drivers, the pressure is on for Busch series drivers who are in the thick of the tightest points battle in NASCAR history.
The point's championship is not the only tight battle in the series. The battle for Rookie of the year is heating up as David Stremme trails Coy Gibbs by six points for the prestigious honor.
2004 has yet to see a rookie in victory lane. This jeopardizes a three-year run of rookie winners dating back to Kevin Harvick winning in 2000.
Even though he is in the championship battle, Jason Keller remains unsigned for 2004.
Earlier this year PPC racing announced that long time sponsor Albertson's will not be returning leaving the future of the team uncertain. Recent rumors put Keller in the Payday Chevy stabled at Richard Childress Racing, but both Childress and Keller have not confirmed the move.
Three of the top-five drivers in the standings have already earned more than $1 million in winnings this season, including David Green ($1,025,635), Jason Keller ($1,019,895) and Scott Riggs ($1,013,275). Brian Vickers ($990,400) and Bobby Hamilton Jr. (No. 25 U.S. Marine Corps Ford - ($949,705)) could reach the plateau before the end of the season. In 2002, eight drivers won more than $1 million. Greg Biffle, the 2002 NASCAR Busch Series champion became the first driver in the series' history to collect more than $2 million in a single season.
Kevin Harvick's string on top ten finishes continues as he finished ninth in Atlanta making for sixteen top ten finishes in sixteen races. Harvick, who drives for Richard Childress racing with teammate Johnny Sauter, will be part of the team slated to win this years owner's points title.
The organization currently holds a 216-point lead over all other teams. Marking the first time in series history that a team of two drivers combined to win the owners championship points race.
Bobby Hamilton Jr. winner of the Memphis event was fined $3,000. He was in violation of 12-4-A: Actions detrimental to stock car racing. Use of improper Language. The infraction occurred during a post-race interview. "I was just excited by the moment and I wasn't thinking", noted Hamilton.
Mike Harmon, driver of the No. 44 NASCAR Busch Series car, was also fined $3,000 for throwing restraint device at another competitor's car during the race.