BUSCH: Truex nearly unbeatable

Just three events remain before the Busch series title is crowned. With a 176-point lead over his only competition, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex seems likely to win his first series championship. Busch and Truex have been battling each other for 21...

Just three events remain before the Busch series title is crowned. With a 176-point lead over his only competition, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex seems likely to win his first series championship.

Busch and Truex have been battling each other for 21 straight weeks, with no other contender in sight. During that fight, Truex has maintained the lead for 17 consecutive weeks, while Busch has occupied the top spot for just three.

"I try not to think about the points lead," Truex said. "Two bad races and we can easily lose our lead. This has been a great season and we don't want to just lie down and take it easy because of the lead we have. It's important to have a strong finish."

With no other racer in contention for the championship, it is a two man race as we head into the Bashas' Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. Despite troubles last weekend at Atlanta, Truex managed to salvage a ninth place result, but Busch's second place gained 32 points on the leader, making it impossible for Truex to clinch the title this weekend.

"These guys will never give up and neither will I," Busch said. "We'll just kind of keep digging at (Truex) and see what we can do."

However, if Truex finishes in the top ten for the rest of the season, he will will be guaranteed to claim the title. This weekend at PIR, Busch secured the pole position while Truex starts ninth. It is Truex first race here although the DEI team did test the track in October. Busch ran a Southwest Series event here earlier this week to accustom himself to the race track.

Truex' stats beat Busch's by just a tick. Of the events already in the books this season, Truex' average finish was 2.84; while Busch's was 3.97. Truex has a series-high seven poles and six wins. Busch has earned four top starting spots and five victories.

Whoever comes out in the spotlight when the season closes at Homestead- Miami Speedway one thing is for sure: the future is bright for both Busch series stars. Truex announced at Atlanta that Bass Pro Shops will sponsor his DEI ride next year in Busch as well as fielding a partial Cup series schedule. Truex will race Cup full time starting in 2006.

Busch will inherit the Cup series seat of veteran Terry Labonte in the No. 5 Hendrick Chevy as Labonte scales back to a partial schedule in the No. 44 car.

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Terry Labonte , Martin Truex Jr. , Kyle Busch